Home Interview from the past Interview from the past: ‘I added plenty sugar first time I made soup’
Interview from the past - February 22, 2024

Interview from the past: ‘I added plenty sugar first time I made soup’

Although celebrated actor, late Racheal Oniga has had her own share of disappointments, she is a perfect example of consistency and hard work in the movie industry. In this interview with New Telegraph Newspaper on Showbiz, page 19, published March 19th, 2016, she shares her experiences including her excitement as a grandmother.

What keeps you relevant till today?

We thank God for everything. It is not always rosy and each journey has its ups and downs. The pleasure and hazard you get from your trip to Abeokuta is different from that of Ibadan. But they say practice makes perfect. Anything you do in life as long as you are consistent, you are expected to get better by the day. There is no special trick about it. I see myself as an actor, so whatever comes my way I try to make the best of it.

The industry at a particular time witnessed a downturn, I am talking about 15 years ago or even more. We become confused as the practitioners were no longer in charge. But as time went on, some aspects of the job improved. We are better technically, though there are still areas we are experiencing a very deep drop. In those days if your script was not good, it didn’t come out. Scripts used to be well tutored. When we arrived at the final script also, we would still rehearse and meet with other cast and crew members. But it is not like that anymore. The director hardly knows the actors ands same applies to actors too unless they insist.  This is not good and that’s why we have a kit if poor jobs, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have very good script. We still have some good movies and we should be proud of that.

 When was the last time you produced a movie?

I have produced English and Yoruba movies, I have produced three or four Yoruba movies, but I see myself more as an actor. The movies I produced were stories dear to my heart. True or false was so enlighten people that there is nothing like ‘Ogbanje’ or ‘Abiku’. If you are not able to have a baby, it might be your rhesus factor or that of your spouse. It was s story meant to teach and it really touched a lot of hearts.

I was traveling out of the country once and a man came to embrace me in appreciation. He said his marriage was on the verge of collapsing when they saw the movies. They revisited their doctor and they found out the problem was the Rhesus factor. After correcting it, the woman got pregnant and they started having babies.  He was so happy and asked me that we should always put out more of it.

True or false was done in 2005 and after that I produced some Yoruba movies too. I only produce because I want it share things with the public. To be frank with you, at the end of the day most producers don’t break even not to talk of making a profit.

Did you make profit from those films you produced?

At all, I didn’t. The marketer would either complain about pirates or other things. Are the distributors even doing their own bit? A marketer goes to location instead of making sure products are distributed and start dictating to the director which of actor should play a particular role. You know nothing about the profession and you want to have a say in it.

Those are the things that kill the industry. If you are an actor do it well and as a producer you should know the in and out of your job too.  It is not to say as a producer you can’t act or an actor can’t be a producer.  But there are instances you don’t need to intrude into other people’s jobs. A doctor can’t call himself a nurse, although they both work in the hospital.

Can you feature in a movie without pay?

Why should I do that? Can you work at your office without collecting a salary? This is where we mix things up, it is my profession and that is where I earn livelihood, so if I work I should get paid. Would you be happy working without pay? So why should you expect an actor to work without payment?

How about for social or humanitarian cause?

Why can’t you do yours for a social cause too? I wonder why people expect so much from actors. People meet you on the streets and say you must bring out money because they are the ones buying the movies. They can’t clearly differentiate the different between an actor, director and producer. As long as they see you, you must drop money and you keep dropping money until you have nothing left.  If we continue to do charity jobs, how do we pay our bills? An actor can always do charity or give back to the society in different ways.

I have a non-governmental organization known as Nollyood Actresses for Change where we give back to the society. We go to orphanages, old people’s homes and we empower women. We’ve done that in so many cities in the country like Abia, Umuahia, Onitsha, Warri, Lagos and among others. I believe that is the way we can give back to the society. We’ve been doing this for about five years.

How do you relate with ‘area boys’ who are always demanding from you?

The point is we are used to it. It is an ugly situation, but you just walk away politely.

Is seems you have a good relationship with Wale Adenuga?

Working with Wale Adenuga is like any other job.  When I am doing any production, I am deeply involved, I put in everything, if you say I have good relationship with him, I won’t argue because he always comes out with fantastic stories. If I get a good story to work on, I would happily do it.

What do you still wish to achieve before you take a rest?

There is no resting in this profession. If you live up to 100 years there are scripts for people of that age. As long as God keeps you alive and you are still healthy, you would go for it because the older you become the better.

But would you agree that Bukky Ajayi doesn’t feature in movies again?

The truth is if you give her a very good script and reason to play the role, she would likely take the offer. It would be a scene or two and it must not have adverse effects on her health. We all respect her so much and I thank God for fruitful life. I hope she is still with us for years but you don’t expect her to play a major role anymore. Do you want to maim her? The problem also is that we are always rushing things, if we take it easy with her she would cope.

How do you stay healthy?

The point is when I am not working, I sleep lot and play with my grandchildren. I thank God for the kind of life He gave me.

Why didn’t you attend the just held Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA)?

I am always invited.  Though there is no age limit to attending such events and every actor should be proud to be part of it, I think it is mostly for the younger ones. We have had our time too, during our days we were always making plans. At my age, you still want me to start running after designers and gracing red carpets with these younger girls? There is time for everything in life. From home, I can still watch and appreciate it. I am with them in spirit and that’s what matters. I attended AMVCA last year, so I know it is a beautiful ceremony where our works are celebrated.

Which do you find more exciting between Yoruba and English?

A job is a job; it is the script that matters. Any way, if you ask me which one I feel more comfortable doing, I would say the English but both are fulfilling.  In those days, people got confused. Some saw me as Igbo woman while some thought, I was Hausa woman. I have worked with people like Sadiq Daba in a movie that had a Hausa setting and people said I looked like a Fulani. All you have to do is to give me the lines and I would play them. Some people are not very lucky; once they speak you would know where they come from.

Would you still like to give a marriage a second shot?

Maybe I have never thought of giving it a second shot. Anything that happens to one in life is destiny. If I am destined to remarry, I would definitely do that but so be it if I am not.

How did you cope with being a single mother?

When my children were little and questions like this one were thrown at me, I would react. But they are all grown up and I am even a grandmother now.

Have you ever committed a blunder while cooking?

The first soup I Was forced to cook by my mother was bad. My elder sister who is late now do the cooking while I was a tomboy. After playing, I would still come back to complain about her food or grumbled that she had finished all the plantains and meat while cooking. My mother then asked me to cook on a particular day and I thought it was not a big deal. I did mine and it didn’t make sense. I then went into the house to get sugar and added a lot to the soup. To me it was sweet   and the real deal. When everyone tasted it, they reacted immediately.  The whole neighbourhood was called to see the blunder I committed, but to me something was wrong with them. They asked me what I added and I said nothing but they later knew I put sugar. Whenever I tell my children, the story they laugh at me.

Where are you from?

I am from Delta State.

How come you speak Yoruba very well?

I have lived most part of my life in Lagos, I was born here. I have never lived in any other place except when I traveled for holidays and when I went for my secondary school in Edo State.


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