Ego Boyo: Why I may Never Act Again
Ego Boyo, better known in the industry as Anne Haastrup, still rings a bell. Ego Boyo continues to be a household name even when she’s not on TV like some of her colleagues.
In the 90′s, the mother of three surfaced on the screen but this time in a movie titled Violated, her very first film, which she also produced. Directed by veteran filmmaker, Amaka Igwe, Violated caught the attention of many; and of course Ego’s acting prowess endeared her to a number of movie buffs. In an interview with MERCY MICHAEL, the actress who confirmed to have found a new love in movie production as against being in front of the camera, opened up on sundry issues. Excerpts:
I was in junior class in secondary school when you already attained limelight, and after all this while I must say you look quite graceful. What have you been doing?
I have been exercising, though I think most of it is in the genes. I guess I inherited it from my parents, but of course as you get older you have to focus on a lot of things, you have to eat the right things like lots of vegetables and a lot more fruits.
You also need to pay attention to exercise and make sure you take your makeup off at the end of the day as well as moisturise your skin. That’s really it. Drinking a lot of water also helps with cleansing. Once in a while I do facials but I don’t break out often, so there is really no need for facials. When I feel my skin needs a bit of treatment, I do go and have a facial but I think more than 50 percent of it is good genes.
What kinds of exercise do you do?
I do aerobics. Recently, a friend of mine talked to me about yoga. I want to try that because apart from the health benefits, it also helps the mind and soul. It relaxes, but mainly I do aerobics and I go to the gym.
If I get you right, you said you are done having kids. So what is motherhood like for you?
Motherhood, to me, I guess is the fulfillment of my dreams. I have three wonderful children and I love them dearly. They fulfill me.
How were you able to balance being a working mom with the task of motherhood?
I think in our industry, it is actually something that is a bit easier to manage because we don’t really work all the time. There are times when the job takes up all our time though. Our hours are not regular hours but then we also have all that time when we are not working.
I devote all that time to my children, dropping them off at school, taking them out. I would say I’ve been lucky. I haven’t had any problems with being able to juggle both. I have had good support from my family. Here in Nigeria, we have people to help. I’m not one to turn down help when it’s offered or when I can get it because I can’t do everything myself.
You are known to always be on braids. Is it that you don’t wear human hair?
I do, but people always say that. The thing is I went through a whole phase of human hair. You know women, we have those moments when we just want to have a particular kind of look. When I’m exercising or swimming, it is good to be on braids because then, with all the sweating and all, it doesn’t mess your hair.
I thought it was a case of not wanting to change a winning formula. If you do, does it work for you?
But then it works as well so as you said, you don’t really bother to change a winning formula. You just keep on with it. Every six weeks I go back to get it done.
It seems that after Checkmate, which brought you into limelight, you took a break from acting.
Well I haven’t really been in Nollywood. I have been doing more corporate works, not feature films. I have done a few short films, documentaries and adverts for clients. That is what I have been focusing on.
I try to keep my ears in there to see what is going on. I still get invited to these things because I haven’t left the industry. I still plan on doing films. I did a pilot for a soap opera early last year. I still work with quite a number of people in the industry and all of that.
Before you worked on this soap last year, what were you doing?
Before then, I was always doing corporate work. I have been doing corporate work since, I think, just after we did Violated. I really got into it when I set up my company, Temple Productions. We were doing rental of equipments and that sort of thing. It was more of that side of the business than being in front or right behind the camera. We were renting out equipments, working on post production for a number of films. So we’ve always been in the industry. The only difference is I have taken a quieter role, just doing my production, because really, it is only the actors and actresses that you keep seeing. You don’t have to see producers like me. We just do the work and send it out.
For someone who started with acting, was it marriage that took you off the screen?
I got married when I was acting Checkmate, so that wasn’t the case. From time, I had always wanted to produce, so when Amaka Igwe and I discussed Violated, I got my first job as a producer. It was just what I love to do. I love the whole ability to organise and see a project come together, practically from scratch, from reading the script the first time, to choosing actors and the actual shoot. I like all of that. Being an actor in a film, limits one. You come in, you do your part and then you leave. With production, I get to stay on for the whole run. I’m there from the beginning to the very end. I always liked that so when I got the opportunity, I took it and I stuck with it.
After Violated, what other movie have you produced?
I didn’t Act in any but I’ve produced Keeping Faith, To live Again and 30Days. I have been working. It is just that my films are not films that you see every year. I have long spaces in between them. In between all that space, I have always had different jobs. It is either a documentary for a client or a production of some sort for corporate clients. I’ve done quite a lot of work.
Is it right to say that you have a preference for soap operas than movies?
I like soaps. I definitely do, coming from where I started off. I think television is still a very large part of our lives as individuals. It is something that we watch with friends and family. It is something you watch every day. I don’t watch a movie everyday but at least I watch some sort of television. Of course, on television there are movies. It is just something I like but then I love films. I always want to do a film. I want to rush out there and do a film but most times you have to plan and ensure the money is there.
What has prevented you from rushing out there and making films?
I have slowed down because of the fact that there is really no market for our films, like a more structured distribution network where our films will go. One tends to end up thinking, if I release this film after spending so much money, where will it go? In the last five years, there has been a lot of progress in that direction though. It is not perfect but we are getting there.
That has given me hope that maybe this is time to do another film. Now also, I have the cinemas where I can go and release my film and people will see. Hopefully, at the same time, we are working on a distribution network for DVD’s.
Often we’ve had Nollywood forums, but don’t you think there has been too much talk and less work?
I think there is a lot of talking and not enough work, even though I think that it is still important to do the talking because eventually the work will come out. We just have to get our Act together. We just have to know exactly what we are doing. I don’t think it is too much. I think we should keep up the dialogue, meeting each other to see how we can progress.
If I’m correct, Violated was the last movie you acted. What are your thoughts on it?
It was a very nice production not only because of the excellence of the script which was written by Amaka Igwe. It was the group of people who worked with us. A lot of us had come out of that experience feeling like we were from Checkmate set because a lot of the people that were in Checkmate also were in Violated.
We all knew each other very well. It was a very comfortable, very family sort of set up. It was a really fun time. We laughed a lot. We made fun. I’m sure people will be rolling in their seats if they get to see the out takes from Violated. It’s a comedy on its own. It was a wonderful experience to have as a first film. It is the sort of experience I wish everyone could have. Unfortunately, we can’t always have that sort of experience.
For your calibre of actor, there is no doubt scripts would probably be falling at your feet. So, Why haven’t we seen you in movies?
Most of the offerings I had were roles that were either Anne Haastrup with another name, or the girl from Violated with another name. It wasn’t anything different or challenging. It was just me doing more of the same, what they have seen me do. So what’s the fun in that? It was Never enough to make me want to go back.
If I get you right, you’re done with acting?
I don’t know because it is something that I still think about. If somebody offers me something really fantastic, I might do it. If it is something challenging, very interesting, I might but as I said, nobody has. Everybody wants me to play the same person. Always the same person, Anne Haastrup, with a different name. I asked myself, if I did that for four years, so Why would I want to keep doing it in different films? It is very stereotypical. Until I find that one challenging role, I’m sticking with being a producer.
What is your dream role, if I may ask?
I want something that would challenge me, something very dramatic, a role that requires a lot of emotions to be played, somebody that had gone through so much, all of those reactions, adversity. I want something totally different from what I have ever done. I like to be able to play somebody something has affected so badly, psychologically that not even just their psyche but also their physical appearance is affected by that whole psychological trauma. So if I ever find a role like that, I could be tempted to go back.
You don’t seem active on the social scene. Why is that?
I do go to friends’ events but I’m not a socialite. You are not going to just find me at social events. Actually, the thing is, I get invited to premieres but there is always something. It’s either I’m not in town. Something always happens. I am hoping to be at The Meeting. They’ve told me all about it and I’m looking forward to being there by God’s grace on the 19th of October.
Name two Nollywood movies in recent time that you find interesting.
The last film I watched, which wasn’t exactly a Nollywood production, was during the African Movie Academy Awards. It was Akin Omotoso’s Man on Ground. I think that was the last film I watched and that was very good. Another film that I find interesting is Mamood Balogun’s Tango with me. There was another film that was quite amusing with Nse in it. I can’t remember, but it’s a recent one.
Apart from acting, what are your other interests?
I love reading. I’m always reading. I always have a book or two with me.
What was the last book you read?
It’s called The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. It was a very good book. And I’m now trying to read his other book called Red.
What did you find fascinating about the book?
The Museum of Innocence is about a young man and his quest for something which he eventually found. It wasn’t what he wanted when he found it though. It is that soul searching kind of thing. It was really fascinating and I enjoyed it. I read quite a lot of books at the same time. I am reading another book. Joan Haris is quite a popular writer.
I read both of them at the same time because with me, it depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m in the mood to read a certain kind of book so I then focus on that one. In the middle of it I may just decide I don’t want to keep reading it. If it gets heavy or too emotional or I get too involved, I just switch to one that is lighter. The Museum of Innocence took me a very long time because usually I’m very quick with books.
When you are not working, how do you unwind?
I read. I hang out with my younger son who is so interesting. My older children are all interesting, of course, but they are in school. I don’t see them as often as the youngest, who is at home. I talk to my older children on the phone, I Skype and I garden. Actually now I’m very obsessed with orchids. I have so many orchids and I’m obsessed with them. I have different colours.
I’m constantly growing them. So that’s my thing. I started gardening because I grew up with my mother who had growing fingers. Anything she touched grew but it Never was like that for me. Anytime I attempted it, it just Never worked. For some reason, I found out that gardening really calmed me. If I’m having one of these stressful days, I just go into my garden, get my hands into the soil and I feel much better.
When was the last time you took a romantic vacation?
Last week. I just came back
What was the trip like for you?
It was very nice. That’s all I can say.
Ego Boyo: Why I may Never Act Again
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