Delectable and controversial actress Fathia Balogun is no rookie in the movie industry. With over 20 years’ experience in the world of make-belief, Fathia is growing in the industry in leaps and bounds, interpreting her role with the zeal and dexterity unmatched in the industry. Fathia is of Urhobo stock in Delta State but if you say she is Yoruba you may be pardoned because she made her name in the Yoruba Nollywood industry, though she also acts in English Language flicks. In this short chat at a media parley in Lagos, the ex-wife of Saidi Balogun speaks on her career in Nollywood, how her father reacted to her choice of career and how she expresses herself through fashion, particularly her love for tatoos. DEKUNBI KUYE presents the extracts of the chat…
What did your family say about your acting career when you initially started?
Yes! My dad was against my decision to become an actress. He did not begin to support me till about two years ago. Back then, whenever I visited him, and people began to hail me, shouting- Fathia Balogun, Fathia Balogun- he would say “please do not do that in my house just go and do your thing out there”. But recently he came visiting and he was watching one of my films- Simisola Otelemuye- when I was not around, he did not know when he began to say to himself that my daughter is really intelligent. He was saying it out loud and when I came back my siblings told me that daddy was so happy about my movie. I was surprised because he never showed interest and he doesn’t watch movies.
Before then your dad never watched any of your movie?
No, even when they say Fathia Balogun outside he will ask me if I am a star like Sharon Stone and I do tell him that I am more than Sharon Stone. When he came around for Christmas, he was so proud of me and he prayed for my career. He said that he didn’t know that I am a big movie star. We took him for dinner and even at the restaurant, everybody was hailing and asking for pictures and autographs. I think with that he appreciates me more. With that I have decided to bear the family name because most of my family members want me to make our family name a strong brand. Now my father is really proud of me but at the beginning he was not interested.
Is that the reason why you adopted your maiden name back or what?
I don’t want to talk about that.
You have always remained relevant in the industry, what has been the secret?
Sincerely I don’t know and that is the honest truth but I know I love my job and I know my job more than anybody. I can only leave the job for my children and not for anybody else. I think what has helped my career is that I follow the trend and I am a very inquisitive person. I always want to know everything that is going on both in the music and movie industry, may be that is what is keeping me. All I know is that it is the grace of God that has been keeping me because there is nothing special about my acting. There is nothing I do that anybody cannot do.
Quite recently you returned to school, is that part of your rebranding efforts?
Yes. To be sincere, I have always nursed the ambition to go back to school because I just have OND, and to me, that is not enough considering where I plan to place my brand in future. I have being planning it for years. I first got admission into the University of Ibadan about three years ago but because of my tight schedule I could not enrol because it will be very difficult and I know that I have to be on ground every day. That is why I cancelled it not until I got this one from the Federal Government which enrolled some artistes in school. I saw this is an opportunity for me and I embraced it wholeheartedly.
How has it been going back to school, being a celebrity in the midst of younger ones?
To be honest it is not easy because right now I am starting my exams by February and I have not had time to read. The First Semester was very cool because I wasn’t really working then so I could attend lectures and I did my practical. I wrote the exams and it was nice but this semester has not being easy and I have not gone to class more than three times. My exam is starting in February, it has not being easy but I thank God because I am catching up.
How has it been juggling your career, academics with single motherhood?
It is not easy at all but I am able to do it with the grace of God. I was brought up in a disciplined manner. My father is an ex-soldier and he is a very strict man. If you ask my colleagues about me, they will tell you I am very strict. Some will say that I am arrogant but that is not who I am. I am a very strict and blunt person. The way I was brought up is the same way I train my kids. I don’t think I have ever beaten my kids, all I do is to talk to them I don’t hit them and thank God they do what I want.
Rumours have it that you are a proud and arrogant lady, how do you react?
I often hear when people say that I am arrogant but I think if you are close to me you will see that I don’t have an iota of arrogance in me. I am very blunt and I will tell you as it is, as it’s in my mind, because that is the way I was brought up. I won’t be able to sleep without saying what is on my mind. I think that’s has been helping me in life because I will just tell you I don’t like what you are doing and what you are doing is wrong because I can never pretend.
How do you feel now that your father has accepted your career choice about 20 years after?
Well I think every parent wants their children to go to school and my father is no exception. He wanted me to be an accountant when I was growing up but I was not good in maths. I went to study Law and I have my diploma in Law from Kwara State Polytechnic but he was still not happy about it. When I was there, I was still doing films till after a few years when I left for the UK and he was very angry that I didn’t finish my education. When I broke into the Nigerian movie industry, my father asked me why I would do that because he wanted his first daughter to be a graduate. He said that he wanted to have a big graduation party for me. My father is very strict, so I just said this is what I want to do but I will still go to school, so my going back is just for my father to be proud and see that I went to school. For him to see my work and be proud, I think that enough is a glory.
It’s evident enough that your love tatoos, can you inscribe more on your skin?
I have had tattoos even before I came into the movie industry. I got them when I used to stay in the UK, so to me, I don’t see tattoo as anything until I came back to Lagos and realised people saw it as a big deal. I think is part of art and fashion but I had mine a long time ago and it is my kids’ initials that were inscribed on my body but that was a long time ago before tattoo started trending. I can’t even have any addition but if I do, nobody will know.