Most people recognize Omoni Oboli from her early Nollywood days when she made her first appearance along with the likes of Liz Benson and Richard Mofe-Damijo in the 1996 film, Shame.
In the interview, Omoni describes her first day on set with enthusiasm as she says: “I played alongside two of the industry’s giants at the time, Liz Benson, and RMD…It didn’t matter whether it was “waka pass” or a speaking role. I loved it, and I couldn’t wait for other roles.”
The star actress had an interesting chat with Guardian Life on her new film; My wife & I and her Nollywood experience thus far.
Read excerpts below:
On her experience growing up: Mostly happy and eventful, even though we weren’t rich. My experiences with my mum and my sister were such that I couldn’t trade them for any other. Living in the Delta Steel Complex at Aladja was a dream for us then; it had all the facilities that made for a great community, and that made me live a somewhat sheltered life, away from the larger society of Warri. The schools there were great, and that’s where I also discovered my love for acting. I loved those days.
On stepping into character: Every role has its own demands and challenges and depending on the director and the script, I always try to put myself in the place of the character I’m playing. They say an actor can’t or shouldn’t judge the character he or she is playing and that is what I always try to bring to any movie production I’m featured in. We also somehow still retain a bit of our own traits and mannerisms, which is what makes two actors give different performances for the same role and that is also what brings spice to the entertainment world of movies.
On her experience in Nollywood so far: Great! I dreamt of this, but I didn’t think we would see Nollywood grow this fast to become a force to reckon with at the cinemas alongside other international movies. It has happened and we are competing with Hollywood and doing even better at the Nigeria cinema box office. I have a good relationship with many of my colleagues who have also come to see that the sky is big enough to accommodate even more than we currently have, and I’m glad.
On how the Industry has transformed over the years: The international recognition says it all. With the great outing at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), we shone brightly. We now have so many great movie makers, and I’m especially proud of the high number of female filmmakers and producers that have sprung up lately when it was only Amaka Igwe at one time.
Nigeria has been the better for it with the influx of employment opportunities and entertainment business doors being flung open. Our movies have grown in production value and the fan base has grown exponentially since I first got it back in 1996.
On challenges she has faced in her career being female in Nollywood: Nollywood has a lot of female lead actresses, and when a good role comes along, the producers and directors have to sift through them all to find the one they want. So sometimes I find that some roles I would love to play would be given to someone else, and likewise, I get roles that others would want for themselves.
That was my first challenge getting back into the industry after a ten-year break. I still lose some juicy roles, but I get so many other roles that it doesn’t matter as much as when you’re first trying to break into the industry as the new girl in town. Also, with a family, it’s hard to stay away from my family for long periods because of the job, but that’s what the job calls for.
On the highlights of her career: My career has seen many highlights thank God! My first movie was premiered at Aso Rock Villa. I won the best actress award at the Harlem International Film Festival and also the best actress award at the Los Angeles Movie Awards with Lonzo Nzekwe’s movie, Anchor Baby.
What more could a girl ask for? My movie was officially selected at the TIFF 2016 edition, and my movies have been doing great at the cinema box office. Not to forget The Figurine, which sparked off the new Nollywood cinema movement. I could say my career has all been in highlights.