This is most probably the best time to be Omoni Oboli. She stared in The Figurine and Anchor Baby, two of the few good films with a Nigerian imprint in the last two years. And she can’t stop winning awards.
After years of being in the shadow of some of her more popular peers, Omoni is now the star everybody wants to be like.
Among the awards she won last year were the Best Actress gongs at the City People Entertainment Award and the Best of Nollywood Award. The latter came with $10,000 prize money and an all-expense paid trip to Dubai.
She told Saturday Independent what the seemingly meteoric rise means to her.
“For me, this is really huge; this is really what I would classify as taking it to another level. I have always said I only want to do good movies and people know me and they know that if they see me in a movie, it then means the movie is a good one. In 2011, people should expect another big movie. I am where I hoped to be a couple of years ago and I am not going to take any rest, I will only keep going stronger.”
Although, the ravishing mother of three prides The Figurine, Kunle Afolayan’s big feature in 2009, as the movie that catapulted her to the top of the ladder of fame and fortune, she said she had a pretty good time shooting Anchor Baby, which she feels represents a big leap into the future in terms of her career
“Being on the cast of Anchor Baby was a great experience, this is even moreso because it is my first international movie. The cast and crew were simply wonderful. They were very professional; they all knew what they were doing and they were really friendly and turned out to be fun to work with. You know, the director was very intense, he knew exactly what he wanted and he always went all out for it all the time. It was just great working with all of them and it is one I would always describe as a very wonderful experience.”
Lonzo Nzekwe, the director of Anchor Baby had revealed sometime ago that getting Omoni Oboli on the set was harder than getting the others actors although people like Terri Oliver and Sam Sarpong were more known and they operate in the Hollywood axis. He has since described that as the best move concerning the movie but Omoni said it is not because she is difficult; she was only being cautious and the distance was also a factor.
“Whatever difficulty he talked about must have emanated from the fact that the movie was shot in Toronto and I of course live here in Nigeria. So when he contacted me, I also had to see the script first and you know how it is, because I mean he had not done anything before the time and I didn’t have any project to use as a reference point at that time. If Kunle (Afolayan) calls me for instance to come and do another movie with him now or later, I am not going to ask him any questions because I know the movie would definitely be good.
“The Figurine is the movie that I would say really took me to the height of the ladder in Nollywood in terms of that commanding presence. But then I had to see the script of the movie, Anchor Baby before I could take any decision or make any commitment regarding being a part of it. When, eventually, I was able to see the script, I exclaimed ‘wow’ and talking to him (Nzekwe) more and more as time went on, I realised he knew what he was doing and he was going to do a good job.”
You might just forgive Omoni for her fondness of the movie, The Figurine if you take into account the fact that she played her role in the movie along with her son, Tobi.
She was in our office on Thursday and described her experience on the Unilever-sponsored trip to Dubai for emerging Best Actress at the Best of Nollywood Award held last year.
“Dubai was a lot of fun, she began. “We travelled first class and we got there with the limo and everything waiting for us. We got to our hotel at the World Trade Centre residence and everything was really nice. We had like two bedroom duplex inside the hotel there; everything great was there, Jacuzzi and everything. We had to rest because we got there very early in the morning and the next day, we went to shop and tour the city.”
She described the many places they visited in Dubai and the food, drinks and entertainment in superlatives. Being a fan of 3D movies, she and her husband, Nnamdi Oboli, went to 3D cinemas to their heart desire.
On their final day in Dubai, Mr. and Mrs. Oboli went on a Dhow Cruise. She described it thus: “It was very nice. We had a dinner on cruise experience where you see the beauty of Dubai in the night while you are eating and chatting along. It was really nice, although it was really kind of cold that night. That was our final night there and we left the hotel at about 4am and did some shopping and then we came back”.
Back to her films, she said “being in Anchor Baby has been a blessing because through the movie, I won two international awards. I won Best Actress at the Los Angeles Movie Awards and also Best Actress at the Harlem International Film Festival. There is no other Nigerian actress that has won those kinds of awards, the most anybody has won is maybe an award organised by Nigerians in the Diaspora. These ones are completely by oyinbo people, I don’t know them and they don’t know me. I didn’t even go for those festivals but the movie was submitted for the festivals and the jury saw all the movies that came in and chose it. That was like really huge for me. I have not got any kind of accolade like that before”.
Naturally, many producers want this bankable actress in their production.
“Yes, scripts are coming in but many of them are not just it. You have to keep stepping up; you can’t do The Figurine and Anchor Baby and do just like it is business as usual. Because of The Figurine I was named best actress in a leading role at Best of Nollywood Awards and the City People Award. Since after Anchor Baby, I have received one script that wowed me,” she told us.
Continuing, she said, “I have come to be known as someone who does only good movies and people expect that when they see me in a movie they can relax and not be tensed up, wondering if the movie is good or not. They have come to recognise my brand and I cannot really go back and begin to do movies that are not up to par. It is price that I have to pay and I don’t mind”.
2011 is looking bright for her. Next month she will be at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, U.S.A. were The Figurine andAnchor Baby will be making strong showing. That is another first for a ‘Nollywooder’.
After Los Angeles, she will be going to Kenya for the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) party then to Burkina Faso for FESPACO.