Actress Yvonne Jegede, one of the girls that featured in Tuface Idibia’s “African Queen” video made a stunning comeback to acting after several years of being away from the industry.
Since her return two years, she has been inundated with movie scripts that have kept her very busy. In this interview, she recounts the story of her journey into Nollywood and her personal life.
Since you came back to acting after years of being away, how many films have you featured in so far?
You know I have been away for five years. I returned to the country in 2012, after my studies abroad. From 2012 till date, I have featured in about eight to ten films.
I travelled to America for further studies immediately after featuring in 2face’s “African Queen” video. I studied International Relations in a University in Cyprus.
Why didn’t you study Theater Arts?
A lot of people have asked this question. But I think I just wanted to study something outside of what I am used to, so that, I can broaden my mind.
Your name has become a household name in Nigeria. What would you say is the secret?
I cannot tell you what the secret is. But I am just doing what I know how to do best. I leave the rest to God. He has been the one who has lifted me up and I am very grateful to Him.
Aside, acting, what else do you think you can do better?
I am solely into acting for now, trying to reach a level where I can now live and divert into so many other things.
At the moment, I am trying to stablise myself in the industry having been away for a long time. I want to get used to the new Nollywood that is quite different from the one I left behind several years ago.
You said, new Nollywood? What’s new about the industry?
Before I left the country for America, there were certain set of practitioners in the industry. But today, the story has change. We now have new faces, who have genuine love for the industry.
People who have so much talents that they want to explore. It is very interesting to have such people in the industry. It more challenging now because, everybody is bringing something new in the industry. The stories are changing and they are becoming more diversified.
So, how do you intend to find your place again in the industry?
The people are not my business. I am just here to work. I just want to put heads together with whoever I come across. Give me what you have, and I bring what I have on the table.
What can you not do without as a very pretty girl?
My eye pack because I love my eyes. I always like to make my lips look good. For the accessories, I can not do without my golden wrist watch. I wear it anywhere I go every day because it gives me good luck. I like big things and that’s why I have to get a big wrist watch.
What does love mean to you?
I am a lover of love. I love to love. I love to be emotional.Love is something that I appreciate a lot. Trust me, I am a good lover. I love my fans, my folks, I love the people that matters to me. I love to have people around me.
What is an ideal man to you?
I don’t even know what it is any more. But I think people at different ages have different perspection in respect of what an ideal man is. He should be more intelligent than myself.
I need somebody I can learn from him. He should also be able to take care of himself. That’s an ideal man for me. He should not be ugly.
Which part of you body do you think is your selling point?
I think it is my brain. Talking about the physical things that attracts men to me, it depends. Some people say, it’s my eyes, others prefer my lips and my “oranges”. So, I do not know. When I love into the mirror, I love everything about myself.
How was your growing up like?
While growing up, I wanted to be a beauty queen. I just like getting attention. I was the first child. For the first five years of my life, I have the whole attention in the world. I am so used to people coming around me. As a child, I got everything I needed.
Tell us about your evolution into Nollywood?
As a child, I never dreamed of going into acting. I loved modeling, and how paparazzis run after models. I never had acting in mind until I met Charles Novia.
When I saw him somewhere in Surulere, I was like; is this Charles Novia! And he turned around and looked at me and said, do I know you? I replied him, saying I saw you on the television yesterday .
He quickly asked me if I wanted to become an actress? I replied in the affirmative. He later gave me his call card and invited me for an audition the following day.
That was it. While I was still working on the set with Charles Novia, Uzodimma saw me and insisted that he would feature me in his music video. The next day, I featured in the African queen video. That was how I started my acting career.
Who are the actresses you look up to?
I love Genevieve Nnaji. I am also a fan of Omoni Oboli, and many others.
Recently you featured in the music video of Sound Sutan. Do you have passion for dancing?
Sound Sultan is a big brother. He called me and said, I am shooting my music video. Can you come around and give me your support. When I got there, I ended up featuring in the video. This is the third time, I would be featuring in a music video. I featured in African Queen video, Ego and now, Sound Sutan’s video.
Does that mean you are a dancer?
I am not a dancer. I am not a video vixien. I can go and sit down and have a class cup and champagne. That is different from dancing. I am not a dancer.
What will you say fame has robbed you of?
The good and the bad. Good, in the sense that I can walk into anywhere and get favour ,especially in the banking hall. Sometimes, I would be standing in the quene and somebody would walk up to me and asked me how much do you want?
And the person would help me to make it faster. But the ugly thing is that, you will not live your life the way you would want to.
You attacked Ghanaian actress, Yvonne Nelson on your twitter handle last year. What triggered off the attack?
I am not going to comment on it. Everybody took side with Yvonne Nelson, including my friends. So, I am not going to say anything about it. The whole world was against me. I read the negative reactions of Nigerians online. I was not expecting anything less. Even my own friends who never had any encounter with Yvonne Nelson took side with her.
You have a penchant for revealing some part of your body, may be your “oranges”. What happened today?
Well, it depends on the clothes. I have big “oranges”, so, if the clothes are not big enough to cover my “oranges” you would not blame me for that. I am not the person who made my clothes . I just put the clothes on.
You have passion for revealing some part of your body?
It depends on my mood. If I want to expose my back, I will do that. It goes with my mood.
Is it true that you dated 2face?
I didn’t date 2face. I only featured in his “African Queen” video. I have never kissed him before.
Are you not planning to get married?
When the time comes, I will get married. I have never given it a thought.
It’s not about thinking, it is about the right person coming my way. Many ladies have been thinking about settling down for years now, but Mr. right has not come their way.
You are saying that Mr. right has not come your way?
Let’s take it like that. I don’t even have any relationship right now.
Why is it that most actresses do not want to get married?
How do you mean? Do you think that a lady would decide to remain single. As a woman, she still needs a man. If you do not have a man in your life, it is so bad. She can never be a happy woman.
Among the actors in the industry, who do you have crush on ?
Someone asked me this question recently. But, even if I have anybody in mind, do you think I would disclose the person to you. It is a secret that I keep to myself. I am not going to elaborate on that.
What is your take on the same-sex law in Nigeria?
The answer to the gay law is that, we got some group of people. If you support it, you will have some people that will support you.
But if you are against it, you will also, have some group of people who will also support you. So, I am sitting on the fence. I do not want to be on anybody’s bad record. But sincerely speaking, I think for the federal government to pass the bill into law, it must be a very serious matter.
Can you play the role of a lesbian in a movie?
I can play the role but depending on the script. If the script is conveying a moral lesson, yes, I can do it.
So, it has to do with what message you are conveying to the people. Secondly, notwithstanding, as an actress, I should be able to play any role. But, I will gladly play the role as long as I’m not going to kiss a fellow girl on set.
What of acting nude?
No, I cannot for no reason. I have people I am answerable to.
Have you been sexually harassed before now?
Sexual harassment in the industry have to do with what you want. If you want to be sexually harassed, you will be. I am saying that because, even when I am walking on the road, or in the banking hall, I usually get passes.
But it depends on what you want. I do not think every director would want to sleep with every girl he comes across. Maybe, I am wrong but, I don’t think it is possible. I have had the experience where a produced would refused to feature me in his movie because I did not sleep with him. They might make their advances to me.
Having featured in many movies, which of them would you say challenged you most?
The more challenging movie I have done since my return is James Town by Ifeanyi Onyeabor.
In the movie, I played a role that I have never done before. Most of roles have always been someone who is going to cry, or who has been abandoned and so on.
But in the movie, I played the role of a drug seller. I sold all sorts of drugs. I was meant to move about with a guitar all the time. In this guitar, I concealed all the drugs that I was selling. But when nemesis caught up with me, I got bruised. I was busy hurting myself and I enjoyed every bit of the movie.
Would you say that the role interpreted your real person?
My real person is funny and loving. I have got a very good sense of humor that my friends can’t even contend with, when I start making them laugh. But, the roles I have gotten have nothing to do with my real self. All the roles I have played, none have really shown my real self.