March 1, 2014 – Nollywood Yoruba Actress Lepa Shandy Talks About Dublin-Based Husband & New Marriage
Popular actress, Shade Omoniyi, was just one of the young and upcoming artistes seeking to make a head way in the make-believe industry until fate earned her the role of Lepa Shandy. But with the fame came with the challenges that accompany it. In this interview with SEGUN AJIBOYE and OLUWASEUN DARE, Shade, who is better known to many as Lepa Shandy, speaks on her family, career and ordeal in the industry, among other issues.
HOW has your journey into the world of acting been? So far, so good and we are pushing on.
In specific terms, how would you describe the journey?
It has been a lot of ups and downs. It is something you can describe as sweet and bitter. If you observe, you’ll realize that I have been off the scene for some time now. But all the same, I thank God for His mercies because without it, I really don’t know how we would have survived.
How easy was it for you to cope with these sweet and bitter experiences that you just mentioned?
I won’t stand here and deceive you that it is easy. Most times when I walk in the streets, people would greet me and say ‘Oh! Are you not working again?’ They don’t really know what I am going through. I try to get some jobs; I try to do the little I could. But the truth is that when you do a production, it takes time for it to come out. So I often tell them that I am still working. But when they ask about my latest movie, I am usually lost for words.
But it’s been long that you appeared in a movie.
That’s true. But I have done one or two jobs in recent time.
Aside these two, you have been quiet.
Yes, and that is because I have been on my own production. You know the market is terrible, so they are not out yet. I am also planning to go on television. So I am currently talking to some companies for sponsorship.
At a time you said you’ll be travelling to meet your husband.
Where does he stay?
He does not stay in Nigeria. But I don’t want to talk about my husband.
But the reason I am asking is that I know how tough it is for husband and wife to live separately. How tough is it for you?
I will tell you that it is not easy. And I didn’t know that I would find myself in this situation again after my experience. But this is different. My experience is that most of the crises in most celebrities’ homes are caused by the media. Even when you trust a journalist friend and say some things in confidence, they will go on and publish such things. So my husband has told me that we should keep the family out of my job.
I want to believe that you have put the experience of the past behind you. So how are your kids?
They are very fine.
Before you met your husband, there were many negative stories about you. How did you cope when they were on?
The truth is that I didn’t give it much thought when it started. The reason was simple. Shortly after I became popular with Lepa Shandy, the media was awash with different kinds of stories about me, and I would cry and cry. But somebody called me and advised that I brave myself up for such stories. So at a point, I developed very thick skin and didn’t mind whatever was written. But I didn’t know that it was different when it came to marriage. I still acted like I used to do and didn’t bother until it caused a lot of havoc. For me, I love to flaunt whatever is mine, even my man. But I soon realised that our culture does not permit such thing. The bottom line is that it was not easy while it lasted. But I had marvellous people around me who helped to maintain my balance to come out of it stronger.
With that experience, what encouraged you to try another marriage?
The truth is that I was lucky to meet my husband. Maybe if I had not met him at the time, I might never have had the courage to marry again. He came into my life at the right time. He was marvellous, and would encourage me. You know, as a celebrity, one has to be very careful. A lot of men would come to you pretending to love you. But the truth is that they only want to deceive you and walk away. Let me tell you a story. One of our colleagues was so much in love, and she would tell sweet stories about her man. But eventually the marriage packed up, and friends wondered what happened. But the real truth was that while she went round praising her husband, the guy was actually beating her silly. The lesson in that is, whatever you are going through in your relationship, you should keep quiet or you don’t come out to say what is not true. Marriage is not a bed of roses and that was what I went through. Sometimes I go on the net to read some comments. I simply laugh when I see what people write. But the truth is that they write those things because they don’t know what we are going through.
What is your view of marriage?
It is live and let live. You must be tolerant, trustful and understand each other. While you talk about love, you must realize that with time you need to move to another level. If you have all that, you must know that nobody is perfect. So, just be tolerant, and you will keep on going. You must know that love diminishes as you grow older. But if the foundation is built on true love from the start, then you will start building on that love, and at a point, you will become each other’s keeper. And you would become the best of friends. For example, when a lady and a young chap are in a relationship, the guy would be willing to go to the moon to get the lady anything. But the moment they get married, the guy would begin to do things that are aimed to change the status quo. If he loved to cook before the marriage, he may stop the cooking, and other stuff like that. So you have to learn first to understand each other. Do that well from the scratch, and you will become each other’s best friends.
But you will agree with me that you celebrities, especially the women, are most times responsible for these broken marriages, perhaps because of the kind of the fake lifestyle they live. How true is this?
Very true, but whoever knows me, would know that I don’t live a fake life and I don’t copy. My life is cut your coat according to your cloth. I don’t envy, I don’t copy and I don’t live a fake lifestyle.
But like you said, we cause this sometimes based on what I just told you. You think you have somebody that really loves you and you go out of your way to pamper him. You are very caring and you think it will go on like that for the rest of your life. But you soon realize that the man you have dedicated your life to is not being truthful. But the talk of some living a fake lifestyle is real. Like the friend I just told you about, while she suffered secretly with her husband, she goes out with beautiful stories about him.
And perhaps you are not able to divorce yourselves from the role you play in movies.
But that is not true. I will only advise that whatever you are going through, you don’t have to go to town with everything. Our culture does not support you in any way. If you go to your parents, and you say this is what this man is doing, they will say you should endure then. If it is rosy, enjoy it and don’t go out shouting it, even to your friends. And if it is bad and you know that you can endure, stay and endure it. But if it becomes life-threatening, then do the right thing and move on. So don’t allow outside influences to affect your marriage. Just try and know what your husband can afford and what he cannot afford. Don’t look at what friend’s husband is doing for her. Just maintain your peace and enjoy your home. And more importantly, you must never forget that the husband is the head of the family. So make sure that you give him his due respect at all times. That way, everybody around will continue to respect him. I am an advocate of successful marriage, and I appreciate marriage, so I don’t like it when things go wrong. But there are some things you can’t just help.
You said you are working on a television series. Throw more light on this.
It is a Yoruba series about love. I don’t like spiritual or traditional stuff. It is love and short, and it is shot in Nigeria and UK, and I hope it comes out very soon. I want to be done with this, so that I can as well go back to locations to do one or two things. I want to be through with one before moving on to another thing.
How rewarding is it?
Can I tell you the truth? If you are talking about going to location and getting paid, the answer is no. But if you talk of goodwill, then the answer is yes.
How do you make use of this goodwill?
If you know how to use the opportunity, then you make good use of it. However, you must know that it doesn’t come equally because some get good endorsement, while others are not so lucky. But the little that you get depends on how you can use them.
Aside acting, what else do you do?
Whenever I travel, I try as much as possible to make sure I buy things that I sell. Also, I have one or two shops that I want to keep running. But you know how Nigeria is. If you don’t stay in Nigeria and you open your shop, you are opening it for someone else. I have done it before, and I don’t want to do it again. But maybe when I decide to finally stay here permanently, I may decide to concentrate on the shops.
What is your experience as Lepa Shandy like?
It was good and bad. I enjoyed every bit of the fame because I worked with a good director in the movie, and it was like a bomb. But the challenge of getting a lead role in that kind of project was tough because I later got to know that so many people wanted the role. But I got the role in a miraculous way. And that is why I tell young and upcoming artistes that they should be patient. For me, I reaped from the patience that I had when I just came into the industry. I had just two or three scenes in movies at the beginning. This reminds me of a story. I called a colleague to do a job, but because it was just three scenes, she refused to do it. She believed that she had gone beyond that level. But the truth is that it was a one scene role that gave me the Lepa Shandy job. That is a lesson I want the younger ones to imbibe. Today, most people don’t even know my real name. Everybody calls me Lepa Shandy. But I saw hell while we were working on the movie. For instance, there was this scene where I was slapped by Salawa Abeni during a fight. Let me confess to you that after that, I fainted, lost my nails and was rushed to the hospital.
Are you saying the slap was real?
Yes, of course, it was real. After she slapped me, I had to sit on a chair. But she didn’t reaIise that I had passed out, and she mistakenly sat on my finger. In the process, I didn’t sit where I was supposed to sit. I just fell somewhere. I fell where she was supposed to sit and she just sat on me. It was an accident that sent me to the hospital. Another slap scene involved me and Sherifat Ilerika. She too gave me a slap that made me request for a bottle of coke and a sachet of Alabukun. But all in all, I thank God I didn’t suffer for nothing.
But what were you doing prior to your emergence in Lepa Shandy?
I have been in the industry before the Lepa Shandy location. As a matter of fact, I came into the industry in 1995 as a model. I did one or two jobs then. I came in as a make-up artiste. In fact, most people knew me as Shade Make-up at the time. So I was into make-up artist at the beginning. But then, I started with the English genre.
Is there really any difference between English and Yoruba movies?
There was in those days. You know we didn’t have scripts in those days for Yoruba movies. So the main problem was trying to remember your line. If you had to repeat a particular line, you may not be able to say it exactly the same way you said it the first time. But the English always had a script written for movies. So, it was more difficult to do Yoruba movies in those days. But now, things have changed. We now make use of scripts in our movies.
One of your last movies entitled Ifihan was said to be your story. In it, you played the role of a prostitute. Was it really your story?
(Prolonged laughter). People were saying that it was the story of my life. But the truth is that it was not my story. Though it was a true-life story of a woman, but it wasn’t mine. I wondered why they suspected that it was my story. But I love telling true-life stories. Maybe I would tell my story sometime in the future.