Beautiful actress, Empress Njamah is an amiable lady and fun to talk with. Living her passion in the fashion world, the thespian currently owns a boutique in Abuja called House of Empress. She also owns a Spa and a Saloon among other fortunes. The bundle of talent, who shot into limelight with the movie Girls Hostel, opens up to MERCY MICHAEL in this interview, on why she’s into a new line of business. She also reveals some of her fashion-fetish while speaking on the topic, marriage.
WHAT is your favourite breakfast? I don’t have favourite dishes. I can take anything that is available. For breakfast, I can’t do without tea. I can take tea like a hundred times a day. Wherever I travel to, I always have my tea bag. I found out that tea is actually good for the body. I must drink it first thing in the morning. I thought I didn’t have a favourite dish. I love Amala for lunch. I crave for it. Anywhere I can get it, I go for it, but eating it here is not like eating it abroad.
You have refused to grow old. Tell about your beauty regime?
I try as much as possible to stick to a product. I’m not adventurous with beauty products. What many people don’t understand is that it has to take more than a year for a new product to work on you, because it has to kill some cells to get into the main skin. Most people start with trying to use something and when it doesn’t work with one jar, they say it’s fake.
People should understand they need a lot of time to get into a particular product. I try as much as possible to moisturize. I can make do with any kind of soap. What I use for my face is what I use for my body. I don’t do make-up all the time. Sometimes you need to allow the face to breathe. I am this type of person; it’s either I am wearing make-up or not (laughs). Of course tonight you are going to see me wear….
What’s your favourite fashion item?
I can’t do without a lip gloss. I’m a hair person, but I don’t go out of my way. One thing I do that’s not regular is that, I wear like five people’s hair at the same time. Over the years it has been my style. My hair has to be very full. I can’t do without my claws. That’s why I don’t do epic movies. I call my nails claws. I can’t do without them. People criticise me for not doing epic movies because I have the physique for them.
But you could take them off for the movie…
I can’t remove my claws. I can’t. My nails are who I am.
How do you eat Eba with them?
I just did. Oh! You weren’t there when I ate with Lancelot Imasuen? I ate Amala with them. I eat anything. I told you I’m an African woman, leave the nails. I can’t function without them, but maybe with time, like my publicist will say, maybe when I have my baby.
How long have you been wearing your claws? And what made you to start wearing them?
I have been wearing them for over eight years. The first time I fixed my nails, they were acrylic and they were long for a character movie. After the movie, it wasn’t easy to say I wanted to take them off, so being with the nails for over a week brought me into it.
You once said you used many perfumes at the same time…
Oh I’m a freak. I have a shrine. I’m not kidding. You can ask two or three people here who know me. I have over three hundred perfumes. Over three hundred perfumes.
Do you have a few favourites?
I wear masculine perfumes. I love strong perfumes, because they always have an after smell. I’m not particular about the designers. I’m particular about smell. And I can never wear one perfume. I wear like three or four perfumes at a time, so you definitely don’t know. I’m that bad. I can tell what someone is wearing, if you are wearing a known perfume. Perfume is me. I can give you a few names.
Okay, I’m wearing a Tom Ford, Black Orchid, Eaudemoiselle de Givenchy, Poison and Trouble. I think I’m wearing over six because I went to my hotel room like three times and each time I try to step out, I must always use a perfume. I also wear oil perfume most times. Sometimes, when the weather is hot, I use the oil perfume so that my skin doesn’t get burnt or affected. I have loads of perfumes (laughs). That’s the only question I love answering.
What’s new about Empress Njamah?
I have House of Empress Boutique based in Abuja, I have a spa and I have a saloon. I’ve been working on so many things, my brands, loads and loads of travelling too. At my free time, I do one or three movies and I’m working on two more. They keep shifting because my movement no dey pure (laughs).
You see one thing with the movie; it’s always there. But what people don’t understand is that we also need a lot to fall back on. And then it’s not easy to bring out something like that, you just let it be. You have to work in it. So far, it is standing. I have a branch in Abuja. I also have another one in Wuse 2. I will be coming to Lagos sometime soon. Lagos is clustered for me, but it’s not an excuse. I’m still working on Lagos. I still need a lot of people to psyche me on that because it is one place that I want to do this thing, but there are loads of competition in Lagos.
And then a lot of people don’t want to do their stuff, but when they see you doing well with your stuff, they want to get into your stuff. Do you understand? So, I’m actually taking my time, but I have loads of customers in Lagos that I bring stuffs for more than every other place. However, I love Abuja right now.
Aren’t you gradually falling apart with acting?
Do people ever fall out of it?
People do fall out of love. Isn’t it the same thing?
When you say fall in and out of love, most people don’t fall out of love. They just let love be. We all have love in us. People only fall out of the wrong love. So, if you are giving your love to the wrong person, you will definitely get it back. I always try to make people understand that, not because someone says something out of depression then you let it stick to you. So you don’t fall out of it.
A lot of us are either born to act or we were made to. So if you have it in there, it is always going to be there. The industry does not have an expiry date. I could get up tomorrow and say I’m not going to act for ten years and after then I come back and act like a mother because of age and time. But it is still there. So there is always a role for everyone. There is no expiry date on things like that.
I try to do the movies that are worth it. The industry is filled with square-pegs in round holes. Most people don’t go far because there are loads of distractions once they come in. But basically, with the level I have attained in the industry, I don’t think I should be everywhere. That’s the truth.
Coming from a family of actors, aren’t you worried the name might fade away if you keep away?
A good name will always remain even if you are off for five years. You will always be remembered for your good works. You don’t have to do a hundred movies to be what someone wants you to be. I know someone that has done loads and loads of movies, once you don’t have the star streak, you don’t have it.
You can just do one movie, and that one may be it. We all know Funke Akindele and how she’s been there all these years. She came up with this one movie that told a lot of stories and that was it. Even if for any reason Funke is not in the scene for a particular time, she will definitely be known for that work.
So what was the movie that brought you to limelight?
The movie that gave me my breakthrough is Girls Hostel. Till tomorrow I’m shocked that people still call me Tunika Robert. And when I hear it, I’m like, e don tey. At some point, I didn’t remember my character name but oh my goodness! Tunika Robert.
What is it about you that attracts controversy?
That’s a difficult one. First, I don’t know about controversies. But it’s just that a lot of people. Without me, they probably cannot sell their magazine.
But why are you such a magazine seller now?
I like to make money into people’s pocket. Okay now, let’s define controversy. Most people just want to give stories to what people want to read. It might not be what it is but most times all those stories help us to grow.
I know you love dogs. How many of those expensive dogs do you have now?
I have five.
A lot of your colleagues have delved into film production. How does it feel to see your colleagues doing this and you are not?
I think someone asked me that question before. I can’t be forced to do something and I’m not very competitive. And especially my family, we are adventurous. What I like to do might not be what the next person likes to do. I’m not saying all, but most people who come doing this thing, most of them are square pegs in round holes. So basically, because they are doing it does not mean Empress should do it. Another thing is that how many of those people that they are trying to compare me with have come up with what I have come up with?
A lot of people don’t even understand that Nollywood is not that strong. If it’s just one movie done in Hollywood, I know that that money can actually sustain me for a particular time. We all know that there is no much money in this industry so use your talent and do what you have to do. I have flare for so many things.
People have flair for wanting to be a star but after that, what else? That’s why I said movie is always there I can always fall back to it. I do it when I can do it. I travel a lot. This year I think I have travelled over twenty times because I need to stock up. I started early. The name is still there so I need to do a lot of things because I would definitely fall back to the movies. You can’t leave the industry just like that. It’s not possible.
As an entrepreneur what was it like starting off at the initial stage?
Initially, it was not that easy but let me tell you something about life. If you’re doing something that you love, and you are making money out of it, it’s a plus. I love the movie. I love to act. It’s just like they are paying me for my hobby. I love fashion. I love it in the sense that I love to dress people.
Alright, I was in charge as Mercy Johnson’s bride and I was happy about my work. A lot of people don’t know that there are other things I do aside that. I do bridal makeup. I tidy weddings. I try to be adventurous with people and I don’t like the regular thing. If you come to me, I tell you straight up, if it’s the regular thing I can’t help. I just did one beautiful wedding a few Saturdays ago and I got like four other jobs from that one. So that’s it. I don’t have to put it on the billboard. I’m not a loud person. I let my work speak for me.
What do you do when you are not working?
Travelling is a hobby for me. I was busy at Tuface’s wedding. I was one of the people organising things and after work, I think I used two days to unwind. So there is always time to unwind. I’m an adventurous and industrious person but the little time I have I make sure I spend it well.
A lot of people don’t understand that the body needs rest. I cannot do that because body is not wood. Inasmuch as the spirit is willing, the body is weak. Always listen to your body. That is why a lot of people breakout, breakdown and break up. Always know that the body needs rest.
As one who is brilliant, beautiful and curvy, why are you still single?
I’m gonna say this alright; I don’t care how people take it, the days when marriages were sweet and all beautiful are no more. If you listen to how your parents got married and how those days it was sweet, it’s not like that anymore. I’ve escorted a lot of people into marriages, I won’t say I’ve escorted them out but I’ve witnessed them come out of it.
So psychologically it’s not good for people and then being what we are, a lot of people think because she’s this, because she has that I don’t think I will be able to handle them. A lot of people can’t stand an industrious woman especially if she’s doing well. It’s the mentality of the people. If a man looks at me, I’m a car freak alright. I have five cars and I’m not doing it because I’m trying to show off, a lot of people don’t even know that they are my cars.
But I’m trying to be honest with you and I’m always trying to say it the way it is, not minding whatever. If a man comes and says because of blablabla, he cannot handle me, then he shouldn’t bother. Every woman’s dream is to get married but it’s not just to get married but to get married to your friend. I want to marry my friend.
And have you met your friend?
I’m yet to meet my friend. If I meet my friend and I know that he is my friend, I don’t think that question should actually pop up because what am I doing if I’ve met my friend? If I’ve met my friend I will get married. And then, I’m this type of person that even if I meet my friend; I don’t want to have a fairy tale wedding.
Yes, don’t judge a book by its cover. People always look at Empress oh she’s flashy. She’s this and that. Trust me; I’m the simplest person you can ever meet. I’m playful, I’m jovial, and I’m interesting. I’m not blowing my trumpet. But I don’t have a dull moment.