Eucharia Anuobi is regarded as one of nollywood’s legends and is known for interpreting scripts perfectly. The Christian minister, motivational speaker and model, spoke with Zaaki Azzay on her sojourn into the movie industry, how she remained relevant by evolving, how the entertainment industry can further thrive, why celebrity marriages crash among other issues.
Who would you describe as a true Nigerian?
A true Nigerian is one who has the needs of the people at heart and has compassion in ensuring that Nigeria works. As true Nigerians, we should put our hands on the plow to ensure that we do our best to see that the country rises from the present state and become great.
The rate of unemployment is on the rise and is a major issue and one of the ways the Federal Government is hoping to curb it is by putting policies in place that would encourage youths to go back to farming. What other steps do you think can be taken to reduce unemployment?
I remember years ago having done my youth service, I was going to take a bus at the bus stop after it had just finished raining. All of a sudden, a car just sped past from nowhere and splashed water all over me. I had to go home, change my clothes and I eventually missed the bus and couldn’t go to work. That day, I said to myself I was not going to go for paid labor. I decided that I was going to work for myself and that was how I made up my mind to become an entrepreneur.
About the youths been unemployed and going into farming, I think the young people need to start thinking inwards. Most of the time, the government will often not provide employment for you. You will have to do something for yourself. You find out that some want the blue-collar jobs. They want to come to the city, become actors, doctors etc. But when these environments are saturated, what do you do? You have to think of something else. Some youths don’t want to do some jobs that maybe will soil their fingernails; they don’t want to go into farming. Meanwhile, we have a lot of fallow grounds everywhere where you can make a lot of money from it. People also don’t want to go into fish farming.
I think what should happen is not just about the rich men opening factories or the government setting up companies. In other countries around the world, how many factories have the government set up? Most of the businesses that you hear that are put up are owned by individuals. Steve Jobs the owner of Apple products, laptop and so many more are owned by individuals.
The young people need to go back to the drawing board and begin to ask themselves questions; What can I create? What I can invent? What I can do to improve my life? If they are not skilled in it, they can learn new skills.
We also have this mentality of wanting to be rich overnight. One cannot be rich overnight; you must go through the process. So, the young people of our age and time are too much in a hurry to ride the latest car, to wear the latest clothes and so on.
Look at me now, I have been acting for more than 22 years, I have done over 300 films. It has been such a long journey. Maybe now, some girl will sit down, watch me and think wow! I love her clothes, I love her bag, I love her hair and so on but I did not start today. So, start somewhere, start something small. In fact, I hear that companies are into recycling these days and paying youth to pick plastics.
You were a model before you joined nollywood. Are you still modeling?
Yes, I am.
How would you rate the nollywood and the quality of actors you had in your time and now? What do you think has changed?
This is sill my time. However I am a bit disappointed with the new set of actors that are coming into the industry and the reason is similar to what we discussed earlier. These are actors who are in a rush to be famous and known. I ask myself, “where are they rushing to, and to be known for what?” You have barely acted one or two movies and you are putting up attitude.
Also, these actors and actresses don’t read their scripts. They don’t even know what the story they are acting is all about. Some of them are under-dressed or over dressed for a scene. What has happened to the real thespians? I always ask myself, “where do these kind of people come from?” They are ill-mannered, rude, uncontrollable and full of arrant nonsense as a matter of fact.
I keep asking myself if we are going to go on this way. When we started, you want to obey your director, you want to read your story and imbibe it. When you take on a character, you should become that character. You fit into it such that everything you are breathing or doing is about that character. I remember, if I am given a script, I take my time to study it. Once I finish reading my Bible and praying, the next thing I take round is my script. Not just to imbibe the lines, but to understand my story. I make sure I ask myself, “what is the writer trying to get out?” I am a writer myself and we are usually constrained of time and space. When a writer is putting up a script, they are hoping to see that the actor is able to see the deeper picture that they are trying to portray and give life to it. These actors and actresses that are not willing to read their scripts, how will they get those innate things that the director or writer has put down or couldn’t put down as the case maybe to bring it to life?
For me, what I would want to say is that the new set of actors and actresses need to go back to the drawing board and ask them themselves; In 10 to 20 years, long after I am gone, what will generations say of my work? What will they say about your character and attitude to work? Will your work stand the test of time? Ask yourself, will they remember me for being an ill-mannered actor when I am on stage? Will they remember me for being ill-tempered when I am on set? Will they remember me for being a deep and well-grounded actor, or a shallow person who has nothing to offer?
How have you managed to remain relevant in the industry?
To remain relevant, you need to learn how to evolve. It is a serious responsibility, so you need to know how to talk, how to dress and how to act. Know that you are into this position of influence so you need to check your temperament and work on it. Read books if you can on how to control your anger. One of the things that kill celebrities fast is pride so you need to learn how to be humble.
If you become the first female president of Nigeria, what would be your priority and what will you change?
Genesis 1:1-3 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void. Darkness and God said, Let there be light”. No country can do anything without power. Power is in terms of energy that we need for our companies, factories, tourism and school. Light is what drives darkness away. Without light, I won’t see you and you won’t see me. Without light, nothing will work. Without light, we cannot record a movie even the ones we have recorded, you cannot watch. The first thing that I would face as the first female President in my country is light.
Have you ever encountered challenges that made your faith waiver and almost caused you to give up?
I have never got to that point where I’ll say something shook my faith. God has already prepared my mind through the stories of His word that storms of life will come. He assures us that while we pass through the fire, He will be with us.
One experience that bent my faith a little was the death of my only child Raymond. For the first two weeks, I was asking God why? On the nineteenth day, God spoke to me “but I have always been there for you. You are my apostle, a great vessel and a battles axe for me, to pull down nations, to set up cities, to set up generations and only fiercest who stand in the face of the storm like the eagle will be my great battle axe.”
This is the only the only time I can say my faith got shook but because I have carried the Word of God inside me and I was pregnant with the Holy Spirit, it helped me to get back. People ask, “how is she still standing?” and I tell them, what will keep you in the day of adversity is how much of God’s Word you have when all is good.
What is your take on celebrity marriage and why is it that it tends not to last? Is it because of the scrutiny they face?
I don’t know what celebrity marriage is and I don’t want to agree that there is a thing like that. Marriage is marriage. I believe that the principles of marriage should be observed within the tenets of marriage. What is the principle? Firstly, ask yourself certain questions like; what do I like? What do I want? What is my vision? Also ask yourself, will this person stand the test of time? Will this person still be relevant 10 years from now?
When we talk about failed marriage, it happens because partners have failed to ask themselves questions. When you enter marriage without God in it, it is bound to break.