•Tells City People Magazine Her Very Intimate Story
Ibinabo Fiberesima is a big name in Nollywood. She is a movie icon. She is a veteran actress. Ibinabo Fiberesima who is in the UK right now was recently our guest on City People TV Instagram Live Chat conducted by City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE, who got her to talk about her Nollywood experience.
How has it been since the beginning of the lockdown, how have you been coping?
I went to England before the whole pandemic started, I had health challenges. I had to do a surgery. I was here (in England) trying to recuperate to get my health back. So, I have been in England. And it has not been easy because, with my health challenges and the pressure of the pandemic, I started feeling somehow, and I collapsed twice during this pandemic. It was quite scary and the ambulance came, rushed me to the hospital. They were trying to check if it was Covid-19 or not. They later discovered that it was not Covid-19, just my mental state. Everything crashed at a point, but thank God, I started with the Miss Earth event again and started picking up myself. I started looking forward to something. I wasn’t panicking anymore. I lost quite a few persons close to me here in England to the Covid-19, and that really broke me and then again, my friends in Nigeria, I lost a few, not to Covid-19 this time round, but other things and they were close to me. So, I think all that badly affected me. But thank God I am picking up again, preparing the new queen for her journey because the Miss Earth is virtual again for the global. So, there is so much work to do now. I am busy again preparing that.
I know you are into so many things, tell us about your book? And how it is doing?
Like I said because of the issues I had when the pandemic started. I was doing therapy. I had to re-focus. I had to put my energy into doing something productive. I started pouring out my mind, writing on my Facebook page; talking about my past.
Things I have been through, maybe it will help somebody. Like you know me, I am not that person who run people down. They tried to brand me as somebody I am not, and I refused to accept that life because that is not me. I know who I am, I know what I stand for and I will keep doing that. So, I started writing on Facebook every day. I called it “the hope series and I was amazed with the reception I got. People started sending me messages, asking me where can they buy my book? I was like, I didn’t write a book, I was just writing to keep myself busy (laugh), writing what is in my heart, what I feel. But the messages were coming in from different parts of the world and I said “okay, I can do this” and that was how it all started. I wrote the book; Hope Series 1 and the second one is coming out soon.
It slows down because the Miss Earth started and that took me back a bit, but I think I am back to complete the second one. And the sales was doing quite well, I am so impressed.
I was going to ask what happened to your acting career?
You know how it is in Nigeria, there is this mentality of belonging to a certain group of people and I don’t believe in that. I have shot a movie which should have been released by now but because of the pandemic, I am hoping next year, it would be released. I have been more involved. I set up my production house before I became ill. I will be doing a lot of productions now. Probably, I will be acting once in a while, but I think I direct better because I did my master’s in Audio Visual Management and I learnt directing. So, I will be doing that a lot when I get back. So, I am still acting, I am still producing and I will be directing more in the coming years.
Let me take you back a bit, can you tell us how movie started for you and how many years ago now?
I didn’t even know how many years, maybe 25 or 24. I used to run Pyramid Night Club and they wanted to shoot a scene in my club. They were talking to the manager at first when I walked in and he was raising his voice and I asked what the problem was. I remembered it was Tunji Bamisigbin who said: “Madam we want to use your club to shoot a movie and I was very happy.
My manager looked at me not to just agree like that, that they have to pay. I was like pay for what, and I asked them to enter and do what they wanted to do. Then, I was happy to see Ramsey Noah too. So, they started filming that particular scene and there was a part they wanted somebody to sing but everybody was shy, the people they brought couldn’t sing and I asked them to give me the mic. They said the camera will be on me, I said no problem because I was having fun. I took the microphone and I started singing, of course, it is my club and I sing every night.
So, I was singing and they were recording and I was getting into character, knowing fully that the camera was on me. After they finished, they thanked me and left. A few weeks later, I got a call from Tunji that they have been watching the particular scene I did and they thought I should come into movie making, which I rejected. Tunji always came to the club to mount pressure on me. Later, I thought about it and then my sister, Regina Askia, burst into the club and said: “You are on set with me”. “You are doing it because I have already told them you would do it”.
I said which one? She said the one Bamisigbin talked to me about. The Most Wanted I agreed with her and that was how it all started. And, of course, after my first scene, I ran to her and asked: “how did I do”? She said: “Fantastic, you did well”. So, I would say, she gave me the courage to push forward, to continue.
At the time you started, who were the people you started with?
It was just Regina Askia, and then we had Dolly Nnachukwu, Funsho and, of course, we had our sweetheart, Genevieve Nnaji, Ramsey Noah, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Fred Amata etc.
How have you been able to sustain your interest in the industry?
You know, I became the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria at the time when I was going through my challenges and I told myself, “listen, this is what you want to do, go and do it”. I am very spiritual, I pray quite a lot and my instinct are quite strong.
I told myself, “don’t put your head down” so, I went with all my heart and I won. It just drew me closer to Nollywood because at that time I was in touch with everybody in Nollywood. I knew everybody especially the elders and I wanted to look after them. I introduced Health Insurance for them, which a lot of them benefitted from. Even till now, I still get messages from them
What is the state of the industry today, from your own perspective?
Nollywood is doing well. But I would still ask us to tell our stories, the African way. The whole world wants to see us. They really love Nollywood. I am challenging Earnest Obi and Ngezue Ngezue, they make strong African movies even the Yoruba. If we could make those stories and make them cinematography a top-notch, they would go everywhere. They would win awards like Oscars, but we need to tell our stories the way we are telling them in our languages and let our cinematography match the storyline, then we are there. Being Nigerian is the best thing right now, I am proud to be a Nigerian, every day.
Like the film I shot. I shot everything in my village. I am sure some people thought I was mad, but I was happy because I have to showcase my village to the world. People are interested in our story and they want to see us. We are African, black is beautiful.
Let’s talk about you. You have always been very beautiful and you have maintained it. What has been the secret?
There is no secret, I am just contented with who I am. I don’t live a fake life. I don’t know how to be who I am not. I am just who I am.
How have you been able to blend with contemporary times?
For me, it is simple. My first son is going to be 23 in a few days. My 2nd son is 19, my 3rd one is 12. They are forever on the phone. There is always a new thing or the other and they want to use it with me, so they have to teach me. So, it has not been a challenge for me at all.
What other project are you working on for this year?
This year is a pandemic year, so, it is difficult to plan ahead, it is not healthy, it is not wise. We just have to be prayerful.
So, what is your message to your fans?
The advice I would give is to be true to yourself. Don’t listen to what people say. They will always say, even if you succeed or fail. What is important is you, yourself. As long as you believe in yourself and you live by what you can live on, the rest doesn’t matter, no matter how you try to please anybody, it just comes back to you. You can please somebody and not be happy. So, let them say. That is how I have lived my life. Before, if I read anything about me on social media, I would nearly remove my page.
Just be true to yourself and be kind and have the fear of God. God saves me that problem I was in some years ago. God lifted me. I would have taken my own life at that time, but God lifted me. I thank Him.