Ini Edo is smart, beautiful and without a doubt, talented. One of Nollywood's bests, Ini came to limelight in 2000, and has over 50 movies to her credit. The confident actress in this exclusive interview, opened up on her marriage to US-based Philip Ehinagwina,her charity foundation and her thriving acting career. Excerpts
In the last three to four years, your career has continued to blossom with endorsements as well as producing your own movies, what would you say is the secret of your success?
For me it is simply hard work and the grace of God. I generally succeed in the things I do because I work towards getting things right. I don't jump into things because others are doing it. I have what it takes to succeed in production and I also have very reliable hands I work with, that way, I know that I am 90 per cent covered.
Did you feature new actors from your home state, Akwa Ibom in the movie?
Of course, I did. Other than the main actors, all the others are from Akwa-Ibom. The emphasis is not really about the people from my state but the story line.
There must have been a lot of challenges during the making of the film?
Rehearsing for the dance was really tasking that, at a point I almost gave up. Moving from one location to another was another big hassle as the movie was shot in Lagos, Uyo and Cross River states.
Controlling the crew was very tasking as the foreign guys who manned the cameras brought in from the US have their style and manner of approaching certain issues which is not in consonance with ours. It was altogether a good experience.
The concept of dance movie is not common in Nollywood. How did you come about that idea?
Yes, you are right, but at the same time dance is one of the key elements of the African culture which has not been properly explored. My culture is all about dance, my people love dance a lot and I felt that this is a concept that has been overlooked, so I decided to plunge into it.
How did you come up with the title?
(Laughs) Emem Isong gave the title and it sounded really cool, so we settled for it. That is what the movie is basically all about; in life people take their chances without an assurance of the outcome. It is all about your everyday life; you get involved in certain things without being 100 percent sure of the result, until you finish it.
Can you tell us about your foundation?
I launched it this year, it is called ‘Teach One Save A Thousand’, it has to do with my job as a United Nations Ambassador and partly as an obligation. I decided to focus on under privileged children by sending them to school, improve their standard of living and their environment.
You seem to have done a good job managing your career and marriage at the same time that none does not interfere with the other?
(Laughs) You think so?
Yes and everybody also thinks so…
Tell us the secret?
Well, it is not easy at all especially since my husband is based abroad. I was actually supposed to leave for the United States last month (February) but I got so preoccupied that I had to call my husband and ask if he could come over.
Eventually, I had to plead with him before he agreed that I should come at a later date. It is not easy but he is very understanding and he appreciates my job a lot. He knows I work very hard, so we have a good understanding and we communicate often.
Many people would be surprised, especially your critics, that Ini Edo’s marriage is waxing strong. What has been your staying power?
I have actually been able to hold on to my marriage. It depends on how you set your priorities and not get carried away by the whole fame thing. You should know where to be at the appropriate time and where not to be at all. I just create a balance between my career and my personal life.
Like I said earlier my husband is based in the United States of America, but we see each other all the time. He just left Nigeria in January, and I should be with him in the US soon we shuttle. It is either he comes to Nigeria or I go over to the US.
How does he react to controversies about you?
He knows that I am not a bad person, he knows me well enough not to bother about the stories, all he does is call me up to find out what is happening.(laughs) Talking about the scandals, my husband knows me more than any other person.
Sometimes, when they say things about me and we are together at such moments, he would look at me and say; are you the same person that people are talking about? He knows what I can do.
Are you in anyway thinking of quitting acting, so as to create time for your home?
I don’t think I will quit acting. I might divert to other areas that has to do with movies. My being involved in the entertainment world has not really affected my home, so there is nothing like calling it quits.
What kind of person are you off the screen?
I think I am just the girl next door. I am a very simple person. People sometimes get the wrong perception of you, basically because they judge you from afar. I get baffled when people say, “Ini is a snob. I greeted her and she did not respond.”
How can someone walk up to you and say hello and you would not acknowledge the person I used to wonder. It just doesn’t sound right to me.
What’s the secret of your youthful look, you seem to look younger each passing year? Read More Below
Really? Thanks, that is a compliment but I think it is nature, the plump physique, baby face and all but I workout as a routine, I also choose what I eat. Then, for my skin I use only moisturisers, I avoid things that tamper with my colour.
The truth is I like it more when I am chubby. I scrub my body often. For make-up, I buy randomly. I love Mac products. I love bags that look chic. I am not much of a jewelry person but I like looking sexy. I love to look simple and also wear what suits my personality.
Are you a designer freak?
Yeah! For bags and shoes
Which is your favourite outfit?
I love short dresses with a little fit on my waist
Because I love to flaunt my legs, which is why I love it when I get fatter because my legs get fuller (laughs).
It is now three years since you got married...
(Cut in) oh, so you have been counting the years? Na wa for you o…
I am not the only one counting; Ini, people out there, especially your fans are counting.
It is three years and so what?
When should we expect Ini Junior or Philip Junior?
Well it is all about planning and having the right timing for it. My husband and I have discussed it.
We have an understanding that the timing is not right for now. I do not also want to say we are deciding on the right time for it, because nobody has the right to do so but God. Let me just say it will be very soon.
How many kids are you planning to have?
Let us leave that for now…
Any regrets being an actress?
I don’t have any regrets being an actress. In fact, I feel I am actually blessed being in this profession. I love acting, despite the negative aspect that comes with it. I don’t think I would have loved to do any other thing.
But, sometimes, I am bothered about the things I read in the tabloids, especially if they are not true. I have taken some legal steps in time past.
That is the only way I could fight back. In all, I intend to be an actress for a long time. Even if I am not acting, I would be in the movie business.
Credit: Ajibade Alabi, Culled from Leadership