Since popular Yoruba actress, Moji Olaiya, walked out of her marriage; it has been particularly difficult to track her down. Saturday Vanguard cornered her at an Inter House sports competition event in Gbagada, Lagos, where she was the matron of one of the Houses competing for prizes at the event.
Looking as pretty as ever, Moji decided to grant us an interview which unfolds some of the closed chapters in her life; career, marriage and religious beliefs:
Many actors have complained over time that the government has abandoned the film industry, in what respect can the government assist the industry?
I think with the aid of the government, we can overcome piracy. The government has failed to help the industry and that is not what is happening abroad. There are some who, however, make money from people in government.
Have you been a benefactor of such favour before?
No, I have not.
But you were appointed a brand ambassador in Ekiti state?
Yes, I am a cultural ambassador in Ekiti which happens to be a privilege bestowed upon me by the governor. It is a gesture to appreciate and recognise my cultural impact on the youths in the state and the country Nigeria at large.
Are you saying being an ambassador of that state has no monetary benefit?
Being a cultural ambassador of a state comes with the responsibility of promoting the state. It also means being a mentor to the youths and creating avenues for them to showcase their talents in the industry.
What are the things you will love to change in Nollywood?
Many of us lack discipline and the industry is now over flooded. In the past, people came into the industry because of the passion they had for acting but not anymore. Most of them now want to be famous quickly even when they do not have the talents. The ladies in particular, most of them go around almost naked. These ladies forget actors and actresses are like evangelists who preach through the television screen.
Have you ever felt like quitting acting?
Coming into the industry was borne out of passion, so I cannot quit acting for anything in the world.
I can never quit acting for any marriage. I have said it in many interviews that even when I re-marry, the man will have to love me and my profession.
You once said you are an evangelist in one interview.
I have never said I was an evangelist. I only likened acting to preaching through our movies. So that is it.
You came into limelight in an English soap, Super Story, but now you feature more in Yoruba films.
I have many English soaps running at the moment so it is not as if I have left the English scene.
Are you a Muslim or a Christian?
I am a Muslim.
But you were once a Christian, what happened?
Yes, I converted. I fell in love with Islam. I am not saying Christianity is not an acceptable religion but as an adult, I am at liberty to choose any religion I like. I might decide not to practice any religion tomorrow.
Is this traceable to your background; having a Muslim mother that converted Christianity?
Somehow she might have influenced me because as a child I watched her go to the mosque five times a day. I love Islam; their mode of praying is peaceful. The religion does not have the denominational problem like Christianity. I can go into any mosque to pray any time.
What is your relationship with popular Victor Olaiya as some believe you are not his child?
I don’t want to say much about this. If these people say I am his niece, does that not also make him my relative. And as relatives, I can also call him father. So this issue is not logical regardless of their arguments. He is my father.
Which female accessories would you never be caught without?
My earrings and wristwatches.
I am not addicted to any brand of perfumes. I go for any as long as it is a designer perfume and has nice fragrance.
How have you been coping after separation from your husband?
A woman needs a man in her life. There are things a man would do that you cannot do as a woman but I have no regret leaving my marriage.
Why did you say you have no regrets?
I have no regret leaving my marriage but I regret not being under a man’s roof. It is not respectable in this part of the world. But I try to comport myself even as a divorced woman and as a typical Yoruba woman and to avoid scandal. I have a daughter to protect and cater for.
What was the cause of your failed marriage?
The marriage was not working so I had to quit. My partner went as far as abusing me so I had to leave to protect myself and my daughter.
You mean domestic violence?
Yes, domestic violence is just the right word.
Any man in the picture at present?
I am in a relationship but I am yet to be legally separated from my husband.
Were you legally married?
Yes. So at the right time I will reveal who the man is. I need somebody beside me.
Is your new film, Monsurat, born out of your marital experience?
Our mothers tell us that being over protective of one’s husband does more harm than good. Monsurat is a story of a jealous woman who became a tigress in protecting her marriage. She went diabolical and this affected her husband’s business. Later on her husband found solace in the arms of another woman and that was how she lost all. It is a story meant to educate our women to keep their space in the hearts of their men.
Are you really a sport person?
I love sports and I still create time for it despite my busy schedules.
Which sport in particularly do you engage in?
I play Lawn Tennis and I swim very well.
On what ground did you become matron to the ‘Yellow House’ of the school?
I am very sure one of the criteria for making me a matron here was because I grew up in this environment. I stayed here for 32 years. Also the management of the school found me worthy to mentor the pupils and I am happy about that.
Are you a product of the school?
No, I am not.
What is your perception of life?
Life is interesting when you keep a free mind towards others. When you suspect everyone around you, you cage yourself and your feelings and it means you don’t trust yourself too. Whatever situation you find yourself, know that life will go on; it will only stop when you are tired of going on.
By ADERONKE ADEYERI and MAHMUD HABIBAT/COYRIGHT VANGUARD