March 23, 2015 – Lanre Hassan Iya Awero Talks About Late Husband & Why She Didn’t Remarry
See excerpts from Nollywood actress Lanre Hassan latest interview with Adebola Olanilua
How did you meet your husband?
I loved films a lot and I used to go to cinema houses to watch Indian movies and the like. I did not know that my husband had been watching me and had already known my movement. One lovely night, I was walking briskly home when he offered to walk me to my house. I told him to leave me alone but he said that he knew where I lived and I was shocked. He told me that he normally followed me to the house whenever I went to watch movies to ensure that I got home safely before he would turn back. That day, he followed me home and that was how we started interacting.
How did it lead to marriage?
There was no need of proposing when we both knew what we wanted from the relationship. We were mature adults and we had been seeing each other for a while. What he thought was that once we got married, I would stop acting but that did not happen.
He died about 13 years ago, what happened?
He fell ill and the next thing I heard was that he was dead and there was nothing I could do about it.
Why didn’t you remarry after his death?
How would I remarry? I had vowed that I would not remarry; besides, there was no need for me to marry again. When he was alive, I had five children, though two of them later died. One died when I was acting on the stage while the other died when Baba Mero died; we slept together but he did not wake up. Now I have three children and they are the ones I’m looking after. I did not see any point in remarrying.
Did you not have any suitor that swept you off your feet?
They came but I had already made up my mind and that was final. Once I make up my mind, then there is nothing anybody can do about it. When they used to come, I would greet and tell them immediately that we could not get married because I had to look after my children and I could not leave my work. One should learn to stand firm and do what has to be done.
How have you been able to cope without having sex for 13 years?
I have been coping fine. Sex is not garri or rice; it is not food. You have to cope once you are determined about what you want to do and you will be fine.
How did you take the deaths of your children?
I took them in good faith, hoping it never happens again. It almost affected my work because I almost quit, but with the help of God and the advice of people, I decided not to quit. I put everything in the hands of Almighty Allah and I continued my work.
You didn’t suspect any foul play in the deaths of your two children?
There was no foul play. My husband and I accepted everything in good faith, but he was stressing that I quit my job because of the deaths of my children. He said that my job was not an easy one and that there could be some metaphysical powers at work, but I told him there was nothing like that. I explained that all I was doing was to make people laugh away their sorrows.
Would you say acting has brought you fame and fortune?
It has brought me fame because I have travelled all over the world. I have also been to virtually every state in Nigeria. Travelling is part of education. I have known a lot of people. It has given me fame and I don’t regret being an actress.
Do you have any of your children toeing this path?
My firstborn is into acting and he is also my manager; he follows me everywhere and he is the only one that is interested in the job. The other ones are working in other fields.
How come you are not as close to Oga Bello (Adebayo Salami) and Aluwe (Sunday Omobolanle) like you used to?
We are still very close friends, but 20 boys cannot play together for 20 years. We have been together right from our youth and we thank God, but the time came for us to be on our own. I have my outfit, Alhassan Films Production, and they are also on their own.
When you started the Ojo Ladipo group, you chose your leader using a ballot system. If you had been picked as the leader, being a woman, would you have accepted the role?
In those days, men usually led the group and even when Ojo Ladipo died, people wanted me to take over the mantle of leadership, but I refused. Oga Bello was a very hardworking man and was very active in the group; so when they approached me, I told them that Oga Bello was to be the director of the group. He had been there for so many years and had contributed to its success; I said I was there to work with him. I am happy for him.
Of all the movies you have starred in, which would you say is your favourite?
I have lost count of all the films I featured in, so it is difficult for me to say which one is my favourite. I just praise God for what he has done and I ask him to give me long life.
Your mother is still alive…
Yes, she is still alive and we are very close. I love my mother dearly. She always tells me to take it easy and ensure that I look after my children and I thank her for that, and I am praying that God would grant her long life. She still prays for me.
How were you able to face your career and still take care of your children?
I used to take my children along with me to whereever I travelled to. It was when they were about two years old that I told my mother to help look after them occasionally. She has been very helpful to me. There was a time our vehicle broke down in the bush and my child was just about three months old, but I was not scared. I slept there and nothing happened to me and that was not the first time I would sleep outside. The job toughens a person.
You were always among men; didn’t people see you as a promiscuous lady?
No, they did not. It was quite obvious that they were my colleagues.
How about when you needed to change your clothes, did you do that in front of them?
No. At the back stage, we had where we used to change and there were different sections for men and women which were divided by a curtain. I cannot be changing clothes in front of a man. There was discipline.
What do you think has changed about the industry?
Some of the new crop of artistes that are in the industry today do not want to work; they are just after money. I believe that if you work hard, money would come. If you ask these new actors to act on stage, they cannot do it. They just ask how many scenes they would be involved in and negotiate the price they want to collect. We are trying to tell them that such mentality is not good. Some listen, some don’t.
Some people say that actresses use the job as a form of prostitution…
When we were also young, that was what they were saying. They also called us prostitutes, but we proved them wrong with our work. So, the new generation of actresses should do the same. They are not prostitutes; they are only doing their job.