For twenty-eight year old Empress, an English graduate from the Onabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, controversy has become a way of life, as her every move is termed so. But for this very down to earth lady, negative stories about her only propel her to be the best in what she does acting. A sibling of very highly rated actor and director, John and Aquila, both elder brothers, she spoke to Adia Ukoyen at her Festac Town residence on why she has remained strong, even in the face of negative reports and many more.

Which movie would you say did the magic for you?
I think it has to be ‘Girls Hostel’ in 1999 where I played a major role; Tunika.

What was growing up like for you?
Growing up was wonderful. My growing up was fun. My mum is the best mother I have and could ever have, my late father, also, was wonderful. I have the best family ever. From childhood, I knew I would become an actress. I loved it so much and watching Tales by Moonlight was all I did as a child. Acting runs in my family, though. My siblings are in the industry too.

How much was your first fee as an artiste?
My first fee as an actress was thirty thousand naira.

And how much do you earn today?
Ten years after, of course the fee has appreciated. But the exact figure, I am sorry but I cannot say. We are still not paid what we ought to be paid. Many of us are in the industry for the love of the discipline, as against the monetary gain.

How rich has acting made you?
I am comfortable.

Empress NjamahHow did your parents react to the news that you wanted to become an actress?
My parents were not disposed to my becoming an actress. My mother had her reservations about all her children wanting to belong to the same line of business. She wanted me to do something else. My father kept telling me of the side effects of the profession, but when he saw that I was really not discouraged, he had no choice than to let me be. It took my mother to see one film that I had been part of, which she liked, for her to be convinced. With that, she felt I had what it took to be a good actress and she encouraged me to go on.

Acting is in the family for you and your siblings. Why did you all decide to be artistes?
I don’t know. Maybe destiny, maybe talent.

Could the attraction for you have been the money?
I doubt that it was the money. I would have been thrown out of the industry if it was about money. It is a talent I have, so I don’t need to go and build it. I have it and I was born with it, so why would I not use it and then put food on my table? It is very interesting doing what you know how to do best and you are getting paid for it. Just like getting paid for playing. It is something I enjoy doing and I do it with a smile and money comes with it. It is not all about doing it because of money as many people do now. If you are not good, you are not good. If you want to do it, you need to have the talent, understand the job, and know what you want to get from it before you venture into it.

What is style for you?
I am not a vogue person, I don’t really follow the trend. I just wear what is comfortable. The linen, for instance, is one fabric that I really like. It goes for all occasions. I am not a skirt person. I am more into trousers, jeans especially, because it makes me look smart. I am really very playful and jumpy. Skirts are not for people like me. I had so many which my mother bought for me but I gave them all out. I just like looking smart. I hardly go for weddings, and if I have to, I avoid the church and attend the reception so I can wear the kind of outfit I like.

Is that why you love to wear clothes that reveal your body?
No. What you wear speaks for you. I am an expressive, down to earth, practical person. So I person. I wear practical clothes. I will say that my dress sense is expressive of my self. If I have to wear something revealing, it has to be for a reason. I love to wear simple clothes that allow my skin to breathe. Not that I want to wear things to reveal my skin, cleavage or show my flat tummy but, I love to wear things that I am very comfortable with. I can get into any atmosphere and be comfortable. Each time you see me wear revealing tops, it’s that I just got into the country. You can’t compare the weather here with the one outside. When you come back here, even with the air conditioner on, you still feel very uncomfortable. So it’s not about exposing my body but a matter of comfort.

And your crazy hairstyles, are those also an expression of yourself or the weather?
It’s really nice for people to have their own style. I am known for my afro hairstyle. I love the afro look a lot. And I love it very full. Usually, people use two, three weave-ons on their hair but, I use four or five. I am wearing three right now and I am going back to add two to it.” Normally, people use two three weave-on because, like they say, they want it to look flat and natural. It’s obvious that it’s not natural, so, why don’t you just do your thing the way it should be. If I have to wear the Chinese weave-on, I use three because I love it really full, that’s my style.

Your clear, dark skin shows that you may have your unique beauty regime. Do you have one?
I don’t really have any. I am comfortable anywhere I go. I can use your soap. I’m not particular about blemishes. I use any thing for my skin. I know, once in a while, we need to cleanse, tone and moisturize but I am not too into it. I use the Clinique cleanser but, not everyday. I use it mostly after shooting, to make sure I remove every trace of make-up. I do the facial myself with cucumber and the normal facial scrub. But I don’t do that all the time.I do not stick to a particular body cream. The oldest cream I would say I’ve used for a long time is Visible difference. It is really nice. Sometimes, I mix my cream with glycerine to moisturize my skin. But I am not particular about a cream, I can use anything.

What fashion item are you crazy about?
It has to be my jeans. Ï am not really into accessories. I love to wear gold but, I don’t wear them all the time. Being a jeans person, I can’t wear jeans and gold, it won’t go. I wear silver accessories too. I love very bold earrings, and I don’t wear one pair of earrings. I have two holes, I wear one bold and a smaller one, I love my ear to be full. Silver goes better with my colour because I am dark. I wear my gold only on chiffon tops. I love my bags big. Carrying small bags around doesn’t make sense. An average woman should have her powder and make-up in her bag, to touch up after every meal. I have a shrine of perfumes. I am a perfume freak, all my friends know this. I can use my last money to buy perfume. I hardly use the feminine perfume. I don’t have a favourite fragrance. I mix them, so you can hardly tell what I am wearing.

Do you do anything to keep fit?
I am a very good dancer. If you’ve seen me dance you’ll understand why I say it’s enough exercise for a month.

How expensive is your taste?
I wouldn’t say expensive. I love good things.

You have been associated with many men, yet you are single. What would you look for in Mr.Right and when do you hope to settle down?
It is every woman’s wish to settle down someday and raise a family. Take your time, don’t just marry because your best friend is getting married or because you just attended a marriage ceremony or watched in a movie about how a lady got married and had a happy home. Get married when you know that you have time for it and you are ready to devote your time to being a wife and you are ready to understand what it takes to build a family, when you are ready to stop doing the things you do when you are single. And remember, you can’t build a home without Christ.

The kind of man I know I will settle down with is the man God has prepared for me. Every girl out there has her husband, but the most important thing is to pray, know him and marry him. It is very wrong for you to marry a man that is not yours. I am looking forward to having it all; as long as there is chemistry, we can build every other thing. It is all about understanding. I am not going to say I want a tall man; I may fall in love with a short man. If the attraction is there, we can make things work. I don’t want to customise my man. I want a man whom God has ordained for me. I don’t want to go in and out of marriage, I want to stay married till death do us part.

Who is your role model?
To be honest, sometimes, it is difficult to pick who my role model is because I try to learn from people to build myself. My role model is anybody who impacts me positively.

How would you describe yourself?
Empress Njamah is a playful person, very jovial; she never has a dull moment, friendly and light-hearted. Empress has a good heart

How do you deal with the negative stories that are written about you which have been quite a number?
There have been more of negative stories written about me than positive ones, but negative stories have only helped me to build my strength and become better. Those saying bad things about me don’t know me.

What have been the gains and pains of stardom?
Being an actress has helped me in so many ways and has also brought me down in many ways. The positive thing is the star recognition I get through the job, but the negative side makes me sad. People want to read negative stories about you; they want to know how you break up, or why you are not living happily and for those kind of people, I have no apologies.