Nollywood screen diva, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, is one actress who has continued to up her game. The entertainer who recently raised her voice to fight poverty alongside the likes of Waje and Yemi Alade for the ‘One campaign’ reveals why she is yet to produce her own movie, if she would allow her daughter venture into entertainment, and how she has stayed off scandals, among other issues.
A lot of actors who started acting the same time you did have delved into movie productions, but we are yet to see you do that. Is it deliberate?
I am not much of a producer though everybody wants me to produce my own movie. I have that pressure on me. As funny as it sounds, I really do not enjoy production. I love directing somebody else’s movie, but I wouldn’t want to produce a movie right now. I am not interested in producing any movie that I will be in. I just want to be an actress. I am waiting for good scripts .
Have you directed any movie?
I have directed a soap opera. Funke Akindele acted in it alongside Larry Goldsweat.
What has been happening to your Reality TV show?
`Omotota, The real me Season 2’ has been ready for a while. Funny enough, I have been stalling on signing it. I just feel like the time isn’t right. It’s very intrusive. I’m a private person, though a lot of people won’t believe it. I work when I need to work and go home when I need to get back into my home. The Season One was very interesting though it was hard on me.
I have teenage children now so I have to be very careful. I have to think about them first and see how it affects them because I don’t want my kids to get carried away by all of that. It might come back because there is a lot of pressure on me, but I just want it to be at my own time and when I am comfortable.
Your daughter is now a brand ambassador, is it your way of launching her into the entertainment world?
Not really. It just happened. She is just a natural fit. They wanted a mother-daughter campaign anyway and so the whole challenge was, – will she be up to it? She was interviewed and they actually fell in love with her more than me. She almost took my job. Luckily for me, it had to be a mother-daughter campaign.
How would you react if she decides to be an entertainer?
Absolutely, she can come into the industry. What our generation is doing by God’s grace is to make sure that we work hard to leave infrastructure for them. I don’t want my daughter to meet the industry the way I met it. Luckily, we have been able to take some steps, we are working very hard. As you know, I am building my film village.
The whole idea is for them to have some sort of organization. The industry has been disorganized for a very long time. Right now, it’s okay for her to come into the industry, but she will be monitored. I can only do what I can, in my own way to stabilize the industry. Somebody asked me: `What will happen to daughters of individuals who have been abused in the entertainment industry?’ All I can say is that it’s either you stay away or you stick to what you believe in. You have a right to say no! I will not do that. Don’t be intimidated by anybody, believe in yourself and stay away from anything that you are not proud of and hang in there.
You have a young girl who is eighteen and probably dating, that means if she gets married early, you are going to be a young grandmother. Have you ever thought about it?
I don’t care much about it. It’s not something I think about. It’s not my cup of tea. I know people want me to think about that because I got married early. What I always say to people is all fingers are not equal. The fact that I got married early doesn’t mean my daughter must get married early. My mother didn’t get married early. It doesn’t have to be hereditary.
If I like the guy and we feel like she is mature enough to handle it and the person is responsible, then why not? We can endorse it. I don’t regret anything. Everything is a blessing to me. I won’t stop her, but it just has to be the right person. I married the right person.
Are there other talents you have that we are yet to see?
I don’t think I have a lot of talents. Some people actually say sometimes I can be a comedian, but my comedy is not a very creative one. My comedy is actually like the kind of comedy you don’t expect. I don’t know how to explain it,but it’s just like that. I used to dance.
I don’t know how I became suddenly stiff, that is the result of feeling like a big girl. I just stopped dancing. I used to be known in school for dancing. I also write, I am a very good writer. I write all my songs and I write for other people whose names I don’t want to mention.
Talking about music,when are we going to see your next body of works?
My second album is actually not out but a lot of people think it is. It’s not out but you can get it on Konga. It’s going to be out very soon by God’s grace. I have been saying that since 2010.
What is the title?
Me, myself and I
Is your son going to produce any of your songs?
He has actually produced a few of them. We haven’t released any.
How was it like working with him?
That boy is very strict. It just felt weird because I am a control freak so sometimes when he is getting too hard on me I tell him: “No! I am the mummy here”.We just work it out somehow. I guess that is why the songs are not yet done.
Why did you decide to be part of One Campaign?
I am fortunate to be a young woman living her dreams, a trailblazer of my generation. I also recognize that many women and girls are not so fortunate, women and girls are disproportionately affected by the injustice of poverty and inequality. When we invest in women and girls,we increase and accelerate their chances of overcoming extreme poverty.
That is why I have joined the One Campaign: Poverty is Sexist Campaign. I call on the public to help join hands to sign the petition.
Recently you were misunderstood about the trek comments you made on social media that people are trekking their lives away. Was that what you actually meant?
Really, I am not against any kind of sport. It is okay if you want to do anything. My point is, it’s either you do it for nothing and say “I am having fun” or you do it for something reasonable.
Don’t just do it for something that pisses people off. People ask if it is my business. It is my business because we are glorifying these people that are hurting us. If for example, I say I am trekking to celebrate a Boko Haram member,everyone will pounce on me. Why should I celebrate that?
Recently, people were angry because Time Magazine said the Boko Haram leader is one of the most influential people, but they forgot that they are talking about influence and not that he is being celebrated.
I was shocked that people didn’t understand what I was trying to say. What I meant was that, at this point in time when we are going through so much and we are trying to let these people know we are suffering, putting all our energies into making them feel like kings is not cool. The truth of the matter is that you are probably trekking because you don’t have fuel anyway.
What are your thoughts on friendship?
Most of my friends are friends I have had forever. I am a very loyal person. I try to keep a very small group of friends. It is not that I don’t make new friends, but I call them acquaintances. When you say friends, they are people I have known for a long time, since I was a child.
Do you have friends in the movie industry?
Everybody is my colleague. I don’t have very close friends in the industry.
We don’t live around each other to start with, I live very far away from so many people. Secondly,I am not too much of a party person. We probably won’t see often. I am also not very good at visiting people so we probably won’t have that kind of bond.
Talking about where you live, do you have plans to move to Lekki?
Not really, I like where I live. I love the way I live.
How do you live?
I come out, I do my work. I go back into my wonderful mansion and rest.
Do you still do the cooking in the house?
I do. I actually cooked before coming here.
Do you act as a diva at home?
I try to be, but they knock me back into shape.
When you aren’t busy, how do you get away?
Get away? I wish I could. There is always work to be done. Like they say, if you enjoy what you do, you will never work. For me, I think that is where my stubbornness comes from. I don’t do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t do what I don’t enjoy or what I feel I won’t like.
I am passionate about whatever I do. Whether it’s taking care of my kids, my husband, my home or working with Knorr or with One Campaign.
You look beautiful after four kids, what do you do to maintain your looks?
People’s mouth keeps me in shape. I use everything as motivation. More realistically,I will say prayer. It sounds very weird, but that is the truth. Everybody knows I don’t diet, I can’t diet to save my life. I love food. I am a foodie. I don’t eat all the time, but whenever I eat, I don’t joke with it. It has to be prayers because that is the only thing I do really.
People sometimes mistake your being confident for being arrogant, how do you deal with that?
I can’t deal with it. I can’t help people’s mistakes.
What is that one thing nobody knows about you?
I think a lot of people don’t know that I am emotional. I am very strong and a lot of people think that nothing gets to me but I’m very emotional. I actually cry a lot. I cry for silly things. I might be watching a movie and just burst into tears.
Do you watch your movies?
I hardly do, I don’t want to say I never do because obviously I have seen some of them. But I won’t intentionally watch my movie.
Do you still have a role you are looking forward to interpret?
Maybe the role of a super hero in a movie.
Whose advice has been instrumental to where you are today?
The only advice I really take is the advice from the Bible. It sounds very weird but that’s the truth. It’s the only thing I go by. If it is not in the bible, I won’t do it. I also take my own advice. My mum has also influenced me a lot.
How would you define success?
You can’t define success in one sentence. A lot of people have tried to do that. Success is relative. What is success to you might not be success to me. But I think generally, it’s a state of peace of mind. A state of acceptance and a state of joy. Joy is different from happiness you know.
How have you been able to stay off scandals?
I am lucky that I am well trained by God, period! I don’t try,I am who I am. Some things that are scandalous just don’t impress me or I am not impressed by them. Having said that, I try not to do something that will seem like I’m leading someone on. I just try to put my brain to use. There are so many things you can avert.
Do you think if you hadn’t gotten married early you would have been married now?
I don’t think so, because I don’t think there is any man that can handle me apart from my husband. Not because I am a bad person, it is because I am a very strong personality. I can understand why a lot of female artistes find it very difficult to find the right person.
When you achieve some kind of success, you become really confused as to who really loves you for who you are. It’s not really easy, it is very hard finding those people who really love you. If you are not a very grounded person, you can also contribute in some kind of way to your own problems and so I might have contributed to my own problems.
Is it your decision to remain married?
I am blessed, it’s a decision. It is a very intentional decision, but it’s not at the expense of anything. It’s because it’s natural. I am happy.
What is your most expensive fashion item?
I don’t know and I don’t really care. I lost some expensive jewelries and my friends were freaking out. I don’t value those things, what I value is different.