Second runner-up at the 2007 edition of the reality TV Next Movie Star, actress Martha Ankomah dazzled at the red carpet of the Golden Movie Awards held in Accra on June 3.
In a span of 11 years, Ankomah––who in 2013 opened an uptown ultra-modern beauty salon called ‘Martha’s Place’ at Tesano, Accra––has experienced a stellar rise in her acting career.
One sunny afternoon, right inside her salon, the Executive Housemaid actress had given HARRIET OKYERE a good account of the essential things that define her.
You could choose to open a boutique, why a salon?
A salon, because I love to make people beautiful, even though I’m not a make-up artist. I love to look good, especially with my hair. I also have the passion of talking to people, and with a salon, people come in to share their ideas and problems. My aunt used to have a salon and she was almost like a marriage counsellor. Everybody comes in to share her problems. Since I have the passion of talking to people, I thought to myself that a salon would help. It is a way to get to learn a lot from people. I’ve really learned a lot from this place.
How do customers react when they recognise you?
They are like “oh, so it’s you” and I’m like “yeah, it’s me”. That is normal. There’s nothing to it. I’m just a human being like them. What is wrong if people come in and realise it’s me? What has that got to do with my salon? People will be excited to see you, but they wouldn’t blow up seeing you. This is not Hollywood where they will go crazy about you. But it humbles me anyway. I’m cool with it.
Did you receive formal training in hairdressing?
No. I have people working for me. I just manage the place. I come in to manage my staff and I pay them at the end of the month. I make sure that my customers are treated very well. That’s the most important thing.
Give us an insight into the real you, something aside from the screen image
I love to go to church when I’m not on set. If I’m not shooting, I’m home. Before I opened this salon,
I was home watching movies. My mum used to have a shop so I used to go there to help her out. I love going for Jericho Hour at my church, ICGC, to pray. Then I visit my friend, Little, who is also an actress. She is married, so I love going to her to learn from her. Once in a blue moon, I go to the cinema to catch a movie with my friends. And I love to cook too, especially Jollof.
How do you deal with the pressure of being a star?
It didn’t get into my head. I don’t see myself as a star. You know why? Because for all you know, your next-door neighbour doesn’t even know you. She doesn’t even watch TV. You could go back to your hometown and your grandmother doesn’t know you are an actress. So, the star stuff doesn’t go to my head. I always tell my colleagues whom I act with that when I take an Oscar, or when I’m called to the Grammys, or when I act with Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise and I’m the main character, that’s when I will feel like a star. But for now, I call it the grace of God, not stardom. It is just the grace of God for you to be recognized; for people to see your works and say “I like what she’s doing”.
Any taboo as far as men are concerned?
A womanizer, a drunkard and someone who smokes––I can’t stand a man who does any of these things. I’m a Christian and the Bible says we should ask whatever we want and God shall do it for us. No woman wants to be cheated on so why would I even wish to end up with a womanizer? If I’m married to you and you cheat, don’t let me know about it; at least, show some respect to me.
If your husband makes a mistake of cheating on you, will you stay or leave?
Marriage is marriage. You have to forgive. Nothing will drive me out of my marriage; divorce is a no-no. You can’t really control such things. There are certain things you’ll never expect to happen in your life.
When you had your first boyfriend, was it the right time?
My mum did not like my first boyfriend at all. She said I was still young. I was in my first year in university. She said the boy was also as young as I was and was in no position to take care of me, so we should forget it. I had no choice than to forget about him, and I used to like the boy a lot. But thinking back, I think my mum was right. It wasn’t the right time.
If you could turn back the hands of time, what would you do differently?
I would not have broken my virginity before marriage. I would have loved to be married before breaking my virginity. Secondly, when coming up as an actress, you want to do anything; any role that comes to you, you take it. So if I can reverse the time, there are certain movies I wouldn’ shoot. I would stick with very good movies, which I am doing these days. We need movies with good moral values and not just any movie that will sell.
What is the single thing that you feel if you have today, your life would be complete?
Back in school, I read in economics that human beings are insatiable. We are never satisfied––if I have this, I would want to have that. I would love to own houses and cars to drive, new models will always come in and I would want those too. You can never have enough of anything. I pray my dream of working in Hollywood with Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington will come to pass.
What is your fear of life?
None. Now I don’t fear death any more because it is not my portion. I want to die at the age of 145 when I can see all my great-grandchildren.