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But Empress says all the lesbian stuff is just the figment of some jobless guy’s not-so-rich imagination. "It is a product of warped minds", she assured us. "It is not only that I am a lesbian, they said I am multiple men person and a kleptomaniac. But it is not true", she says.
Acting runs in my family
Beside all this distractions however, Empress is one hell of a star. And she’s been around a little while now. The dark-skinned, stary-eyed, all-feminine bomb exploded unto the scene in 1995 and since then has been able to hold her head high in the industry. Of course whatever she lacks, she can always dig dip into her veins to bring out from the genes - for acting runs in the family. Two of her siblings were already in the profession before her.
"We are five in number. Three of us are into acting. My brothers were into it before me. I went out with my brothers one day to a rehearsal in Surulere and the girl that was supposed to play a particular role did not come and I was asked to stand in for her. After, the director called me and asked if I was interested in acting, I said yes and got the role. But my father never wanted me to be an actress because of the negative things one get to hear about actresses. But when he saw one of my movies, he said I should just give it a try. But my mother has always been there for me".
An actress’s lifestyle
There is a stigma that goes with actresses in Nigeria that unnerves Empress: the Imo state-born actress is not happy with the belief that actresses are promiscuous. And she is ready to do battle on this turf. "It depends on the factor you are looking at it. I believe, as an actress you have every right to marry or date an actor. It happens everywhere, hospitals, banks even in your office. It’s just that we are in the limelight and people tend to say bad things about us. If an actress wants to go out with a colleague, I believe there is no problem to it. One has to follow his or her heart in this".
Sleeping to the top
"I hear a lot of cases of actresses sleeping with a director in order to get a role, but I always say that if you don’t have it there is nothing you can do about it. If you want to cheapen yourself to get a role and it came out in the movie with you not doing well, then you have yourself to blame. Acting is not something you jump into, it’s something that lots of people see and commend your worth and say yes she is doing well’. But you can not put a square peg in a round hole".
So has Empress slept with a director for a role she desperately wanted?, you ask.
" I am not supposed to be answering that question. Nobody you actually ask that question would ever tell you yes’, she has done it before, but I can boldly say I’ ve not done it before".
Come to my room
Asked the English undergraduate if directors have sexually harassed her and she said: "Of course, a lot of time. (Keeps mute) look, I really don’t want to talk about it, but it’s a normal thing: a director sees you and asks you out but it also depends on you and how you were brought up. It’s normal thing, you are on set, somebody comes to you and tells you that he has this script, if you want to play the lead, come to my room… if you want to take part in it come to my room. You know, normal harassment, threats and if you want this or that come to my room. But men! It does not get to me because I am very lively and easy going person, those things don’t really bother me. I will look in your eyes and tell you, you have to grow up and that you have a long way to go. I see it as empty threats. One thing people always say is that my brothers are always there for me. But I’ve never done any movie with my brothers because they are directors. Ever since I did my first movie, they said ; Okay, Empress you can stand on your own’. I only meet them when I get a script and ask what they think of it and if I should go ahead and do it".
First time on screen
Unlike many of her colleagues, Empress said she was excited the first time she worked with already made stars. "I was more excited than nervous. It was not really new to me because I always go with my brothers and has always wanted to be on the screen. The first time I played along side Ngozi Nwosu and Olu Jacobs. I played their daughter and the encouragement I got from them is something worth mentioning. They helped me climb the ladder".
The Girls Hotel star said she is yet to do anything challenging. "At the moment, I’ve not done anything challenging. I want to do something away from the Nigerian home video kind of thing. So I’ve not seen any of the things I have done as being challenging, is normal playing somebody’s daughter/student or bad girl. I am yet to hold life guns and shoot with live bullets, jump a storey building and all. I want to do something that would blow peoples mind".
I am not in any relationship
"I am not in any relationship. Having a boyfriend is not compulsory. I’ve noticed that relationship takes a lot of your time and I am somebody who loves flying and be free and I love to be with my brothers. I am not that kind of person that says I want a tall, rich and dark guy. It is a spiritual thing, once you meet the person that is going to be your partner you will know. I want a God fearing man and right now I’ve not found him. I am looking for a true friend and he is looking for me. Some people call it boyfriend, lover or husband but I call it true friend. So I am looking for my best friend, if I get to find him I no go waste time waka go church, I am not getting younger, and if God willing I should be able to walk down the aisles very soon". She said with a far away look in her eyes
Filmography: Last Girl Standing, Love Of My Life, Missing Angel, Dr Damien, A Date with the Queen, Church In Crisis, Dear Sister, House Arrest, Lake of Fire, Shackles Of Death, She Devil, The Holy Cassanova, The Pastor and the Harlot, The Untold, Thorns Of Love, When Love Dies, You Broke My Heart and Thorns of Love.
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