Movie star Mercy Aigbe-Gentry was on the cover of the latest issue of Guardian Life magazine which was released over the weekend.
In the magazine she talks about how life has been for her under the stereotype of being a Yoruba actress, her attempts to break into the English side of Nollywood and more.
See excerpts below.
On what inspired her to be an actress: I’ve always wanted to act, right from when I was in primary school. I joined the drama group in school, knowing that I have the talent and passion for it. However, I didn’t know I was going to do it professionally. I just felt it was more like a hobby. Growing up, I saw the likes of Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett and I loved her. She was one of the people who also inspired me to act. When I got into the polytechnic where I was studying financial studies, I joined a drama group and that was when I actually started taking acting seriously.
On her choice of acting in Yoruba movies: It was something that just happened, to be honest. I’m a professional – having studied theatre in University of Lagos – so it’s not like I set out to star specifically in that genre of Nollywood. When I first started out in the industry, it was with English-speaking movies. During that time, I got the script for a Yoruba film and decided to do it. The film came out and turned out to be a success. That then caused a ripple effect and I started to get more and more scripts for Yoruba movies. As someone new to the industry, I couldn’t turn down scripts. I was thrilled to be getting roles and, before I knew it, I became more prominent in the Yoruba genre of Nollywood.
On producing her own movies: It’s been a lot of hard work. You know, when you’re established as an actor and want to delve into producing you have to be very careful. You don’t want to do something substandard, so you put in your best. As a producer I have about some films to my credit, the latest of which is Victims which will be out on DVD soon. What actually inspired me to start producing is the fact that I have my own stories I want to tell and I don’t want to just give it to someone else to interpret their own way. Producing is the best way to tell my own stories, the way I envision them. I believe movies can be a tool for changing people, inspiring people and trying to correct ills in society.
On her style: I’m just someone who likes to look good. I really like people paying me compliments. I like it when I walk past people and they say, “Wow, she looks great”, and I love taking pictures. I always tell people I’m a photoholic. If you notice, the only social network I’m really active on is Instagram. So, my style is basically comfortable. I love being comfortable. But I understand that fashion isn’t always comfortable so I can get dressed up too. My style is also chic, and the event I’m attending also inspires what I wear.
On the best thing about being an actress: The ability to play different characters. Today, I can be a nurse, tomorrow, I might be an armed robber. I get to explore different characters and it’s very exciting.
On the future of Yoruba and English movies in Nollywood: I see all of eventually merging into one. If you look at where we are now, there used to be a wide gap between both genres, but there isn’t anymore. You have actors crossing over to either side every now and then. For instance, Juliet Ibrahim is starring in ‘Victims’, and you also have Yoruba actors starring in English-speaking films. So, I see us all coming together under one umbrella.