Beauty combined with versatility, that is the perfect description of pretty Oby Edozien who has been into acting since 1997 with her first movie: ‘To love and cherish.’ Oby has … since featured in numerous movies, including: ‘Abuja Connections’ and ‘Gongo Aso’, among others. In this chat with Funmi Salome Johnson, she speaks on her career, upbringing and Christian life
How is acting career treating you?
It’s all well and good. We thank God.
You have a song that is on air now, it is also the sound track to one of your movies. What is it about?
The movie is the story of three girls trying to make it in their musical career; they go through hell and at the end of the day, they succeed but fame gets into their heads and they start to smoke and engage in lesbianism and all the rest. The movie itself is party, it has musicals in-between. Then we sang there and there is pop music in it too. The girls die in a plane crash; I survive, didn’t go with them and the producer refuses to open the studio again and I move on with my life. That song you saw on air is in the movie, if you buy the movie when it comes out, you will see it in the movie; you will not see Obi Edozien but you will see the name of the character I played there. So I now decided to package it and play it on air.
Are you planning to go further with a music career
Yes I am. In fact, I am working on that now
Do you think you will survive the competition in the Nigeria music industry today?
In music or acting, you don’t have to compete with anybody, I can never be them and they can never be Oby Edozien so there is no competition, it is all about moving ahead in life and making it and being yourself. You don’t have to look at another person and say this person is this and so you have to be that. You just have to be yourself and you don’t have to be jealous of anybody. Be yourself and prosper, that is it.
So how has the acting terrain been? Has it been fun?
Acting has been fun and it is what I will do till the last days. You know when I am old, they have roles for old women, so kids will say to themselves ‘see that aunty when she was young’ so I am ready top act till old age. I am ready to die an actress.
How did you get into the acting profession?
In my school, Sola Fosudo was a lecturer; one day I walked up to him and told him I would like to be an actress and asked him how to go about it. He explained to me that there was something called audition and he gave me a note to Zeb Ejiro and I went to Zeb Ejiro’s office. Then they wanted to start Candle Light, so he invited me for the audition, you know those days that you would go for auditions and you would see the whole Lagos there. No GSM. I met some other people there and that was how it all started and the rest is history today.
Which was your very first movie?
My very first movie was ‘To love and to cherish’
Was it a lead role you played?
It was a lead and in that movie and I was Keppy Ekpeyong’s wife, you may probably not know I was the one, he used to beat me and all that and I took him to court and I was in the marriage because of my kids. It has been long because that was in 1997.
Aren’t you lucky, getting a lead role the first time?
Yes, I was and the film was directed by Mathias Obidikwe but it was produced by Keppy and Mathias Obidikwe. It was a lovely story.
What was the experience like acting for the first time alongside professionals?
It was nice and the movie was shown in the cinema in Benin. Where I knew I actually did well was that a lady actually cried at the cinema that she was apparently going through the same thing.
What was the format of the film, was it on 33mm?
No it was on VHS, you know those days of VHS. I don’t know if it is on DVD now, somebody told me about it but I am not sure.
What is your perception on the reality of sexual harassment in Nollywood. Is it real?
Let me just tell you how I started. When I go for auditions, any audition I go for, I am always picked, I was always given the lead role script to read and at the end of the day, they would bring in a celebrity, Sandra Achums of those days. Then, there was one that they brought somebody and I refused and the producer begged me that I had only one scene and that I would play the lead in the part two of the film. I thought they were deceiving me. I said I had been coming for this audition everyday, I had been reading lead and you are giving me one scene at the end of the day and you are telling me it would be lead in Part Two and I walked away. My colleagues then would tell me ‘Oby, you never do one, you come dey select’ but that is just me. So this thing about sexual harassment, I believe happens to people who are desperate. At times they say it is the producers and directors that chase these girls but the girls actually chase the producers and directors. Producers and directors are humans and they could ask you out, can’t you marry a producer or a director? But, as per sexual harassment, I don’t think there is anything like that. And if there is something like that, probably it is the girls that give way to that because it is how you present yourself that they will take you. I did not really go through it because most of the times, I go for auditions and they give something good.
What one good thing will you say acting has done to you?
It has done several good things to me. It has opened doors for me, anywhere you go to they know, they appreciate you and all that.
You have played several roles in movies. How would you describe Oby Edozien?
The real Oby is humble, romantic, God-fearing and very blunt. I am a very blunt person.
What is your perception of the Nigeria motion picture industry?
We have improved tremendously. Check out the costumes, the story lines, the movie itself, the production, we are far, far better than we used to be, we have improved. We are not Hollywood and we can not be now but given 10, 15 years to come, we will get there. But we can’t be now because we don’t really have the facilities needed to do that now. Here we shoot a movie in seven days to two weeks. To shoot a movie abroad, it takes probably a year or months. They take their time. But here, under seven days or two weeks, look at what we come out with, so you can imagine what we will have if we take our time and there is enough fund.
How do you take care of this gorgeous body?
I diet, and I think I have added weight now, so I have been starving myself. At times I go to my dentist and tie my mouth so I just take liquids and fruits. That is basically it.
How do you handle advances from fans of the opposite sex because I know they must be coming in droves?
Those days I used to be rude to them on phone when they disturbed me but now I am usually nice and good to them and they get tired at the end of the day.
Who is the lucky man in your life at the moment?
You will know that the day I get married.
How soon will that wedding bell ring?
Whenever God says because I know God has a day for me and on that day everybody will know.
Is he very romantic?
I don’t know because Jesus is my man.
Jesus is your man?
Yes, Jesus is my man, my all in all, my beginning and my end.
So this special man of yours, does he watch your movies?
Does God? Ah! God sees everybody now, what are you saying?
Stop being cynical
I say God sees everybody. Leave dis man matter, I said on my wedding day, everybody will see him; I will introduce my husband to everybody.
But does he watch your movies?
Does Jesus watch movies? I am married to Jesus for now. He is my love, my Number One love.
For a hundred million dollars, would you play nude?
Not for the whole money on earth, I will never play nude.
I can’t because I am African, because I am Ibo; because I don’t want my father to turn in his grave.
Talking about your folks, were they supportive when you started out as an actress?
Yes I had their full support, especially my father. May his soul rest in peace. He supported me very well. As a matter of fact, when my first movie came out, he said did you not know that you have to buy many copies so that I can give people to watch? I had his full support and my mom too.
What weregrowing up years like for you?
I grew up in a Christian home, my father was a disciplinarian, he was not too hot, he was not too cool. He was simple, firm and at the same time a no-nonsense man. He was a lovely man and he is the best daddy in the whole world.
Apart from English and your native language, which other language do you speak?
I speak Yoruba, I do Yoruba movies. I have featured in a number of Yoruba movies and the latest one is Gongo Aso.
How do you unwind?
I travel a lot, watch movies and I read my Bible
What advice do you have for upcoming ones ?
They should be focused and be persevering. They should not be desperate and they should believe in God.
What is your wardrobe taste? Are you a designer freak?
I am a jeans girl and I dress according to occasions.
What about your jewelry?
I wear all sorts, gold, accessories, anything you can think of, depending on what I am wearing.