THE Last Flight to Abuja is the first Nigerian truly disaster film from Nollywood shot on air to highlight the rot in the aviation industry. Produced by award winning producer of The Mirror Boy, Obi Emelonye, the movie which is in the cinemas parades stars like Hakeem Kae Kazim, Omotola Jalade, Jim Iyke, Ali Nuhu, Celine Loader, Uru and Monjaro. We spoke with two of the leading cast, Omotola Jalade and the pilot, Monjaro, as well as the producer, Obi Emelonye.
How has it been for you, you have been in the limelight for a very long time now, what is the secret?
For me personally, it’s a wonderful experience knowing that it’s not something you buy. You can’t bribe anybody to get that, so I don’t feel like there’s any secret per se, it’s a very humbling experience. It’s by God’s grace.
Most actresses are controversial and have suffered failed marriages, what has kept yours?
I only say this just for the benefit of other people because I try to shy away from questions like this, but then I would say this is to encourage someone else. The most important thing in your life is your family, especially your partner. So, I think it’s very important for your partner to know who you are. Communication is very important and the most important thing when you want to choose your partner is trust. You must trust your partner. Even if I am not with my husband, I want him to be able to say, no Omotola can’t do that, its trust. That’s one thing we should all try to achieve with our partners. We both know each other.
You are the lead actress in the much talked about movie, The Last Flight to Abuja…
It’s more risky, in the sense that it’s not a usual story. It’s a thriller and it’s based on tragedy. So, I told Obi when I got the script that I just have a feeling this was going to work. I like taking risks. Nobody has ever done a movie like this and succeeded. It’s a change in Nollywood and I think it would encourage a lot of film makers to take bigger risks. Not just the movie itself, but the mindset of the people. It’s a psychological movie whether tragedy or true or fictional. We need to start telling stories about the African people, in fact, more about Nigeria. When Obi told me it was a true life experience of the 2006 crash, I was like very good. He wanted people to see that it was basically about the aviation industry and how it has affected our lives. I am just grateful that I am a part of this, I see it as a time changing piece.
What’s your role in the movie?
My character was that of a lady, Suzy, that was in a long distance relationship with her boyfriend and who has issues with the boyfriend on trust. It was more about a woman trying to reach out to the man at all costs just to let him know she could do anything, she got into a plane to pay him a surprise visit. But it wasn’t convenient. Unfortunately, she got into a calamity.
The whole scenario was time-frame on board, yet so many lessons…
I think that’s what Obi is trying to do, read the whole script, it’s the story of a crash and it all met in a point. He is just trying to show we all have different lives and at the end of the day we are all human. We never see the future, I think that’s one of the most important things. Calamity can meet you anytime, the thing is, no one knows, you might not have another chance. So, do things to the best of your ability today.
Based on the movie, what would you love to change about your person and career if you have just 24 hours to live?
I am doing them already, I would love to be a better actress, I would love to be slimmer. I don’t usually gym but for this movie, I had to go to the gym. This movie was a makeup as well. Procrastination is just bad, anything you know you can do, just do it immediately. Emotionally, there are still things I need to work on and I am seriously working on them and God has been faithful. I think very hard about things before doing them. People actually say I am a deep thinker, I am very dedicated to things.
Would you say this is the most challenging movie you have ever acted?
No, as an actress. But for the overall story I would say it’s one of the most challenging. I think this Dana Air crash has made this movie bigger, but because of the whole situation surrounding the movie right now, I would say it’s a challenging one.
I commended Obi. I didn’t know he could take it this long, when the Dana Air crash happened, I thought the movie was over because people would think we just hurried to do a movie on the crash. It killed me. The movie has taken a lot, it took a lot of stress.
What were the challenges?
If this movies doesn’t make us money or get me awards, I would be very sad. It’s been a very stressful movie to shoot, even when we were on set, it was so difficult to get permission to shoot at the airport. I don’t think any movie has been shot at the airport because 70 per cent of the movie was shot at the airport. We all had this near death experience, we went through a lot of ups and downs.
What was your hubby’s reaction when you informed him you will be shooting in a plane?
With him, God has been great, the guy no get wahala.
How did you meet your husband?
When I met him I wasn’t in love with him. He said it was love at first sight for him but I had to grow to love him, I didn’t feel anything. It was maturity, if I hadn’t married him, I probably won’t still be married because I saw the ability for him to see me. He knows me more than I know myself. That was what I saw with him, I was young, I would snap at little things. Everybody was always thinking I was very difficult but he was the only one that understood me. With him I have even gone closer to Christ, with the maturity I found in him, I can emulate him.
Amidst your tight schedule, would you say you have been a good mother to your kids?
I seriously think I am a very wonderful mom. I am always on the phone with my children even though my husband is around. I know what they are doing every minute. I think I am even a bit too much. My mom was a very strict woman, if I handle them the way my mom did, they would avoid me.
So, you don’t pamper them?
I don’t pamper them.
How do you unwind?
I unwind by working, its either I am working or home. I don’t go out. In my own case, I am happy when I am working.
Few days ago, you emerged Best Loved Actress with greatest number of followers on social media, how do you feel?
I just feel great, I try to be myself, people have come to accept me the way I am, I am just me. I am just myself. I enjoy it, people just got to know me, because people usually think I am harsh and proud, but now people understand me better. The social media has made it better, for the first time I am able to communicate to you directly, if you insult me, I would block you. I answer normal questions.
What has happened to your musical career? It has not been successful as you are in acting?
The movies have been taking my time. I don’t have so much time now. With my new album, I would make videos.
When would you release it?
I am hoping to release it before the end of the year.
Is music a passion or for fun?
I am doing it for fun, I was forced to do Gba, I do inspirational music. I sing to reach out to people, you have to be mature.
What’s the title of the new album?
Me, Myself and I.
People alleged you are temperamental and thus doesn’t have good relationship with your colleagues?
No! Sometimes I could have less patience for some behavior, it’s not how you feel but how you react. There are some things I cannot tolerate. I can’t tolerate disrespect. It’s how you are brought up, I have learnt to accommodate other people now.
It was alleged and reported that you slapped a colleague on set…
I could never do that, I could yell but I can’t slap anybody. That publication was totally false, I could ignore you but never slap anyone. I know the story you’re talking about, Genevieve. That’s not true.
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 24, 2012