Ever radiant and mother of two star actress cum costumier, Obot Etuk, shot to acting limelight with her scintillating roles in “Rituals and Deadly Proposal”, when what is today known as Nollywood was just starting.
The divorcee screen dazzler from Ikot Ibasi in Akwa–Ibom State, in this no-holds-barred interview with the Daily Sun, confirmed our earlier story about her desire to go into politics. “Yes, I would want to go into politics, but right now, I have not yet decided. When I make up my mind next year, you will be the first to know”
The heroine of “Battle of Musanga” also opened up on why her first marriage, which was contracted when she was just fifteen, collapsed “ No Regrets About that”, she said calmly with smiles playing round her sensuous lips.
Despite all these, the award winning and stunning actress still believes in love and wants to give the marriage institution a second trial, she maintains: “ I still want to remarry. There is a man in my life”.
Q: What is Obot Etuk doing presently?
A: Obot Etuk is quietly doing one or two legal businesses here in Lagos and Akwa- Ibom, her state of origin. I don’t know what is wrong; producers have not called me to star in movies for more than one year now. Well, I’m still waiting for them to make up their minds and give me jobs.
Q: Can we know some of these new businesses you are into?
A: I’m making an in road in Akwa-Ibom, by visiting my people and constituency. I want them to know me better. I’m also trying to know them better. That is the business I’m into now. (General laughter.)
Q: The rumour is everywhere that you are going into politics come 2007? How true is this?
A: (Laughs). Just like you said, it is still a rumour. We all are political animals. Yes, I would want to go into politics, but right now, I have not yet decided. Maybe, when I make up my mind next year, you will be the first to know. For me, it is still too early to start talking about 2007.
Q: Are you gunning for the State or Federal level when the time comes?
A: I don’t know yet, it could be the State or Federal. Wherever my people want me to go, I would gladly obey. The sole aim is to go serve and represent my people very well.
Q: Are you a card-carrying member of any of the political parties?
A: Keep your fingers crossed; you would definitely know when the time comes.
Q: What could have prompted your inability to get movie roles, like you used to in the past? Any problem with marketers and producers. Or did they ‘ban’ you secretly?
A: No! They did not ban me. I don’t know what is actually wrong. I remembered taking a break some time ago in order to be able to have time for my kids, since their father is not with them. I personally left acting for costuming and before you could Jack, everybody started seeing me as a costumier and not an actress any more. This was when the problem started. I had to tell them no, I’m an actress and not a costumier. I finally stopped costuming and returned to full time acting, which is my first love… I also remembered costuming and the same time playing lead roles in most Nollywood movies. I had to stop costuming because people were beginning to see me more as a costumier instead of an actress. I only came into costuming then, because we did not have many capable hands. Then that I came in, we were only three, in ’96. Deadly Proposal was my first job as a costumier. In fact, Teco Benson, lured me into costuming. My quest for good costumes on sets then, led me into the world of costuming.
Q: Which was the last movie you featured in before this your “quiet ban”?
A: (Chuckles). Emmh! I appeared in a movie last, early 2004. The movie’s title is “End of Money.” It is from the stable of A.Z.2. Productions. Pete Edochie, Kanayo. O. kanayo, Ejike Asiegbu, Ken Okonkwo, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe and many others were in this movie. I even heard the movie came out early this month. It was marvelous being on set together with these veterans.
Q: What was your role in the movie?
A: I played the wife of Kanayo. O. Kanayo. Ha was a 419 person in the movie. I assisted him in duping people of there millions. I also costumed the movie.
Q: In real life, can you marry a 419 person?
A: Hmmh! Na wah o! Well, I cannot. In Ikot Abasi, where I come from, we respect education and not money. We have lots of well-read men from my area. People like late justice Udo Udoma and many others.
Q: Have you bothered asking some of these producers and marketers, why they stopped
giving you movie roles for more than a year now?
A: Yes! I’ve asked some of them what is my offence, but they all kept quiet.
I’m now beginning to feel that maybe, God, has a special purpose for what is happening presently. My name, Obot, means destiny. All is well.
Q: Do you sometimes feel sad or bad that the roles are no longer forthcoming like it used to in the past?
A: Sometimes, I feel sad, especially when my fans stop me on the road or call my phones to know what is happening to me. Everything worketh for good for those that love God.
Q: You produced a movie two years ago and till date, nothing has been heard about it. Why?
A: I actually produced that movie for a purpose. When the time comes, we will give it a title and push it into the markets. It was an epic movie about the secrets of a Calabar Woman. We are just adding finishes touches to it. Hopefully, it will be out this year, by God’s grace.
Q: With all your contacts, a lot of people are still wondering why you have not gone in fully into movie productions as a producer?
A: Now that you have brought about the idea, I will think about it seriously.
Q: You are a single parent with three grown up kids, how has it been raising these children without a man by your side?
A: I don’t agree with you that there is no man by my side. It is only that the father of my kids is not here with us.
Q: (Cuts in) Where is he?
A: Emm! I don’t want to know where he is, but he is alive. We got separated and later divorced. Every document is intact. We got married in 1985 and divorced in 2002. The marriage did not last long.
Q: What actually went wrong?
A: We were young when we got married. I was fifteen then and he was eighteen. He later went to the U.S. and fell in love with someone else there and same thing happened to me here, while he was away. He over stayed and I could not wait. He is now an architect, Kirikko, is his name.
Q: And who was the man that took you away from your legally married husband?
A: It is past; I don’t want to talk about him. (Lower’s voice.)
Q: Did your husband feel bad when he returned from the U.S.?
A: Hmmmh! Not really! It was meant to be. He knew the person I was dating then and they speak on phone once in a while.
Q: If given the chance, would you still want to come back to your husband?
A: (Laughs.) I don’t think so. Back to you question on how I have been taking care of my kids. It’s been fun and lovely raising and watching them grow. Because I’m a single parent, the love is not divided I’m the father and mother to them. It’s been wonderful; God has really been assisting me. He won’t let me down. He supplies all my needs. He is the Main Man in my life. The third and the youngest among these children is not my biological daughter, I adopted her when she was a baby.
Q: But do you sometimes, miss the absence of your husband in your life?
A: (Thinks for a while.) I don’t think so. No!
Q: You are glowing and looking prettier, is any man responsible for this?
A: (Laughs heartily) You are getting too personal. Are all these part of the interview you told me would be strictly official?
Q: Okay. Are you planning or working towards re-marrying soon?
A: I’m a woman. Yes, I will re-marry, but I don’t know how soon that will happen. I’m still young; I just clocked 34, last month. There is a man in my life, but I won’t go further than this.
Q: Is he a Nigerian?
A: Yes, he is a Nigerian.
Q: For how long, have you been dating?
A: He’s been there all these while, but we kicked it off more than a year now.
Q: What really got you tripped about him?
A: The friendship. We started as very good pals, he knew me first as a friend before knowing me as a lover.
Q: How do your kids relate with him? Do they love him?
A: I don’t know. In fact, he has never been to my house once.
Q: Now that you are in love again, what do you cherish most about being in love?
A: Hmmh! Love is sweet when you find the right person.
Q: But has love been fair to you?
A: Yes! It has been very fair to me.
Q: If you were not in showbiz today, what else would you have been doing?
A: I would have been a journalist and asking probing questions like you. I love journalism a lot. I might even practice someday.
Q: As a pioneer actress, how would you rate Nollywood?
A: When we started then, we had a vision but did not know it will be this big. I’m happy and proud that Nollywood is now a noble profession. My people and parents never liked my decision of joining acting then, but today, they are now very proud of me. Nollywood is a thriving industry. My dream is to see us surpass Hollywood. It might not be in this our generation. But I’m optimistic about it happening. When I started then in 91, on the set of ‘Retribution’ and later “Battle of Musanga”, the money was nothing to write home about. But today, we earn over one million Naira as artiste fees. I started making little money when I featured in ‘Rituals’, by Nek Videos. I owe Chezkay and Gabosky a lot for bringing me into Nollywood. They discovered and drilled me.
Q: Financially, has it been rewarding for you as a star actress in Nollywood?
A: Financially, I don’t think so, but in terms of fulfillment derived from being an actress, I will say yes. Its been rewarding for me as an actress. I found happiness and joy in acting. I’ve always dreamt of doing what I’m presently doing. I can’t leave acting.
Q: Your tenure as Vice President of the Lagos State Chapter of Actors Guild just ended. But a lot of people said you did nothing while in office. In fact, they said you abandoned your duty post for Akwa-Ibom. How true is this?
A: People are entitled to their opinions. Did they know how we moved to our secretariat at National Theatre? I don’t want to join issues with anybody. But one day, my works and contributions will speak for me. You don’t expect me to be shouting to all and sundry that Obot did this and that. Collectively, my executives and I achieved a lot for Lagos AGN.
Q: In the next couple of years where do you hope to be?
A: Next couple of years? I want to be among those who will be at the helms of affairs and finding solutions and ways on how to better this country and our movie sector. I want to be among those who will make legislations that will better our citizens and the Nation.
Q: So in essence, you are going into politics to achieve all these?
A: By God’s grace.
Q: Lest I forget, tell us the names of your kids and their ages?
A: My first child and daughter is Idara. She is 16. My son is called Ubong, meaning King. He is 15. My adopted daughter is 11, she is Eno.
Q: If you are to meet God today, what major wish would you ask from Him?
A: I will beg him to change Nigeria, and make it a better place for us to live in. He should give us a Messiah that will lead us to the Promised Land. There is excess poverty on the land.
Q: What are the major projects you want to or have embarked upon this 2005?
A: It is meeting my people and allowing them know me very well. Getting familiar with them is my primary aim and objective this 2005. That is my biggest project for 2005.
Q: What motivates and keeps you going always?
A: Aside God, the fear of poverty keeps me going and also motivates me. I dread poverty a lot.
Q: Are you speaking from experience?
A: Not really. I hate begging or asking for things from people. Millions of Nigerians can’t even eat a meal, not to talk of three, in a day.
Q: Tell us about your family background?
A: We are from a strict monogamist Christian home. All born-again. We are four, two boys, two girls. I’m the second to the last child. Dad is a retired Major, in the Nigerian Army. Both parents are still alive. I’m really opening up to you because most of your colleagues in the media have not been fair with me. Let me use this medium to beg them to stop thriving on gossips, hear say and imaginations. They should help build Nollywood and not rubbishing it for us. We love you guys. Together we shall build a virile and formidable Nollywood.
First published, March 2005.