By Rita Okoye
Beautiful actress, Jane Obi, has come a long way. As a greenhorn, she had been on location from morning till night without food and money only to end up losing her role to another person.
She switched from acting to producing, but it has not been a bed of roses.
In this interview, Obi narrates how she became depressed and almost gave up until help came her way. Enjoy it.
How did you cope with the COVID-19 restrictions?
The restrictions are still there, but not so strict. However, I produced two movies last year just before the pandemic. I was targeting ROK TV for one and the other for Africa Magic, but as you know, everything went on hold. It was really frustrating because I intended shooting and selling outright.
How has the journey evolved from acting to producing, was it an easy one?
It is still a work in progress. The movies are not yet out. Being a producer is another level that I wish to explore, but definitely it’s not an easy one.
What were your challenges as a greenhorn in Nollywood?
The major challenge was working and not getting paid. Although, it was one or two scenes then, most times you stayed morning till night without food and money. There was a time I went for an audition and passed the first and second stages. I got the role and was invited to come on set one morning. I was so excited and I decided to get there so early. I stayed from morning till 6:00p.m, and when it got to my turn to shoot, suddenly a girl appeared from nowhere and I was asked to remove the costume and give to her. The director said it was order from above. Later, I learnt the executive producer had sent her. That day, I went home hungry and with nothing. I cried for over a week, you can’t imagine the pain I went through.
After this experience, what kept you going?
I almost gave up at that time. I felt maybe this wasn’t for me. I was depressed. But one day, I came across Uche Jombo’s interview where she talked about how a director humiliated her and she vowed to make it not just as an actor, but also a producer. That conversation pulled me out of depression. I have not met Uche Jombo, but I know I will meet her someday and let her know she was the reason I didn’t give up.
Looking back, do you have any regrets?
No regrets, I’ve just learnt some lessons and had necessary experiences.
Were there some roles you wished you didn’t play back then?
I didn’t play many roles back then, but they all prepared me for where I am today.
What were your parents reactions to your choice of career?
It was a no, no for my mum initially, but at some point, she understood that being on screen doesn’t make me promiscuous. I see her smile now every time she watches my movies or receives compliments from people about me. She keeps calling to get the name of any new movie I do.
Would you say the kind of childhood you had prepared you for this?
No way! It was the opposite. I come from a disciplined Christian home and I was raised to just finish school, get married and be a good wife. But I wanted more from life. I feel a woman’s highest achievement shouldn’t be just a good wife and mother; women can be great too. I want to inspire young ones to grow up the way I did, to realize on time that they can be more and should aspire to be more.
Did you at some point experience sexual harassment? If yes, how did you deal with it?
Sexual harassment is something every young, pretty girl can’t really escape from, both in and outside the industry. I just try not to expose myself to it. I avoid anything that might put me in such condition. I just take it one step at a time. I have never really been desperate for anything. However, in a world like ours, you can never be too careful, but I will prefer not to call anyone out.
How have you been handling society and family pressure to get married?
Can that ever be handled? The pressure is seriously there both from family and society. My key is determination and focus. One thing I have promised myself is that I will get married, but in my own time and to the right person. I am not going to allow the pressure push me. Although, sometimes I wonder if there is ever going to be the right time or right person (for marriage). I mean what’s the guarantee that after waiting I will make the right choice? There is no formula in life, so I leave it in God’s hand to make it right in his own time.
So, you’re are still officially single, no boyfriend, no dating?
Yes! I am officially single.
Aside acting, what else do you do?
Acting is a very jealous profession that shouldn’t be combined with any other thing. But in a country like ours, you definitely need lots of side hustles. I am an entrepreneur-in-general.
What are your career projections?
I want to be a great filmmaker someday and give soft landing to young ones. I admire great women like Mary Remy Njoku, what she is doing with ROK TV is amazing and inspiring. Funke Akindele is superb, and then Kemi Adetiba is setting standard. They all inspire me greatly.
If given an opportunity, what would you change in Nollywood?
One major thing I would like to change in Nollywood is market and finance. Nollywood really needs investors and a strong governing body. A few filmmakers mostly in Lagos are doing big movies with big budgets, and they go to cinema and Netflix, leaving the local markets for the low budget filmmakers. But what if we join forces in such a way that high budget movies, after selling in big screens, still get to local markets?
Have you ever had a crush on a colleague?
I’ve never had a crush on a colleague. It’s always business as usual to me.
Do you see yourself marrying from the entertainment industry?
There is no formula or any particular process for that in life. If the universe designs that, then who am I to say no?
What turns you on or off in relationship?
For me, disrespectful and insecure guys are a huge turnoff. Paying attention does it for me. I don’t think I can marry a much older man; I want someone to grow up with me.
On what condition would you accept to be a second or third wife?
I can’t imagine the condition for that yet.
Would you say you were born with a silver spoon?
I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. My mum is a teacher and my late father was a businessman.