Ruth Kadiri doesn’t strike you like another pretty face in Nollywood as the upcoming star is also a scriptwriter to reckon with. The undergraduate at the University of Lagos, disclosing how she got into the movie industry, the challenges and her relationship. Excerpts...
How long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the movie industry for more than two years.
How many movies have you done so far?
I have done more than 10 movies.
What is it like working with the big stars?
I have worked with lots of stars, but so far I have not really had any issues with them and we respect one another.
I read somewhere that you are in the National Open University Nigeria; are you still running your programme there?
No, I am no longer running that programme. I am now in UNILAG. I am reading Mass Communication and I am in my second year.
How have you been able to combine school with acting?
It is not easy, but it is has been stressful either. I have priorities in my life and my school is primary, any other thing can follow.
What about your parents, have they been supportive?
Yes, I come from a very supportive home. My mum especially understands. I started with writing and it’s not really a problem for them in as much as I take my academics seriously.
What are some of the movies you have written?
I wrote Wild and Dirty, Sincerity, Queen of the Jungle, Heart of a Fighter, Ladies Men, Ladies Gang, Rain Drop, Every Woman and many more.
Did you produce any of these yourself?
No, I just write.
Is writing more lucrative than being an actor?
It is like asking whether it is lucrative being a boss or being a father. They are two different things and they have different responsibilities.
Okay, which pays better?
I don’t know really, but both pay my bills and it could be better. As a writer, you can earn a living and as an actor, you can also earn a living.
Have you ever been ripped off as a scriptwriter by producers?
No, I have never had such experience. But I have heard about it. The truth is that it depends on how you started. We have a lot of young people who want to write and so they get into the wrong hands. I am not going to say they are desperate, but when you don’t have a job to show what you have done then you start begging for producers to use your script, that’s when you fall into such hands. You know writing a script is like doing the whole movie, so a lot of producers don’t take new writers seriously because they do not have faith in them. But I think it is good to discover young writers because there are very good ones out there.
How did you discover you could write?
I started writing about two years ago when I met writers like Yinka Ogun, Pascal and Victor Eze. Victor Eze had a writing school then. So, since he is my friend, I asked him if I could come over. I went to the school free and I never thought I would take it seriously. So, I wanted to do a movie then and they were asking for so much money and my friend was like, babe, you can do this thing, and that was how it started. I ended up not producing it though, but I sold it and that was how Wild and Dirty was created.
Why is it that most Nollywood movies are now having a bit of soft porn?
Well, I won’t be biased because I am a part of the industry, but as I told you earlier, the script is the movie. You see sex is part of our every day life even though our culture frowns at it when you put it on the front page. Sex is there, but we just tend to look the other way. But if we take a look at international movies, if there is need for sex in a movie you will see it there. Sex is part of our life and we cannot runaway from it. What is happening is just make-believe.
Sometime ago it was ritual killing. Later it was love and now soft pornography. Does it mean writers discuss what would be the theme for the season?
No. It’s just a trend like fashion. It’s like you saw someone with a hairstyle and you want to copy it because it is cool. So, it is not like we all sit down to write a theme. There is a movie I wrote, but it is not out yet. The lady in this movie, her husband never slept with her in a six-year-old marriage. So, how do you tell a story without showing that very day when her husband eventually slept with her after six years? That is important in the story. The only time I would frown at such scenes is when you bring it in unnecessarily. If it has an essence in the story I will reveal it.
As a Christian, do you think you should be part of the soft porn in Nollywood?
There are some things I really won’t want to delve into because it might clash with other people’s beliefs. I am not just talking as an actress, but as a writer. You see, writers create stories and characters are like pawns in their hands. When you see soft porn you will know. In our kind of society, so many factors determine a script. But the Censor Board is also there to regulate these things. In Nigeria, there are some things you cannot do because the Censor Board is watching.
Are you still holding on to your faith?
Yes, I still hold on to it.
How do you handle the various temptations in the industry, because we have been told that it is wild out there?
What do you mean by out there? You sound as if we are drowning. Who you are is who you are. Where is the time? If I am not shooting, ask me when I have the time to hang out. Now, I would be going to Ghana. So, I don’t have time. It is your person, but people have the impression that actors are wild and I just wonder and go crazy. After shooting, which lasts for two weeks, you are running off to another set or facing your life. People just judge you from the roles you play and think you are like that. For me, I do not live a very flamboyant life.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
I am not going to lie to you because, as a person, I am blessed. For instance, writing wasn’t what I wanted to do. I just got an opportunity and I did it, and the writing has helped me in gaining ground. Most of the time, I don’t have problems. For instance, I would be travelling to Ghana for a script. So far, God has been good to me. I have never had issues that bother me.
So, there was never a time you wanted to pull out?
No, I am not the kind of person that easily gives up, even when I’m suffering. I went for an audition and there were about three thousand people there, but I decided to go pick my books and learn. I will never forget that day because I went with my friends and none of them got a role, but I went home with something that I am earning a living from now.
I noticed you spoke only about your mum. What about your dad? Was he against your decision to act?
My dad is not in the country, but he comes and goes. I live with my mum. Initially, my dad was against it because he didn’t want me to make mistakes, but later I realized this was what I wanted and so he gave his consent.
As an actress and student, you would be quite popular, especially in a school like UNILAG. How do you handle this?
Well, I am not very popular in school because I keep a low profile. You see I have a problem of being noticed because it is not easy. Lecturers know when you are not in class and the ones who are not directly teaching you would come and look for you. If I’m going to school, there are some things I can’t just wear. Sometimes I go to school without earrings because I want to be normal. Your classmates would go and check your results and they are always on your case. But most times I make sure it doesn’t bother me.
What was childhood like?
We are just two kids and I am the first child. Growing up was fun and I was an introvert. My mum never allowed us to go out. Now, I still find it very difficult to go out. I was quite popular in school because I was a talkative.
How do you handle your male admirers?
I make sure I’m polite with them and wave back when they wave. But I had one very bad experience that I had to change my number, because he said God told him I was his wife since he saw me on television. You know some people can’t just separate make-believe from reality. He saw me in a movie where Yemi Blanq was punishing me and he was like I shouldn’t get into the wrong hands. I was like, what is this, initially. I thought it was a joke and I would hang up on him. But when I check my phone I would see 20 missed calls and it would be him. Later, I barred his call and he went on to use another number. So, I had to change my number. I think that was the craziest thing I have faced, because it really lasted long. He was on my case for three months.
Are you in any relationship at present?
Yes, just normal thing. Nothing extra.
What do you mean just normal? You know every girl dreams her relationship ends in marriage?
Well, the last relationship I had ended because he wanted me to quit acting and started offering me other options. It was really devastating, so I had to choose what I loved most.
You walked out of the relationship because of that?
I didn’t walk out, he said I should choose and I chose. Because I know I would find a man who loves me and my job. I never walked out. I was the one who felt betrayed because he knew I was into acting when he met me. So, that is so insensitive and selfish. I’m happy God brought me out of the relationship on time because, if I had married him, it would have been worse. He would have picked my friends, clothes and would have made all the decisions and then I would turn out to be unhappy.
Don’t you think many men have problems dealing with women in Nollywood?
Those men have such problems, complex problems. We all don’t act alike and we all have different beliefs.
What about the new guy, how are you sure he is different?
I don’t just date people. We have always been friends.
Is he in the industry?
No. He had always been my friend and you know there are some people who just love you the way you are.