Known to be one of the most popular actresses in English movie sector before she eventually traced her roots back to her Yoruba origin, Iyabo Ojo is a popular actress in Yoruba segment who started with Keppy Ekpoyong 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, a graduate of Estate Management from Lagos State Polytechnic has not looked back.
But in this exclusive interview, Iyabo Ojo spoke on many issues such as her controversy with her colleague, Lizzy Anjorin, her widely reported romance with Muka Ray. She also spoke on how she dumped English sector of Nigeria movie industry to join Yoruba, her project and other issues.
Who is Iyabo Ojo?
Iyabo Ojo was born into the family of three. I am from Ogun State, Itoko, Abeokuta to be precise, I am an actress. I have two younger brothers. I am the only girl. My father is late, while my mother, Mrs. Olubunmi is still alive, she stays with me here, my two other brothers are not staying here, they are based in the UK. I was born on Decembr 21, 1977. I am a graduate of Estate Management from Lagos State Polytechnic. I later got married and had two kids-Festus and Pricilla. 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 showcase my talent through Keppy Ekpeyong 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 I had my son and in 2001, I had my second baby, a girl. That same 2001, November/December to be precise, I came back to the industry, but I was told I have to be travelling to the East, as a Yoruba girl, I decided to pitch my tent with Yoruba. I then joined 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 have featured in one of Yinka Quadri’s films-“Baba Darijiwon” and till now I have been acting. And in 2004, I started producing my own movie. My first film was “Bolutife”, thereafter I did “Bofeboko” “Ololufe” “Esan” and “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. I mean the Corporate Pictures, we spent a lot on the project because half of the movie was shot in Ghana, and I had to fly all my artistes and members of the crew to Ghana. Some went by road and Ghanaians were forced to confess that I would be the first producer that would bring a lot of crew and artistes to Ghana to shoot a film. I intend to show the film in cinema in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and the UK. But 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 just changed the name now; it is no more ‘Pink Sexy Ladies’. It all started like a child’s play; it is BB stuff among my friends. We want to help the less privileged children.
Your crew members, are they actresses?
No, they are not; we just have a few actresses there. We have business women from Nigeria and UK. So many important personalities were involved, so I had to change it from Pink Sexy Ladies to Pink 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. 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 have never supported lesbianism and it’s ungodly. We just formed it to help one another, help our businesses and empower women. We contribute monthly for this project.
It was reported that you and your colleague, Lizzy Anjorin are at loggerheads, how true is the story?
I want to correct this impression that people have about me and Lizzy Anjorin. Our quarrel is not based on whether you are older than me or vice versa, it was a misconception of character. I don’t want to be close to her and that generates a lot of anger. Not calling me an aunty is not the issue; in fact, I am one of those in industry who don’t believe in that aunty stuff. To me, respect is reciprocal. We have ended the fight because the rift was getting out of hands. People were calling me here and there, and 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 juju to fight ourselves. So the next thing I did was to pick up the phone and call her, I did not have her number, I called somebody to give it to me, and I called her and told her what I 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 magazine and on the internet. And we ended it. Today whenever we meet we always say hi to another
But you were both at AMA Award and you did not great each other?
I never get to meet her, I never knew she as in the hall. You know the hall is big, I never see 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 a producer. We are just friends there is nothing like love affair or relationship between the two of us, it is just people that are carrying such a rumors. 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 only regret is that I don t have privacy, and I don’t even see it as a regret. But the one that always pain me is the rumors that they always carried about me which is not true, it always get me angry. Then I always ask myself, where are these rumors coming from?
If Iyabo Ojo is not acting, what will 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