Ireti Osayemi is resourceful and well informed .She has won a number of awards one of which is an Afrohollywood Award. She appreciates her husband for a lot of reasons but chiefly, because he doesn’t welcome rumor peddlers who have one tale or the other about her.The mother of two is full of hope for the future. So why is it that she seems to be acting Yoruba movies only? Read all about it in this interview she granted Samuel Olatunji.Excerpts:
There is this tendency or is it assumption that Nollywood marriages don’t last. How have you been able to sustain yours?
It’s been the grace of God . That’s all I can say
You are not doing anything special?
I guess those whose marriages don’t work-out do not pray for it to happen that way . It’s just the grace of God. We all wish that our marriages work-out and we work towards it. Sometimes things go wrong along the line. Unexpected things happen that you can’t handle and you need God to intervene . I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m just saying God has been in control and should be in control.
Is the fact that both of you work in the same industry a plus or minus?
For me, it’s a plus. A big plus
Why is it a plus?
My husband understands my job, I don’t have any problem with him. Imagine an actress, a mother, a wife going on location for 5 to 6 days and your husband is at home with the kids ? What will you tell him? That you will be on location for 6 days ? The man is an accountant.What will he think? My husband understands the nature of my job and he has no problem with that.
How do you cope with rumors about you in this industry?
Like I tell people, my husband is a don dada in the industry and before they know it, he knows all that its happening and people will have to think twice before peddling any kind of rumor to his hearing, because he knows about the rumor already.
Is it because he’s a don dada that you find it difficult to misbehave?
No, that’s not it. This is you, no matter how don dada your husband is, you will still be yourself. Do you understand? That’s just me, people still bring rumor to him but we talk about it and we laugh over it. There was this location I went and he was working around there too and I felt let me go and stay with my husband since I’ve not seen him for two weeks. I left the location for his hotel and at that moment too another actor was leaving the location. He drove out first and I drove like 5mins after him and the next thing was that my husband got a gist that “your wife just left with another actor and she is going to sleep there” That was even before I heard and it was not up to 24hrs .I actually slept with my husband that night.
Has there been any rumor that really got to him, that really shook your marriage?
No, there has never been. If you have been following our marriage very well, you’ll know that there has been no rumor to that effect.
Last time I was in your house, you were studying for an exam. Why are you still in school when you already have a career and you already have two children?
My brother, you know you don’t stop learning in life okay ? You have to forge ahead, you don’t become stagnant. You have to look for a way to flow and you get knowledge from wherever you think you can get it . That’s why I’m still schooling. I want to acquire more knowledge. I want to fit into any category, anywhere.
What are you studying and where?
Economics, at LASU
What level are you?
So, after you’re done will you dump acting for a career in banking?
(Laughs) No, not at all. I will continue acting.
How do you cope with your children?
I guess God has blessed me with wonderful children. Even when I’m not around, they don’t really mind. All they need is to see somebody. It’s God’s favor anyway. You leave some kids for a while and on the second day they are running temperature. I have just been blessed.
You seem to be scandal-proof, except for the rumor making the rounds when you first married your husband. How come you’ve been able to keep a scandal-free sheet?
Well, basically, when you don’t tread the lines of scandal, you don’t get scandals. When you walk on a free and safe line, you’ll definitely be free and safe but when you walk on the line of scandals, you definitely have scandals. That’s just it. I don’t go anywhere scandals originate. I don’t do questionable things, I’m just myself.
How did you handle the rumor that you snatched somebody’s husband?
Well, in most cases, your conscience will judge. I had no problem with that, because basically, a lot of people didn’t know what was happening .They were just jumping into conclusions. The moment rumors start bothering you, you start living another person’s life. So, that didn’t bother me in anyway because I knew where I was coming from and where I am going and we both knew the initial problem. So we didn’t need to go to the press to explain. We just didn’t let it bother us.
Are you happily married?
Yes, though there are ups and downs . Couples are two different people coming together to be one. So, you don’t expect your husband to become you totally or vice versa. If you really love each other and you have God with you, you will definitely overcome hardship because you understand each other. Couples fight over little issues. Marriages have fallen apart because of toothpaste.
The wife says “why are you pressing the toothpaste from the middle? You must be a bush man and her husband will say, maybe I’m a bush man but could you explain how to press the toothpaste? Another husband may say, what do you mean? Who brought you to Lagos that you have the guts to talk to me like that? Are you mad? And a fight ensues. It’s just your level of understanding that matters. Always remember that you cannot be right always.
Did you have challenges in getting close and personal with him at the beginning of your relationship?
Truly, we were friends from the onset. We were more of friends than a couple. When I’m talking to some people, I sometimes tell them that my husband said this or that and they feel so strange wondering how my husband can say this to me? I tell him a lot of things and he does likewise . That’s why when you talk about me outside and you feel it will get to him,it doesn’t, because he knows it already. I don’t hide anything from him and I guess he has hidden nothing from me.I know that.
Why must you guess, aren’t you sure?
No, I’m very sure he has hidden nothing from me.
How do you feel winning the afrohollywood laurel?
Well, I’m very happy. It’s so amazing when you are recognized in your field and somebody is actually telling you that you’re doing well. Not just somebody but a lot of people are saying “we enjoy watching you do what you do”and they feel for that, you should be given an award. I feel so happy, because it motivates me to move on in the industry that I have improved and that I can do better. I say thank you to the organizers, I say thank you to my fans, I say thank you to my husband and everybody that made it happen.
Do you think you deserve the award?
(Chuckles) Life is full of opinions. Some might say she doesn’t deserve the award while others may say she deserves it. Lati gba ti alaye ti daye ni iru e ti n sele (It’s been like that since the beginning). You can’t be everybody’s friend, you can’t be everybody’s age mate. It’s normal if everyone doesn’t like you because if everybody loves you, you need to go check yourself.
Why do you avoid your colleagues?
That’s just me. I don’t think there is anybody in the industry who will say “Ireti is not my friend”. We are all colleagues and we get along. In most cases, friendship in the industry is sometimes difficult, because this man might even be out for the next twelve months and besides, I’m not the type that keeps so many friends. It’s not as if there is anything wrong with keeping friends. It’s just me.
What should we expect from you in 2011?
Well, like I always say, the best is yet to come, watch out for more from Ireti.
Will you be producing your movie by yourself in 2011?
Yes, by the grace of God.
Should we expect another child from you in 2011?
(Laughs) Well from my side, I don’t think I am expecting any one now but you never know what God wants to do next. That’s why I am saying from my side. For me, I am not planning for one yet.
Was your husband with you in the labor room?
(Laughs) He ran away
Why did he run?
He’s very emotional. He doesn’t like seeing another person in pains. So, whenever it’s time, he runs away. It was a better experience when I had my second child, because he couldn’t run but he eventually later did.
After you came back from the labor room, did he treat you like a queen?
Labor room or not, he goes out of his way to make me feel secure.
So how will you spend Christmas?
We are looking forward to spending our Christmas alone.
So, I am not invited?
So we are expecting another baby in 2011?
Don’t bother. It doesn’t lead to babies always.
What about New Year, where do you plan to spend New Year?
Well, it’s normally a family thing and we have some family friends that we spend our New Year with. So that is definitely going to bring us together.
What was your experience like in Omo Ghetto?
(Laughs) That’s another thing entirely. You have to be what you’ve never been in your life.You have to be a ghetto girl.
People say love is not kind in Nigeria. Do you share the same sentiment?
Well, I don’t know what they mean by in Nigeria because I know men are the same anywhere. I prefer an African man to a white man because a white man can come home and say “I don’t love you anymore”, he doesn’t care if you still love him or not. An African man will still put you into consideration and believe that this woman loves me o, how can I tell her I don’t love her? And he will start fighting himself on the inside and say “I must love this woman, I must not be ungrateful, I must show love”. I see no reason why someone will say love is not kind in Nigeria. Love is not kind everywhere in the world if you are saying love is not kind in Nigeria.
People say before you meet your prince charming, you would have kissed many frogs. How many frogs did you kiss before you married your prince charming?
In life we all grow. You can’t expect your first boyfriend to be your husband. Then you lack experience, you lack so many things. You don’t even know what life is all about. I have seen so many people that say this is my first love and this is the person I will marry. Believe me , along the line, they will have so many problems because firstly you don’t really know who people are, you don’t know how to tackle different people, you don’t know how to tackle different problems. One of them will have so many problems that one has not seen in life. Along the line, you start feeling like I just should have tried someone else maybe it would have been better. Take it or leave it, you will have different experiences and you choose the right one out of that.
Why is it that your first love doesn’t last?
It doesn’t usually work because one, you are inexperienced. You don’t really know what love is all about . That’s just the simple truth. No matter how old you are, you are still learning. So in most cases the first relationship will not work because one you are still selfish. You still think of me, me, me. You don’t think of the other person and the other person is there as well and is thinking “why is she thinking of herself only? She should think of me as well”. You get angry and you know, everything smashes. In most cases, the first relationship doesn’t really work.
When did you start acting and when did you come into Nollywood?
I started acting in 1999 and my brother was into the stage then. One day, he came home and said “these people you’re crazy about, I know where you can see them” and I was like really? Are you sure I asked , and I was like take me there so we had to sneak out of the house because normally, you are not supposed to get out of the house at that hour of the day. I sneaked out and when I saw them, I was so overwhelmed.
Where was that?
That was Winnings in Surulere. It used to be the happening place and I was like this is unbelievable. Can you imagine, I’m seeing everybody live and direct and I got my first job? So someone was like “who is this girl? You fit into the role I am looking for”. I have been looking for a girl who will be this, that and I got my first job!
What job was that and who gave it to you?
I can’t remember his surname now, but it was Emeka . He was the production manager.
Why did you switch to the Yoruba genre?
In life, you feel more comfortable where you are more accepted. I was more accepted in the Yoruba movie industry, and more jobs were coming from the Yoruba movie industry. That doesn’t mean I cannot act in English movies. If I get a role in an English movie, I can do it. The thing is that jobs are not really coming from the English sector.
Does your husband negotiate your fees for you?
Sometimes he does. If it’s coming from him, he does.
What if it’s coming from you?
If it’s coming from me, sometimes I prefer that he negotiates for me.
There is this stuff I saw online that actresses sleep with a director, producer or marketer to get the job. Is that your experience?
Well, like I tell people, it’s what you want that you get. A lot of us are not patient. We want to come into the industry today, make a name and become a star tomorrow. That’s why a lot of actresses get frustrated and leave the industry. A lot of them end up doing a lot of things that they are not happy about. You don’t get into an industry that you virtually know nothing about and you want to become a star tomorrow.
It works nowhere, so patience works a lot. If you think that sleeping with a director or a producer or a marketer will make you a star in a jiffy, you go ahead to sleep with them if you want to,but if you are patient, people will definitely see you. I believe a lot of girls in the industry that are not sleeping with anybody are getting their roles. They are getting jobs and they are getting their jobs done. So for someone to have said that, that means the particular girl must be notorious for doing that.
But have you ever dated a marketer ?
But they have money and they control everything. Don’t they?
They don’t control everything. You can’t say marketers control everything. They don’t shoot films. Films are shot and taken to the marketer. Okay? So you can’t say the marketer controls everything.
Why do Yoruba actresses date marketers?
Well, that I don’t know. I’m not dating a marketer and I don’t know those dating marketers.
Has it ever crossed your mind that something could happen to your marriage since your husband was married before?
Well, every marriage is prone to ups and downs and there is nothing you have seen or heard that will make you say that.
Yes. So the moment you think of anything of such, you work against it to make sure it doesn’t happen in your life. That is just it.
Thank you, but how will you feel if this is a woman’s world without men?
A world of women (laughs).
This world will be a world full of selfishness
Why do you say so?
Women are always selfish, we think of ourselves a lot.