The name Mercy Aigbe is not new as far as film industry is concerned in Nigeria, especially in the Yoruba sector. This Benin, Edo State-born beauty, who started with the English sector of the industry, is well-known to possess one of the well-shaped figures in the industry, yet she is a mother of two. Married to an hotelier, Mercy is one of the scandal-free Nollywood stars in the industry. Leadership Senior Correspondent Ajibade Alabi speaks with on issues ranging from her venture into the film industry and so many others.
Who is Mercy Aigbe?
Mercy Aigbe Gentle is an actress, a mother, and a movie producer. I’m from Edo State, but was born in Lagos State. I’m the second born of five children. I’m a Christian from a Christian background, and married to a Yoruba man, an hotelier.
I have two kids after my post primary education. I went to The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State, for my National Diploma before I proceeded to University of Lagos where I got a Bachelor’s degree in Theater and Arts.
I actually had my background in Theater, because I studied Theater in school. I studied Theater and Arts at the University of Lagos and graduated in 2003. I worked for a while before I joined the industry. But the film that brought me to limelight is called Ara, produced by Wemimo Paul in Ibadan.
What was the attraction to the movie industry? Or was it just a hubby?
No, it was not an attraction, it was not a hubby; it was something that I really wanted to do. It was just a thing that I really had passion for and I just wanted to do it.
As an actress, what do you look at before you accept a role?
As an actress, before I work for anybody, I first demand for the scripts. And the reason I always do that is to go through the story, because I love a story that I have a passion for, that people can easily watch and gain something from.
Then after demanding for my scripts and going through it and make sure it is a good one, I also want to know the people I am going to work with, because most of the times, if you have a good script and you don’t have good people to work with, it kills the story.
And it kills the scripts too, especially the director. It is not as if I don’t work with people without experience, but the person has to know what he or she is doing. I just don’t want to work with just anybody.
You are not from a Yoruba speaking state, but you found yourself in Yoruba film industry, how come?
A lot of people have asked me this particular question, and I kept telling them that may be it is fate, because I never planned to be a Yoruba actress, nor to be known in Yoruba sector because I actually started with the English sector. When I joined the industry, I started with a couple of soaps.
I did one or two movies in English and that film I told you about, I mean Ara. I did Eldorado and Images by Fidelis Duker and did one with Chico Ejiro. I have forgotten the title, but I think it is an old film. Then, I did a movie with Charles Novia. I did a lot of movies in English.
It was after my appearance in Ara film that a lot of people started taking notice of me; that who is that girl, she acts very well. And that was how I fully joined the Yoruba industry. I think Ara made me known, it made me popular.
Was Ara the first Yoruba film you will feature in?
Ara was not my first Yoruba film I will appear in, it was actually the second, but it was Ara that made me to be known, that shot me into limelight. And I’m happy now in the Yoruba sector.
As a producer, how many films have you produced now?
I think as a producer, I have produced about four films. The first one I produced was Abimbola, then after that I did Afeaye, then after I did Hajia Jemila, then I did Osas Omoge Benin. And now, I’m working on Goose Girls. It is about four street and outgoing girls, it is going to be a nice film, and would teach moral values when it is released.
Talking about your third film, I mean Osas Omoge Benin, people are saying you copied the story line of Funke Akindele’s Jenifa. Do you have anything to say to that?
People were actually saying that before they watched it. Just like when Jenifa came out, a lot of people were saying it was a copy of what Ronke Oshodi Oke did in Gbajumo. Osas is so different from Jenifa. There is no similarity.
When you see Osas, you will see that it is completely different from Jenifa. I don’t know where that rumour started from. A lot of people have watched it in the cinema and they have now agreed it is completely different from Jenifa in terms of story line and everything.
Can you say Osas Omoge Benin is your best performance so far?
I can say it is my best. But I don’t think I have done my best yet. But the only reason why I love Osas is that the character allowed me to speak Benin ‘pidgin’, which is synonymous to people from my place, and it also allowed me to be funny, and that actually is my first comedy movie.
What makes you unique from your other professional colleagues?
I don’t know o! (General Laughter).But I think it is my stature, because a lot of people do tell me I don’t look my age, even after giving birth to two kids, that I look younger than my age. You know, I’m blessed with a face that looks younger than my age. I mean a baby-face. At times, when I tell people my age, they will say whao! that I don’t look it?
And how old are you?
I am in my late 30s actually. I have a lot of upcoming actresses that always come to me to tell me that, and I always get to play their friends in a film without even looking older than them. I think as an actress, I am blessed with that shape and my good looks.
Tell us the secret?
It is God.
Any regret being an actress?
No, I don’t have any regrets.
What got you attracted to your man, I mean your husband?
His maturity. He is so matured, he supports whatever I do.
How does he feel whenever he sees you in movies being kissed, romanced or even caressed?
I don’t think he cares, because he knows it is a make-believe thing. There was even a film that I was supposed to kiss somebody, and when he watched the film, he told me that I did not do it very well. He said it was not done professionally. The only thing I cannot do is to act nude, I can’t act nude.
Even with a million dollars offer?
No, I can’t do that. Our society does not allow such.
Did you have a child before you got married to your husband ?
Yes, I had a kid before I got married to my husband. I had her before I got married.