By Christian Agadibe



When Patience Ozokwor was sacked from her job at a radio station, little did she know that fame and fortune would embrace her as she ventured into the movie industry in the 1980s.

Now, she has multi-tudinous fans in Nigeria and abroad.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, the award-winning actress better known as Mama G went down through her career path, talking about her greatest achievement in Nollywood and what she would like to be remembered for. Excerpts:

What do you think Nollywood will look like in the years to come?

Nollywood is going higher every day, from the recent movies that are being done, you can see the development in the movie industry. Good actors, good locations, and amazing video quality. There is so much competition in the movie industry now; everybody is striving to be the best, and no one wants to be the last and it keeps bringing more improvement. If you make a bad movie nobody will watch it, only you and your family members will watch it. There was a movie I was supposed to be in before coming here, but I had to give up on it because I didn’t like how it was going.

What would you say about husbands telling their wives to stop working or give up on their passion like acting, just because they are married?

My dear, that is not done anywhere. You can’t tell me to give up on my passion just because we got married. For instance, if someone studied nursing for over five years, you then tell her not to venture into it because you are her husband, it is not done. And for this acting, you know it is one passion that can drive you crazy, that makes you so happy. I remember then when I started acting my husband was very sick, my sister told me to stop acting and take care of my husband, but I told her no. I mean he is sick and he is not working and she wants me to give up my work too. My husband even told me not to give up, he will always tell my kids to put my movies for him so he can watch them. I made sure I registered him at UNTH for the best treatments, and when he had a crisis, I ran back to him. So, you can’t give up a passion for marriage.

Can you tell us how you would want to be remembered?

I would love to be remembered as a freedom fighter, and a good Christian. I want to be known as a preacher of God, one that saves souls for Christ. I also want to let people know that God hates divorce, so they should try to avoid things that bring problems that might lead to divorce in marriage. Wives should learn to respect their husbands, honour him and treat him like a king, no matter how much they earn. Couples should also learn to be prayerful.

Is it true that actresses get their riches from men?

It is not true, women these days are really hustling, and they don’t make money through movies alone. They make money from other businesses like endorsements, little online shows and other things. So, this is just what the public believes or always says about prospering ladies, but that doesn’t make it true about them. Some girls or ladies are promiscuous, yes that’s true, but not all. Some ladies make genuine money like they are real hustlers. Those promiscuous ones want to make money without skin pain, and illegal riches. The game in the movie industry is just like the game in other businesses, some go through the right path to make their money, while some choose to get it the other way.

Assuming your daughter wants to venture into acting, would you advise her to follow the fast lane or to take it step by step like you did?

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Why would I advise my daughter to follow the fast lane where I didn’t? I know the movie industry has changed over the years, it is no longer the way it was during our own time, but doing things in the right way always pays. Some ladies that their kids want to venture into acting, will always tell them that they will have to go through me, they will go under my training, and I keep my eye on them. Once the child starts misbehaving, the parents start misbehaving because some parents want their kids to be stars by all means. Once I start noticing any negative vibe, I will just cut you off.

Looking back at your years of acting, what is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is being known by all. I am recognized wherever I go, nationally and internationally. I am being recognized more than some governors, they might be richer than I am, but I am more recognized than they are. And all this is God’s doing. I have made so much impact in the movie industry, and it is something I am very proud of. So many African countries have made me an idol.

What do you have to say about the fact that some people are rich in movies, but poor in life?

Lol, my dear Uwa ka mma na film (Life is always better in movies). The accessories or wealth you’ve never had, you can be given a role where you have all of them. Some will say they are living a fake life, but it is not a fake life, they are only acting. You can be given a role where you own three companies, a luxury house and a fleet of cars, but it is just acting, that is not your true life.

In your years of growing up and becoming a movie star, what occasion or happenings have made you cry?

My dear, I cried a lot growing up even before I became a star because; I had a rough life growing up. I had no wealth to give my parents a good life and even my husband. So, when I remember these things they make me cry, and I just wish they were here today to enjoy the good life. Another incident that has made me cry is when my husband was very sick and there was no money, my kids were all in school then, and getting money for my husband’s health and children’s school fees was a hard one.

What was your turning point, from the time you lost a job before you got into acting?

My turning point was when my pastor called me and said “sister, I see your picture in so many movie posters.” My pastor was Pastor Chuks Ogbueli. And I told him hmm, Daddy, they are not paying me that much oo, just a little payments and he was like really? And he said bring your hand and he said: “Go and make wealth,” and since then I have not stopped making wealth. That short prayer from my pastor changed my life for good.

What are some things that fame has denied you?

Fame denied me the freedom to walk on the streets; I couldn’t go to the market and buy things freely.

I have always heard people say that when you get to the top, it tends to get lonely, you get love from only your family, is that true?

My dear, it is true, but it depends on your personality. I’m the type of person who doesn’t go outside if I don’t have a reason to, I enjoy my private space. So, even if it gets that lonely, I have my kids and my grandkids and that’s enough for me.

Can you give us instances where you have been hurt, but couldn’t voice it because of your fame?

I have been hurt so many times, my dear. One time I helped a family member of mine and after helping him, he thanked me by going behind me to sell my lands, it was heartbreaking. I called him and confronted him, but he didn’t listen, I had to file a case in court and he agreed to go to court with me, someone I trained to become a lawyer.