Omoni Oboli Joins Exclusive Club Of Film Directors
WOMEN are rising. They are beginning to take their place in the directing department of the motion picture industry, a department that is typically male dominated.
Once, you could count how many women can call the shots on a movie set: the late Amaka Igwe, Tope Oshin, Mildred Okwo and Patience Oghre Imobhio.
But today the situation has changed. Nollywood now boasts of more women who seem resolved to take their place as the central authority in the creative process. Enter the disarmingly humble actress, producer and director Omoni Oboli.
Although best known as an actress and indeed blessed with a captivating screen presence, the Mosogha, Delta Sate born leading performer has joined the exclusive club of film directors who hold the central authority for the execution of a film.
Omoni has added the director’s prefix to her name and so far she has shown that she is good at what she is doing. Moviegoers now easily point to Omoni’s directional debut ‘Being Mrs. Elliot’ as the first good fruits of her incursion into directing.
The movie, which opened the prestigious Nollywood week Film Festival in Paris in June 2014 and was shown before Nigeria’s former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at the Presidential Villa in Abuja was well received when it opened in cinemas across Nigeria.
It reportedly recorded good box office figures. According to the producer and director of the movie Omoni Oboli, “the response of the movie has been phenomenal. The movie has shown me that when we do things right, most times the market response will also be right”.
It is perhaps the ‘market response’ that has emboldened the French graduate of the University of Benin who has shown overtime that she is remarkably versatile.
With that widely acknowledged movie in her kitty, the actress of immense range, is set to return to the cinema with another movie which she also wrote and directed, titled ‘The First Lady’.
Omoni described the movie as a comic drama with compelling story lines backed with impressive acting. It stars some of the big names in the industry like Alex Ekubo, Joseph Benjamin, Yvonne Jegede, Chinedu Ikedieze and Anthony Monjaro.
Omoni featured in the movie and the product of the New York Film Academy said she is evolving with time and better experience. ‘I hope people will love this.
We sincerely put in a lot of efforts in this movie. I have no doubt that the cinema audience will be entertained and pleasurably shocked with what they will find in The First Lady’’ she enthused. Viewed generally as a devoted disciple of the motion picture vocation, Omoni’s professional acting career commenced nearly two decades ago as an undergraduate of the University of Benin, with a beatific performance in the urban telling ‘Not My Will’.
Although Omoni had a few cameo performances-like when she was cast as a maid in ‘Shame’, it was with ‘Not My Will’ and later ‘Another Campus Tale’ that the old girl of Delta Technical High School showed stuff as an actress.
Born in Benin and raised on the grounds of the Delta Steel Company (DSC) in Aladja, Delta State, Omoni was in her first year in the university when she joined Nollywood.
However she took a break after she bowed to the superior argument of her course adviser who maintained then that her involvement in the movie might affect her grades in school.
Omoni faced schooling, graduated and got married thereafter. She had her first baby, travelled to London and came back almost ten years after her debut in Nollywood. Omoni struggled to find a space when she returned fully to Nollywood.
However, an encounter with the prolific scriptwriter and producer Emem Isong turned the dice positively for the star of ‘Rivals’ and ‘Sweet Tomorrow’, one movie she still considers her most challenging. Emem Isong it was who invited her to star in the urban telling ‘Unfinished Business’.
She had what critics roundly described as a compelling performance in that movie and since then Omoni has not looked back. She has become one of the distinguished actors in the Nigerian movie renaissance.
Star of several big budget flick including ‘The Figurine’, ‘Anchor Baby’ and ‘Render to Caeser’, Omoni’s movie pouch is surprisingly ‘lean’ for an actress of her stature.
Unlike many of her peers who boast of taking part in two hundred movies and even more, Omoni has only starred in about 50 films and she says it is deliberate. “No, I am not the kind of actress that jumps from set to set.
Because I write scripts, I know a good script when I see one. So I just don’t want to be associated with just anything. The script is important for me”.
A truly inspiring woman, elegant, friendly with a large heart, Omoni delights greatly in the dignity of womanhood, a reason she says she will never be caught playing nude in the movie. “Yes I do play romantic roles and I have done a couple of movies where the script demands that I have to kiss a male character and all that but you see, I am not going to take off my clothes for any amount.
I won’t do nudity. That is the point I make”. A warm-hearted personality, Omoni makes no secret of the fact that she has continued to appear stunning even though she has visited the maternity ward thrice.
You ask her the secrets and she replies with a girlish smile: “I watch what I eat and I exercise a lot even though I wish there was a way you could just eat whatever you like without adding so much weight”.
But what has been her staying power? “God and the passion for the job”, she replies and adds: “I think it is the fact that God is on my side and then I have a passion for the job. I keep on even when it doesn’t look good. I keep on because I know where I am going and I am not going to stop until I get there. It is not easy. To come into the industry now is the hardest thing ever.
I know what I went through. If you don’t have a passion for it, you want to quit. So it is God, the passion and a great family that the Almighty has blessed me with”.
But what are her likes and dislikes? Omoni who outside the turf spends time performing her duties as a wife and mother says she hates dishonesty and can’t stand mediocrity.
In her words: “I like hardworking people who have a focus and the drive and who are honest too. We need so much of that in Nigeria to move forward”. An actress whose ironic simplicity of style has brought up a new concept of stardom in Nollywood, Omoni says she has ‘zero regrets’ for strutting the acting runway and will pick acting again if given another opportunity to live life again. “I mean no regrets at all.
It has been rewarding. There is that satisfaction that comes from doing what you really want to do and I have that satisfaction. I am shooting for the top.
I am going to go all the way both as an actress, writer and director”, she said. happy mother, wife and by all measures a fulfilled woman, Omoni is well married to Nnamdi Oboli, an Optometrist and fine gentleman whom she credits for being her strong pillar of support. She says of the father of her children: “My husband is incredible.
Every day I say to God that I don’t know what I did to deserve someone like him. He is so supportive. My husband will sometimes take leave off work to take me somewhere and support me and be with me. He loves the arts and he is very supportive”. .