Known to be one of the most popular actresses in the English movies before she eventually traced her roots back to her Yoruba origin, Iyabo Ojo is equally popular in the Yoruba segment who started with Keppy Ekpenyong Bassey when she was introduced to the veteran actor by Bimbo Akintola in 1997, and she made her debut in 1998 with a sub lead role in “Satanic” and ever since, this petite mother of two and a graduate of Estate Management from Lagos State Polytechnic has not looked back.
Love her or hate her, her name will generate a controversy depending on your take, especially on the supremacy battle between her and another actress Lizzy Anjorin as well as the alleged secret affair with her co-artiste, Muka Ray. But in this exclusive interview with Ajibade Alabi, Ojo speaks on these and other issues including her project pink ladies which many people believe is a lesbian outfit. It’s an Iyabo Ojo exclusive.
Who is Iyabo Ojo?
Iyabo Ojo is from Ogun State, Itoko to be precise. Born into a family of three, I am the only girl. My father is late, while my mother, Mrs. Olubunmi is still alive, she stays with me here, while my two other brothers are based in the UK. I was born on December 21, 1977. I am a graduate of Estate Management from Lagos State Polytechnic.
I later got married and have two kids -Festus and Priscilla. I became an actress in 1998, after I met Bimbo Akintola in 1997, she took me round the industry and I was given an opportunity to show case my talent through Keppy Ekpenyong Bassey in 1998. I played a sub lead role in a film titled “Satanic”.
That was my first time of ever facing a camera. In 1999, I got married and had my first child -a son, while in 2001, I gave birth to my second baby, a female child. In November/December of the same 2001, I returned to the industry, but I was told I have to be shuttling Lagos and the East, but being a Yoruba girl, I decided to pitch my tent with the Yoruba sector.
So I have to study the ropes; first by joining ANTP. I also joined Odunfa Caucus where we have the likes of Alhaji Hassan Taiwo (Ogogo), Alhaji Yinka Quadri, Alhaji Abbey Lanre as the leaders of the group. In 2002, I was very lucky to feature in one of Yinka Quadri’s film “Baba Darijiwon” and ever since, I have been acting. And in 2004 I started producing my own movie. My first film was “Bolutife” thereafter I have done “Bofeboko” “Ololufe” “esan” “okunkun biribiri”.
What is the latest you are working on now?
My latest work is Arinso, the film that won an award at the last Abuja film Festival. It cost me a lot of money, I don’t even want to quote any amount; we spent a lot of money. If I say we, I mean Co-Operate Pictures, we spent a lot on the project because half of the movie was shot in Ghana, and I flew over 90 per cent of my artistes and crew members to Ghana, while others were by road.
Curiously the Ghanaians were forced to confess that I will be the first producer that will bring a lot of crew and artistes to Ghana to shoot a film. I intend showing the film in Cinemas in Nigeria, Ghana, and the UK. I am planning to shoot a comedy film. I am also working on project, pink ladies
Talking about your NGO tell us more about it
Yes it is no more Pink sexy ladies. We changed the name recently. It is no more Pink Sexy Ladies. It all started like a child’s play it is BB stuff among us friends. You see I have this passion for giving out. We want to help the less privileged children
Are all your members actresses?
No, they are not; we just have a few actresses there. We have business women from Nigeria, UK. So many important personalities are involved, so I have to change it from Pink Sexy Ladies to Pinkie Foundation. I am the president while my friends are supporters.
But people are saying the group is formed to encourage lesbianism?
I think that story came up because I am an actress. You known as an actress whatever I do is always a story, so there is no iota of truth in that story.
Lesbianism is not what I support or what I believe in. I am sorry for all lesbians, I have never supported lesbianism, I did not find it Godly. We just formed it to help one another, to help our businesses, to help empower women. We contribute money monthly for this project.
It is not news that you and your colleague, I mean Lizzy Anjorin are not in good terms, as you are both claiming to be older than one another. But of recent there was a report that you have both buried the hatchet. How true is the story?
I want to correct this erroneous impression people have about Lizzy Anjorin and myself. Our quarrel is not on a seniority fight, it was a misconception of character, it was believed that I have a problem and that generated to a lot of controversy. There is this view I had about her, about difference in character, I don’t want to be close to her and that generates a lot of anger.
Not calling me an aunty or calling one an aunty is not the issue, in fact I am one of those in the industry who does not believe in that aunty stuff. To me, respect is reciprocal. To your question, yes we have ended the rift, because it was getting out of hand.
People were calling me here and there telling me people are making issues out of it. So I just believe we don’t have to make an issue out of it. What really prompted me to call her and talk to her was the story I read in the internet that we are now using charms (juju) to fight ourselves. “Yes I did say don’t greet me, I did not mean it as; you should die”.
So, the next thing I did was to pick up the phone and call her up, I got her number from somebody who had it and graciously gave it to me. I called her and told her about what I had read on the internet. She was good and nice to me on the phone. She also said she was surprised to read people writing such a terrible thing about us in the magazines and on the internet. And we ended it. Today whenever we meet we always say hi to one another
But you were both at AMA Award and you did not greet each other?
I never got to meet her, I never knew she was in the hall. You know the hall is big, I never saw her.
You have been romantically linked with Muka Ray. Tell us the true story between both of you. Is there truly a love affair between the two of you?
Muka Ray is a friend, a brother and also a colleague. And we are both artistes and producers. We are just friends there is nothing like love affair or relationship between the two of us, it is just people that are peddling such rumours. Muka is married with four kids am also happy in my relationship. And I am telling you this no matter what people say, they will still be seeing us together.
Is there any regret that you are an actress?
Yes, my regret is that I no longer have privacy, though I don’t even see it as a regret, the one thing that aches me is the rumours that they always carry about me which is not true, it always gets me angry. Then I always ask myself, where are these rumors coming from?
If Iyabo Ojo is not acting, what would she have been doing?
I would have been practicing what I went to study in school, which is Estate Management; I would have been into Estate business.