Moyo Lawal no doubt ranks among one of Nollywood’s sexiest actresses. Less than two years after she made her entrance into the world of make-believe, the delectable actress has been able to carve a niche for herself. The petite actress, in this interview with DUPE AYINLA-OLASUKANMI, talked about her transition from soaps to home movies and playing the role of a lesbian, among other issues.
YOU were more of a TV soap actress before now. What made you switch to home movies?
You need to understand where somebody is coming from before you can understand such person. My acting career started in school when a friend walked up to me and said we should go for a movie audition. He somehow convinced me to go with and I got chosen for a role in Shallow Waters, which was my first. For me, that was the beginning of my journey into the entertainment world. And it started with television. So if you start your journey with something, you do some certain things in that field before you move on to other things. I did stage acting when I was in school.
In life, you just have to concentrate on one thing before you move on to other things. You may likely have conflicts if you don’t prioritize your activities. I remember being on Tinsel, and I was shooting with them four days a week and I get movie roles. The busy schedule did not allow me to go for other jobs.
So I always end up missing movie roles. So I got to a stage in my life that I had to choose. And I asked myself, ‘do you want to concentrate on television or do you want to concentrate on movies?’ So I had to make a choice, I had done my movie adventure, I had done some stuffs that I wanted to do, travel through some journeys. So I wanted to take a whole new adventure. That was why I decided last year to concentrate fully on movies.
What was the transition like?
For me, the transition is that it has given me the opportunity to get a whole lot of roles to play in a short period of time. Unlike television where I get to play a particular character, Chioma in Shallow Waters for like two years, and Chinny in Tinsel for like one and half years. But in movies, I am a particular person for just weeks, depending on how long the production runs. And for roles, I won’t say it was a challenge because Oluwa was in charge.
My transition to movie happened after a period in my life, when I was unable to work. And I was doing business, buying and selling. So after Moyo came back, that was early last year, I was lucky to receive an invitation from Halima Abubakar. So while I was there, I met a couple of other producers who were kind enough to invite me for another job. And that has made my job much easier. Halima helped introduce me to them, and because I went through her, they gave me jobs. And the first movie I did was Thanks for coming. That was when I started my full concentration on movies, although I have done a few movies in the past.
You have done different roles, including playing a lesbian. How easy was it acting a lesbian?
(Laughs) I think for me, characterization should not be a challenge. I enjoy what I do, playing different people. I think that is one of the most exciting things about my job. Playing a role that is strange and out of character, I think it is a challenge that sort of made me laugh and I said, ‘okay, let’s see how this goes’. I don’t think it is much of a challenge for me. I remember my first role, it was a movie with Fathia Balogun, and I had to be someone’s lesbian partner, and I was meeting her for the first time that day. And we were supposed to kiss and do all those things. It was so crazy, but it was fun.
And I think for me, I had a whole lot of fun and that is what matters. I just finished another one about two months ago with my very good friend, Amanda Ebeye, and we had to kiss and do all those stuff. On set, we would just work and laugh over all these things. We say, ‘oh God, this is so wrong’. But all the same, we were just having fun. At the end of the day, you would have worn the mask for a few minutes or hours, depending on what the directors get on what they want from a particular scene. The more challenging a role is, the more inspiring it is for me, and laughter it brings.
You do more of English movies. Why?
I have done a couple of Yoruba movies too. But like people always say that I look like Igbo, so automatically, your look is also important in getting a job. I do get lot of Yoruba invitations; I did one about two months ago, and will do more if I get exciting roles to play. I don’t really like to stress things, I just let it flow, at the end of the day, and everything finds balance.
How have you managed controversies?
Well, if someone had asked me this question between 2007 and 2009, I would have said I would cry, I would be so sad and hate myself, and ask God, why me? But right now, I really do not care. I just laugh, I go on blogs and I read stuffs about myself, which I find highly ridiculous. I hear people talk about me, like they don’t even know I exist. I think it is really exciting to hear about me from people, who do not even know me. Don’t you think it is really exciting, for people to just sit down and dream of something they don’t even know anything about.
For me, it is not something that worries me anymore, I have had my share, I mean I have had the moment in my life when controversy almost broke me, and it brought me down for a very long time.
Do you mind sharing that dark period of your life with us?
It is not necessary, let’s just say let bygone be bygone. Let it remain in the past. And God has been faithful, He has healed me, and given me enough strength. And I think it has given me the opportunity to know what I really want to do with my life, because I wasn’t sure if entertainment was what I wanted to do fully or pursue my Masters or do something else. But I think in life, some certain things have to happen to open your eyes to reality.
How did you manage during that period?
My family, what would I have done without them. I am so blessed to have such a family. They helped me, and music too.
Do you get criticised by your family?
No, I do not have that type of family, I think they know me too well to understand what to expect from me. And they understand me. I have a very understanding family and God will not let me disgrace them, or put me in a position where I will disgrace the people who care about me. And hopefully, all I can bring to them is joy and happiness, and do my bit when the time comes.
Has your stature ever prevented you from getting a role?
Do I have a particular stature? No, I do not have challenges having roles because of my stature. I think I get to play role which somebody of my age should be playing. I get to play really young roles. And I have got to play a motherly role before, but my kids were very young between the ages of three and five.
So how do you combine other businesses with acting?
Acting is my business. The time I was into selling and buying was during the dark ages, when I needed something to take my mind off what I was going through. But it is still something I would still like to pursue. I like fashion, I like music, and those are the things that bring me joy. I know sometime soon, I would love to do something on that. But right now, acting takes all my time. It is a full-time business.
I was expecting to see you on one of your blond colours?
(Laughs) this is Moyo right now. All those are part of my job. But this is a new look that I am trying. I think this look is really calm, I have done all the hair styles and I want something new, so let’s see how this works for me.
What was your first experience like?
My first role was in Shallow Waters, and I played the role of Chioma. Oh I was so much in love with that character, that girl could talk for Nigeria. She has lines, and I was so happy to just talk in front of the camera. This is because, on a regular day, I am a quiet person. But I just fell in love with the camera, and I never realized that I had such a fantastic love for the camera. The camera will just role and I will just start chatting and chatting.
And I will look around seeing people watching me, and I will say, ‘oh my God, me for all this attention?’ Chioma, she was stubborn, but such a sweetheart. And at that moment, I knew this was something I wanted to do. How I was going to do it, how it was going to work out, I had no idea.
Did you know while in school doing stage dramas that you were going to end up with acting?
I was not in stage production until after I left school. I had already started acting before I joined the stage production in school. All I did while in school was to go for lectures, do my assignments and my exams and go home. I never engaged myself in any extra curriculum activities in school. If we were doing stage plays, I will run to the backstage and do spectator. I never knew it was going to happen, the only time I performed was to sing, dance, with my friends.
You know that entire miming thing, and to have fun. The only thing that made me standout in school was my colourful hair, lots of bangles, and shoes. It wasn’t something that I was working towards. It was just something that was already a part of me, and needed someone to come and help find me out.
Does Moyo have a man?
Well, I hope there is. I hope there will be.
If there is, is he okay with your type of job?
Whao, when he comes, if he is here, we will have to find him to ask. I really cannot speak for anybody, whether he is present, existing or not.
What is it like working with A-list actors?
I love Omotola. I was supposed to work with her on the movie, Private Storm, and I was looking towards it, but I could not because I was in involved with something else. I have worked with Mercy Johnson. Majid, I loved to work with him too on the set with Omotola, but I missed out. Uche Jombo, she was fantastic on the set of Holding hope.She was a huge help, assisting me with advice, she was just a darling to work with. Tonto Dikeh too, she was fun to work with. She gave me tips on make-up. Most of the make-ups I do now are from Tonto Dikeh. A whole lot of people I love to work with. I did work with Genevieve few years ago on Bursting Out, and she was cool. I didn’t have too many scenes with her, so I really got to talk with her one on one. Uncle Desmond too, because he was the director in the movie, he was just everywhere. He was such a huge help too.
You know some people just inspire you, challenge you to want you to put your best in whatever you are doing. And I am so grateful to have worked with these amazing people and some that I have not been able to mention at the moment, they just encourage you to want to do more.
How much time do you put in taking care of your looks?
Oluwa is very much in charge, but I do try. I won’t say I sleep and wake up every day without doing anything. I do what I have to do, I ask questions, I research, it is important to me, so I make sure I maintain it.
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