Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Beautiful actress, Ijeoma Thomas is not one of those that get disturbed by sex-for-role palaver in Nollywood, because to her, it is a universal thing.
The Umuahia, Abia State-born actress, who celebrated her birthday on January 18 with motherless babies at F.S.P. Children Home, Enugu, wondered why people relate the issue to the industry alone when elsewhere, like in the banking industry, it is worse.
In this chat, Thomas, who believes that Nollywood is on a progressive stride, talks more on sexual harassment and most embarrassing experience.
How long have you been in the industry?
I’ve been in the industry since 2004.
How many movies have you acted in since then?
I’ve acted in so many movies that I can’t count them at all.
Which is the most popular?
Most of them are popular. In 2005 or 2006, I did Money is Money and it was very big. Then I did something like Welcome to South and Scout Master. I did many (movies) honestly. And in all these movies, I played the lead part. Also, in a recent movie, Stubborn Prince, I played the lead role.
Which of the movies is more challenging?
Most of them are challenging though, the one I can remember is Stubborn Prince. At least, it is recent and challenging somehow, because I was made to play a role I was not used to. I was mean; I was a very wicked princess trying to stop a brother Prince from getting married to an actress called Chizzy Aliche. So, I played along with her and I suffered Zubby Michael a lot in that movie.
Looking at Nollywood, would you say there is progress?
Of course, yes, there is a huge progress in the movie industry. When we came in, it wasn’t like it is now. There is progress, once you know what you are doing, definitely you will make a way.
What is the challenge in the industry?
I have gone through a lot of newspapers; I’ve seen people talking about the industry, like women having lots of challenges bla-bla-bla. For me, I don’t call it challenge, because it is everywhere; even the people working in the bank, if they tell you what they are going through, you’ll know that the one of the industry is very small. That of the bank is like you have to do it or you quit.
So, you agree that there is sexual harassment in the industry?
That is exactly what I am saying. I won’t say there is none, why won’t there be? If there is none, it means we are all lesbians and homosexuals. Definitely, we have females and males (in the industry), so there should be.
Have you lost any job because you turned down a producer’s request?
Of course, yes. Yes, but I still say it’s one of those things and I believe that maybe God said the job was not mine, because if it was mine, definitely I would get it
Why didn’t you give in when the job was good?
Ah! Ah! Why should I? I am not saying that I am a saint though. I am not saying that I am a saint but it is not everyone that comes your way that you will like to go out with.
What will your fans expect from you this year?
In 2019, I gave it to them hot, hot, hot. Those following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram know that there was no breathing space for me last year. This year, I promise my fans that I am going to work harder than last year. So, they should expect greater things from me.
You are one year older today, how are you celebrating?
I celebrated my birthday today but I started the preparation yesterday by going to the orphanage. I went to the orphanage yesterday to stay with the less privileged, and I was happy with them. I think that is even the best for me. I stayed with them and was happy with them. I gave them the little things I had and even cut my birthday cake there. Today, I am just happy for what I did yesterday. So, I am happy spending my birthday with the kids in the orphanage. At the orphanage, I received blessings, honour and glory. I took out of that place lots of good things from God. There was a small baby there that I felt like taking away, but you know, it is not that easy.
Are you happy with the current situation of the movie industry?
I think the industry is growing every day. Like I said earlier, it is really growing and is taking shape the way it should be. Yes, I think we are making waves.
Have you been embarrassed because of your job?
The most embarrassing experience I have had was this movie in which I played a very mean girl. I was wicked to my sister; I was really mean in that role. So, one day, I went out to get something and people were looking at me like ‘is that not the wicked girl in that movie? They accused me of being very wicked for treating my sister like that. I remember the film, it’s Ara Di. So, they were like I was very mean to have snatched my sister’s husband, somebody who wanted to marry her. I was trying to explain to them that it was a movie, but they didn’t want to listen, I was so embarrassed and left.