THE elegant, intelligent and sexy actress, Empress Njamah, who had, gladdened the hearts of her fans through movies, finally opened up in the cause of her break up with popular musician, Timaya.
Most people consider you as elegant, what is the secret?
The truth is that the Lord has been good to me. A lot of people don’t understand that if you are a Christian, you need a backup, a back-up in the sense that whatever you do, wherever you go, don’t forget that God’s given you life. He’s given you good health and you should be grateful. I’m a religious person, I embrace Christ, that is why everything fall in place for me. I don’t go out of my way, I just do what I have got to do. I get a lot of complements from people about my looks and my dress not just my fans but people I meet on the street. I’m not a vogue person, I just try to put on something comfortable. I hardly go out, I haven’t been to any club for about two years. I love to do my thing, I love to drink out with friends and chat about ourselves, how to make money and how to make the nation better. I have realized that each time I attend occasion, I must be conspicuous. A lot of people call me Lady Ga Ga (laughs), I really don’t know how that came about. It could be because I always wear white hair. I have come to realize that if you want to be successful, you have to put God first, and that’s my secret.
You are also regarded as one of the best dressed actresses, who makes your dresses? Where do you get them?
Oooh, they did something in Abuja and I was invited. I was told that I had been nominated for the Best Dressed Actress. I told them I won’t come because I was going to the US but they insisted, I had to change my ticket. Let me tell you something about dress sense, a lot of people try to do things that are en vogue and they get it wrong. Like fat people who put on tight leggings and wear a short top, it doesn’t work. Dress sense is wearing something that will suit you, never put on something that is incompatible with you, something that will take you time to adjust. Most times I sketch my designs. I’m really very crazy. I have three tailors that understand my taste and give me what I want. Basically, I don’t like to wear things I probably will see on the next person. I take my time to choose the cloth I wear. I could put like five outfits on the floor before I make a choice of the one I will wear out. I like coming out in something that is different. If you have noticed, I hardly come out but anytime I do, I come out differently. I don’t like to be the girl next door, I love doing my own things. I do my sketching and people would sew them.
Are you saying you are starting a fashion line soon?
A lot of people don’t understand what it means to have a fashion line, it is not just to call tailors and they begin to sew for you and then you open a shop. It is more than that. You have to be crazy, you have to be artistic, your head needs to be scattered. If you really want to have a fashion line you should do something different. There are so many things I am working on and I really don’t want to let them out until it is out. But creating a fashion line is part of it.
How much does it cost you to look good?
I don’t go out of my way to look good and its really not cheap for me to look good. You can tell from my outfit. The cost of my looks depends on the occasion. I have bought a dress of £1,400, I used it for one of the AMMA awards. We say we want to be like Hollywood, we can’t be like them by looking disorganized, arrogant and haggard. If you are a celebrity, let people celebrate you. If you want to step on a red carpet, step on it the right way. If I have such money I would, but if I don’t I will cut my coat according to my material at that time. I saw the dress in UK, I liked it, it was beautiful and I bought it. It doesn’t cost me much to look good. We make the money why not spend it. Am I going to spend it in the grave? I have to look good anytime I step out.
We don’t see your face as often as before, why is it so? Did you take a break?
Not seeing my face does not mean I have stopped acting. It’s just that there are so much tribalism, clique, there is so much square pegs in round holes in the industry. There is so much politics in Nollywood. I am happy I joined when it was Nollywood, when we had the round pegs in the round holes. I’m happy I started with a lot of people I still look up to till today. My first major movie was Girls Hostel, which I did with Uncle Olu Jacobs, Ngozi Ezeonu, Alex Lopex, Uche Jombo. That was when the industry was still hale and hearty. Right now, there are harassments and all that. I will not go out of my way to take anything less to do a movie. I get scripts here and there, lovely scripts. But if the pay is not good, I’m sorry I can’t settle for less. I have paid my dues and I don’t think I should be begging for roles, which a lot of people do nowadays. Its not about being seen everywhere, if you are seen everywhere, there should be something you have to show for it. You can’t be seen everywhere and you have nothing to show for it. I do other stuffs, I do interior decoration. I’m just working on one right now, for a hotel in Lagos, I just finished one in Calabar. So, I don’t really need to be loud for people to say, ‘Oh yes.’ As long as I can put food on my table. Do you know I do bridal make-up? I have a job tomorrow, I got this job from the last one I did. I don’t need an office to do that. Everything will fall in place. I would rather not love to be seen in movies and not have anything to show for it. No, no. I will be working on a movie next month in Abuja. It’s a beautiful script and the pay is okay. We are shooting in Abuja and UK. So, I would rather do ‘one is one’. It’s never been my style to be everywhere anyway.
Do you have plans of making your own movies soon?
I have done two scripts, I have done two movies. I did Liberian Girl, I experimented in the first one and I perfected in the second one, it’s been good. I’m trying to work on something else too, I want to shoot outside the country. When I finish, I will premiere it, you guys will be there.
What has been your greatest challenge as a celebrity?
I face challenges everyday. If you are a celebrity, you face challenges, as long as your face is everywhere. So, I wouldn’t just start counting. Even when I’m doing a script or when I’m traveling, I face challenges. The most important thing is how to handle them and I handle them very well.
We heard that sometime ago, some people wanted you dead through a boil that almost took one of your legs. Do you have anything to say about that?
(Laughs) Una sef hear am? Something like that happened, I was shooting in Ekiti and a girl that was supposed to play the role, I’m not going to call her name for obvious reasons. She had wanted the role by all means but ended up not having it, irrespective of all she did, and didn’t do. I told you from the beginning that I’m a spiritual person. I take my time in doing things. I have a gift from God, I can see things before they happen. I was shooting and a spiritual bullet was shot at me, in the form of an ant. I was shooting with Jim Iyke, we just finished a scene, I was supposed to change my outfit when an ant bit me. Before I could get to the bathroom and back, my leg was swollen. Something also bit me in my mouth (my laptop is not here I would have shown you) and it was swollen in less than ten minutes. I was limping. My colleagues helped me massage it and brought about three cups of puss and then we went to the hospital. I told them that it wasn’t ordinary but the doctor tried to convince me that it was a type of ant and bla, bla, bla. I called my Bishop and I was asked to come immediately because a night before, my mum had given a revelation about me, but since my phones were off due to lack of electricity in the hotel we lodged, she couldn’t get through to me. When I came back to Lagos, I went to Reddington, they told me they would have to amputate my leg that it has been there for two months. I said no, it just happened like a week ago. I know who sent it. When you are in Nollywood, you just have to be very, very prayerful. I was able to overcome the situation by doing what I had to do. It was an experience. I was limping, I couldn’t walk, my legs was swollen, I still have the scar (shows the leg). If you are for God, of course, He will definitely take care of a lot of things. I did a lot of prayers. The person was revealed to me. I saw what happened. You just need to have Christ. It really happened but I scaled through.
Why do you think they failed?
If you have a back up, you can never break up. If you are for God no one can be against you. Though we sin everyday, don’t ever forget to thank God for keeping your life, even though you know you have sinned and come short of His glory. Always give God all the glory. I’m spiritual, that’s why they failed. And they will continue to fail.
Why do good things come your way?
It boils down to the fact that I have love for Christ. Most times in my encounter with people, they confess to me that they had made some wrong judgements about me but meeting me has changed it. They tell me I’m a nice person and all that. Some of them tell me I’m lucky, I’ve got this and that. When things are for me, they come easily. I’m a happy child, I hardly have dull moments. I always think positively. There are so many trials and temptations but I try to take life the way it is. I try to be good to people, I’m nice to a fault. I love to play with kids, I’ve registered with three orphanages and I tell God even if I’m out of the country, somebody needs to do my job for me. So, little things like that matter. I try to mix with the right crowd, I think that’s the secret.
What advice do you have for people who do not want other’s progress?
I would advice them that if they want to be happy, if they want to live long and constantly have a smile on their faces, they should think and act positively because the time they would use to think evil, they could use half of it to smile and think of nice things. You see a lot of people with wrinkles, even though they are young, its evil that causes that. A lot of people are failing because of the evil they do. If you are a happy child, you will blossom. If you are a child of God, you will definitely blossom. If you see people who are haggard, they are always planning evil. Thunder will strike them from nowhere. You probably may succeed the first and second time, but do not touch the Lord’s anointed. You won’t like long if you do. A lot of people want to live long and see their grandchildren but when you are evil, you are pregnant thinking evil, you will give birth to an evil child. And you will train the child in an evil way. I will advice such people to drop every negative thing they are doing and look up to God, who is the only person that can give you peace. You can’t get it anywhere else. You can’t buy it. No matter the millions you have, you can’t buy it. Face your religion. If you are nice, good things will definitely come your way.
There are rumours that your ex, Timaya is still very much in love with you. Do you think he has a chance with you?
I will first correct that word, love. I don’t think he is in love with me. I know he is obsessed with me. Anyone that is in love will not do things he has been doing. You know what obsession means, he is obsessed with me. And talking about a second chance, you know sometimes you get into some wrong situations for Christ to actually elevate you. Everything can’t be rosy, without events there won’t be history. People make mistakes, but the most important thing is to correct the mistakes. I’m correcting my mistakes and that is the best I can say. I won’t go to the papers and start saying stuffs that his sisters said, this time and age, you want to tarnish someone’s image and then you just go to the press and start talking rubbish. I still have the papers, talking about my diabolical approach to issues, talking about me caging their brother, talking about me having charms in my bag and then you went to my church and my pastor asked you to bring sponge. You know you could go free doing what you want to do but don’t forget that God lives. You probably might not get your punishment now but…you know that’s what they do, artists. It’s easy for someone, go to the papers and say bullshit but the most important thing is that people know me. I have friends who stood by me when everything happened. I know the people, I have musicians, many of his friends, they know the truth, I know the truth. I will never go to the press and talk rubbish. I have been in the industry long before he even thought of raising a key in music. I know how it’s been. I always ask God to help me in anything I do, I just don’t make a move and regret it later. The most important thing is that my church stood by me, because they know me, I work in the church. My friends who knew everything stood by me. I travelled abroad, they came to cheer me up, we had fun, my brothers, sisters, my mum…it wasn’t easy (an emotional sob).
Some people said that the cause of your problem with Timaya was that of infidelity, is it true? What actually caused the problem?
I said before that I won’t go to the papers and start talking ill about someone. I like people to see, this is somebody who sings about God, and then he suddenly did the opposite. I’m not the one saying it, a lot of people have seen it. There is this thing about life, they say money is the root of all evil. When you allow money to control you, it becomes a problem. You can control money, God has given you the authority to ask for whatever you want and it will come in due time. I’ve seen money, much money long before he got to the industry. I’ve gone through money, money has gone through me. I’m not a proud person. I think part of the problem was seeing money at once, and then you got intoxicated and allowed the money to control you. You have command over money and you see, life is not about pride, the last thing I will advice anybody to do is to be proud. I like humble people. Humility will take you very far. A lot of people don’t understand that secret. And don’t allow this job get into you, a lot of my friends see their fans and snob them. Are you crazy? These are the people who watch your movies, these are the people who pray for you. You are nobody without them. No matter my condition, I can never fail to say hi to the next person. I’m very playful. What would one be proud for. A lot of things were not just in place. I don’t want to go to the papers and start talking about my private life. I have made the mistake already. I was only trying to help a soul in so many ways. Basically, that was the problem. I would rather not go deep into that.
Is there any man in your life?
There are so many men in my life, my brothers are in my life. My pastors are in my life (laughs), I like to relate more with the opposite sex. It’s easier to relate with them because you won’t be fighting over men, or over fashion and you are not jealous of each other. I learn more from them.
That’s not what I mean, I mean are you in any relationship?
The most important thing I need to let people know, or the press is when the invitation is ready. People get into relationship fast and they fall out fast. When you are in a relationship and its not leading you anywhere, its not what you should celebrate. Right now, I should be talking about being in a relationship, I should be talking about walking down the aisle. That is what is most important and when the time comes, I will let you guys know.
What do you think makes men feel intimidated around you?
I’m one kind of person that…my friends call me Hitlet. I don’t know why, I try to do things that you would probably say are intimidating. I don’t like men to ride on my back. I like to take a bold step in things I do and when people come to understand that I’m intelligent, they get intimidated. I say things with facts. There is no time I have a discussion with people that I don’t quote from the Bible. I always back my speeches with Biblical passages. So, I don’t know, they should tell me.
What do you find most attractive in a man?
Honesty. If there is honesty, things fall in place. But if you tell lies, you need like 99 more lies to tell to back the first one. I hate fake people, I like real people.
(Exhales) This question is difficult for me to answer, because right from time, I’ve trained myself to always be positive about life. If you think of regret and talk about it, its negative and it will weight me down. I hate to think about things that will weigh me down. Everyone has got regrets. The most important thing is understanding that its there to uplift you to the next level. My regrets so far are obvious, I don’t want to mention names.
What makes you feel beautiful?
My innermost self. I don’t see scanty from the physical appearance. If you are beautiful from within you will blossom. That’s the truth. A lot of people go out of their way to look beautiful. I saw somebody buy a one thousand pound cream. If you are beautiful inside, you are the same outside. I do bridal make-up, a lot of people say, Empress you still don’t wear make-up. Its not about wearing make-up. I can only wear make-up when I’m shooting or going for an occasion. Sitting at home and wearing a make-up for me is living a fake life. You are telling yourself you are ugly. God made us in His image and likeness, so let’s respect that fact. I see beauty from within. If you are beautiful from within, everything will fall in place for you.
What is your favourite perfume?
I’m a perfume freak. If we were in my house I would have shown you. I have a collection of perfumes. I use mostly masculine perfumes and I wear like three or four. At the moment, I am wearing Poison, Giorgio Armani Black and Play by Givenchy. I love them because they are strong and masculine. Feminine wears off easily. I’m a perfume freak. Most people say I am an extremist, as long as the things I do make me happy, I don’t mind.
What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?
Life has taught me so many things. Never to be sad, life teaches me a lot every minute. I can’t start to mention them now.
What do you think is the cause of all the problems and wickedness in Nollywood?
Its greed, callousness and jealousy.
If you have a chance of changing something in Nollywood, what would it be?
I will change tribalism, clique. I will make sure everybody contributes his quota. There will be nothing like you are a celebrity and you can’t attend meetings. I mean, there are too many things that have gone wrong in the industry. I can’t call my mum to be the welfare office or bring my family to run Nollywood. I will stop giving out roles because the person is sleeping with the producer. There are so many things wrong, but I know with time, it will be fine.
What message do you have for your fans?
For those who believe in me, I want to thank you very much. I get your messages. I will never relent to give you what you’ve always prayed for. I love you so much. Never relent in what you are doing.
- THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010