Star actress, Omoni Oboli, has seen it all. But then, the beautiful mother of three boys is still shining through. In this interview, she gives an insight into her world as a career woman, quite wishing that she could have a daughter. Enjoy it.
What was growing up like?
It was interesting. I grew up with my mum and sister. My mum had two kids; my parents were separated. So, I grew up in a place called Delta Steel Company. Back in the days, it was like one of the best places to work. My mum was a teacher then. It is not like she was paid lots of money but then we had access to all the facilities. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon but I went to the best school, got the best health care, just because my mum worked in that company and not because she had any money. I couldn’t travel to different countries or whatever, but I was exposed to a world that was interesting.
Were you a popular kid in school?
Yes, I was.
Were you the kid everyone wanted to hang out with?
I was. I can’t lie about it.
You were raised by a single mum, was your mum a strict person?
My mum was just a fantastic person. If I could be half the woman my mum was I would have succeeded more in life. My mum was strict, yes, but also incredibly sweet and incredibly giving of herself and everything. My mum might not have money but she will give her last money to someone. My mum would not wear the best clothes but when you see my sister and I, you will probably think she was our house help. She would just give us the best that she could afford. Nobody ever thought that we came from a home that didn’t have money. My mum would try to give us everything that she could afford and more.
What is the greatest lesson your mum taught you?
It is selflessness. I have always been a mother even before having kids. Everyone will be like ‘oh, stop mothering us’. I have always had that mothering instinct and I think I got it from my mum and her selflessness.
Your mum is late now?
Yes, my mum is late. She didn’t really stay long to enjoy anything at all.
How long has it been now?
It’s been 14 years.
You have a new movie in the pipeline, what should we be expecting in it?
You should be expecting to see a very well done movie, a movie that will not insult your intelligence; a movie that was done with paying attention to details. It is a beautiful story; a romantic, comedy drama. It was very well done, it is very funny, and hilarious. It is a movie that every moviegoer will feel like they have been thoroughly entertained after seeing it.
Who should we be looking out for in the movie?
I am in the movie, of course. Then we have Chinedu Ikedieze, Alex Ekubo, Joseph Benjamin, and Yvonne Jegede. We also have Anthony Monjaro and a couple of other people.
What inspired the story line?
I wouldn’t do a movie that movie lovers wouldn’t enjoy. Nigeria has had enough; people don’t want to go to movies and come back sad and depressed. You know, for that moment they forget about whatever troubles that they have. They only want to enjoy the way the story is unfolding and have a good time. So, that was the first thing that came to my head when I was going to write the script or even make the movie. I decided not to just do any movie and put it out there but also to do a good movie with a good story line and good production values, so that people are not just been entertained but also watching a movie that is well done.
Did you write the script for the movie?
I write the script for all my movies.
What makes a good script?
To me, a good script starts with the story; the story first of all has to be captivating. It has to be a story that if I am telling it to you, you will be enraptured, you will listen, and you will love the story. So, the story itself before being written has to be captivating. Then the writing style is also important, you know, the dialogue shouldn’t be just plain. The way the story is being developed is also important. If I tell you the story and you like it, doesn’t mean that it will be a great script. If it is not developed properly, if the scenes are not crafted properly, it might come out looking bad. So, the crafting of the scene is very important and the dialogue is also very important.
Did you direct the movie too?
Yes, I did.
What is your experience as a director?
I love being a director. My first love will always be acting but I love being a director. Being a director makes it possible for me to give birth to what I write. I have always been writing since when I was a little girl. I love writing. When you write and someone else directs it, it takes on the life of that person, really. That is why they say a movie is by a director. The fact that I brought the money to shoot the movie doesn’t make it my movie, but it becomes my movie when I direct it, because that script is from my point of view, that script is being seen from where I am standing. So, for me, directing means being able to give my script my DNA.
How long have you been married?
I’ve been married for almost 15 years.
You have all boys, what is it like raising boys?
It is like raising any kid.
I doubt that because it is often believed that boys are more active and that they think differently?
Yes, I guess they do, but I don’t have anything to compare it with because I don’t have girls. So, I don’t know what it means raising a girl. Boys are very active and my boys are very boisterous but they are not destructive. I see some boys that are destructive, they come into your house, and you can’t just take your eyes off them because you are thinking ‘oh my gosh are they going to break the glass table, are they going to do this or that?’ But my boys are not that way. I think it is because we started our discipline very early. My husband used to discipline them a lot when they were younger, from like age two. He was constantly on their case, so we didn’t give them the chance to throw tantrums; it was not acceptable in my house at all. If you cried for something that you wanted, then you don’t get it. If you want something and you start crying for it, it means you have just told us you don’t want that thing, because you are never going to get it. So, we didn’t just allow them to throw tantrums. I guess it’s because we started early with the discipline thing, which helped in keeping them in check and not being all over the place and being so destructive. My boys will come to your house or your event and just sit quietly. If they have a game, they will play it and not just be running all over the place and be destructive. some boys that are destructive, they come into your house, and you can’t just
You have been married for 15 years, which means you have a teenager at home?
Yes, I have almost a 14-year-old.
This is another phase of parenting, what is it like now?
It is a new territory. You know, teenagers think differently. We are learning as we are going. I won’t say I am a perfect parent and I don’t even think there is such thing as perfect parent. We are learning as we are going, we are discovering new things every day. I just pray that my boys turn out well at the end of the day. We are putting in the best we can as parents, we are praying for them as well.
You talked about your husband being the disciplinarian, is he strict?
Yes, he is the stricter one. You have to have the good cop and the bad cop. He is the bad cop. He is also good cop in a lot of ways. Though, he is very strict with them, they still gravitate towards him a lot. He is definitely stricter than I am.
Are you thinking of having girls soon?
I wish I could but there is no guarantee, so I don’t think I want to have another boy. But if there is a guarantee, I would have a girl.
Do you believe in spanking your kids?
Yes I do, it works, trust me it works. The Bible says ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. God knows what He is doing. You know you are not spanking out of hate, that’s a difference, but you are spanking the child because you want to correct them. My kids understand that there is a difference; they have understood from day one. Why am I doing this to you? Why am I spanking you? They will answer and say it is because I did this and it’s wrong. So, they know that is why you are spanking them. It is not because I don’t like you, I mean I can smack you and hug you the very next minute. But you need to understand that what you did is wrong and unacceptable. Kids keep pushing boundaries; that is their job. They know how to manipulate you. So, you start it early.
How have you been able to juggle motherhood and career?
It is not easy, every woman, every mother knows that it is not easy. It is the same way a woman who works at the bank finds it difficult tob alance everything. You are juggling so many balls and you are trying to make sure you don’t drop any of the balls. It is difficult, but if you have a good support system, it helps a lot better. If you have people at home who help you cook, clean and do whatever it takes to care for your kids, including a supportive husband, it helps. The truth is that sometimes you will drop one of the balls, every once in a while one of the balls will drop. The thing I found is that, don’t beat yourself up when that happens, because what we do as mothers, wives or anything we are is that, anytime we drop a ball, we start to feel guilty. You know, this whole self-condemnation that ‘I am not a good mother’. In today’s world, both parties work that is the only way to make ends meet except for the fact that you are a multi-millionaire which most of us aren’t. A lot of billionaires’ wives still work, because they want a sense of purpose other than just sit at home. Don’t beat yourself up. Do the best you can, pray, commit everything into God’s hands and keep moving.
The first time you met your husband, was it love at first sight?
I don’t know if I can call it love at first sight. Honestly, I don’t know. No, it wasn’t love at first sight because I met him four years before we actually started dating. I didn’t remember him when I saw him four years later. But I remembered that I have met him. When we met it wasn’t anything romantic for me, but I fell in love with the way he loved me. You know that happens when someone just loves you unconditionally. I was like ‘do people like this still exist?’
At what point did you know he was the one?
When we started dating, it took like two weeks… He proposed to me like two weeks into the relationship. Four months later, we got married.
Just four months of courtship and you are still together?
Yes, we are still here.
How have you been able to hold him down?
Can you hold anybody down? Communication is the key and the decision to stay married by both parties. I am in this forever, so I would do whatever it takes to make it work, and the friendship that you share is also very important.