Victoria Inyama-Okri was a popular face in Nollywood before she relocated to the United Kingdom after her marriage into the family of foremost literary personality and author of The Famished Road, Ben Okri. In this interview with REPORTER, Adedayo Odulaja, the mother of two, who is in Nigeria on a short visit, talks about what she misses about Nollywood and life outside the country.
Where did you pop out of?
Well of course I came out from my house
We all know you have not been in the country, if not you would have been on the radar
Well, I got married and relocated out of the country
That seems to be the trend these days, everybody gets married and relocates
The reason for that, if it is really the trend, is not far-fetched. It is just that you have to follow your husband anyway.
How come you guys don’t find husbands that stay in Nigeria then?
I don’t know the answer to that one. Maybe the husbands in Nigeria did not marry us
Or you did not marry them?
I am sure if I had met someone I like I would probably have married one but anyway it is complicated.
Could you give a chronicle of your active time in Nollywood?
My name is Victoria Inyama-Okri. I am an actress and I would proudly say that we started the Nollywood thing many years ago. I am just happy and proud of how far we have come and how big we have really grown not just in Nigeria but even abroad as well.
When actually did you start?
I know I started with Ripples. I can’t even remember when but I know I started with Ripples from the stable of Zeb Ejiro Productions, probably in the early 90s. That was how I started and that was before the home video thing started.
How does it feel to have been part of the golden league of ladies at the centre stage then?
When you start something and the thing picks up well, you are really proud, even if you are not there. You are proud to be identified with it. So that is exactly the way it is with me because I am really proud to be associated with Nollywood. I also consider myself very privileged that I started being involved at the beginning of it all.
Are you back in the country or on a visit?
All I can say right now is that I am just back on a short visit
What are your plans concerning Nollywood?
To get involved with whatever it is I can. Whatever it is I can and which I think is convenient enough for me to be involved in.
But I thought you said you are here for a short visit?
Yes, it is just for a short while, not too long.
Since you can be involved even if you are not here, what are your plans about Nollywood?
Yes I know one can do that but about my plans, it is really just to get a bit more integrated and get to know what is happening around now. You know, get to know what is on ground now because I have not been around for a long time. And obviously, from the last time, a lot of things have really changed, changed for the better if I may add. I won’t really say I want to be part of it but I can be if I think I can. Of course, that would have to be determined by a couple of issues, like maybe if I get a good script and everything else is okay, I would like to go in front of the camera again.
Do you still get to see any of those with whom you were acting then?
Well, we all get to meet on facebook
Only on facebook?
Yes, we meet on facebook and we could talk about anything. It could be weather or news from Nigeria and all that. For instance, Regina (Askia) likes to talk about only the current happenings at any moment which we could comment on.
What do you miss about Nollywood?
What do I miss? I miss everything about Nollywood. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Yes, of course there is the ugly, in everything; there would always be. In Nollywood, in the medical field, in the area of Law, telecommunications and others.
Have you encountered any of the movies being shot now?
Yes, I subscribe to a channel, there is a channel called Nollywood Channel in London so I watch some of them.
Can you mention one or two movies that strike you?
Oh my God! You know what, there are lots of them but the ones that really strike me are what the Ghanaians are doing now. There is one called .Gold Tail. I watch a lot of them and our artistes are good and I think there are new directors and producers. There is a lady that is always in the movies with Omoni Oboli and they are always doing a movie on marriage or something like that.
Such themes do not excite you?
It is not about the themes really, what I am more interested in right now is the acting.
So do you think Nigeria cannot stand at par with Ghana right now?
We are better, really far better than they are but what I am saying is that they are giving us a chase.
You said you missed the disorderliness in Nigeria, how?
Yes, I do miss the fact that you could be on set at 9 in the morning and not start until 2pm. Let me tell you something, it happens everywhere, sometimes as a Nigerian, you say this is not working but honestly, it is everywhere. Sometimes things do work, at times, they are not meant to work. They are put in place but do not work so I feel bad when people come around and run Nigeria down because they are staying abroad. I enjoy the whole thing, I have not started driving yet because I am still afraid of the okada riders but the thing is if I drive here and I go back to London and drive, they are just going to ban me for life. So when I do eventually drive here and go back to London, maybe I am going to have to go and do driving tests or something. But you see that is the fun, here I am not afraid of the police or whatever like there. I love this country and I’m proudly Naija.
When we were coming, my son asked me about where we were going to sleep and I told him we would sleep in the bush. It is not as if I did not tell them about home but you know when they get to school they hear all sorts of things and then the television and radio feed them other things.
How has the environment being for the kids so far?
They have been very excited so far, my son saw a trailer on the road and he screamed because you don’t get to see trailers everyday (in the UK), not in the day time anyway. Another time, they took the light and some guy climbed the pole without any kind of protection or anything and my son said: ‘Mummy, he is gonna die’ but I said no he is immune even though I was scared of something terrible happening to him. So that is Naija for you, that is the madness I am talking about and it is a part of us. If not, how can you climb an electric pole with no covering in the hand or the body?
How long have you being married now?
I have been married for seven years now in total
How has it been?
What do you want to hear? I would just say we thank God
What has changed about you since then?
I am more mature now. Being a mother, there are so many things that would shock you and knock you off balance as a wife and as a mom that I handle better now. And I don’t have any issue with anybody and how people live their lives, unlike before. You know as Nigerians we worry about why is this person wearing this or why is that person like that and why is she doing that and all that. Anyhow anybody wants to live his or her life as long as it makes that person happy and it does not disturb you in any way it is the person’s life and if you cannot take the heat the choice is for you to leave the kitchen instead of complaining and nagging about what most of the time does not even have anything to do with you.
Is there any possibility of you relocating back to Nigeria?
I don’t think it is a possibility. Honestly, I really don’t see that happening at all. I may come and go but not come back fully to Nigeria.
I don’t see myself relocating to Nigeria – Victoria Inyama