In a new�chat with The Entertainer,� Annie shares her growing up experiences and sacrifices her mother made after they were abandoned by their father. Read the excerpts:
Ordinarily, people would expect to see the pompous wife of a big star like Tuface but that does not seem to be the case with you. You’re so humble?
Thanks for the compliment. I am a very playful and down-to-earth person though, there are times I prefer keeping to myself in order to avoid people taking advantage or abusing me. However, I am a very simple person. I am from Eket, Akwa Ibom State. I am from a family of four children; three brothers and myself, the only daughter of the family. My mum and dad divorced 20 years ago.
How old were you when your parents divorced?
Maybe, nine or 10. I was in primary school when it all happened and I remember everything but it is
irrelevant talking about it now because we have moved on.
Your parents separated 20 years ago. How did it affect you?
My mother bred us from childhood to adulthood because of the divorce. I was almost a tom boy growing up with my brothers. It’s heartbreaking when you live with your parents happily and suddenly, they part ways. Sincerely, we were terribly affected emotionally. It was especially tough where it was only our mother that was attending functions in school and taking care of our needs. It was emotionally sapping and my brothers have their own fair share of memories. It affected me so much while in secondary school because I was always sad going home after school hours to see my mother living without my father. But mum tried her best to make life meaningful for us; she is my hero. And I appreciate God for being there for us.
Could you talk about the sacrifices you made as a kid to support your mother financially?
I was always running home during lunch break to prepare lunch for my younger brother but unfortunately, we lost him at 15 years of age. It was really tough! I had to assist my mother in her shop which was very close to our house after school. She was also working to make ends meet.
How did your brother die?
We don’t like talking about it in the family because we miss him dearly. He was an intelligent and brave boy; he died of tuberculosis.
Where did you grow up?
We lived in Ibadan with our parents when my father was working with Mobil and my mother was a house wife. She remained a house wife until they separated. I was born with a silver spoon but I didn’t grow up with it. After their divorce, my mother got a job with Mobil working as a cook to support us. Thereafter, we moved to Jakande Estate, Lekki, Lagos. From there we moved to Thomas Estate, also on the Island. After the entire struggle, God has blessed us tremendously. I am the last child. My eldest brother is married and my elder brother lives in Atlanta; he is also married.
How did that experience shape you?
It made me stronger and independent as a woman. As the only girl, my mother taught me to do domestic chores. Today as a married woman, I have domestic staff but I still cook and do house chores. I started working immediately after I graduated from secondary school at age 15. I worked as a sales girl in a boutique and two other places before I got admission to study, leading up to my diploma. I also worked part time as an undergraduate of Computer Science at the Lagos State University when I was 18-years-old. Thereafter, I got admission into the University of Lagos where I bagged a degree in Theatre Arts. Growing up wasn’t easy, my sister. I have never shared this before in the media but I think God wants His name to be exalted in my life.
What is your advice to couples on divorce?
Honestly, divorce is the worst punishment any parent could subject children to because it’s the children that will face the consequences of their actions. Divorce shouldn’t be considered as an option when couples face-off. It is advisable to settle rather than divorce. Why did you get married if you cannot forgive and reconcile with your partner? I don’t wish my kids to pass through my experience regarding divorce. I always use my parents-in-laws as an example and I try to emulate them in my marriage. After all these years, they are still deeply in love with each other. Even at their age, they still enjoy each other’s company and that is amazing.
Have you reconciled with your father?
I have reconciled with him. I did seven years ago. Our mother always encouraged us to forgive our father and love him regardless of the past. I have a very good relationship with my father now.
Let’s talk about the industry that brought you to limelight. How did you come into Nollywood?
I attended so many auditions after my secondary education and I also did some modelling jobs for a while earning as little as N2000. The highest fee I ever earned was N5000 but I wasn’t discouraged. I worked with Dakova and KC Jabari and I also did ushering jobs at events. I was an usher at Queen Onokala’s first album launch. I was also second runner-up of Queen of All Nations Beauty Pageant. It was after the beauty pageant that I made my Nollywood debut.
How long have you been in the industry?
I have spent over four years as a professional. I came into Nollywood in 2009. Before then I had featured in minor roles while in the University. After graduation and the birth of my first baby, I got deeply involved in acting.
What do you enjoy most about being an actress?
I love stepping into other people lives, living it and depicting it to the best of my abilities and it’s always been a delight.
Have you ever played a role you later regretted?
I wouldn’t play it if it’s not acceptable to me.
Are you saying that even if you are paid a huge amount of money, you wouldn’t play if it’s not acceptable?
Sometimes I actually accept scripts because of the character and not the amount involved. I also consider the energy and intellectual ability that the character demands because I love playing roles that challenge my ability and skills. Basically, I act for the passion and not just for the monetary gains.
Have you ever been embarrassed by a fan?
I learned a lot from my husband who became a superstar before my foray into Nollywood. So, mine is a piece of cake. I don’t tag them embarrassing because it’s a price you have to pay for fame.
How has motherhood been so far?
I enjoy being a mum. God has blessed me with two wonderful kids. It’s wonderful�though, tasking, stressful and sometimes depressing, especially when you are a working mum. But I try to create time to be with my kids no matter my busy schedule. I make sure I am always involved in my daughter’s school activities. It would interest you to know that I am my daughter’s lesson teacher. And I must appreciate my lovely mother for making life meaningful for me by teaching me so much; she has been a wonderful mother and grandmother.
What do you enjoy most about being a mother?
I admire watching my little baby bubble with life. Watching my first daughter grow is nothing short of a blessing from God. They give me joy and I celebrate motherhood whenever my daughter calls me mama. It’s a wonderful feeling looking at this creatures God has blessed me with; in fact, they are the best things in my life.
You are presently on set, could you tell us about the movie you are working on?
We are working on a movie entitled�Perfect Snake. I�am actually playing female lead. I love the role because it is one of my most challenging roles. In fact, the character is my direct opposite. She is a girl that doesn’t smile and is mean. She is a rich kid who does all her father’s dirty deals and is sexually involved with her brother. It’s been fun coming on set in the morning and driving home in the middle of the night.
Who is the perfect snake in the movie?
You will find out after watching the movie when it is released; I wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag.
There is this popular saying ‘no pain, no gain’. Have you had any experience in life that actually made you cry?
I actually cried the day I gave birth to my first child, Isabella. They were tears of joy. I held her and kissed her to appreciate the mercy and grace of God upon my life. And I also cried the day I lost my younger brother. And of course, I cried on my wedding day.
Why did you cry on your wedding day which should be your happiest?
Indeed it was a long journey. We dated for years before we got married on that fateful day, which was my happiest moment in life. My mother was filled with joy seeing her only daughter getting married to her soul mate. In fact, both families were elated.
When did you meet Tuface and how long have you been married?
I met my husband in 1999 and we started dating in 2002. We dated till we got married. Though, there were times we had differences during courtship but the bond we shared and our love for each other took us to the altar. We have been married for over two years and I feel like it’s been forever.
Your husband has been linked with rumours concerning women. How do you handle those moments, especially the recent one about him impregnating a banker?
I really don’t pay attention since I am married to a man that understands me. In fact, most times we laugh over these rumours. Any time such rumours come up in the media, my husband calls me immediately on the phone asking if I have seen what was written. And I reply that I have and we laugh over it and move on because we know that those rumours will not tear us apart. On the recent rumour about him impregnating a banker, I don’t know what they stand to gain with idle gossip. I had just delivered my baby, Olivia. She was barely two months old but we overcame it.
Could you share some of your labour room experiences?
The coming of my first baby was easier but my second baby was not easy. I was screaming and calling on God. I had my babies through�caesarean section. I appreciate God but I wish it was through normal delivery. I always remember the pains I had after their delivery because it’s not the normal way of giving birth but the major pains that go with CS. However, regardless of the process, I give God all the glory.
Have you ever felt like having your husband present in the labour room?
He was around during the delivery of my first baby though, he was not allowed into the theatre. He was 24 hours late for the delivery of my second baby. I was so angry with him but he apologised and I forgave him.
Which of the rumours published about your husband hit you hardest?
None, I just want gossips to leave us alone to enjoy our blissful lives together. We don’t disturb them, why are they disturbing our peace? And I also want to appreciate our fans for being there for us.
Most celebrities’ marriages break up. How are you able to enjoy a stable marriage?
I married my friend and we trust, love and respect each other so much. And that has remained the bed rock of our marriage.
Your husband has admitted that you are his African Queen. What actually attracted you to him?
I was very young when we started dating. Honestly, I can’t explain what it is but I just want to be around him always and it just grew into what it is today.
Was he your first love?
I wouldn’t answer this question but I think so.
Tell me what I want to hear, is he?
(smiles) He is my love.
How does your husband react after watching some of the romantic roles you acted including those where you had to kiss another man?
They are two different things but my husband has asked me not to act in bad movies. I am g lad to express my ability as a professional. And concerning playing romantic roles, my husband always say to me, ‘if you have to act a romance scene, you have to do it well or you don’t do it at all.’
Are you saying he is not a jealous guy?
(laughter) No. He is actually a very jealous husband.
How are you coping living with your step children?
I don’t have step children; they are my kids. They are innocent, smart and adorable kids. We have a good family relationship with our kids in America and Nigeria. Zion has a great sense of humour, he is always attached to his sister, Isabel; they are age mates and they always disagree to agree in love. It’s fun watching them stay together whenever they come to their family home. Honestly, we want our children to enjoy their childhood by the grace of God in unity and love. And I really appreciate their mothers for their great understanding and their father, for making our children his priority in life.
Your husband stated in an interview that he is done making kids. Do you still wish to have more kids?
(Smiles) That’s funny. God has blessed us with seven children so I think we have enough. But if God blesses us with one more child, who am I to say no.
Are you planning to produce a movie like your colleagues?
I am working towards producing a movie soon but aside that, my NGO would soon be lunched. I am working presently with a colleague and friend,�Tana Adelana. Our first project will be in Jakande Estate schools, located in Lekki. The objective is to assist pupils to have a comfortable environment for learning.
Do you also consider acting beyond Nollywood?
I will if the opportunity comes but I don’t have American accent and I don’t like pretending. If I am given an African woman’s role to play, why not? After all, Rita Dominic is now in Hollywood, which is a commendation for Nollywood.
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