Despite many hiccups and oppositions, especially from her religious parents who vehemently kicked against her coming to Nollywood as an actress, undeterred and very determined Grace Oma Amah refused to give up on her dream and childhood ambition of becoming a movie star.
And like a wounded lioness, the svelte and petite actress from Afikpo in Ebonyi State, stubbornly fought her parents to a standstill until they succumbed and rescinded their earlier decision on her fledging acting career.
‘’It was not smooth for me then. My parents strongly opposed my being an actress; they felt it was for only wayward and irresponsible people. Even at a point, I left home to stay with an uncle for more than a year, because they would not want me to go into acting. They later gave me their blessings after seeing how focused and successful I was becoming as an actress,” confessed the Creative Arts undergraduate of University of Lagos, who is also making waves as a top-flight model.
Continuing, Grace, whose first movie role in Nollywood was in 1999 on the set of “Chains”, where she acted very well, the role of Liz Benson’s daughter, further explained that Teco Benson’s “Elastic Limit” actually gave her the much needed break as an actress to reckon with.
With over forty movie roles to her credit, the sexy and eloquent sex siren that has been mesmerizing television-buffs in the last couple of months as Tayo in Wale Adenuga’s wave-making Super Story, lamented to AZUH AMATUS in this interview about her plight in the hands of Nigerian men. “It has not been easy coping with them. Especially their love overtures… I always tell them they can’t go beyond being my fans.”
Graceful and amiable Grace, who is the first daughter in a family of four, also bared her youthful mind on other sundry issues.
Enjoy the interaction!
They said you recently won a mouth-watering modeling contract. We would like you to tell us more about the deal?
That was a long time ago. It was just a normal contract and was not mouth-watering like you just said. I combine acting and modelling with my school. I’m thriving in both professions. It was a job I did for MTN.
How many major modelling jobs have you done this year?
Due to lack of time, I have not done any major job this year. My last major work was for MTN. I just came back from a meeting with one of the big agencies; we are discussing something very big. Another reason I’ve not done lots of modeling jobs this year is because I told myself, I would no longer attend casting for models. I’ve passed that stage. They should contact me through my manager if they need me. I’ve also paid my dues as a model.
Currently, you are doing very well on Super Story, how has the experience been so far?
Thanks, it’s been fun and challenging on the set of Super Story. My role as Tayo is gradually coming to an end, it’s been running for months now. I’ve been combining acting with school and modeling career. Everything is fun and tasking. I also thank Wale Adenuga and his team for finding me worthy to work with them.
As an undergraduate at Unilag, how do you juggle acting, modeling and academics together without them clashing?
Sincerely speaking, it’s not been easy for me, I must confess. The most important among these is my education. So, I don’t allow the other two to clash with my academics.
You used to be very controversial then. But in recent times, all that has changed. What happened?
Well, I think I’ve always been reserved. I think I also noticed where I was not doing well then, especially my mixing up with some wrong people. Though, I failed to realize this on time. Also, a lot of people I thought were my pals then were the wrong people, so I had to stop hanging out with them. And besides, the print media blew the whole thing out of proportion. Most of the things they wrote about me then were not truth. Thank God the storm is over.
How did your parents feel while reading all those messy things about you in the print media then?
My luck then was that my parents did not read those publications. The only one that they saw was the write up that I was having an affair with a popular and married actor. Sincerely speaking, I felt terrible while all these were happening. But I moved on and looked at it as one of those things I had to face as an actress.
How was it like when you first started as an actress in Nollywood?
Emh! It wasn’t easy. I almost gave up. I came in ”99 on the set of Chains. It was while waiting for my JAMB the previous year. Frank Ubaka assisted me in coming in. Thereafter; it became increasingly difficult for me to move on in the industry. Then, my physique weighed me down a lot. But I said to myself that I would not give up. And that made me to be more focused and determined because I knew from the onset that I wanted to be an actress. Even when my parents threatened me and kicked against my acting career, I refused to give up. Though, they eventually gave up. Even at a point I left home and stayed with my uncle, that was when their pressure for me to quit acting was becoming too much. For almost a year, it was a big quarrel then. They refused giving me their blessings because of the impression they had about actresses. I was also lucky, during my struggling years; no producer or director harassed me sexually. I was also not happy with the way we were being treated then in the industry because we were not among the stars or known faces.
Which among your numerous movies made you a household name in Nigeria?
It was Elastic Limit by Teco Benson in 2000. I have done over forty movies since I came into Nollywood.
Financially, has Nollywood been fair to you since you came in?
Well,. They are trying. I can’t say that the way I started is the way I am now. At least, I pay my bills myself. My fees have gone up, it was N10, 000 when I started on the set of Chains. And hope you are not expecting me to tell you my current fee.
Do you believe in love?
Yes I do.
Do you also believe in love at first sight?
(Thinks) Not really.
As a young lady, has love been fair to you?
(Stammers) Yes, yes.
So in essence, Nigerian men are romantic?
Yes, Nigerian men are romantic.
You can also marry an actor?
An actor? No! I can’t marry an actor because I wouldn’t feel comfortable being in the same profession with him.
As a popular and pretty actress, how do you cope with overtures from the opposite sex?
It’s not been easy coping with them and their advances. A lot of them come to me pretending to be just fans and before you know it, they will start asking you out. I always thank then and tell them we can’t go beyond being fans.
Are there things you hate about Nigerian men?
Emm! Some of them are not truthful; maybe I’m speaking from experience.
Currently, are you into any affair or still searching?
I’m still single but not searching. There is someone.
We would like to know more about this Romeo in your life?
I would not like to talk about him in this interview.
Okay! But how old is the affair and is it going to lead you people to the altar?
By God’s grace. Marriage is on my mind.
And what if he ends up not marrying you?
If that happens, I will look at it that we were not meant to be.
As a pretty and sexy actress, which part of your body do you consider sexiest?
I don’t know what that means and please I can’t answer that. It is my man that knows that.
If you were not in showbiz, what else would you have been doing?
I would have been studying Law. I will still do that later in life.
Tell us more about yourself and family background
I’m Grace Oma Amah, from a religious family of three girls and a boy. I’m the first daughter. We are from Afikpo in Ebonyi State, but I was born and brought up here in Lagos. Dad is a politician and mum a trader. I’m currently a 200 level student of Creative Arts department of University of Lagos.
How was your growing up like?
My growing up was fun, memorable and a bit turbulent. It was turbulent because my parents did not allow us, to move freely. As born again Christians, my parents really brought us up in the way of the Lord. That was one of the reasons they refused me to go into acting then. We attend Assemblies of God Church. We were more or less living in Bondage then. As a kid, I felt they were wicked. But now, I see the whole thing as parental guidance and good upbringing. And it has really helped me.
Back to your Romeo, what actually got you tripped about him?
He is God-fearing and intelligent. You will know more about him when our card gets to you soon.
Is it true that you have stopped clubbing and partying?
I was never into clubbing and partying. I don’t know where people got that. I’m not disputing the fact that I’ve been to clubs or parties, but being labeled a club or party freak, is what I won’t accept because I’m not one.
What is the biggest favour you have received from being a popular actress?
My biggest favour from acting is that it has really exposed and opened doors of opportunities for me. It has also helped me in meeting a lot of influential people in the society.
So in essence, you are fulfilled being an actress?
Emmh! Let us just say I’m comfortable being an actress. I’m still working very hard to get to the top of my career. That is when I will be fulfilled.
Who are your role models in Nollywood?
I look up to Liz Benson, Joke Silva, RMD and Ramsey Noah. Except RMD, I‘ve acted with the others.
What would you ask God to do for you if by chance you meet him here on earth?
I would beg him to bring me back as Grace Amah and bless me the more.
Do you sometimes feel bad about your height?
I don’t feel bad at-all about my height. Maybe, I used to feel bad then because I was new in Nollywood, but I’ve out-grown that stage now. My height no longer bothers me. Besides, why must I feel bad over what I can’t change?
What would you say is the biggest risk you have taken so far as an actress?
(Thinks) It is defying my parents order to go into acting at that early stage of my life. I still think about it always.
Why do you people have the notion that you are a bad girl in Nollywood. Are you?
Grace Amah is not a bad girl. Many, based on what they have read about her in the past, are only misconstruing her. I’m a gentle, humble, friendly, caring, loving and above all, a God fearing girl. The truth is that I do things when I want to and not because anyone is urging or forcing me to do it.
What are your future goals as a promising actress in Nollywood?
Let me put it this way. I want to get to where God wants me to be. It is not about me, but about God. I would also love to touch people’s lives positively through my career. I also want to be successful in life, be a happily married woman with children, with maybe, three or four kids. My marriage is coming up very, very soon. I also want to work for humanity in the later days of my life.
It is no longer news that some of your colleagues were banned last year for a period of one year. What are your views on the controversial issue?
Banning them for me, was not the best thing to do. I still believe dialogue would have been the best way to resolve the crisis. There is always a reason for whatever that happens. It is only God that knows why it happened. But I see them coming out of it stronger. Nothing lasts forever except God. He will surely see them through.
And what if your name was on that list, what would you have done?
I wouldn’t have done anything. But as children of God, we would always overcome, no matter the crisis.
Since the beginning of this interview, you have been sounding so religious. Are you now a born again?
Yeah! I’m a born again Christian but not fanatic about it.
So, you no longer kiss in movies?
It is about acting, which we all know is make believe. We have a way of achieving that in movies. Also, I can’t expose any part of my body in a movie. I can’t do that.
How old is Grace Amah?
Grace Amah is in her mid 20’s. She was born on February 23…
To whom do you owe your success and meteoric rise in Nollywood?
First is God, then my family, fans and colleagues. I always pray for them. I also want to use this medium to urge my fans to stop believing any negative story they read about me in the print media. I’m a friend of the media, but the media has not been fair to me, especially when I started newly. But I thank God everything is now changing, especially the wrong perception of my person in the eyes of the public.
And how do you cope with life as a celebrity on campus?
(Laughs). I cope well. I go to lectures like every other student. I’m an introvert, so, on campus I always keep to myself a lot. I also greet those who come my way and try as much as possible to be friendly and polite to my course-mates. I also relate very well with my lecturers. My biggest way of coping with life on campus is by not being on campus if I don’t have lectures to attend. I also smile and say thank you when my course-mates or other students come to commend my roles in movies or the on-going Super Story on television. It is not easy, but I try to cope whenever I’m on campus.
First Published, June 2005.