As the chat unspools, you begin to understand why she is tagged a ‘big girl’ in the Nigerian entertainment industry, especially in the Yoruba movie genre, when it comes to script interpretations. Then you also discovers that the cute and amiable entertainer has had a mixture of success and scandal-filled career. Severally, she has been linked with Fuji star,Alabi Pasuma, actor Muka Ray and She has been a victim of identity her marriage has suffered some setbacks.
Indeed, the encounter is remarkable; she reveals the lessons of her marriage break up, the pains and gains of early marriage, her acting career, and the painful death of her father. Her responses are as refreshing as they are life-imparting.
Q-Ma, can you tell us about all this scandals?!
A-In Nigeria, when people discover you are doing well without being in your husband’s house and you have kids, they would start saying and writing so many rubbish things about you. So, when they discovered that was my story, they started writing all sorts of things about my married life and me.
Q-Ma, Which of these would you say is the dirtiest scandal ever written about you?
A-So many scandals have been written about me. Even though I am not crazy over any one of them again, I still find it hard to forget when a Yoruba newspaper called ‘Alaroye’ wrote a story on a lady who bears the same name with me (Iyabo Ojo ) that was arrested for keeping guns for bandits on the cover of their magazine, they put my picture under the big caption as ‘Iyabo arrested for keeping ammunition forbandits ’ and my picture was there. Meanwhile, under the same caption where my picture was placed was a small caption that reads, “Iyabo Ojo finds new love” so people didn’t see the small one, it was the negative one they saw. When I saw it I was so angry that I called my lawyer to sue them, but they apologized and wrote a rejoinder.
Q-Ma,You have been linked with men, how do you abide all this news?
A-I don’t know what you mean by men, but I know the one that made news was the one with Muka Ray, a Yoruba film producer. The truth is, Muka Ray is my best friend and colleague I cherish. Either people like it or not, Muka Ray and I would keep being close forever.
Q-Ma,Is there any relationship within you and Alabi Pasuma?
A-Pasuma is my bosom good friend. As a matter of fact, when I met Pasuma, he said to me “Iyabo Ojo, you are my best actress.” and I appreciated that fact. He has also worked with me in one of my movies and that got us close. So, whenever he has things to do and I am invited I go because when I invite him for things as well, he comes.
Q-Ma,But people believe both of you are having a secret affair?
A-No, that is not possible.It's is just a scandal wich can damage a person good reputation.
Is this the first time you are hearing about it?
I have heard people say it severally, but it is not true. He is not somebody I can’t date but the truth is that we are not dating. If we were dating, I wouldn’t have any reason to hide it.
Q-Ma,Is there any antagonism between you and, Liz Anjorin who also alleged that you used charm to battle her sometimes ago. How true is that?
A-Am a reticent person I don’t talk about someone else career.
Q-Ma,Are you friends now?
We were never friends and we were never close. I never really knew her and I don’t want to. However, I don’t have problems with her.
Q-Ma,but she has been alleging that you’re using charm to witch-hunt her?
A-Yes, it was because we had an issue. And it was an issue of me saying “I don’t want you (Liz) to greet me,” and she took an offense out of it. I just didn’t want it. I just don’t want her. I am a very friendly person, but I just don’t want to be friends with her, I don’t want people jumping into me.
Q-Ma,How do you define acting?
A-How do I define acting, I think it’s the ability for you to interpret a particular character very well. It is the ability to convince whoever is watching you that I’m playing a particular character and the ability to do it very well.
Q-Ma,we heard that you started acting in 1998 with stars like Sola Fosudo and Liz Benson, what was it like acting with such veterans?
A-It was beautiful. Liz Benson was very down to earth with me on set because that was my first time. I really loved the experience. I also did one with Fidelis Duker where I played the role of a newscaster; although I can’t remember the title now. Later I backed out, and then I came back in 2002 to start acting in Yoruba movies. I joined the ‘Odunifa Caucus’. My first ever Yoruba movie was ‘Baba Darijiwon’, by Yinka Quadri.
Q-Ma,Why did you choose to move to the Yoruba movie sector?
A-The reason is simple: Bimbo Akintola was instrumental to my success in the English movie line; she was the one who brought me in and did everything for me to feature in movies. So, when I came back after the break she wasn’t around Lagos anymore, she was always traveling to the eastern part of the country to act and I had my baby with me then, so it was difficult going with her to those places which was why I resorted to acting Yoruba movies. And all I did this time in other to feature in the Yoruba movies was to go to Alhaji Taiwo Hassan, popularly known as Ogogo and he welcomed me.
Q-Ma,how does your parents fill when you opted for acting?
A-I came from a permissive family where you are free to do what ever you want as long as you have a strong conviction in what you are doing. My parents don’t think they have to dictate for their children in life, they believe that whatever you choose to be in life is what you should be.
Q-Ma,can you tell us about your parents?
A-My dad, Mr. Adekunle Ogunro is late. He died about nine years ago.
Q-Ma, At what age did your dad die?
A-My dad died at the age of 50.
Q-Ma, what could we say is the reason of his death?
A-He had complications with his kidney and liver. So, he lost his life in the process but my mum lives with me here. I also have two elder brothers who live in London.
Q-Ma,How was it like seeing your dad battling with a kidney failure?
A-It wasn’t easy, my dad didn’t let us know on time. He didn’t want to let us know so that we won’t break down or have pity on him. He was battling with it silently. When we knew about it, we did our best. He was admitted in several hospitals. He traveled and did a lot of body examinations. As God would have it, knowing that death will always have a reason to take precious lives, he eventually died.
Q-Ma,Was his kidney challenge hereditary?
A-It is not hereditary; my dad just developed the sickness all of a sudden. I was there when he died, so I guess it was just his time. That was his own destiny; perhaps that was why he had us when he was young. We thank God he gave birth to us. I don’t believe it was a spiritual attack, I don’t believe witches could have killed him.
Q-Ma, you mean, you don’t believe that witches and wizards exist?
A-I know they exist, but if you think they are the reason for your problems then it becomes the real reason. But if you believe that with God they can’t come near you so be it. Whatever happens to you, God has destined it to be so. My father died because his body system failed him.
Q-Ma,How well has your mummy been coping without your dad?
A-Before my dad late, my mummy had been separated with my dad, even though they have always been good friends. Since she had we the kids around her then, it was not that difficult for her.
Q-Ma,What lessons has life taught you since your parents got separated?
A-Life teaches a lot of things, one thing I have leant is to give the best of love because not every marriage lasts; you know every beginning must have an end. Sometimes death ends it, sometimes situation ends it as well. I am also separated, to be divorced very soon. I want to start bearing my father’s name by removing the Ojo, my former husband’s name from my name. My own marriage is one I didn’t plan to end so soon, but it did. So, it made me understand what my parents went through at their own time. The lessons I have learnt in both relationships (my parent’s and mine) are: don’t rush into any relationship. Whatever relationship you want to have, take your time, study the person and don’t encourage things you know will not work out for you at the end of the day. A lot of women are in bondage in their marriages; the man is beating them, maltreating them, yet they are still in the union because they love the man or because they don’t want to be divorced. Although, I didn’t go through all these violent moments, my own story is that we were two people whose beliefs and life philosophies didn’t click. The kind of life I wanted was not the kind of life he wanted. We were different people who wanted different things in life. I have a lot of goals in life that I want to pursue and he wasn’t interested in them.
Q-Ma,How long do you stay together?
A-We stayed together for three years and we have been apart for eight years now. He is the father of my two kids.
Q-Ma,At what age did you gave birth to your first child?
A-I was 22 years old when I had my first son. He is now 12 years old and my daughter is 10.
Q-Ma,What can you say are the gains of having children at early ages?
A-There are beautiful gains. You need to see my kids; they are almost as tall as I am. The girl is wearing my shoe size already. So, I am enjoying it now, especially when people say I don’t look like someone who has children.
Q-Ma,what can you say are the pains of having children very early?
A-The pain is that you are young and immature to handle things for yourself, so you get so many people doing things for you and probably take some decisions that are not too good.
Q-Ma,Why are you filing for a divorce?
A- well I am filing for a divorce because my former husband has some other women in his life. He has to remarry and he wants to do that legally because if he doesn’t dissolve the marriage between us he won’t be able to remarry.
Q-Ma,Do you also intend to remarry?
A-Well, if the right man comes.
Q-Ma,What are the qualities you want in a man?
A-As for me he has to be himself, God fearing, open-minded, neat and disciplined. I want all the good things a woman wants in a man, but he must be financially buoyant.
Q-Ma,You speak fluently; tell us about your educational background?
I am from a good family, which is one of the advantages I have. I went to Grace Children school, Gbagada, Lagos, where I had my primary education. Then, I proceeded to National College for my secondary school and Lagos State Polytechnic to study Estate management.
Q-Ma,but you are not practicing as an estate manager?
A-When I graduated, I tried to practice the profession (estate management) but I discovered, like acting, it is a job that takes all your time. So, I couldn’t have been doing the two jealous professions at a time. I felt if I went on doing the two I might end up not having a future in both. So, I opted for acting alone.
Q-Ma,How has studying estate management helped your acting career?
A-It has helped me in areas that have to do with property. It has helped me to understand the business side of acting, in terms of how to thrifty,manage my money and what to invest in.
Q-Ma,You have acted with the old and new hands in the industry, how would you compare these eras?
A-The current era is better because we have more professional equipment and technical crew onboard. Corporate bodies and educated people are also showing interest in the acting business. There is also a bit of glamour and high competition now in the industry; everybody wants to produce a good movie. Right now, we don’t do acting for fun or money now; we are doing it for professionalism.
Q-Ma,Have you ever acted on stage?
A-I used to be in the group called ‘Black Image’. They used to perform at La Campaigne Tropicana. It is a dance group where we infused drama and dance in the African way on stage. So, I was opportune to act with them. I played the role of a narrator on stage once with the group and I was supposed to do another one with them, but I was too busy to join them.
Q-Ma,The theatre culture is abolishing, what do you think is responsible for that?
A-It is a cause to be worried about because a lot of people have drifted into the home video scene now thereby causing the theatre genre to lack its element. But we still have few people who do stage, only that it is not as popular as it used to be. I am optimistic that it will come back when due. I believe everything is all about time. This is the time for home video and cinema. Soon, we shall go back to the stage and theatre will reign.
Q-Ma,don't be infuriated do you smoke?
A-Why will I be infuriated, I don’t in-real but I smoke on TV
Q-Ma,Do you drink?
I’m a light drinker and has even stopped drinking now.
Q-Ma,Why did you stop?
A-Because I don’t really have the time for it, I just decided not to, some decisions that you just decide on your own.
Q-Ma,What do you mean by ‘light drinker’?
A- Ha ha what I meant by saying that I am a ‘light drinker’ is that when I take few glasses of champagne I’m already fine. So, I am not a heavy drinker. I am not someone who likes drinking, like people who are addicted to alcohol. I am not addicted to alcohol. I don’t drink at all anymore at the moment, except once in a blue moon when I feel like. It’s just like when you say you are a passive smoker, you know when I’m on set and I have to play a role I smoke. I smoke, I only smoke when I’m to smoke on set but I do not smoke in real life.
Q-Ma,How do you relate lovemaking in your bedroom to acting it in order to convince your audience?
Lovemaking and acting to convince are two different things, if you are talking about lovemaking, you are talking about an affair between you and your man. Whatever you do in your bedroom should be real. Acting is not real. It is make believe.
As an educationalist and a professional actress who can fit into any role, have you considered taking up sexual roles?
No I won’t do that. That is what they call porn. It is an insult on my personality for anybody to bring that kind of rubbish to me. I don’t think any professional or serious minded actor would take such a role.
Q-Ma,Which roles have you played that you now sit back to regret?
A-I have never played any role that I regretted, when you are in a situation that you are playing a role that you are pretending to have sex, even when we are trying to cover up, we still have something underneath, we don’t go to bed, and we haven’t gotten to that level now.
Q-Ma,Tell people about your tattoos.
A-I so much love my tattoos. It’s just something that I fell in love with which is why I did it. By the time I did it, people, Nigerians did not like it, and you know Nigerians are not quick in accepting new things, when I did it very few actresses had it on so when I did it, it became news. You hear people say things like “this girl is so daring, she has tattoos, she is this, and she is that.” Now, a lot of ladies have it on out there.
Q-Ma,How many do you have on your body?
A-I have it in three places. Two are mostly seen; one is on my left hand, they see it sometimes depending on what I am wearing, the second is on my lower waist and the third on my bosom.
Q-Ma,Would you like your child to put tattoo on their body?
A- Of course If they want to put it when they grow up, why not? As long as they are up to 18 and above and they want it, they can go ahead.