Gifted, beautiful and a toast of many producers, Gloria Young is a force to reckon with in Nollywood. Unlike some of her colleagues who have abandoned their career, Young has been waxing stronger since she started acting 16 years ago.
In this chat, the popular actress shares her experiences and reveals the secrets of her staying power. She equally offers pieces of advice to up and coming female actors on sex-for-role syndrome.
You’ve been around for a long time. Some of those you started with are no longer acting, what is your staying power?
I don’t know. The other day somebody said that I was evergreen and I don’t know what that means. I think it’s because I strongly believe it is a career that has come to stay in my life, and I don’t want to play with it. Every opportunity I get, I try to upgrade myself in different ways. I could go to talk to someone, telling them to teach me how to do this or that. And I’m never too afraid to learn. I’m never too ashamed to ask questions. A lot of my colleagues are, they feel that they know it all.
You started acting before your husband but we don’t usually see him, what’s the problem?
He is still there. There are many different ways (to do things) now; digitalisation has come to stay. There are many digital online radios, movies, and he is working with them. He is working with M-Net, and before then, he was in South Africa. So, he is still the same, active.
Why have you not gone to the pulpit to preach like some of your colleagues?
Mine is totally different because I’m a Catholic and I’m working directly with the women. I started out as the vice president of the laity in my parish. From there, I became the vice-president of the CWO (Catholic Women Organisation), then I became the president of the CWO, and now I am the PRO of the Lagos Archdiocese of the CWO. We don’t make noise in the Catholic Church, and in my own way I am evangelising; that is the idea. There are so many ways you can evangelise, it is not by going to stand on the pulpit and acting holier than thou; you must acknowledge that there are women who can learn from you. Go down to the grassroots, leave all the noise because there are pastors who can do all these, come down to the grassroots and help these women. There are so many ways that you can help and you will be ministering too. Do you remember Deborah in the Bible? Was she a pastor? She was a judge, how was she judging; she would sit down under the tree and people will come out to ask her questions. She was just like our mothers; they will raise their òmús (palm fronds) and people will take note. They did not need to make noise, and they were still contributing their quota.
What do you have to say about sex for role in Nollywood?
I pity them (up and coming actresses) because at the end of the day, it comes down to naira and kobo. If you feel that you can use sex (as ladder), you can only get far but you can’t get really far. If you don’t have the talent, all the sex would be useless.
Are you saying that you cannot use sex to get really far?
You cannot, because the camera does not love your look. If you do not show something to that camera, which makes you look distinct; then you will just be like anybody.
So, one cannot use sex to be a star
You cannot but you can add it (sex) to it. But if you don’t have the talent, you cannot go all the way. Talent is the very first thing, make sure you have that talent, and you are willing to hone your skills or talents. But if you feel that you can climb, then sleep around. If you take time to hone your skills, work on your talents, then you wouldn’t need to do the sex (thing) and you would never do it. I was never asked to sleep with anyone to get to anywhere. And I have been in this industry for 16 years.
How do you juggle being an actor, teacher and mother?
I don’t know. I think it is God, because sometimes I don’t feel like I’m doing anything and I’m always busy. I thank God because He has given me the grace I need, even with all the stress I go through.
What is the craziest thing a fan has done to you?
At a bus stop somewhere in Port Harcourt, I made the mistake of making an enquiry from someone, as I was about to get into a taxi. Before I knew what was happening, people had surrounded me. They put me in the taxi, but at the same time, it couldn’t move for almost 30 minutes. They mobbed me, I felt so much in love (with the people), but at the same time, I felt embarrassed about it and I don’t want it to repeat itself again.
What should fans expect from your new movie, Flee?
They should expect a lot of twists and turns. It’s a beautiful story, so they should expect to learn a lot, and expect the unexpected.
What has working alongside Emeka Okoro done to you?
Emeka Okoro is a fellow actor, and I have worked with him so many times. And when he called on me to do this job, my first answer was ‘yes’ basically because in the industry we help ourselves in any way we can. And he was willing to pay; it was not as if he said I should do it for free. And because we have worked together, I knew that he wanted to take his time and do a good job. To some people, Emeka might be too slow but he is a perfectionist in his own way. He took his time and made sure he dotted all his i’s and crossed all his t’s, so I have no fears whatsoever of what I’m going to see. And I know it is going to be a wonderful one at the end of the day.
What character did you play in the movie?
It’s totally different from what I have being playing. I played a quiet and simple mother. I don’t have the opportunity to play many motherly roles, I am only getting them now, and so I’m getting excited about it. I try to be challenged; I don’t like to play the same role over and over again. So, I was happy with the role.
Aside this movie, what other things are you working on?
I’m working on so many other things. There is one right now; it’s a project I’m doing with my friend, who is a medical (doctor). We go to secondary schools to sensitise young girls about sexual education; we are trying to make them understand that you don’t get the HP virus (Human papillomavirus or HPV) only by sex; you can get it just by touch. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the major viruses.
We are going to train these girls; we are going to create awareness for them, because knowledge is power.