Talks About Her Life, Career & Business Empire
Mercy Aigbe is a big name in the movie industry. She is a Star actress who acts in both the English and Yoruba sectors of the industry. She has been acting for 15 years. She’s not just an actress, but also a business mogul. She runs three businesses where she sells fashion items, Aso Ebi, and skin products. Her business has millions of fans across the globe. She runs Flawless by Mercy, Aso-Ebi by Mercy, and Magdiva. She also runs other businesses. She runs a boutique with 3 Stores. She runs an Aso Ebi fabric business. She is a brand influencer. She is into Skincare and she does very many things.
Last Friday, Mercy Aigbe was our guest on City People TV Instagram Live Chat during which she spoke about her success story. Below are excerpts of the interview she had with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE.
How have you been coping with this pandemic?
Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been good, but the pandemic has been really scary. It has been a lot of emotions because nobody can step out and the lockdown has really crippled a lot and you don’t know what is happening out there. You’re not certain when you will be able to move freely and it has just been crazy, but we thank God for life and good health.“
Tell us a bit about the secret of your beauty and how you have maintained this beautiful look over the years?
“I take good care of myself. By the way, I own a skincare line called Flawless by Mercy, where I sell organic herbal-based products to care for the skin. I use very good products for my skin. I also eat well and drink a lot of water. I mind my business and that is why I am looking younger than my age.
How do you balance your roles? You are a great actress and you also own several businesses which include of the skin line, fashion items and the Aso Ebi by Mercy. How do you create time for each?
It’s a lot of hard work and it’s not easy at all. Yes, I own a skincare line, fashion store and the Aso Ebi fabrics. Don’t forget I am the spokesperson for my brand businesses and I also model for all my businesses. At times, I’m even the Sales Rep for my stores because I go to the stores to sell to my customers and it’s been a lot of hard work. I just thank God that I have a very good team that has the same vision as I do and it makes the work easier. What I do actually is that at every point in time, I dedicate a certain amount of time for a particular thing. If I want to go on set, I do that for about 2 months without doing too much with the business. I go to locations back-to-back for like 2 months then I don’t get too involved in the business because I have people who are there, although you cannot entirely trust people with your business, but I do that and just focus on acting, but if I want to do the business, I’ll run the business for a few months waiting for my movies to be out. So, while I wait for the movies to be out I concentrate on the business.
Mercy is a very friendly and supportive person. I go all out to support people especially when I believe in them or when I notice a talent or a gift in them. Even if the person is enterprising I go all out to support them. I love my family, I love my kids a smile on the time does a mama good. I’m a happy person regardless of what life throws at me or what happens around me, I try not to allow what goes around me affect my happiness. I just move on. I try not to allow whatever it is get the better part of me. I am just a very happy person. I smile all the time. I keep moving on with the huge smile on my face, knowing whatever it is, I’m going to overcome it and be the better for it. I am a very hard-working woman because I love to spend my own money so I work … I’m a very strict person, you can actually ask my children. I am just a very fun-loving person.
When you started, what was the attraction for acting and why did you go into acting when you went for it at that time?
I just realised at a very young age that I have a talent for acting, right from when I was in Primary School. Then we used to do mommy and daddy. I just observed that I like mimicking people and acting different characters and I just love it so I did not know I would be doing it professionally.
It was when I was in The Polytechnic, Ibadan where I studied Accountancy that I joined the drama group. It was at that point that I realised I would love to take my love for acting to another level and do it professionally. So, thereafter, I went to the University of Lagos where I bagged a degree in Theater Arts and I just got into the industry after school. And like they say ‘the rest is history’.
How challenging was the industry when you got in?
It was really challenging. A lot of times I was discouraged. I went for auditions and I was never picked. It’s just like when you have a burning fire in you and you go for auditions and you’re not picked, it feels very sad. One of the major challenges I faced as an up-and-coming actress was getting people to believe in me and a platform to showcase myself. Nobody wants to risk anything, they don’t know what you’ve got and they’re not ready to invest so much or risk having you play the lead. I was a big girl before I got into the industry. I left a very well paying job. I resigned from the job to join the industry only for me to get here and not being paid at all. It was very challenging and then I was already a single mum. I had my daughter to take care of and there was no money coming in. At some points, I was frustrated and I wanted to give it all up, but like I said when you have a deep passion for something, just keep moving on.
How many movies have you produced and what are your plans for the next few months?
“For the next few months I don’t know what Karina is saying but the plans I have is on hold. As a Movie Producer, I have about six to seven movies to my credit“
So, it means that Covid-19 is going to seriously affect the movie industry?
Yes, it will really affect the industry because we cannot work. We cannot go on. We’re just at home waiting and hoping that these things end on time so that we can go back to our normal life. Initially, we had a lot of issues with marketers because they were monopolizing the market and dictate to you and all that because initially what we’ll do is produce movies for marketers to sell. And piracy? We had issues with privacy and you know as a producer, I self-produce my movies, but the cinema is here and we are happy for it.
Do you have a movie academy?
I used to have but it is on hold for now, but I will let people know when we re-open.
People love the way you play all your roles and making it look real. How do you go about it?
One of the things I do when I have a role to play in movies is that I embody the characters. I internalise the characters. At times, I need to play a challenging character, I understudy it. I try as much as possible to watch movies that character has been played and I fit myself into it. I create my characters.
Let’s talk about your Skincare line. What would you say are the mistakes ladies make on their skin?
The major mistake is that most ladies use pure chemical products on their skin. I wonder why you would want to do that. I get messages from clients who want to go from being very dark to be like an albino, they just want to be a white overnight in 3-4 days and that is a mistake. If you want to lighten your skin socially with organic products it’s a gradual process and you have to be patient. You would eventually achieve your goal with your skin, but you have to be patient, it is not rocket science or magic. You don’t have to use chemicals. If you do you will start having skin issues, dark knuckles and a whole lot of skin diseases or even skin cancer so you need to be careful of the product you use on your skin and how you go about it.
How do you go about the aso ebi line?
I sell fabrics and I also do fabrics for people who want to have a party. We do all kinds of part. I do customised fabrics, exclusive fabrics that nobody else will have in Lagos for your parties to be unique. I also have a ready-to-wear line where we do ready-to-wear clothing.
Which of your businesses gives you the highest return?
That is the fashion store. That is the Maddiva line, but for now, I think the Aso Ebi by Mercy is catching up with it. The good thing about my fabric is that they are not something you can see everywhere besides, I can work with your budget. So I can work with as low as 10,000 naira.
How about the English sector of acting?
“I’ve done a lot of movies in English. I must also say that I started with the English movies before I moved to the Yoruba movies and in recent times, I’ve done a lot of cinema jobs. I’ve done a lot of cinema jobs for Iroko TV and a couple of others. I’m also looking up to producing my own English movie in the nearest future.
What made you go into English movies?
It was because I was not too fluent in Yoruba. But one thing about whatever language is that the more you speak it, the more you get better. I got more scripts in Yoruba language and that was how I got used to it. Now, I’m a professional in speaking Yoruba.
How do you take the criticism of the movie industry? How do you respond to some of the criticisms especially of the Yoruba movie industry?
If it is a concrete criticism, it is welcomed. We are not all perfect, so there is always room for improvement. So, if someone says this is how I think you guys should do it, I would look at it. I will get better at it in my next production. I take cognisance of what has been criticised and work better on it, but if the criticisms are baseless then we just ignore them. I encourage Nigerians to support Nigeria by supporting our movies. What has kept me going all these years is my love for the job and passion. At every point in time, I evaluate myself on what I need to improve on and what to do to make my brand a stronger one. I try to spice it up. You know people don’t like it boring. I add spices to everything I do and that’s why I play my characters differently even if I have to play the same character over and over again. That is the spice I add to my character to make me feel happy and to make me more appealing to my fans, so to make them to continue loving and supporting me.
You do a lot online these days. Is there any reason for that?
You have to follow the trend now. If it is online you have to move Online. Right now, I’m learning how to be on Tik-Tok and it’s a lot of work for me because nobody wants to be left behind and for me, Instagram is my strongest Social Media platform because I love pictures. I love looking good and Instagram is all about pictures, so that’s why we moved Online. I just love to post my pictures and read compliments and I’m also a brand influencer to many brands and I’ve been working with a lot of Brands to help advertise their products or services online.