YNaija interview: “The world we portray as celebrities is not real”- Actress Omoni Oboli

by Wilfred Okiche

Omoni Oboli
Omoni Oboli

Omoni Oboli made an impression in the Kunle Afolayan soon-to-be-classic ‘The Figurine’ and headlined her own film ‘Anchor baby’ to much critical and commercial success.  After some time away from the spotlight, doing the hardwork and jumping from set to set, the ebony skinned mother returns to the big screens alongside Majid Michel in ‘Brother’s keeper.”.

She speaks with YNaija on some of her upcoming projects, her passion for craft and the one DVD she would send Steven Spielberg for an audition.

We have not seen much of you lately, what have you been up to?   
I have been on set of different productions, cooking up different things for the delight of my fans. It just happens that many of them have been in the pipelines for some time and so have not been released yet. In other words, I have been busy but it’s taking time to release the finished products. ‘Brother’s Keeper’ is in cinemas now. Very soon, ‘Deep Inside’, ‘Feathered Dreams’, ‘Render to Caesar’ and my directorial debut, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’ should follow.

You were working on a film, ‘Render to ceaser’. What is the latest with that and when is it due?

It is in various stages of post production, but will be released sometime in the coming year at the cinemas.

Are there any other projects you are working on that we should know about and expect?
Like I said earlier, I have been working on other productions that will also be released in 2014. I am currently in post production of my movie, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’, which I wrote, produced, directed and starred in along with a great cast and crew. The cast include Majid Michel, AY, Lepacious bose, Uru Eke, Bishop, Chika Chukwu, Seun Akindele and many others.

After the box office and critical success of ‘The Figurine’ and ‘Anchor baby’,you were tipped for great things, do you think you have fulfilled those expectations?
The success and the standard of those movies has made it imperative that I focus on doing and featuring in movies that do not insult the intelligence of the viewing public. I have been able to maintain that standard by first turning down movies that do not meet the standard I am accustomed to. When I mean standard, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be in a low budget movie, but it must be done right, and the story must make sense to me and the audience. The path that I am towing is not easy but with the rise in the quality of production of movies that we see today in the industry, I’m confident that more worthy productions like the ones I’ve been involved with lately would need my services more.

Are you satisfied- in terms of quality and quantity-  with the roles you have played since you began acting?
Definitely! There’s still a long way to go, but I look back and see where we have come from and I know that we have indeed progressed beyond where we thought we would be. With the success of ‘Anchor Baby’ at the Los Angeles movie Awards and the Harlem International Film Festival, where we competed with movies from across the globe and won the best movie and best actress awards, we are definitely heading in the right direction.

You are regarded as one of the most cerebral actresses working today. Do you see producing or directing in your future?
Thanks! I started producing movies in 2007, with ‘The Rivals’ being the first movie I produced along with my friend, Blessing Egbe (‘Two Brides and A Baby’, ‘Lekki Wives’), so I’m no stranger to production. The movie, ‘The Rivals’, went on to win the Best International Drama at the Harlem International Independent Film and Video Festival, in 2007.
I have now completed my movie, ‘Being Mrs Elliott’, as I mentioned earlier, which will be showing at the cinemas sometime in 2014. It also happens to be my directorial debut. So, yes, as you see I am working along those lines as well.

What film/television role- Nigerian or foreign- would you die to play?
If I die how will I play it?!! I love what I do and would love to push the limit on my sphere of influence, but I have grown to understand that nothing should make me that desperate to be a part of. Saying that, I wouldn’t mind being in any great production in Hollywood movies or tv or any great Nigerian production. I just love to act and when the story is good I want to be a part of it.

If Steven Spielberg calls and asks to send him one of your DVD performances for an audition, which film would you send?
I wouldn’t know what Steven Spielberg would be looking for. If I did, I would send any of them that best suits what he is searching for. But in terms of the depth of acting, I would be more inclined to send ‘Anchor Baby’.

Has the endorsement bug hit you yet? What brands do you lend your name or face to?

The last endorsement I had was with Venus Beauty range. Yes I have been approached for endorsements and I would lend my face to anyone that I believe in the product. It’s easier to push that way.

What is you honest assessment of Nollywood’s performance in 2013?
Nollywood has surpassed my expectations in terms of the quality of production that has infiltrated the industry and I can see and feel the hunger from old and new producers who have keyed into the future of the industry and do not want to be left behind. They all want to join the new Nollywood train and not get tagged as relics. Many great movies are lined up for the viewing audience, with great picture quality and performances. The awards would have an uphill task of selecting winners from this coming year. There has been a sudden interest from other arms of the entertainment and lifestyle industry pushing their way into Nollywood, showing that they are seeing the rising trend of the industry. Comedian AY featured in my movie and is currently producing his movies, ’30 Days in Atlanta’. We have Ice Prince, Dr Sid, Deola Sagoe (‘October 1st’)and many others, and with this rising interest it promises not to be business as usual in Nollywood.

What film(s) have you enjoyed this year?
Do you mean from Nollywood or around the globe. I have enjoyed ‘Confusion Na Wa’, ‘Lies Men Tell’, ‘Finding Mercy’, ‘Lagos Cougars’, ‘On Bended Knees’ and some international movies.

You are a successful wife and mother. What have you been doing to maintain this that that your colleagues have not?
I thank The Lord, because it’s really not what I’m doing but what God has blessed me with. I could have had a terrible husband who would not appreciate me or one I wouldn’t appreciate. The grace to handle it all is also credited to His providence. I can’t share in any part of it. As for my colleagues, they may be having it even better or some worse and it’s not always due to what they did or didn’t do, but situations arise sometimes that we have no control over. So I cannot say who is doing what, because they may be better wives or husbands but their husbands or wives are not appreciative.

 What sacrifices (if any) have you made to juggle motherhood and career?
The major sacrifice is not always being with my family all the time as I would wish to be because of work. I miss them so much when I’m away, even when it’s just for a few days.

It is easy to get carried away by the glitz and glam of your profession, how do you stay grounded?
I’m not a child, and I know that the world we sometimes portray as celebrities are not real, so why would I sacrifice my real world (my God, my family) on the altar of the unreal world. That would be the greatest blunder, which has caused many destroyed marriages, lives and even careers in Nollywood, Hollywood, Bollywood and across the movies world. My mum raised me better than that.

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