In a recent interview, Mercy Aigbe-Gentry talked about her fashion taste, her upcoming projects, and her dad’s attitude to Nollywood.
Excerpts from the interview below.
Where would you say you got your looks from?
I would say I got my looks from my mother. If you see my mother’s picture, I am sure you will know the answer to the question.
How would you describe your taste?
When it comes to my taste, I try to be very simple and not overdo it. I can say I am in between. I am not a very simple person and at the same time, I try not to go overboard. I don’t wear things that don’t suit me; I wear thing that I am comfortable in.
How long does it take you to dress?
It depends on where I am going. If I am going to a party, it will take me longer. Basically, I’ll say it takes me about an hour to get dressed. The funny part of it is that if I have somewhere to go, the night before, I’ll bring out like three clothes and some shoes to choose from. So, it makes it easier for me the next morning.
Do you ask your husband to help you choose what to wear?
Yes, I do. Trust me, they are tired of me -my husband and my daughter. My daughter will tell me, ‘Mummy it is okay’ while my husband will say something like ‘Darling, just choose one, they all look great on you’.
What are you working on?
I just released a movie titled, ‘Komfo’. But right now, we are working on the concluding part of my movie, ‘Osas’. It is titled ‘Osas reloaded’. I am also working on a series soap opera that will be in pidgin English and it will also feature some notable faces in the industry.
How did you come up with the idea for your movie, ‘Osas’?
I got inspired on the set of ‘Papa Ajasco’. I was called by Wale Adenuga to be a part of the’ Papa Ajasco’ cast. Before then, I had never done comedy and when I was called, I asked myself if I could really make people laugh. I love challenges; when I was on set, I discovered that people that were behind the camera were laughing. So, it was then I knew I could make people laugh. I wanted to do a movie that I could use to reach out to my people because I am from Benin (Edo State). I just want people to know that there is a girl from Benin here even though I am more popular in Yoruba movies. At the same time, I did not want to leave my Yoruba fans and audience behind, so I just had to fuse the Benin language with Pidgin. I love pidgin. I am an Edo girl, so I love pidgin. After English, I can say pidgin is the next most popular language in Nigeria, so it was fun shooting ‘Osas’. It took me three months to shoot the movie.
Is it true that ‘Osas’ is an imitation of Funke Akindele’s ‘Jenifa’?
I actually heard that before ‘Osas’ came out. I think when people saw ‘Osas’, they had a different perspective. They said it before ‘Osas’ came out when they saw the promo. ‘Osas’ is a comedy and both are played by popular females in the industry. People just assumed. Yes, there are similarities, like the university setting, but I think that is about it.
Is there any rift between you and Funke Akindele?
No, there is nothing like that between us. We spoke about two weeks ago and on her birthday too. We are good friends and colleagues. People just come up with different stories because they know that controversy sells. We are friends.
Why don’t you feature in English movies?
I did not set out to be more popular in Yoruba movies. To start with, I am a thespian; I am a University of Lagos-trained theatre artiste. I can say it is providence. I get called up by English movie producers but anytime they called me, I was always on set shooting a Yoruba movie. With time, because I am also a producer, I will not limit myself to just producing Yoruba movies. We are working on an English movie titled ‘Taken’; we are going on set soon. I started with the English genre; I did some movies before I crossed over to Yoruba and got very popular. I used to tell my husband that when I started with Yoruba, I was not really fluent in the language, not to talk of reading the scripts. But I am good with language and very passionate about my job. With time, I got better and now I am a professional in speaking the language.
Is it true that there was a time your father did not want to pay your school fees because you chose acting as a career?
My father was of the school of thought that artistes then were layabouts. He actually had something against female artistes because he thought they were promiscuous and that they found it difficult getting married. That was what he thought. I was in the polytechnic; I was about 17 years old then.
What does he think about your career now?
My father and I are very close. When we talk, I tease him, I remind him that he did not want me to act but now I am married and still working. Thank God I am not disappointing him. He is very proud of me now. Anytime he sees me on posters, he calls me and prays for me. He only complains because he doesn’t really understand Yoruba very well. He is not so fluent, so he complains that he always reads the subtitle. He asks why I can’t do English movies so that it will be easy for him to watch. When he saw Osas, he was very happy. I am sure he did not know that I was going to come up with something like that. He was elated and very proud of me. He just kept saying that I should do English movies.
What did your father want you to be?
He wanted me to be an accountant. I love making my own money and spending my money. There is always this pride you feel when spending money that you made yourself. I was very good in mathematics when I was in school. I was very brilliant. He thought that because I was excellent in mathematics, I would be a very good accountant. I have an OND in financial studies. I was supposed to go for my HND but I decided to go for direct entry. I wanted to do what I had a passion for. There is this fulfillment that one gets doing what makes one happy.
Can you buy a handbag for N5m?
I don’t know. I cannot say the amount I can spend on an item. I love fashion. One thing about fashion is that when you see something you like, if you don’t buy it, you’ll not have peace of mind till you get it, no matter the cost. That is the kind of person I am, and that is why I cannot say how much I can spend on an item. Most times when I see things I like and I have the money, I buy. I am working hard and making my money. If it makes me happy, why not get it? We only have a life to live. At the same time, I also know that there are people that I can reach out to and put a smile on their faces. So what I do is find a way to balance both.
How about the N80m mansion your husband is reportedly building in Ikeja?
I don’t want to comment on that.
When you read negative reports about yourself, true or false, how do you feel?
At times, they actually get to me; I will not lie about it. I am an emotional person. Before the story about my husband and I fighting broke, I had actually not had any scandal like that. When the story broke, I was shocked and asked myself why someone would do such to a fellow human being. The story just kept buzzing everywhere and I felt very bad. It got to me. Before then, I thought it was all part of the job, that whatever they wrote was their business. What pained me most about the story was that my daughter came back from school and told me that her classmates asked her if the story was true, if her daddy and I fought. It was painful because she is a girl and someday she is going to get married. My father-in-law called me to ask me if it was true. That is why I had to do a video debunking the claims.
How did your husband feel when he saw it?
He felt very bad because the story also indicted him, saying that he was a wife beater. It painted him as a bad person but in all, I thank God that my husband was with me all through. He knew there was no iota of truth in the story. He also learnt that not all stories were true. That particular story actually got to me. Thank God it has passed, I am waxing stronger and my marriage is still strong.
Do you still have that controversial dress in your wardrobe?
After the story broke, I called my designer and said, ‘Tokunbo, that cloth you made for me, did you see the story?’ Anytime I see the dress, I have mixed feelings, I laugh and feel somehow. I have never worn it after that day; it has a story attached to it. You know the thing about these dresses once you wear them on the red carpet, that is it.