‘I’ve a lot of great and fond memories’
In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Monday, February 10, 2014, at Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos, pretty Mbong, 28, opened up on fond memories of her marriage and why she was never bothered by all the negative comments that trailed their split in October, 2013. She also talked about her career and much more.
Mbong who is based in the USA is in the country for the shoot, press review and premiere of Emem Isong’s latest movie, Apaye: A Mother’s Love, starring star actors, Clarion Chukwurah, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Belinda Effah, among many others. She played Swam, the heroine’s first child and daughter.
Apaye: A Mother’s Love, is a moving story of one woman’s quest to succeed in the face of hostilities. Inspired by true events, it is the story of Elder Irene Yepayeye Uriah, born in the creeks of what is now Bayelsa State, who was left to fend for her six children all alone. She struggled and toiled to provide for her family and to make sure they enjoyed the life she never had. Against all odds, she became a woman of substance in a community that never believed any good could come from her. The biopic, according to Emem Isong’s Royal Arts Academy, the producers, would be premiered on Friday, March 7, 2014, at Silverbird Cinemas, Victoria Island, Lagos.
ABOUT MBONG AMATA
Mbong Amata began her career in the much acclaimed movie, Amazing Grace. She has also starred in popular films like Black November, Mutanda, Wheel of Change, Reloaded, Forgetting June, Darima’s Dilemma, among others.
Jeta Amata met Mbong when she was just 16 in Calabar in 2001, at a movie audition. They started dating when she was 18. In 2008, they had their daughter and got married that same year. The couple later moved to Los Angeles, California, USA, where they make iconic movies.
But late last year, Jeta and Mbong shocked the world with the unpalatable news of their split, which was rather amicable. In Jeta’s words then, he is to blame for the crash of their marriage for stealing young Mbong’s youth and aging her.
“Mbong is an amazing mother, an incredible wife…all that time we were together, she would never let any other person cook my food. She was faithful and good to me and gave me the best gift in the world, our beautiful daughter. If I didn’t cage her so much, maybe we would still be together. I stole her youth and didn’t let her live her dream. So, it was better to let her go and find new adventures. She is happy and so I am. Despite the fact that we are no longer together, we are still good friends. She even lives close to me here in Los Angeles.”
Since their separation, Mbong has kept to herself but on Monday, February 10, 2014, she opened up to ENCOMIUM Weekly reminiscing on her union of five years and why marriage is not her priority at the moment.
You are not yet fully back to the country?
I still do the Trans-Atlantic commuting. I intend to be doing a lot of work here, film and charity. I’m usually here for like two months and then I run back with my daughter and back again. It is just back and forth. I try to create that balance.
It is a breath of fresh air for me because films like this, you don’t do every time in Nollywood. It is really expensive to pull off something like this. So, for me, it is refreshing to know we can achieve this feat.
What role did you play in the movie?
I was Swam, Apaye’s first child and daughter, who eventually got pregnant out of wedlock. Again, I must appreciate the family of Elder Irene Yepayeye Uriah for their co-operation all through the shoot. They were all simply amazing. It is their humility that kills me. They are approachable, personable and so humble to a fault. I feel like a lot of people should emulate lifestyles like theirs. No matter your status, just keep it real and stay humble. I had amazing and solid bond with the family. They were fantastic in every sense of it.
And the cast?
It was awesome getting to work with my senior colleagues, Clarion Chukwurah, Kanayo O. Kanayo and others. We had a great time shooting in the creeks of the Niger-Delta. So, it was a great bonding for us since we were working outside Lagos. We bonded as a family. We were part of the community and they will never forget us in a hurry because they made a lot of impact in our lives. And so did we. That was the first time Nollywood would be shooting in their community. It was fun and would remain memorable for us all. The crew was equally fantastic. Everyone brought in his expertise. From the producer, Emem Isong to the director, Desmond Elliot, I would say we had a competent crew.
What were the major challenges you faced while on set?
The weather was not predictable. Sometimes, it would be the harsh sun, it could also be very wet and rainy because of the terrain. So, being a riverine area, we had to go through a lot. We also had to deal with insects, snakes…
Now, you are done with Apaye, what more should we expect from Mbong?
I just finished producing my first personal movie. And very soon, it would hit the market. In fact, it would be out in March.
The fact that you got to walk miles in someone else’s shoes. Acting gives you the opportunity to be in someone else’s life for a while. It gives me the opportunity to live another person’s life. And to do this well, you have to think out of the box, you have to explore.
What about the hard part of your job?
I so much love my job that I don’t count the pains.
How are you coping…
Life without your husband?
Oh, life pushes me and I push it (lol). In fact, I push it with a smile.
I try not to live in regrets. I’m very good at counting my losses and just keep the train moving.
The rumour months back was that you have found love again?
That’s not true. That’s news to me.
So, you have not remarried?
And you are not even in a fresh relationship?
I’m not in a fresh relationship.
I don’t really know, but I don’t want to say never. It is the future, I prefer to live in the now and see how that goes. But for now, it is about me doing more films, charity and raising my child. So, that is my priority. I don’t think marriage is my priority for now.
Some could be generous and sincere to admit they enjoyed their marriage or relationship while it lasted. Were you that lucky with Jeta Amata?
Of course, I had a lot of great and fond memories. I had more fun than bad memories with my former husband. I was first married to my friend before a husband. That was why we were very civil enough to know that even if the marriage didn’t work, we are still friends and that is the bedrock of whatever it is that we have. We are connected for life. We have a child together. Yeah, we are cool, he is my guy. Jeta is a great man, fantastic dad but life has to move on.
Am I really going to say that? (Laughs) Life happened.
Were you ever worried by negative comments that trailed the crash of your marriage?
Never. I tried my best. I might not look strong but I’m very, very strong. If you are in show business or any business that puts you out there, you have to build a solid, great wall of China around you. My wall is very tall. I only hear about it, but I’m not moved one bit. I really don’t care what people say about my broken marriage because no one knows me like I know myself. So, I have a huge wall around my person.
You still bear Jeta Amata’s name?
Yes, does it change anything?
– UCHE OLEHI