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    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    I Dates The Wrongest Guys, Still Have a Broken Shoulder to Show -Funmi Fiberesima




    Actress and one-time on-air-personality, an entertainment entrepreneur, Funmi Fiberesima started her foray into the world of make-believe on stage with the Rivers State Art and Culture group. She went on to star in soaps before she moved on to radio and TV production. The lead character in Dotun Taylor’s Egberun Maili. This is not an exaggeration as she has her hands in various aspects of entertainment. She is a producer, an actress, an On-Air-Personality (OAP) and an advocate of change. In this interview with Yejide Gbenga-Ogundare, Nigeria’s Tyler Perry, as she is called, speaks on her career, growing up, upcoming work, weaknesses and fashion preferences, among others sundry issues. Excerpts:

    Foray into television production and movies, and after sometime you left. Why?
    I don’t think it was short-lived. Like you know, I started from the stage. I was on stage from 1991-2003. And from 2003, I was the Assistant Coordinator of the Guild of Nigerian Actors, Enugu State Chapter. But I went back to school to do communication. But I never really left acting because every now and then I still got to help out students in the Theatre Art class with their costume work, worked behind the stage and all. But it’s just that communication helped me to make a transition from acting into producing.
    I started with soaps then, I did this Dotun Taylor’s movie, Egberun Maili where I was the lead character, that was the first movie in which I took a key role .
    When I started working in the communications industry, I was more of a producer. I got a job in 2009 or 2010 there about with TVC.
    They just started at that time. I was a producer. It was in TVC I got trained to be a producer. I was a producer on TV and I was also a producer on radio, Radio Continental 102.3. I kind of find my work on radio the nitty-gritty of the job. And so things just developed. I still am a consultant for African Radio Drama Association. So it’s not like I left the industry, but the industry is very, very divided, divided in the sense that the industry has pockets of other components that come together to make it one big tree. It’s not just acting, it’s not just producing, it’s not just directing; it’s a whole lot that comes together to make one big tree.

    How mistakes and impulsiveness affect my work.
    I wouldn’t want to talk about how many mistakes I made during the production of my latest work, Onikola, a film on female circumcision. I made so many and it’s just the grace of God that saw me through.

    On the movie, Onikola.
    Onikola like I said is a film on female circumcision but unlike other films, I just presented the matter in an open manner for people to make a decision. The film simply states that parents should allow their children to grow up and take the decision on whether to get circumcised or not. It should not be the parent’s decision. The film has many stars like the late Pa Fatai Rolling Dollars, Lola Alao, Muyiwa Londoner and a lot of others. I have great hopes on the movie because I produced this myself and also one of the cast. I was not just wearing a producer’s hat; I was also wearing an actor’s hat. I don’t think I want to direct because that is a talent that I think you have to be born with.

    Favourable feedback with Onikola, being your first
    I hope it will be able to give me the feedback that I need because ultimately you are producing for the audience hoping that they will be able to find their meaning in the expression of art that you have chosen. This is just me growing.

    Decision to produce your first movie in Yoruba language. What informed that?
    My mother is Yoruba and I was born in Lagos. Yoruba is my first language. My mother is from Ogun State. She’s from Okunola, less than two hours’ drive from Abeokuta. But my father is Rivers. Now that I’ve done something from my mother side you should be expecting something from my father’s side soon. But one thing that I think influences the way I see life is that I had an identity crisis.
    To my mother’s side, we were those Igbo children and to the father’s side we were those Yoruba children. You are never really, really accepted so much. I felt a lot of acceptance among strangers than I did at home, among my extended families. To my aunties and uncles I’m just always a Rivers girl, in fact they call me Omo Ajeokuta ma mumi, and to my Rivers’ aunties and uncle I’m just always a Yoruba girl. My father’s title is that man with Yoruba children because my mum passed on a long time. We are just Yoruba to them. Yoruba people don’t accept us, River people don’t accept us.
    Somehow it kind of allowed me the luxury of being attached to both cultures from an outsider point. I like to see myself as a blessed Yoruba girl that was blessed to have an extremely close relationship with the Rivers people. And then, I’m a blessed Rivers girl that was blessed to have extremely close relationship with the Yoruba people. So like Jesus would say, I’m neither Yoruba nor Rivers but I am Yoruba and Rivers.

    How old were you when your mother passed on?
    I was 15 going on 16. She had breast cancer.

    Learning to be a woman without mother?
    It made me value her presence more. My relationship with my mum was the type that you didn’t know her value until she was gone because I was always feeling like why won’t this woman just get off my case? And all of sudden there is nobody on your case and it was like where do I go? What do I do? When she passed on we relocated finally to Port-Harcourt. There, I was as free as a bird. I pretty much learnt everything I know by the grace of God.

    My greatest weakness and Mistakes as a Teenager
    I am impulsive. I take a lot of wrong decisions in many things and I make a lot of mistakes. My life as you see it today is a story of God’s grace because with the kind of mistakes I have made, I shouldn’t be here but it’s just God and that is why I love Him so much. For example, now, I am not dating or in any relationship. This is because I tend to date the wrong guys. I date the wrongest of guys and the reason for that is simple, every girl dates the wrong guys.
    It could have been worse but it wasn’t. And I thank God am still alive today. But even in that freedom it wasn’t like there was no one to tell me anything but it was more like with the Yoruba, when they give you instruction and you say no, they will beat you until you say yes, but with the Rivers people it’s not like that.
    They give you instruction and you say no, they are like’ you are on your own’. Do your thing, no problem. It was more like I experimented with not having any kind of authority, later my father put his foot down, shipped me to my grandma place to go and stay. Imagine me, I don’t understand Okrika, my grandma doesn’t understand English; she only understands Okrika, so there was communication crisis and once I say anything she doesn’t understand, she starts to cry, accusing me of abusing her. It wasn’t funny. Every night when my dad comes back she reports me and he beats me, but one day my dad witnessed that scenario, that was when he now believed me. I pretty much had to learn my language.

    On Nollywood, Actors, Producers, Competition in the industry. What do you intend to bring to the table?
    First and foremost I would like to say, a lot of the actors that are producers now, it has been like a natural progression for them. They’ve been in the entertainment industry long enough. I think it takes a lot of guts. It’s takes a lot of courage. Haven said that, you will agree with me that Nollywood won’t have been where it is today if people like Uche Jombo and the rest did not take the bull by the horns.
    How can I forget Kunle Afolayan? If people like him did not take the bull by the horns we still would have been doing those wishy-washy films. You understand what I’m saying. So they began to bring the spark and the quality that was not there before. They have moved Nollywood further and that in itself is something commendable. Then, speaking on what I am bringing to the table. I am hoping to be able to tell stories that will appeal to probably the international audience, doing quality stories, something better or as good as what actors that have now become producers are doing because what they are doing is something worthy of emulation if you ask me.
    I’m hoping that I will be able to mirror the traditional Nigerian spirit, to showcase the indomitable spirit of the Nigerian woman and child. To tell stories that can probably change or influence policies, stories that touch on the fabric of the Nigerian society. If I’m able to do that I will be very grateful to God.
    So this is me saying that I want to be creative. I want to tell stories that are part of our everyday life. I’m going to be telling a lot of stories that have to do with my life because I’ve had quite a journey myself. I’m not going to limit myself. I’m going to be very creative.

    Is your come-back going to be more of producing than acting
    It’s going to be a lot of me doing everything. Don’t be surprised if you see a film production, Funmilayo Cameraman. It’s going to be me doing everything but producing is something that has been in my heart. I didn’t know it at a time, but doing it I know it’s something that my heart has longed for, for a long time. When I was unsatisfied with acting that was probably what I was looking for but I didn’t know it at the time.

    Describe the mind of a producer?
    The mind of a producer is eternally creative. The mind of the producer is like the womb of a mother. The child now is your story and then the process of writing it and producing it could be likened to the process of delivery the mother goes through. And when you now produce and you premiere it it’s like naming ceremony. It’s like the womb of a mother; and the mind of the producer knows what is best for the production.

    My next assignment.
    I wish to do more films. I want to be able to reflect the Nigerian spirit in my productions especially that of the woman and child. I want to tell stories that can bring change to policies.
    I want to tell stories that are part of our everyday life. I’m going to be telling a lot of stories that have to do with my life because I’ve had quite a journey myself. I’m not going to limit myself. I’m going to be very creative. And now, I’m going to be doing a lot of everything, though producing is my passion.

    Coping with acting films in Yoruba
    My mother is a Yoruba woman and I was born in Lagos. Yoruba is my first language. My mother is from Ogun State. She’s from Okunola, less than two hours’ drive from Abeokuta, while my father is from Rivers State. I speak Yoruba fluently.
    To people on my mother’s side, we were those Igbo children and on my father’s side, we were those Yoruba children. You were never really, really accepted. I felt a lot of acceptance among strangers than I did at home, among my extended families. To my aunties and uncles I’m just always a Rivers’ girl, in fact they call me Omo Ajeokuta ma mumi, and to my Rivers’ aunties and uncles, I’m always a Yoruba girl. My father’s title is that man with Yoruba children because my mum passed on a long time ago. So, the Yoruba people didn’t accept us neither did the River’s people accept us. This allowed me the luxury of being attached to both cultures from an outsider’s point of view. I like to see myself as a blessed Yoruba girl, that was blessed to have an extremely close relationship with the Rivers people. And then, I’m a blessed Rivers girl that was blessed to have extremely close relationship with the Yoruba people.

    Definition of style
    My definition of style is not complicated; it is simply allowing my personality to shine through my dress sense and whatever I do. I am generally a lover of colours. My zodiac sign is Pisces and music and colours lift our spirits, so, a rhythmic pattern can be tied to all I would call style.

    Beauty regimen
    It is not very regular. But every time I can, I exfoliate at night with an apricot scrub and slather a generous amount of honey on my face for at least an hour before having my bath. I maintain my skin by using Shea butter. It is good for the African skin and hair. You can fix the smell with your body mist and other sweet smelling body sprays oils and perfumery.

    Opinion on toning.
    Toning is good when you know how to do it and when to stop but today we call bleaching toning. That is what I do not like, especially the dark knuckles, I find them very distasteful.

    My take on cosmetic surgery.
    Cosmetic surgery is fantastic when you find a great surgeon and a disaster when you don’t . So, if you must fix something you don’t like, do your research well. I am a hundred per cent supporter of cosmetic surgery. In this day and age, you don’t have to live with the self consciousness that comes with being identified with body flaws (most times, people are identified with their body flaws). If there is any part of your body that you don’t like, it would be plain stupid for you to endure it, such people can go for cosmetic surgery.

    On provocative dressing.
    My take on that is, don’t dress that way if you don’t want to provoke people. Rihanna can dress that way because she has got body guards that would keep out the type of people that her dressing would provoke to do to her things that she doesn’t like to her. If you dress like her and you don’t have her type of money to pay for her type of body guards, then you are stupid, plain and simple. Logic should guide your dressing to keep you as safe as you can possibly be from self provoked bodily harm.

    What I won’t be caught dead wearing.
    I won’t be caught dead in carnival clothing especially the bra and panties type. No, never!!!!

    How I got out of abusive relationships.
    Yes and I still have a broken shoulder to show for it. But I got my pound of flesh back. I stayed in the relationship and worked on myself until I didn’t love him again. It was a decision that I was not going to love this person anymore. I got my revenge when I woke up one morning and decided the relationship was over. The guy was surprised. He begged for one year but I didn’t feel sorry for him. Every now and then, I get long ‘‘am sorry’’ text messages. I didn’t even bother to read them.

    On whether I still believe in love.
    I believe in love but I believe that love is good when you find somebody that loves himself. Any man that loves himself is capable of being a good man to love.



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