Time was when one wants to watch truly beautiful ladies in a Nigerian movie, one had to check in the English language based ones.
While majority of the attractive actresses in those movies were from the east, the few ones from the Yoruba speaking part of the country never really saw a need to take up roles in Yoruba movies. But that has obviously changed.
Today, Yoruba movie lovers watch paragons of beauty on their screens and their number keeps growing.
One of such actress who’s a delight to watch is Lizzy Anjorin, born Elizabeth Anjorin in Lagos State. The sexy actress has started 2017 on a very good note as he has continued her international tour for the promotion of her latest body of work – Owo Naira Bet.
In a recent visit to the City People headquarters at Gbagada, Lagos. Liz Anjorin spoke with City People’s Publisher, DR. SEYE KEHINDE and his Showbiz reporter, DANIJI EMMANUEL. In this exclusive interview, she spoke on her struggle in the industry, her plans for her latest movie and the steps she has taken thus far. Enjoy the excerpt below.
Let’s talk about your last trip round the world. What was it all about?
I have been able to premier my new movie, Owo Naira Bet in some states in the United States of America and in London as well. I would be returning in summer to cover 10 to 15 more states in America, Dubai, Paris, Dublin and so on. Before all those, I would be premiering the movie here in Nigeria. So far, I have a team of promoters who work for me outside the country. I’ve got Nerry G Promotions and Gladyet Promotions in New York, Afro Heritage in Houston Texas and Buklad Promotions in Manchester. Nerry G Promotions have been very supportive. It’s not been easy moving around locations and getting provisions for feeding, shelter and so on. Speaking on productions also, we’ve not been gaining in the industry. The system has turned upside-down dating back to 8 years. Taking a look at my last movie, “Kofo the First Lady”, the movie was very lovely with good content and morale lesson, such a movie is expected to have made a profitable return in terms of money but we lost a lot of money from it due to piracy. I lost about 85% of my capital not to even say I gained a dime. This time around I plan on touring the States and Europe to market my new movie before launching it here in Nigeria. I also have a new strategy which I would be introducing to market my new movie but I won’t be mentioning it just yet to avoid piracy or bootlegging of the process.
Basically, asides been an Actor, you’ve taken up quite a lot of roles from production to marketing and so on. Let us in on this?
Yes, that is very true. Been an actor, you have to be multi-skilled and be everywhere. You have to be able to self-direct, produce, do your own make-up and so on. It’s a competition out there at the moment so you can’t just sit in one comfort zone and expect to make it.
Talking about Owo Naira Bet, you have invested so much in it from the current status of the movie. Why did you decide to invest hugely in it?
The thing is, I have a problem with people complaining about the Yoruba movie sector producing poor movies. The truth is, we do make good movies but the promotions is very poor. I want to tackle that and stand out. I want to be Liz Anjorin – I want to be me. I don’t want to be jumping from location to location and still have nothing to show for it. Of what use is fame when you are broke and don’t have enough to take care of yourself and loved ones? I don’t want that live. I want to be able to invest in a project of my own and make quality movies that would stand out and people would be able to reckon with.
Speaking on movies at the moment, Owo Naira Bet is one of the best in the Yoruba movies in the country as we speake – rating it from the content to production and message and so on. It would be hard for any other movie to knock it down to 2nd place. It’s a masterpiece. That’s how I love to make my movies. You can tell from the storyline on my last movie project – Kofo The First lady, it was a very strong storyline and a quality production. I love to make uplift my brand with quality productions. I care less of what people say about me. Be it as it may that I get appreciated or not, I wouldn’t be moved or bothered. I just want to make good movies and make my brand float someday. I have a vision.
When I produced “Kofo Tinubu”, people thought I was sponsored by Tinubu to make the movie, no, I didn’t collect money from Tinubu. I made the movie because Tinubu is a good man worth celebrating, thereby promoting his brand and using the priviledge to promote my brand as well. Same goes for “Owo Naira Bet”. I didn’t get any sponsor or funds from Naira Bet, atleast not at the moment. I had already begun the movie production, it was while at a location for the movie that someone did mention it to me that Naira Bet was a popular sport betting platform. So, that’s to show you that I work to make good movies and is not only money inclined but also quality inclined.
What’s the total cost of the new movie project?
Well, it’s a multi-million-naira project.
Did you raise the capital for the movie all by yourself?
Yes, I did, I raised the capital solely from my pocket. No support from anywhere. I work so hard like a slave just to make sure I make it. I live in Lekki Phase 1 and ride one of the best car in town yet I slept on the floor in my shop for 2 months selling, sewing and working just to raise money for my project. How many people can make such sacrifice in a time like this?
How do you balance out doing so many things alongside Movies?
I do balance it out, I don’t have a choice. My career has taken social live from me. I hardly attend parties. So, I have been able to create ample time for some other chores or skills of mine.
What’s your view on the current state of the movie industry?
Let me say this, it’s not just the industry that is been affected by the current situation of thhings in the country. A lot of other businesses are dying, so many things are dying – even people are dying. I think it’s time we call on ourselves as it seems the government are out of ideas on what to do. What remains as the only hope is our strive to keep moving forward irrespective of the situation and ensure we make the finish line with smiles on our faces. I won’t give up because I am not a quitter. I would keep moving forward. If my strategy fails, I would device another and make sure I achievement my aim and goal. That’s Liz Anjorin for you.
What timeframe should your movie lovers, viewers and fans be expecting the release of your new movie into the Nigerian market?
The premiere would come up in May 6 and the release would be sometime this year.
People say you are one of the hottest actresses in the Yoruba movie industry at the moment with your recent achievements. What’s your say on this?
I’m not the hottest, I am still hustling. You see, everything is life is calculation. While I was living in a rented apartment, I made a decision to invest the money that I had saved to build a house, it was business thought that came to me because I think like a business person. Though I had built a house at that time but it was not in Lagos. So, 2-3 years ago, I started observing the changes in the economy and I remember that I was conversing with a friend of mine and I told her that things are not right. I could sense it. I told her that things might collapse and it would affect the economy severely. So, I decided to build my own house last year so I don’t get caught in the unnecessity of having to pay millions as rent in a tough economy when I could save up that much and invest it into something profitable. I told a good friend of mine, Dayo Badmus who happens to also be my Manager/Publicist that I want to build and move into my own house. It was high time I stopped paying rent with the way things are going in the country. I remember telling him that someday, people would wake up and won’t be able to afford their rent because the economy would have collapsed.
Something about me is that, I love to think before taking any step. This method has helped me stay independent. I barely have female friends. I am not the caucus or group kind of person. People say if you are not in a certain caucus or group in the industry, you won’t be seen as a big girl. I oppose that. I am an independent woman – a one-man Mopol, and I always pray to God that he doesn’t make me regret been independent. I want to be a brand that people would look up to and admire, learn something from and be inspired positively. Joining Caucus exposes you to too much social danger than staying independent. They both have their merit and demerit but the odds are in favour of been independent.
How many years have you been in the industry?
I started around 2003/2004. I was in school then. People believe I am from Ijebu or Abeokuta and I base there but no, that’s not true. While I started out as an actress, I was in school and I would have to journey all the way from Ijebu to Abeokuta on Tuesdays and Thursdays just to attend classes. I was also into business as of the time and I would have to carry my goods along for marketing and sales. I have been a tight-scheduled person right from my childhood. My colleagues used to mock me and make jest of me whenever I miss tests. Before I relocated from Ijebu Igbo to Ijebu Ode, my landlord back then in “Molusi Royal Hall” was a very disciplined man, by 7pm he would have locked the gate, so most times I slept in my car overnight and by morning when I am going into the hall, some of my friends would make jest of me calling me names like “Superstar, Opeyemi Ayeola, Ogogo of our time.” At a point in time, I almost did quit.
What was the drive that made you want to become an actor? Was there anyone you were looking up to or some sort of passion?
None at all. No one. I just wanted to have the skill. I wanted to acquire more knowledge and know quite a number of things from different fields. As a hustler, right from young, you would be knowledge driven in different things. Just before my polytechnic days, I had my TT2 (Teachers Training 2) in a college of Education. I did all these things to acquire quite a lot of knowledge, I am the only child you should know. I have to be able to cover up and cover ground for so many things.
How did you celebrate your mother’s remembrance recently?
As usual, I killed a ram with lots of rice and took it to the orphanages. There are these believes that if you celebrate the dead positively, it comes with positive rewards. I don’t want to tie any religious believe to the remembrance of my late mother but ever since I have been celebrating her death with such act, I have seen the signs and changes. Before she passed on, I knew my position and now that she’s gone, I can see the progress in position from where I was before to where I am now.
If anyone comes to be and say celebrating the death of my mother with rites and act of giving is bad, I would ask the person if he or she has been to heaven and back.
Let me share with you this story that happened recently. My mother died on the 9th of January and ever since her death, I have never missed the rites I carry out for her. So, while I was in London promoting my new movie, I was supposed to return to Nigeria on the 10th of January, then I remembered that I have to be in Nigeria on the 7th so as to be able to carry out the annual rites in remembrance of my late mom. Behold, I lost my passport on the 27th of December and I wasn’t even aware. I left New York on the 26th of December for London and I was supposed to leave London for Nigeria on the 10th of January. When I noticed that my passport was missing, I rushed to the studio to see if anyone had helped me seen it or found it, but the response was negative – I fainted. I cried bitterly talking to myself asking my dead mom if I wouldn’t celebrate her remembrance. It was as if I was stuck in London. People would say all sort of negative things against me. I cried a lot. I was supposed to leave on the 7th of January by 7pm in the evening. We went to the police station on the 7th of January and we were referred to the Nigerian Embassy to lodge a complaint there. Miraculously, 2 hours to my departure, someone called and said she had found my passport. I want to believe that my Mother’s spirit helped me through the whole passport drama.
Tell us somethings about your mom that you were able to pick up from her to your advantage.
She was very strict and hardworking. I have never seen her with friends. She always told me that if I wanted to make it in life, I would have to work hard and harder. She always smiled at my gestures that I would build her a house and buy her cars when I make it, she would normally reply that what if she wasn’t alive to receive all those things? It was after she passed on that I was able to reflect on the truth behind her messages then. She always pushed me out to go and hustle, to work hard and learn to survive on my own. She never pampered me as the only child. She was too direct.
You were able to do a lot of things and moving around. How were you able to keep the intimacy with your mom between all these?
I was living in Ijebu Igbo. Immediately I moved to Ijebu Ode, I was in 200 Level going to 300 Level, I brought my Mother and she lived with me. I was a student and my mother was staying with me. After schooling, I paid for an apartment and brought her in with me as well. Made sure she was always with me and we supported each other in every way. While in Ikorodu, when I return from location and there was still a few hours left on the clock, my mother would peep out through the window and ask me, “yes, are you done with work today?” She wouldn’t open the door for me. She would tell me to go out and sell some of the goods in the trunk of my car. She always wanted me to work a little harder preparing me for the future. Most times I would end up in a hotel to rest and the next day I would tell her I slept in a hotel. She would just advise me again and said she was only preparing real hard for times like this. She used to tell me that the only time we have to rest is when we die. I did learn a lot from her.