Almost a decade and half after, Mama G still rules moviedom
If there is any Nigerian screen actress that seemed to have armed herself with the secrets of remaining relevant in a turf where reality means that every star actor has his or her time and so must make the best use of that time, that actress is amiable and indubitable Patience Ozokwo.
The actress, mother and grandmother, who is popular as Mama G and who is in her late 50s, has remained relevant and has continued to reign uproariously.
Indeed, Mama G’s artistic contributions have continued to retain an irreplaceable place in the scheme of things.An actress of vast credit and a widely travelled performer, Mama G gets heroic reception wherever she travels to.
She recalled being in Cameroun, where people, including government officials, defied a heavy downpour just to receive her. “That is one experience I will not forget in a hurry. People lined up on the street and waved as the car took me through the town.”
“It reminded one of those days in Lagos when children will line up the street in Ikoyi to catch a glimpse of the head of state. “I thank the Nigerian Embassy there and every where I have been opportune to travel to. They always treat me like they would treat the first lady of Nigeria.
“I felt really proud to be an actress and a Nigerian,” she recalled, her voice betraying the fact that she is humbled at the level of fame that has come with her involvement in the Nigerian home movie culture, dubbed Nollywood.”
Back home, the story is the same, as Ozokwo’s popularity has continued to soar each passing day.Although often times vilified for living same roles- that of a villain in most of her movie offerings- Ozokwo is loved beyond description for her deftness in role interpretation.
Indeed, hers is the story of a gifted actress that wandered through life to get to her pre-determined destination. Hers is a story that made real the popular saying that one’s destiny can never be changed.
With only about a decade and half romance in the movie, the recipient of several industry awards, including the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for best supporting actress and the Nigeria Centenary award, has patiently lifted her precious, albeit latent, talent to a level that deserves wide recognition.
Today, she has become a source of inspiration to tons and tons of young actors who yearn for a career in acting. Born in Ngwo, Enugu State, but brought up in Lagos, where she had her primary education, she later attended Anglican Girls School, now Ngwo Girls Secondary School.
Thereafter, she was faced with the option of taking to business or training as a teacher. And she chose teaching, because of an earlier ambition she has nursed, which was ‘to liberate lives through teaching.’
Straight away, Ozokwo enrolled into the Women Teachers Training College (WTTC), Afikpo in the present Ebonyi State for her teachers training education and subsequently taught for sometime before jettisoning teaching job when she could no longer suppress the muse she had developed for broadcasting.
So, she joined Radio Nigeria, first as an announcer and much later rose to the position of producer in charge of women and youth programmes. Years later, the authorities at Radio Nigeria decided it was time to down size, and her name featured on the list of those to be retrenched.
Though dejected, Ozokwo got herself together and took to freelancing. In between, she decided on a career in acting and hugged it tightly.But before joining the acting turf, she ran a course in graphics, did ‘a little bit of business’ and was for a while Personal Assistant to the wife of a one-time sole administrator of the Udi Council, Chief Ramsey Onyia. It was after that that the lady of the screen went into the movie.
Her incursion into the Nigerian movie industry was by divine guidance. She ran into the elderly actor, Pete Eneh, while at a recording studio in Enugu, who hinted of an audition exercise for a new soap on television.
Though she arrived late for the shoot, Ozokwo put up an impressive performance that got the crew think she could do much more if given the right exposure.
She was encouraged to try acting on video. She resisted at first, but later succumbed to pressure from even practitioners, who have seen her show her stuff.
Today, Ozokwo, who said she has lost count of the number of movies she has done, has this one liner as reply to anyone that wants to know how far it has been on the turf: “To God Be The Glory.”
At the last count, Ozokwo, who revealed that she misses her late husband, had taken part in over 200 home video productions, with countless others still at various stages of production.
Movies that have benefited from her memorable performance include Cast Away, Terrible Sin, By All Means, Battle, To Rise Again, Innocent Soul, Weep No More And A Cry For Help.
But if there is any movie that has tasked her the more out of her countless movie appearances, it is Aguba, the epic encounter, where she played the lead role Aguba.
She recalled: “I never rode a bicycle before, but in that movie, I did all that and even did some stunt. “I never shot any movie longer that I shot Aguba. We spent nearly two month on location. I had to even carry a particular make up on my head for almost a month.
“I am happy the movie came out fine. At least, I know that it fetched me a number of invitations. “Quite a number of the producers then believed I could do more than playing a wicked mother in law.”
Asked the secret of her ageless looks, Mama G, who described her late husband as “a true father and husband when he was alive,” said: “I give all the glory to God for my ageless looks.
“But I am also careful with what I eat and only take what my body needs.” If there is an assumption that has trailed her many appearances on screen, it is the perception that she may be a villain off the screen. But the recipient of the 2015 Legend of Nollywood Award (LNA) stressed: “I am not a wicked woman, as many people believe. You can ask my children or those who know me closely. I believe they will attest that I am the best mother in the world (laugh).
“Naturally, I hate wickedness. Maybe that’s why I even play it so well, so as to expose those who behave like that. “So, if what I hear is that I am so attached to a role, then its good. It means that I am playing it well. But it is all make believe. If they doubt me, they should call any of my children and ask if I ever interfere in their love lives (laugh). All those things you see me do on screen are mere acting.
“As for rewards, I thank God. It has brought me tremendous fame and has taken me to where I least expected. “If I receive 100 calls a day, 95 of them are from my fans. Anytime they call, I take time to answer them, because they make us the stars that we are called. If they do not appreciate me, I would not be here.”
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