A couple of days back, popular actor cum film maker, Yomi Fabiyi, via his Instgram page, broke the news that he was tired of his four year marriage to his British wife, Fran. The incredible action of the Lagos based thespian has since left tongues wagging and nagging within and outside the industry.
In a phone chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, November 18, 2016, Fabiyi shed light on the palaver. He also spoke on other issues, including the state of the industry.
It’s shocking when you broke the news of the break up in your marriage to your British wife, Fran. How did it happen?
In all honesty, there were ups and downs in the marriage for a while. At a point, she thought people writing on the internet was really affecting my decision to move over. I told her I am a different breed and such talks hardly get at me. When I take decision to be happy, provided it is nothing criminal, illegal, immoral or anti-social, I careless about those who feel angered by such decision.
I decided to call it quit when despite trying to conceal the storm, an upcoming actress who recently relocated to the UK got to know some hidden stuff and shared it with some media guys. She snitched on me and kept my marital secret at risk. I thought there is no point trying to see if it would work. Fighting to make it work and keep the storm secret was just too much for me. I chose this November trip to London to make the announcement before they misinform people by half baked story that hurts really.
When did you notice the marriage could no longer work?
You never wish your marriage would not work. Marriage is different from live-in-partner or dating. I just felt I should take the bull by the horn and walk out.
Aside the reason of long distance and her refusal to join you in Nigeria as she promised, what other reasons would you say were responsible for the crash of the 4 year union?
No other reason that I know of. Long distance gives room for infidelity and other negatives. It’s best avoided. The most obvious and tenable reason is what you highlighted. It’s so sad because she is such a wonderful woman.
A lot of people may not reason with you on your excuse of staying back in Nigeria because of your career so far there are lots of your colleagues in the UK that are doing well in their career. What’s your reaction to this?
I hate to repeat this but I will. I began travelling to the UK as an artist in 2005 when I had little or no relevance or recognition. I weathered that storm and returned after three weeks holiday then because I believe I will make it here in Nigeria. Everybody needs a belief system and mine works well. I don’t think I should abandon it now. To be honest with you, I was deceiving myself when I thought the only negatives marrying Fran would bring then is that some people will say why a white woman. I thought everybody knew I have been travelling to the UK and as an artist who owes some moral responsibility I wouldn’t have married someone out of greed and make it open. Who does that? But as the case may be, the outlook of my choice looks like those known arranged type and I almost regret coming honest and public with my marriage plans.
Majority of those that made comment even lack understanding of how this thing works. You now see why most comments don’t get to me. You must be articulate and concise to have your comment hit me. If I had pursued the citizenship, I will first be issued a five year temporary spouse visa. At the expiration of that, if and when I comply with set down immigration rules, then I get that renewed to indefinite leave to remain.
Perhaps after six months I will denounce my Nigeria citizenship and do a citizen test. It is after the success of this I can become a British Citizen. If we are not together after the first five years and get her to support my application for indefinite, I become an illegal immigrant.
Now, ask yourself, is the marriage up to five years. If I have the papers will I ask for divorce? I hope you understand this process I take the pain to explain. I appreciate the fact she wanted me to be a citizen but I am not ready for such now. I don’t even see myself living in the UK soon. My career is just gathering shape. She promised me we are living in Nigeria and she will easily get employed hence we went further with the wedding plans before she changed that I should be the one to process and come. I said NO because I’m not ready for that now.
That was the beginning of our marital storm. I must add this because she reads these things, I did not receive a Kobo in transfer from her or through anyone throughout the marriage. She spent directly whenever we were on holiday or she bought anything for us or for me. I said this because it’s either paper or about money.
No matter the situation, some people will still have some dignity left in them. It’s my life and my marriage. I went this route without remorse because I choose to lead the campaign for a free Nigeria. People should be free to make a choice and if nothing criminal, immoral, anti-social or illegal we must respect it. I just want to also make a point.
How would describe the four year journey with Fran?
It is an experience. I love the fact that at that stage of my emotional life, I was bruised by past failed relationship and she came on to stabilise me. I needed emotional stability and won’t say I made the decision when I was weak. I just wanted to be loved and trust that the woman meant it and is saying the truth.
I ended up believing her when she said I tick all her boxes. I believed because I am of the opinion she won’t be lying about what she feels. She didn’t give me reason there was another man, compared to some I was encountering during that time.
Did you regret not having a child for you?
I don’t enjoy regrets. I only learn from my mistakes because I am human. I am even too real to think regret. It is just sad and I am indeed very sorry where my nature conflicts with some filming personality some people wish to see. I am very young and time heals a lot of things. We shall see.
Would you say living apart was largely responsible for not having at least a child together throughout the relationship?
Anything could have happened but I really want a home. I want to live under the same roof with my wife and kid or kids. That is one experience I wish to have with someone I love. I don’t want to be having children in different countries.
Now, you have filed for divorce, how is your wife taking it?
I am yet to file. I discussed with her extensively. I am in the UK at the moment though returning shortly to Nigeria. I told her I want to move on and how much I appreciate her and everything during the four years. Hopefully, she would sign when the papers get to her. Fran is such a pleasant and kind hearted woman. She is mature and absorbed the intention with dignity.
What lesson did you learn from the crashed relationship?
I don’t look back too much. If there is any mistake, I will x-ray properly before starting a new relationship.
How long will it take to perfect the divorce?
Where there is no issue(children) in case of their custody and there is mutual consent where both sign without argument, it could come faster than expected. It’s now the judge’s discretion. He/she must review the grounds for dissolution carefully and ensure it is substantive. My lawyer will speak more on that.
But the tale is that you took the decision to call it quits with the relationship after having found a Nigerian young lover who you have been dating secretly and planning to wed soon. How true is this and who is the Nigerian lover?
Figment of someone’s imagination, it’s all lies. I rather sort this one and see it to a logical conclusion before setting up another. If that is the case, trust me, I will say it if I feel comfortable to share. I keep a whole lot of secrets and can be blunt atimes. I discuss myself, I don’t have time discussing any of my colleagues or others except it connects to me. No time.
Or do you have alternative plan?
Unclear with what you mean by another plan. The only plan I have now is that I want to be happy. There is no sense sticking around in a marriage that is clearly not working again when you have exhausted all civil means to see if it can work. People will always talk so, why bother about them.
I tried to cover it up but, trust me, I have a weak heart. I won’t allow a marital secret to drag me into depression, suicide, excessive thinking or drug/alcohol intake. I still have a long way to go in this job.
Tell us a little about what’s happening to your career at the moment?
So, far my career is gathering the desired shape. This year, I have had the following honours and awards. Best Yoruba Film, YOMAFA 2016, Best Actor, Nominee ACIA (USA) 2016, Best Producer, City People Awards 2016, Best Producer (Yoruba Language) African Films Award (London) 2016.
These were made possible because of the fans. I know they love me but I love them more, I love them most. Respect and gratitude to all my cast and crew too. Metomi is a movie people love. And in three weeks I am starting the production of another Cross Road (Agbede Meeji) an old school movie with deep and well plotted story line.
How would you assess the industry now?
The movie industry is receiving little or no political will. Those that showed interest are for political gains. Corporate organisations are not too motivated. It’s in intensive care unit. I know, very soon we will have a government or set of politicians that will declare state of emergency on the industry.
What you see is not the real state of things. Most are fake while only privileged few enjoy the proceeds, at least better than others not that they too don’t spend frugally and they can’t really survive without some extra stretch. Their earnings are still not commensurate to their status.
Would you also agree with some of your colleagues that the ongoing recession has really affected the industry?
The industry had been on economic ICU before the recession. We need help to get it off the life support machine it is presently. The industry needs new ideas and innovations. I have travelled around few campuses lately to deliver lectures, keynote addresses and engaged some science students to consider innovative home grown ideas. We will keep doing ours.
What’s the latest concerning your association, Save Nigeria Movie industry?
We are trying to secure a permanent office and re-introduce our blueprint. I reckon if people have soft copies of our clear cut ideas they will see beyond attention seeking tag branded us, some of which are coming from empty silence. We make positive noise and we won’t stop.
- TADE ASIFAT