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Mercy Johnson-Okojie reveals it was difficult to get Movie Roles because of her Dark Skin

BellaNaija.com

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In an exclusive interview with Punch Newspaper’s Saturday Beats, Nollywood actress Mercy Johnson-Okojie has revealed that when she first started out as an actress, some producers did not give her certain roles simply because she wasn’t light-skinned.

She said in the interview,

““It is very true that when I was starting out in the movie industry, it was difficult to get roles because of my complexion. I faced that a lot and I tell people that my success is just grace. Somebody once told me that I am too dark but that is where the grace and favour of God comes in. Regardless of everything, most of the dark-skinned actresses that are my contemporaries made it.”

Read more from the interview here. 

41 Comments

  1. Seriously

    November 5, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Let’s not blame everything on skin color now. Mercy Johnson you are one of Nollywood celebrated actress and you have been in countless movies.

    • Idomagirl

      November 5, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Did you even read what she wrote?

      1
  2. Ankara

    November 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I like you so much mercy. And is true that you had a really dark complextion when u just started. But i think you are not still as dark as you used to be. Just my observation. I cant say you are bleaching but you really look good.

  3. EE

    November 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    “Regardless of everything, most of the dark-skinned actresses that are my contemporaries made it.”

    Doesn’t this contradict, argh I give up. Obsess away.

    I’d google search East Asian actresses to see difficulty in getting roles due to skin colour. Off the top of my head, I can’t really name an historically famous fair NOLLYWOOD actress.

    Is it Patience Ozokwor? Genevieve? Onyeka Onwenu? Omotola? Liz Benson? Clarion Chukwurah? Joke Silva? Eucharia Anunobi? Nse Ikpe-Etim? Funke Akindele? and even Mercy Johnson herself?

    To me atleast, the most famous “fair” actress is Stella Damascus. Now actors on the other hand, Majid, Ramsey, Ezuruonye, Diobi, Saint Obi, Pete Edochie.

    Its not a thing, unless we make it one.

    • AO

      November 5, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      You’re absolutely correct. The actresses that think their complexion gets them roles are usually featured in deplorable movies and rightfully so too because their acting leaves much to be desired. The actresses worth their mettle like you named above have gotten roles in movies they deserve because of their virtuosity. Their complexion doesn’t limit their options in any way where it really matters

    • Anon

      November 5, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Stella Damascus? Liz Benson is in a wrong category. What of Rita Dominic and Tonto Dike? There was also Dolly Unachukwu.

      A historical – pet peeve!

    • Ms Dee

      November 5, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Are you in the Industry? If you’re not then please have several seats. I am in the Industry and I have listened (they knew I was listening by the way) to TWO directors while prepping to direct a scene with two yellow actresses (Peggy Ovire and Moyo Lawal) banter about how light skinned actresses are better on screen. In their words, “if to say na black women, dem no go shine like that” and when I was like Genevieve nko, they said and I am not making this up, “Any scene she is with light skinned actresses, especially Rita Dominic, her color pales.”. These people know what they’re saying, you’re on the outside and you’re saying what? The fact that she was discriminated and still made it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Like she said, it is grace.

    • Fifi

      November 5, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      I was just wondering myself when she started acting majority of her peers were dark skinned its in recent years that “yallo” became a thing, mercy suffri tok d mata oooo

    • Anonymous

      November 5, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      Colourism is a huge problem in Nigeria sha, so it’s very possible that she is saying the truth.

    • nene

      November 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      then you dont know nollywood. Genevieve Nnaji was one of the first dark skinned superstar in the nigeria film industry. Back then you had regina askia, liz benson, dolly unachukwu, obot etuk, sandra achums. The only dark skinned actresses who were popular were victoria inyama and jennifer ossai. Growing up, most of the lead actresses were light skinned, then came Genevieve.

    • Idomagirl

      November 5, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      She’s not saying you can only make it if you’re fair,she’s telling us what she was told.
      There are people in the industry who have experienced what she’s saying, ask around.

  4. Ayodeji

    November 5, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    If this was coming from Hollywood dark skinned actress I could understand and imagine. Most of the popular Nollywood faces are dark skin. #Girlbye

  5. Nancy

    November 5, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Mercy I love you but puleezzz…. Stop watching and reading interviews from Black American actresses. Their struggle is different.
    Haba!!!!!
    We can’t even compare the black successful actresses we have here to the fairer actresses.
    She is definately lighter than when she started but Mercy has that unusual success story. Immediately she featured in her debut role, it was film after film and her name became a household name.

    Same way Lupita is lying that she was discriminated in Kenya. If you watch Kenya films they use 90percent, really black actresses. What is the point of all this. To create a problem where there is none? They start out really proud of their skin, then they start complaining about it and they become two shades lighter.

    • Rolly

      November 5, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      How dare you call them liars because you see dark screen women on your tv screen? Do you know what goes on behind the scenes? It’s appalling of you to speak confidently about something you’ve never experienced or even know NOTHING about.

      To the other commenter who insinuated Mercy was copying AA actresses, are you 5 years old? What kind of absurd thinking is that?

      I can’t believe the comments I’m reading wtf

    • Ms Dee

      November 5, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      Thank you, Rolly. Some people wear their ignorance proudly like a colorful jacket and then state them as facts. Height of ridiculousness

  6. Ms Dee

    November 5, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Dark skinned actresses not being given the same opportunities as their light skinned counterparts is a thing. It’s not a “borrowed” struggle. They know what they’re saying, don’t say what you don’t know. This stuff happens in Nollywood on a regular.

    • Ms jazz

      November 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      Sad this happens in Nollywood. Well talent will always speak for itself. Mercy your talent cannot hide! We your fans love you forever

  7. trey

    November 5, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    She might have a point. When I had my interview with a particular bank at the zenith of the industry, I was told to consider wearing a short skirt since I was not fair. Once I cut my tooth I left them for a more trust worthy bank. Notice what I did there ?

    • Ene

      November 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Yes. From ZIB to GTB.Congrats LOL

  8. concerned9a

    November 5, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    9jas..and Ostrich mentality… she made it against the odds..its like saying Oprah didn’t suffer discrimination initially..now she’s made it..she should be quiet..
    Of course she’s lighter..not hustling….not walking in the sun 24/7..you posting is your skin not richer than previous years.???..

  9. Mrs chidukane

    November 5, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    It’s true oh. My sister is a part time model. She’s fair but not as fair as tonto. She went for an audition last week and was told she isn’t fair enough. A dark girl with her was told to her face that she’s ugly and should just go home. You should just look at the music videos now and adverts and see what is happening. The reason she later became in high demand was because she was willing to do any and everything on screen including allowing men touch her boobs so she can miss me with the grace aspect.

  10. nene

    November 5, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    she’s defintiely saying the truth. Growing up, the lead actresses in old nigerian movies were light skinned e.g omotola, liz benson, regina askia, lilian bach, shan george, eucharia anunobi, ngozi ezeonu, ngozi nwosu, obot etuk, sandra achums, clarion chukwura (was dark skinned until she started bleaching) Just go back and have a look at Nollywood movies in the 90s. Genevieve Nnaji opened the door for dark skinned actresses in Nigeria, i think that’s one of the reasons she was well received, she was a pretty ebony girl from a humble background who could act. Even Mercy Johnson credits Genevieve for inspiration of her acting career.

  11. Salawu

    November 5, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Puhleez! Have a sit. Genevieve opened door for dark skinned actresses? Haba!!!?
    You people and this your Genevieve obsession sef.
    Kate Henshaw was far more relevant than Genevieve at the time. Even Stephanie Okereke was more like the ‘it girl’. The difference is that controversy kind of gave Genny longevity because her talent is questionable, all the others are way more talented.
    Can we talk of them Ego Boyo?
    Lets talk about women like Joke Silva. Mama Gee was the rave at the time.
    Chiege Alisigwe???
    What are you talking about??? Is it because most of them are not relevant anymore.
    Genevieve paved the way for dark skin actors? Please wash your head off that obsession and stop passing fake stories around.

    • Pat

      November 6, 2016 at 4:04 am

      @Salawu, U made a lot of sense but this statement though ? Is it because most of them are not relevant anymore”. Not been on screen anymore doesn’t mean they are not relevant. People move on to other things or opportunities.

    • Pat

      November 6, 2016 at 4:11 am

      I guess some of us don’t know who is light or dark skin hence some comments. On another note, this discussion is quite silly though but I guess it will never end because of how people have been programmed to think or choose to think.

    • Josephine

      November 6, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Spot on

  12. Salawu

    November 5, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Puhleez! Genevieve opened door for dark skinned actresses? Haba!!!?
    You people and this your Genevieve obsession sef.
    Kate Henshaw was far more relevant than Genevieve at the time. Even Stephanie Okereke was more like the ‘it girl’. The difference is that controversy kind of gave Genny longevity because her talent is questionable, all the others are way more talented.
    Can we talk of them Ego Boyo?
    Lets talk about women like Joke Silva. Mama Gee was the rave at the time.
    Chiege Alisigwe???
    What are you talking about??? Is it because most of them are not relevant anymore.
    Genevieve paved the way for dark skin actors? Please wash your head off that obsession and stop passing fake stories around.

    • Prince

      November 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Salawu just say you don’t like Genevieve. What Nene said is a basic truth! Genevieve was the first black super star actress in Nollywood. You think her talent is questionable, others don’t. She didn’t get to where she is today on a ‘questionable talent’. The reason she is still relevant today compared to the other names you mentioned, is because there is something special about her. I love Stephanie but the was no point in time that she was a more “it girl” than Genevieve. Am not saying the other actresses didn’t have their moments but Genevieve was still Genevieve in all that. Not even the ‘awesome’ Mercy Johnson could change that. Even Uche Jumbo said it in an interview that Genevieve paved the way for dark skinned actresses. Before Genevieve, it was Regina Askia. Don’t let your dislike for her cloud your judgement. Don’t argue the facts please.

    • Nollywood insider

      November 6, 2016 at 1:05 am

      Is regina Askia dark skinned?
      Nollywood It girl levels.
      Old Nollywood
      1. Babara soky ( dark skin )
      2. Ego Boyo. ( dark skin)
      3. Jenifer okeke Ossai ( dark skin )
      4. Emariegbe ( can’t remember her first name – dark skin)
      5. Sandra achums ( light skin)
      6. Regina Askin ( light skin)

      New Nollywood
      1. Omotola ( light skin)
      2 Stella Damascus ( light skin)
      3. Genevieve Nnaji ( dark skin)
      4. Stephanie okereke ( dark skin)
      5. Ini EDO ( dark skin )
      6. Mercy johnson ( very dark skin)

      What the heck is this woman saying again ?!
      This is bullocks! There’s been MANY dark skinned stars before her , many successful ones before Genevieve.
      I am in the industry and that is the order in which they became stars and reigned .
      Mercy johnson this is just nonsense talk.

    • Idomagirl

      November 6, 2016 at 7:41 am

      No actually Barbara Soky, Kate Henshaw and Bimbo Akintola were bigger stars before Genny.

    • bukky

      November 6, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      hi Prince…before genevive was katehenshaw

  13. Idomagirl

    November 5, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    I don’t get why some people are acting brand new like they don’t know that colorism is a thing in Nigeria.
    Why do we have a bleaching epidemic?
    Why do 90% of the skin products on our shelves contain the words “lightening”, “brightening”, “whitening” “toning” etc?
    You think these things are not related?

    Please don’t come and start insulting Mercy like she’s lying, even for some jobs OUTSIDE the entertainment industry they prefer lighter skinned women.
    And for the record, Mercy was talking about what happened to her while she was trying to get into the industry, so saying she’s acted in many movies is irrelevant.

    And for the person who called it a “borrowed struggle” or “trying to copy African Americans”, you need to leave your bubble.

    • aj

      November 6, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Thank you jare! I saw a lot of olodo comments on this article!

  14. Nollywood insider

    November 6, 2016 at 1:14 am

    I remember now…
    4. Ameze emariegbe
    And I mistakenly omitted after her…

    Liz benson …

    • Ms jazz

      November 6, 2016 at 4:12 am

      And forgot Rita Dominic and Bimbo Akintola

  15. Ememobong

    November 6, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Her colour may have been a little bit of a hindrance for her initially but I am sure that lovely figure eventually helped to seal the deal. For every minus there is a plus.

    • Idomagirl

      November 6, 2016 at 8:56 am

      I saw your comment on Facebook.
      *waves*

  16. Awiase

    November 6, 2016 at 8:14 am

    But Mercy now you have no prob if that was an issue initially.Because now your complexion is between fair and dark,so you’re safe lol

  17. Enn

    November 6, 2016 at 9:35 am

    The kind of comments I read on BN these days makes me feel like i’m on Linda Ikeji’s blog..I miss the old Bn :-(.

  18. Bowl

    November 6, 2016 at 11:46 am

    And Genevieve came and reigned ,and still reigns despite not being active theatre wise.That is how you know a star, ordained by her God.Every person pales to nothing before her.

  19. Debutante

    November 7, 2016 at 2:49 am

    EE, Ejo e ti poju! Who Alz you?! (In Jennifer’s voice)
    Ekoshidanu!

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