6th December, 2021
By Nehru Odeh
Sleek with a spider-shaped sexiness and penetrating eyes that look deep into one’s soul, Ini Edo is a study in grit and determination.
An actress who sure knows how to get what she wants, no matter the odds and obstacles, she has always shown resilience both on and off set.
She once said in 2017 that only hard work can get one to the top in Nollywood and that though there are distractions, with determination one would surely get there.
Ever since she shot to limelight with the movie, World Apart in 2004, she has never failed to act the no – nonsense lady, a go-getter, even when it seems her world has fallen apart.
World Apart. Yes World Apart, the movie in which she rose from being an out-an- out, poor village girl to marry a prince in the city and gained the acceptance of the prince’s family, in spite of their initial resistance.
That never say die attitude she betrayed in World Apart and several of her movies, that resilience, seems to define her life.
And indeed, when it seemed her world has fallen apart, when it seems the cookies has crumbled seven years after the collapse of her ill-fated marriage when everybody has written her off, she has bounced back to public reckoning.
The multiple award-winning actress, who has endorsement deals with many multinational brands, recently welcomed her first child through surrogacy. She announced that she had a surrogate baby to fulfil her dream of becoming a mother.
According to her, a surrogate carried her fetus (the product of her egg and the sperm of a male donor) for nine months and delivered her daughter.
And now after a long, torturous journey in search of a child, she proudly carries her baby. Beautiful pictures of her gladly carrying the one-year old baby, which she had initially hidden from the public now dot social media.
“Yes I do have a daughter and I had her through surrogacy. The eggs are mine and so genetically, she’s my blood.
“I chose this path to fulfil my dream of becoming a mother. I still have a good number of eggs frozen in case I decide to do surrogacy again or carry my baby myself,” Ini Edo said in an interview with Stella Dimoko Korkus.
The actress also said she decided to go through that route in order to avoid the drama associated with failed marriages and also because of her peace of mind and that of her baby. “I went for a donor for me and my baby’s peace of mind. . Ideally, it should be marriage before children but we are not living in an ideal world
“Another major reason I opted for a donor is that it scares me so much when I see banter and controversies between a mother and a father over a baby in public forums,” she said.
“For me, it is the fear of what that would mean for the child. I am not someone who allows any situationin control me. I make lemonades out of lemons thrown my way and have no regrets.
“Life itself is so fragile and short to be striving for perfection. I am well and capable of taking care of my child as I have been taking care of myself. I wanted a child and I thank God for the options of surrogacy and donors,” she explained.
It has not been a ride in the park. Still, ever since she made that announcement, she has been the butt of criticisms. Not only have many accused her of taking an action that they deem unAfrican, they are insisting she must reveal the identity of the donor.
Still, there is more to Ini Edo’s choice than meets the eye. And many questions are begging for answers. How did her journey to motherhood start? What silent battles did she fight to achieve her dream of having a child? What sacrifices did she make to achieve that dream?
Though not many may be in the know, the truth is, Ini Edo’s journey to motherhood did not start just yesterday. Hers has been a journey of pains laced with series of disappointments and ridicule.
During her six year marriage to her former husband, Phillip Ehiagwina, which crashed in 2014 over allegations of adultery and irreconcilable differences, she had several miscarriages. Yet many didn’t fail to make fun of her inability to carry her baby for nine months
Yet many never believed she was even pregnant for once. They felt she was just acting, pretending she was pregnant, when in the strict sense of the word, she wasn’t. Even those who believed, albeit with a pinch of salt, never empathised with her
Still, one cannot divorce her present decision to have a surrogate baby from her past. Her marriage to Ehiagwina, as many believed crashed over allegations of adultery and irreconcilable differences. However, Ini Edo once said that their long distance relationship didn’t help matters and denied she ever cheated on her husband.
Ehiagwina was based in the United States at the time, while Ini Edo was living in Nigeria. Ini Edo believes that If they had stayed together, they would have known each other better and avoided some of the pitfalls that plagued their marriage.
But beyond the long distance, beyond allegations of adultery and irreconcilable differences, beyond the fights and disagreements that characterize their marriage, one thing is clear: Ini Edo had series of miscarriages while she was married.
Though she had said her decision to have her child through surrogacy has nothing to do with her miscarriages, one cannot completely rule that out. The trauma she went through in her past relationship, the fights and disagreements coupled with the fact that she had miscarriages all have one thing or the other to do with her decision.
It would be recalled that in 2015, barely a year after her marriage collapsed, Ini Edo embarked on a weight loss journey, which elicited a lot of reactions. However, she took to Instagram to defend herself,
“This is to all of my loyal fans who have had weight concerns… There’s been lots of questions thrown at me via social media and beyond about my weight loss. As much as I do not live my life based on any ones dictate, am also a realist. Now, I’ve always said this and proud of it, I was born chubby. I’ve been that way for years. Had all the major endorsement deals, acted in over 300 movies in that my chubby state and most of you accepted me like that because all I had or came to offer was the talent God gave me.
“Your size or shape doesn’t determine who you are, how successful you can be or how acceptable you will be. The world will always be unsatisfied with whatever situation you present to them. Ini… You are too fat ohhh she’s too slim kilodeeeeee ???? My point is.. Be yourself. Once you are happy with yourself, everything else is inconsequential. We all have our individual problems. Some people find succour in social media by playing ghost and spitting flames in the dark to mask their bitterness. Don’t look at them. Take care of yourself,” she said.
She started another weight loss programme last year, which she also made known on Istagram by sharing a photo of herself with some slimming products. “Hello sugar. So I jumped on another weight loss journey. As you all know, as long as you are a foodie like me, you can’t snooze on your body or you lose…,” she wrote.
Still, if one’s shape or size doesn’t determine who one is or how successful one is, why did she embark on the weight loss journey? Many believe she should have been her chubby self that her fans are familiar with. Many believe there must be a reason she embarked on that weight loss journey.
There is no doubt the Akwa-Ibom-state- born actress now cuts a figure of a model. But the questions now are: Does her weight loss journey have anything to do with her desire to have a child, considering the fact that she had several miscarriages in her past relationship? Does her weight loss programme go beyond just having the right body size? Does it have anything to do with her desire to have a child, whether in or out of wedlock?
While there is no incontrovertible evidence to prove that her weight loss journey has anything to do with her desire to have a child, they may not be unconnected. Studies have shown that one has a better chance of getting pregnant and having a baby if one has a healthy weight. Many chubby women who have issues with pregnancy always embark on a weight loss journey to improve their fertility.
Perhaps that was what informed Ini-Edo’s weight loss journey. Perhaps that was what also informed her decision to embark on a weight loss journey immediately after the collapse of her marriage. When one follows the timeline of her weight loss journey to her present motherhood, one could see some connections.
“I am not someone who allows any situation control me. I make lemonades out of lemons thrown my way and have no regrets,” she said in that interview with Stella Dimoko Korkus. That statement has so much to do with her past and how she has moved on, taking the decisions she believes are good for her, no matter what people say about her.
According to the Cosmopolitan magazine, “there are many reasons why parents opt for surrogacy when starting a family, including fertility issues, a history of pregnancy loss, being in a same=sex relationship or simply not to marry.”
While there is no doubt that Ini Edo is not in a same-sex relationship, her decision to opt for surrogacy may not be unconnected with the other reasons.
There is nothing indeed wrong with surrogacy. Many had opted for it in the past. Other celebrities who welcomed children through it include: Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Boderick, Gabrielle Union, Andy Cohen, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Tan France, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Lucy Liu, Amber Heard.