Nollywood actress, Mercy Aigbe-Gentry, is no doubt a household name. She has acted in several Yoruba and English movies and she remains one of the most sought-after actresses in the movie industry. The Edo State-born star and proud mother of two is also the CEO of Mag Divas. In an interview with DEKUNBI KUYE, the flair-complexioned actress talks about her life, family, her film-The Victims- and other sundry issues…
You stepped out with your daughter at the just-concluded City People Awards and it was a perfect mother-daughter outing, what influenced that?
My daughter; I just wanted her to come and share in the experience, come on the red carpet, see the way mummy has been doing it, so that you know at times when I have to go off to work, she would probably understand better because she would have experienced it with me. But she was fine, though she was a bit nervous when I told her she was going to go on the red carpet and be interviewed. Because she wants to be a model, and I think modelling is also a part of entertainment, I want her to start getting used to the spotlight and all other things.
Does that mean you have nothing against your daughter becoming a model considering the popular notion about a model by some Nigerian?
No, I keep saying it that whatever my kids want to do in life as a career, I will give my hundred per cent support. So whatever she wants to be I’ll be there to support her all the way.
What steps are you taking for her to achieve that dream?
I am actually supposed to have started her off before now because I’ve had some agents approach me about it, but sincerely, when it comes to this modelling or entertainment world as a whole, I’m always very scared in that regard because you have to have someone that you can trust. For me to give my child out to someone, I have to trust that person completely because a lot of things are happening out there and I wouldn’t want her to be exposed without proper guidance. Actually, I’m waiting for her to finish her secondary school education, which is going to be in like a year or so, and once she’s done, I would know that she’s ready, and by that time, I’ll have enough time also to manage her. I want to be her mum/manager.
Let us talk a bit about your movie ‘The Victims,’ what exactly is the movie about, what influenced its conception?
‘The Victims’ is about a young lady who had to go through a lot of things in life; things she didn’t expect. A lot of people experienced things that it’s not like they brought it upon themselves. I would say it’s probably fate, providence or destiny that brought it on them. So she had to go through a lot of things and how she dealt with the issues. It’s a very emotional, intriguing movie; full of suspense. It’s a movie I believe once it eventually comes out and people get to see it, they are just going to love it. It’s a movie that teaches lots of morals, it talks to parents and also talks about marriage, because I believe that today, people don’t really respect the institution of marriage, and people who are not patient enough to want to bear so many things that come with being in union with another person get their fingers burnt in the process. They forget that we are different individuals from different backgrounds with different upbringings, so they are not ready to compromise on so many things, they are just not ready. That’s why most marriages are not even working. It also talks about domestic violence, the home; it’s simply a bumper package and I’m sure people are just going to love it.
The movie transformed from ‘Life after Marriage’ to ‘The Victims,’ why the change?
Life after Marriage was the working title for the movie when we were on set, but after the whole shoots and I sat down and watched it, I decided to change the title because I felt ‘The Victims’ was more appropriate, because the girl Omoyeni, the lead character, which is the victim in the movie, and to say the fact, she is not just the only victim, you need to see the movie, there are so many victims. It’s a movie so many people can relate with.
Are you saying it is a life experience?
No, it’s actually based on different people’s experiences, stories I heard from different people, so I decided to put all together in one package. And there’s this particular thing we talked about in the movie; that’s the baby factory issue. When you have fake doctors go on the streets to pick up teenagers, giving them the hope that they are going to get rehabilitated whereas they are going to use them for their own selfish needs; get them impregnated, sell the babies. So, those are part of the things you’re going to see in the movie.
What informed the decision to bring divorced couple Saidi Balogun and Fathia together on that set?
Both are fantastic actor and actress, they have been in the industry for a long time, they are both my senior colleagues. People I respect so much, each of them has carved a niche for themselves in the industry. So, when I was casting, I saw that these two individuals can actually play the roles I want them to play perfectly well in the movie, that was why I cast them.
Did you have any ‘issue’ with them?
No! These two are professionals and they actually gave me their best. If you were on that set, you would have gotten the better picture. We also have a Ghanaian actress Juliet Ibrahim on set, and it’s so fantastic seeing her speak a bit of Yoruba, I believe for the first time.
I want you to deviate a bit into your fashion side. You seem to have a flair for fashion, how did that come into being?
I’ve always loved looking good. I’ve always loved getting complement from people about my looks. I’m also a person who loves pictures; I love to dress up and take pictures of myself.
When you are stepping out, how long does it take for your make-up?
It doesn’t really take long. But obviously, event takes much time than my daily make-up.
Like how many hours does it take?
Approximately two and a half hours, because make-up artists take so much time on your face. I really don’t know why! I think the fastest make-up artist that has worked on my face spent nothing less than an hour, thirty minutes. Some actually take up to three hours and I’ll be like ‘I’m tired!’ That was why I said two and a half hours. Dress for about an hour, make sure everything is fixed in the right places, get the under ones too that are very important. But for my everyday look, I try as much as possible to pick up whatever I want to wear the night before. At times, my mood determines my dress.
The last time we spoke, you said you were also launching your own hair line, what is up about that?
Yes, now we have Mag diva Hair, which is going to be launched very soon. We have different types of hair. I have my own cosmetic line; it’s just about beauty. Guys in Nigeria have complained about girls looking like impersonators every now and then; when you meet them, they will be white, but when you get to know them properly, you discover they are actually black.
You are into fashion, what do you have to say about this deceitful appearance?
It depends on the individual, and I’ve always respected people’s opinion and how they choose to live their lives. If you feel you are dark and you want to make yourself lighter and if that will earn you confidence and comfort, I’d say go for it, but do not damage your skin in the process. I keep telling my clients that my products are not chemical-based, they are made of herbs, so you don’t need to exercise fear over my products. In the process of looking for comfort and confidence, however, please do not get your life affected, because a lot of people have lost their lives because of this. And as for men who fall victim of the so-called impersonators, I think the ladies are actually giving you what you want, so please appreciate people with dark, naturally looking girls. Therefore, guys are to blame for their actions. So on this note, we are going to be going into men’s fashion in the nearest future.
What won’t you ever be caught wearing?
Maybe clothes that show all the parts of my body; I won’t like to wear that.
How come you don’t have tattoos? A lot of your colleagues do have it.
Maybe it’s because I dread pain. But seriously, I don’t like it on me, because I’m like an insatiable person when it comes to having things like that on my body. Today I may like a bird, and the following day I’ll get tired of that and want to change it. And aside that, in my job, you’ll have to play different roles, so it automatically restricts the number of roles you can play in a movie, so I feel as a professional actress, you shouldn’t, maybe to an extent, have a permanent thing on your body.
What is your fashion weakness?
The fact is I actually like everything when it comes to fashion. I think I’m greedy when it comes to fashion; clothes, bags, shoes, everything.
Which one of those items do you have in highest number?
Maybe shoes, but I’ve lost count and I hardly sleep in my room now. This morning, a thought just crossed my mind that maybe I should do something for my die-hard followers, my fans, if they don’t mind, the clothes I’ve worn not more than once, very soon I’m going to be giving them out to them.
What is your most expensive fashion item?
That will be a wrist watch, which my husband gave me in 2010 I think.
What is that item that can really drive you crazy?
That will be a body con-dress, because my husband says it shows the beautiful part in my body.
What is that fashion item you can never leave home without?
That will be my purse, asides my bag.
Is your contact medicated?
Yes it is; and I really love sunshades.
Are you long-sighted or short-sighted?
Do you think you can do a movie that surpasses Osas?
Of course, I’m sure Victims surpassed Osas. Is that not so? Osas is very close to my heart, because it’s actually the first time I was playing a comic role in a movie, and actually the first time I got to speak my indigenous language which is Benin. But I’m very sure Victims surpassed Osas.
When you did Osas, everybody knows you were really hungry for fame, which might have made you to be very active in the movie. Now that you’ve become a household in the movie industry, can you play such role again in movie?
The only role I can never play is to act nude. But aside that, I will do anything.
Do you still have a dream role?
Yes, I’ve never played an imbecile role, and I look forward to playing it in any movie.
A lot of your colleagues have ventured into music and politics, would you?
Music, not at all, I restrict myself to my bathroom, singing every morning because I think I don’t have the voice. Then for politics, I think there’s a chance, because I have a serious passion for the less-privileged, maybe later, not now, I may do politics.