14th June, 2013
Empress Njamah is one actress that remains a staple for tabloids and magazine lovers. She had a steady growth in the movie industry but slowed down to try her luck in other businesses, especially fashion. FUNSHO AROGUNDADE ran into the actress at a ceremony in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, and she opened up on why she has been calm in the industry and what makes her controversial.
What has been happening, as you seem to be so quiet lately?
It is deliberate as I have been so busy for some time. I have been travelling a lot and working on so many other projects outside the movie circuit. Just recently, I opened my boutique in Abuja. I also have a spa and a saloon in the city. I will soon open my Lagos outlet, it is just that Lagos is too choked up for me, but that should not be an excuse. I am definitely working on my Lagos branch. I have loads of customers in Lagos that I bring stuff for more than every other place. However, I love Abuja right now for its serenity. As per movie, during my spare time, I still run to some locations to shoot one or two movies. In fact, I am working on some scripts.
Are you not afraid that you may recede in the memory of your fans with this long break?
A good brand will always remain fresh even if went out of circulation for five years. You will always be remembered for your good works. I don’t believe one needs to do a hundred movies to stay relevant and fresh in the industry. I know some people who have featured in many productions but yet do not have that star status. If you don’t have the star streak, you don’t have it. You can do just a movie in a year and you will be high up there. Funke Akindele has been in the industry for some time but she came up with this fantastic movie ‘Jenifa’ that deals with a very important topic, though comical, and that was it. Moreso, with the level I have attained in the industry, I don’t think I should be everywhere. That’s the truth. But we all know that there wasn’t real money to be made in this our industry, so, one has to really use his or her talent in a very positive way. I have a flair for other things and I am pursuing them. Movie will always be there and I can always fall back to it. I do it when I can do it. I travel a lot. The name is still there so I need to do a lot of things because I would definitely fall back to the movies. You can’t leave the industry just like that. It’s not possible.
How easy was it starting up your business?
Initially, it was not that easy. But there is something about life: If you are doing something that you love and you are making money out of it, it is a plus. I love acting and it is just like they are paying me for my hobby. The proceeds from acting were diverted to my other passion. I love fashion too, and I love to dress people. I was in charge of Mercy Johnson’s wardrobe during her wedding and I was happy about what I did for her. I think a lot of people don’t know that there are other things I do aside acting. I do bridal makeup. I am more of a wedding planner. I did one beautiful wedding a few Saturdays ago and I got like four other jobs from that one. So that’s it. I don’t have to put it on the billboard. I’m not a loud person. I let my work speak for me.
With a lot of your colleagues delving into film production, are we likely to see you join the train too?
If there is one thing I hate, it is joining the bandwagon. I am not very competitive so I can’t be forced to do something because others are in it. In as much as we are very adventurous in our family, what I like to do might not be what the next person likes to do. But without generalizing, I will say most of these people jumping into this production are square pegs in round holes. A lot of them didn’t even understand that Nollywood is not that strong compared to Hollywood, where with just one good movie you are made.
When you are not working, what else pre-occupies you?
Travelling has become a hobby for me. I was very busy during Tuface’s wedding. I was one of the people organising things and after the whole ceremony; I think I used two days to unwind. So there is always time to unwind. I am an adventurous and industrious person but the little time I have I make sure I spend it well. A lot of people don’t understand that the body needs rest. I rest a lot because body is not wood. Some people don’t listen to their body and that is why a lot of them breakout and breakdown.
What is it about Empress that attracts controversy?
I don’t know o. I can’t explain the reasons for all these controversies, but I guess a lot of your people think that without me they can’t sell their newspapers and magazines.
But you enjoy all the buzz?
Well, as much as I like people to make money and improve their lives, but seriously it doesn’t have to be through controversy. What even are all these controversies? That people write things that they know aren’t true, all because they want to sell their magazines? Most times they just write things to entertain their readers which they know are not true about me. Is that the kind of controversy you think I enjoy?
Why are you still single?
I am going to say this and don’t care how people will take it; the days when marriages were sweet and all beautiful are no more. If you listen to how your parents got married and how those days were sweet, but unfortunately it is not like that anymore. I have seen a lot of people going into marriages and have witnessed them coming out of it. Considering this, you will be careful. A lot of guys can’t stand an industrious woman especially if she is doing very well. That is the mentality of some people. Looking at me, I am a car freak alright. I have five cars and not acquiring them because I want to show off, but to some guys, can they stand that? I am a very blunt person and always trying to say it the way it is, not minding whatever. Every woman’s dream is to get married but it’s not just to get married but to get married to your friend. I want to marry my friend.
And have you met the friend?
I am yet to meet my friend. If I meet my friend and I know that he is my friend, I don’t think that question would be pop out to me now because I will get married immediately. Even if the friend eventually comes, I am the type that would not want to have a fairy tale wedding.
Yes, don’t judge the book by its cover. People always look at Empress as a flashy person. But trust me I am one of the simplest person you can ever meet.