Sensational screen siren Maureen Onyinyechi Solomon made headlines news in the print media some couple of years ago when her brief and sizzling romance with lover boy actor, Pat Attah, hit the rocks.
Though, pretty Maureen who operates from the coal city of Enugu State had since put the misfortune of that fatal romance behind her and forged on with her thriving acting career and studies.
In a recent interview with AZUH AMATUS, on the set of her latest flick, “Blood Of An Armed Robber”, which she sneaked in from her base to record here in Lagos, the vivacious rising star poured out her heart to us in her first major interview ever.
“I came into Nollywood in 2000 on the set of “Alternative”. Since then, I’ve done over thirty movies. Nollywood is really growing and I’m proud and happy to be part of the growth,” she stated.
Still baring her youthful mind to us, Solomon, who is also a 400 level Computer Engineering student of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), maintained she is single and not searching at 23.
“Yes, I’m single but not searching. God will give me my right man at the right time. I know he will soon do that…I believe in love and had only being in love once. My dream man will come at the right time…,’’ re-affirms the starlet who is from a religious and close-knit family of three girls and two boys.
Enjoy the interaction!
It’s good to see you again Maureen. And how is Enugu?
It’s good to see you again too. Enugu is fine and the movie industry there is booming.
Have you relocated permanently to Lagos?
(Laughs) No! I came to feature in a movie for Lion-Base Nigeria Limited. The producer, Emeka Label invited me. I think the title of the movie is Blood of An Armed Robber. Ebereonwu is the director here on set. And I’m shooting alongside other Nollywood stars like Justus Esiri, Chidi Mokeme, Ngozi Ezeonu and many others. The initial plan was that I will be going back to Enugu after this movie, but it will no longer be possible. I just got another script from Leo Onwordi. So, I will move to his set as soon as I’m through with this.
So, how has it been on this set, the major challenges encountered so far?
We thank God. But sincerely speaking, it is a combination of stress and fun. Everything is going on well. I’ve got wonderful people on set. From the director to the producer, executive producer and all cast and crewmembers, we are all enjoying, despite the occasional recording stress that is usually part of a normal production.
What role did you play in the movie?
Let me say I’m the lead actress. I played a vital role in the movie. A spoilt brat from a rich but very troubled home. But the climax of the story was when my brother killed our mum, a guest and himself. But basically, about a boy who was born after his rich mum was ganged raped in the movie. And unknown to the family, he had went into robbery, because of the robbery blood in him. An emotional movie. The movie also treated cases of sexual harassments and rapes a lot.
Talking about sexual harassments, have you ever encountered any from producers and directors?
It happens to every fine girl (Laughs). Men will always harass ladies it is normal. But I can’t say if it has happened to me. But I have heard about it. Let’s say I was able to cope with it by the grace of God.
You are rising very fast as an actress, then that you newly came in, did it occur to you that you will grow this fast?
I did not expect it, but I give God all the glory. Another important thing about acting is knowing where you were coming from and place you are heading. From the onset, I knew where I was heading to in Nollywood. And something kept telling me, keep going, you will get there. I’m still going, because I’m yet to get to my destination.
Was acting what you had always dreamt of doing from childhood?
Yes, I’ve always loved it and told myself I’m going to be famous through acting and also make enough money, which I will use in helping humanity.
If you were not acting today, what else would you have been doing?
Honestly, I don’t know, because I’ve never thought of it until this question. Maybe, I would have been more serious with my studies at Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). But I’m not saying I’m not serious with my studies. (General Laughter).
Okay! So, tell us more about your academic background
Hmmh! I’m a 400 level student of Computer Engineering at ESUT. I did sciences in the secondary school that is why I’m still in it. I’ve always been a science-oriented student right from primary school days.
How is life on campus and how do you cope on campus as a Nollywood star?
It is normal for people to look and point at you whenever you are on campus. I cope with it. In fact, I’m used to it. But it could be embarrassing most times. I also think, I’m just like every other student on campus…
Do some of your lecturers harass you for sex in place of marks, since you are not always around for lectures?
No! No!! No!!! I’m friendly and free with everybody on and off campus. I don’t even think or feel my course-mates find me intimidating.
Who are the stars you look up to in Nollywood?
Role models? I have a lot of them. On the foreign scene, I have Whoopi Goldberg and Samuel L. Jackson. Here in Nollywood, Stella Damasus, Eucharia Anunobi and RMD are those I look up to.
Can you marry an actor in Nollywood?
Ehm! That is a question I can’t answer. I don’t know where my husband will come from. Wherever he comes from, I will accept. For an actor, maybe, yes or no.
How many actors have you dated in the past?
Oh please! How do you expect me to answer that?
What went wrong in your brief and secret romance with Pat Attah?
When you see him, ask him. As for me I don’t know what you are talking about enough on my private life please.
What will be your advice to other rising actresses who want to get to where you are in Nollywood today?
My advice to them is just to be patient. If you are good and have all the attributes of a star, you will definitely get there. But being desperate for stardom is not advisable; you might get your fingers burnt in the process. If you are desperate and not destined to be there, you can’t get there. And even if you wangle your way through, you won’t be pronounced. They should just pray, learn and take things easy.
What are your views on the one-year ban placed on some of your A-list colleagues? In fact, two of your role models, were affected?
I don’t think any right thinking artiste will ever be in support of that. The reasons for the ban is what we really don’t know, the actual facts behind the ban…
Supposed you were involved, what would you have done?
What I would have done? That would have made me to be more serious with my studies now. I must confess, it has not been easy combining both. I face my studies 100% whenever I’m not on location. I never pray for such thing. But if it had affected me, facing my studies would have been the only way out.
Tell us more about yourself and family
I’m Maureen Onyinyechi Solomon. From Imo state, I’m an easy person who could be stubborn and complex once in while. Generally, I’m a simple girl. I’m also truthful and blunt. We are three girls and two boys in the house.
What tantalizes your heart about a guy?
Honesty, first thing is physical appearance, he must be handsome.
Since you said you are single and unattached, does that mean that all the guys coming your way do not have these qualities?
When you talk about love, it is something of the heart it is not something about the physical being. I believe in love so much.
So, how come you are still searching for love all these years?
I’m not searching! It will surely come my way soon.
The fact that you have not seen your ideal man, does it bother you sometimes?
No! It does not bother me. I have my family members who always shower me with love and attention. Even my parents don’t bother me about marriage. They know I’m still young. My mates are still in schools.
What are you future goals as a rising actress in Nollywood?
Most of my colleagues usually dream of going to Nollywood. But for me, I want to make a mark in Nollywood before thinking of storming outside. Hopefully, I want to be a force to reckon with globally in film animations…
Aside acting, what else are you into?
Not much really. I’m always in school when I’m not acting. For now only acting and schooling. But later, I will definitely delve into other things, which I would not want to mention now.
You have been around for five years, what is your assessment of Nollywood?
In terms of comparing Nollywood with Hollywood and Bollywood, we are not there yet. But we are really, really trying for our age in terms of moviemaking. We are the best in Africa, when it comes to movie making. Soon and very soon, we will be dictating the pace globally.
Do you hate anything about yourself?
(Thinks) I don’t think so! I love and admire myself so much.
Can you act nude or play wild romantic scenes in movies?
No! To an extent I can play wild romantic roles in movies. But acting nude or going beyond that, no way.
How romantic are you?
I don’t know about being romantic. But I could be so emotional. (Laughs). I cry a lot, especially for love.
Still on you and Pat Attah, while the affair lasted they said the two of you were altar bound. What actually happened?
Please! Pat is just my friend. People said all these. Pat and I did not come out to say all these. No matter what you say or cajole me, I won’t say anything again about Pat and myself. You promised me from the beginning that no personal questions.
So, if you by chance meet God today, what major favour would ask from Him?
First to make me a better person who will truly serve Him in truth and spirit.
(Cuts in) Are you saying you have never been a better person all these while?
God alone understands what I meant.
Back to this set, what major experience has really challenged you so far?
(Laughs heartily) I’m sure you don’t want to know. Early in this production, I almost bashed some peoples’ cars. As a learner, I was recording a driving scene and nearly committed a fatal accident it was my most challenging experience on this set. I also thank God; we did not record any casualty on set.
So, how much were you paid to feature in this movie?
I’m so sorry; it is none of your business. It was a secret deal between my producer and I. I was well paid.
If tomorrow comes, what major project would you want to do to help humanity?
(Thinks). Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve not really thought about that. But I know I will definitely reach out to the poor very soon. I will also help humanity by spreading the gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
What are your phobias?
I have phobia for heights and crowd.
Still on your “vacant” love life, are you going to leave it like that?
Okay! Fine! When the right guy comes, I will definitely fall in love. Mind you, I’m not searching for love. It will come. I believe it will come. And I’ve told you I’m unperturbed about it.
At what age did you fall in love first?
Just two years back, in 2003. The feeling was awesome.
So, why did it crash?
I’ve told you I’m not finding these your personal questions funny. The answer is personal.
Any regrets in life today?
Regrets? Yeah! Most times, I wish I’m slimmer, as in be a lepa. But unfortunately such figures are alien to my family.
Which among your numerous movies has really challenged you?
A lot of them, starting with “Alternative”, which was my first movie. Others like “School mother, Test of Manhood”, and many others.
What has been your lowest fee as an actress?
It was Alternative, my first movie. I was paid N2, 500 in 2000.
How did you come into Nollywood?
I came on my own, went and passed the audition. The rest like they say is now history.
And then, your parents did not kick against you going into acting?
No! My parents are educated and liberal people. The truth is that dad stays abroad. We are living in Enugu with mum. She gave me all the support and her blessings.
How was your growing up like?
My growing up was fun and memorable. I grew up surrounded by people who showered me with-love. I have sisters and brothers and we played and joked a lot. It was an interesting childhood for me and my other siblings. I still remember everything with nostalgia. If I have my way, I would like to start afresh again as an innocent child.
What do you see as the biggest problem facing up and coming actresses in Nollywood today?
A lot of problems. Starting from lack of roles to some producers not wanting to use you because of the harassments and you not getting the stipend you are entitled to at the end of the day. Our problems are legion. We can only start tackling them by speaking out to the world through the media.
How do you cope with pressures from Nigerian men as a single and popular actress?
I try to avoid them, but it has not been easy some of them are very stubborn. I as a stubborn person has a special way of dealing with them. Agreed, they chase and disturb me a lot but that is their bus stops.
Do you have the intentions of relocating from Enugu to Lagos in the nearest future?
I will think about that once I’m through with my course in Enugu. Mind you, I was brought up there and entire family is still there. Is there anything special about Lagos?
At what age do you actually want to settle down and raise kids?
I told you I’m just twenty-three. It is the dream of every right thinking woman to be married, but I’m not gonna rush into it. I will definitely do that at the right time. When I’m set you will surely know and help me spread the good message. Or do you have a husband for me?
First published, July 2005