Posted by Tor Acka on
Weeks back, news filtered into the country that one of our own, Ene Oloja, a gifted actress who in the 80s kept many Nigerians glued to their television sets, is hitting the headline in Hollywood in a Jody Foster movie, The Brave One.
Weeks back, news filtered into the country that one of our own, Ene Oloja, a gifted actress who in the 80s kept many Nigerians glued to their television sets, is hitting the headline in Hollywood in a Jody Foster movie, The Brave One. For Ene, who has been missing from the tube for nearly 20 years, it was a miracle she got the role. She spoke with Correspondent, Tor Acka, in Lafia on her role, the rough road to the top, politics and all she’s been doing all this while. Excerpt:
Congratulations on the big breakthrough into Hollywood. Can you tell us more about your role in the film?
My role (Udo Josai) was that of an immigrant neighbour of Jodie Foster (Erika Baine), who befriends the heir and becomes her confidant. Udo Josai (my role) is the only character Erika Baine (Jodie Foster) confides in regarding the murder she committed. Because of the peculiar circumstances around Erika Baine, Josai uses her post-genocide experience to sew up her injuries and provide immediate medical attention in assisting the character to elude the police for as long as possible, and even going as far as covering up blood evidence that would have aroused suspicion and a barrage of questions from other neighbours.
How did you get involved in the film?
How I got involved in The Brave One was God’s miracle, and I'm not kidding! The story is too long to tell right now, but it was real miracle from the Almighty Himself, and pretty similar to how I got involved in Cock Crow At Dawn (the soap opera that made her in Nigeria). This was one good example of God's weaving pattern of my life in all He has done for me and brought me through. This too, I know, will be used for His ultimate purpose. How? I don't know. We'll see. What I do know is that I am totally submissive to His will.
Can you also tell us a bit of what you have been doing since you left for the United States?
I concentrated on raising my son, St. Jermaine, and making sure I provide a home and a Christian atmosphere for him to grow in, in addition to ensuring that my other extended family responsibilities are addressed as best as possible. In a nutshell, trying to find a way to live.
Have you been involved in any film before in the U.S.?
No, but I was minimally involved in the theatre a bit. A group of five artistes from Nigeria, Jamaica, South Africa and Guyana did come together in the early '90s to compile a thought-provoking work on the immigration experiences of black people from the Diaspora to New York. The film industry in the United States is the most difficult career field to break into even for indigenes, let alone artistes from other countries around the world. The machinery of the U.S. film industry is controlled by a gamut of interlocking factors that make a breakthrough near impossible. However, you know the saying, "with God, nothing is impossible" and that's where my breakthrough comes from. This movie was certainly a miracle from God and I have faith that God will use this to open up an avenue for inclusion of African artistes resident in the U.S. in serious Hollywood productions. We are striving for career fulfillment like everyone else, bubbling with our own stories and experiences to add to the human experience worldwide. Hopefully, we'll get better opportunities.
Is there anything you want to say to Nigerians?
Yes! To Nigerians, I say, until such a time that a Nigerian citizen is first in the conduct of all our affairs nationally and internationally, we will never get anywhere, and we will continue to wallow in poverty. It is time for all of us to wake up, stand up and say enough is enough! There should never be a time ever again where our Nigerian children are begging for bread while billions of naira or dollars or pounds meant for their welfare is being pumped into the welfare of other people's children in Switzerland, UK, USA and other such countries. There should never be a day again when a Nigerian is looking for a job and is refused the job in any Nigerian outfit, but that same job is given to a foreigner, most often than not less qualified! Only in Nigeria and with Nigerians that this kind of behaviour prevails.
Yes, to Nigerians, I want to say love each other and make a Nigerian first in everything; until we learn to do that, like America and other nations do, we are guilty of handing to our children the kind of legacy you would not even wish your worst enemy. We should all wake up to this reality. Government and the people are one and we must work together to bring about positive change in the country and use our gamut of blessings to improve the lives of Nigerians. There should never be a situation where our children graduate from the universities and cannot find a job. What happened to job creation? What kind of a future can they ever hope to have? Why can't we harness all the talents we have been blessed with and use all our gifts to truly create a great nation?
There is no reason for any Nigerian child or adult to lack anything. We have everything; why do we enrich others and continue to impoverish ourselves and our own? We need to halt this trend. We needed to halt it a long time ago! We all have to wake up, sit up, stand up and do whatever it takes to make a Nigerian number one before any other.
What about your fans who have missed you all this years?
And to my fans, I say, I have missed you all too. Thank you for all your support and especially your prayers. I ask you to remember me in your daily prayers always. May God bless each and every one of you! Always hold firm onto Him, no matter what is thrown your way. He surely is faithful, His promises are sure. I am a living testimony.
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