Fair complexioned Rachael Oniga is a household name in the Nigerian movie industry. She’s one of the few cross-over artistes in the industry, having featured in many English and Yoruba movies.
Beyond this, the mother of three also model’s for television commercials. HVP caught up with her at a celebrity event where she sharesd her pains and travails of being a single-parent for 18 years, even though she was recently widowed, amongst other issues.
You seem to be a very private person.
I’m a very private and homely person. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy parties but I select the kind of parties and events I attend.
So, what informs the kind of your social function?
It depends on the organisers, the kind of people that will grace the occasion, if I am free or if the occasion is holding on a day I want to enjoy myself.
What draws you to movies?
The story is one of the things I look out for. Even if the script is poorly written, but the story is excellent, I will accept it. I also look at the director of the film.
If the director is one that I know and respect as someone that knows his job . I will accept to feature in the movie.
This is because a director who knows his job will do a proper casting without being unnecessarily sentimental. I do not like to put myself in a situation where either the producer or the director brings in sentiment, especially in giving out roles in a movie.
What motivated you into the acting career?
As a child, I thought I would become a singer or dancer because I love to dance and sing a lot. I have always had a flair for show biz.
So, why didn’t you go into music?
Not really. It is just that the opportunity did not come to me then, but later found myself in the acting profession. As a person, even as a child, I had a mind of my own, although my parents were very strict.
Even if you are destined to become something, the door has to be opened in the first instance. The door for me opened in the area of acting and I grabbed it.
When did your door open for the acting career?
The door opened in 1993 and that was it.
Which was your very first job?
My first job was on TV series. I featured in a programme called Memorial Hospital. I was an inmate there. After TV, I went into movies and my first movie was ‘Onome” and my debut Yoruba movie was “Owo Blow” although a lot of people used to think it is Boorepo but I actually did Owo Blow and one or two Yoruba jobs before Boorepo.
But it just happened that Boorepo came out and everybody fell in love with the character that I played in that movie. And again, seeing an English speaking actress feature in Yoruba movie, they just fell in love with it.
Being a widow, how are you coping with the loneliness and the pain of single parenthood over the years?
I’m recently widowed but for so many years, I have been separated from the man. So, I do not see myself as a widow but as a single parent of almost 18 years.
And the fact that one is a single parent is no excuse for not being hard working. I agree there are lonely moments when the kids are matured and are away from home but as a couple, such times come in their lives. After graduating from school, they start working, get married and leave the house.
And the home will be left for you and your husband if you are together. But for me, I have been like that for close to 18 years.
Do you have any intention of remarrying?
No one is God but18 years? What I just have to say is that no one is God. God is Almighty and there is nothing impossible for him to do. You might say in your heart that I am not going to do this and if God says that is what is going to happen, it will happen.
That is because you have no power over your life.
Being a beautiful looking woman, you must have several admirers lurking at your door step. How do you handle such advances?
I just appreciate them and thank them.
And the stubborn ones?
You will have your own way of putting them off. May be, probably as a child while growing up, I never saw myself as beautiful because I was a tomboy. So, I see myself more like a boy than a girl. May be, when it was time for me to get married, I started thinking about it.
To me, everybody is beautiful because everything God created is beautiful. I remember that when I was a teenager, they used to call me Okin and then I wondered why they call me that name.
What kind of a child were you while you were growing up?
Oh, dear I pity my mother. I was very stubborn. I told you that I was a tomboy, I was something else.
I climbed trees and I fiought a lot. I was a fighter and I didn’t fight with girls because I saw them as lower species because I was a tomboy so I fought with boys a lot. When I look back, I just wonder what kind of a child I was.
What was usually the cause of your constant fights?
Many things, both relevant and irrelevant. It could be anything, it could be that you jumped the gutter before me. It could be anything.
What’s your advice for younger women hoping to be like you
Always listen to the voice of your parents because they have seen what is ahead that you will not see because you are young. And through experience, they have seen a lot.
So, you should always listen to them. Secondly, be hard working, believe in yourself. As a lady, don’t believe you will use yourself to get to the top because the end is always too bad.