Nollywood actress and filmmaker, Omoni Oboli, in an interview with Punch speaks on her career, family and other issues.
Read excerpts from the interview below:
There was some copyright infringement controversy over your movie, Okafor’s Law, how have you been able to resolve it?
We’re still in court. So we’ll leave that for now.
You once had an online altercation with Chude Jideonwo over his analysis of your movie. Is it that you don’t take kindly to criticism, or what actually happened?
Criticism is always good and necessary. No one is perfect, so I don’t expect my movies to be without imperfections. Nollywood is a growing industry. We have come a long way, and I’m so thankful to be a part of this homegrown sector which richly blesses our nation with another stream of income. When we criticise, it must be communicated with a clear view of where we’re coming from, where we are and where we’re going. Any critic should have the clear understanding that we are limited in budget and logistics to achieve the seemingly impossible task of competing with Hollywood movies at the cinemas. So, I don’t shy away from criticisms like, “the storyline is not well put together,” “the sound was not clear in certain areas,” “the acting by so and so was not up to par,” “the directing lacked such and such.” What I don’t like is when a blanket statement is made like, “the movie was bad,” without any follow up on how and in what way it is considered bad so I can learn from it. Can I stop such criticisms from ever occurring? Apparently not. But I would like to see more people begin to go beyond any personal views, to see that the big picture is the projection of Nigeria to the world in such great light that other nations will want to know what we are doing. It would increase our ability to export our movies to a more global audience that’s looking for something new outside of the Hollywood defined view of what makes for good entertainment. Saying a movie is just plain bad without any follow-up as to how and why, would mean that the person has the monopoly on what constitutes good entertainment above all other Nigerians who are paying good money and enjoying that same product over and over again.
Can you recall who gave you your first opportunity in the movie industry?
A lot of people helped me when I first stepped into the scene as a young actor. There was Obi Osotule, Keppy Ekpenyong, Opa Williams, and Fred Amata who helped me get into the industry. Fidelis Duker and Lancelot Imasuen were the first to give me the lead role in a movie, Not my Will, and then later, Destined to Die, in the same year. Hilda Dokubo gave me a role in her movie, Another Campus Tale, as the lead female. After my long break from the industry, Emem Isong-Misodi was the one who gave me the opportunity for a comeback, even though it didn’t feel like a comeback. It felt more like starting from the beginning.
Many believe that your relationship with former president, Goodluck Jonathan, was a boost for you; in what ways did he contribute to your career?
Being Mrs. Elliott was my directorial debut, and I had applied to show the movie to the president and he obliged. Anything that gives you publicity for your movies prior to the cinema release is definitely always welcome by any serious filmmaker. It was a great honour and a beautiful boost to my career as a filmmaker. To launch out that way was definitely the very thing I needed then and I’m thankful for it.