By Tony Ogaga
United Kingdom-based Nollywood movie producer and actress turned singer and now a prophetess, Princess Elizabeth Onanuga, popularly known as Prophetess Tola, though born to royalty has been to hell and back just like she has had her own fair share of easy life.
The multi-talented thespian, who is the brain behind movies like Omo London, Susan, Hadiza and Boss Lady, among others, in this chat talks about how Coronavirus impaired her plans for 2020, her career as an entertainer and her calling to ministry. Prophetess Tola also talks about the most profound experience of her life – how she survived heart attack twice and heart surgery, among other interesting issues.
2020 was a rough year for the industry. How did you cope?
Wow! It was stressful because the Coronavirus pandemic prevented me from executing projects I had laid out hence I could not meet up with movie shoots and bookings. But to God be the glory, we survived 2020. Surviving is the best thing to glorify God for.
Now 2021 is here. What is new about Princess Onanuga and who is Prophetess Tola?
Nothing much but as I said earlier, the pandemic didn’t allow me work on projects that I had on my to-do list and all that, but I will say, it was another blessing in disguise for me because it gave me opportunity to embark on the dream I had been nursing for a few years now which initially I thought was just a dream and not achievable, but then, the calling kept on hitting me and my spirit became restless and I knew that God was pushing me to work on my musical talent and to my surprise, the songs have been coming along since I started. I get inspiration for my songs in dreams (laughter). God is great! Let me tell you something about me today, I don’t go into anything unless I receive a go ahead from God. So, the Prophetess Tola thing didn’t start because I was seeing visions about myself. I was actually seeing stuff about some of my friends and whenever I told them, at first most didn’t take me seriously, but then it came to pass and they were all surprised and wondered ‘how did I know?’ That is why I decided to go into ministry.
Tell us about life growing up as a princess?
It is just a privilege being a princess, I must confess. I am the first child and first daughter of the Olowa of Igbara Oke Kingdom. It has been a wonderful experience and I wish to be one again in my next life (laughter).
Tell us about your music and how it all started?
Like I said earlier, the Coronavirus pandemic didn’t allow me work on projects that I had on my to-do list and all that, but I will say it was another blessing in disguise because it gave me opportunity to embark on my musical dream, but I knew God was pushing me to work on my music talent and to my surprise, the songs started coming along with the dreams (laughter) and here we are today.
How did you get inspiration for Ara San?
Hmmm… that one is another story. Like I told you I get inspiration for songs in my dreams. I was sleeping and I had a dream and a voice was telling me ‘go and read Psalm 29.’ When I woke up I heard very heavy thunder clap and I quickly grabbed my Bible and flipped to Psalm 29 and in one of the verses I saw Ara San and today the rest is history.
You have shot over a dozen movies, you are an actress and now you are into ministry and singing. How do you hope to combine these worlds?
The music started when I was five years old. Even at that tender age I used to sing for my mother and she always danced to my songs with joy and passion. It is a talent I have had since childhood. And when I noticed I could act too and got an opportunity I pushed. That was how I joined the movie industry. And when God wanted me to start the ministry, He started by showing me in dreams. Meanwhile, all these things you have mentioned don’t interfere with one another. Rather, they complement. There is time for all of these things. It is all about time management and scheduling. What if I tell you that it is when I am doing one of them that I get ideas for the others? When that happens, I quickly put down the inspiration and work on it later when the time is right.
Tell us about your most challenging experience in life and how that has honed you into the woman you are today?
It was when I had heart surgery in the UK, It all started at a movie location. I suddenly started finding it hard to breath, something that had never happened to me before. I was alarmed! A few minutes later I noticed that I was at the hospital and then I was put on medication for months. A while later I was driving out with my sister in the UK. Suddenly, it started all over again and before I could say Jackie Robinson I heard my sister shouting my name, reminding me that I was driving and all. I just had to park the car immediately and the next thing I remember was landing in the hospital and undergoing heart surgery. It was a terrible scenario but thanks to Almighty God, it was a successful operation.
What lesson did you learn from the experience?
I learnt that life is too short and that actually changed me because I came to see that this life is vanity upon vanity like the Holy Book says. All we think about are material things. I want to build a house, I want to buy the finest car, I want to live like this and like that person, but at the end of the day, you know, if there is life there is hope but when you are gone you are gone and that doesn’t mean that the world will come to an end because of you. Life continues. It thought me that I should take everything easy and focus on God, pray more and be closer to my creator and then just leave the rest for God to do at his own time.
Tell us about your love life. Is your man supportive?
My love life is perfect (laughter). Yes, definitely he supports me. In fact, he listens to my songs first anytime I finish recording and with his go ahead we produce anyone he likes.
When are you dropping your debut album?
I have dropped my debut album already and it is available on all digital platforms and major blogs. I am seriously promoting it.
What new projects are you working on in 2021?
Wow! 2021 is going to be really exciting! I have about three different projects lined up. I am planning on shooting by March and another project is already set for release so my hands are quite full.
What are your dreams?
My dream is to have my own church, work on my music career and build my ministry; yeah, those are my dreams (laughter).