What other better way to start the New Year than this. Popular Yoruba Nollywood actress Liz Anjorin has landed a mouth-watering endorsement deal with DODAN Industries, a tomato paste company. The deal which came her way on the third day of the New Year with an official car is certainly making the actress glee with excitement.
Since signing the contract, the De-sella Tomato Ambassador has been full of thanks to God and is not hiding that fact.
The deal which came five days to her late mother’s one year remembrance, without a doubt, brought some nostalgic feelings. In this interview with MERCY MICHAEL, Liz captures her nostalgia and opens up on life after her mother’s death. She also speaks on her new passion and marriage. Excerpt:
ONE year after your mother’s demise, what would you say you miss most about her?
What I miss most about my mum? Of course I miss her prayers. I miss the motherly care. I also miss her jokes. Oh! My mum jokes a lot. Each time I recall some of her jokes I just smile. My mum will say things like E ti de la ti travel (You are back from your trip. Se e mu bumper short wa fun mama (hope you brought me bumper short). You can imagine it yourself, a very old woman at that time, asking if you brought her bumper short. She had a great sense of humour. There’s another one she says, A n lo si Abuja o (We are going to Abuja o).
When I reply her, Eyin ati tani? (you and who?).She will say to me, ‘Do you think I’m not in town’ (Se o ro pe mi o si n le ni?). Then there is also the normal slang, maybe you and her are having an argument over something she will say, Gbe mi lo tation n gbayen’ (take me to the station then). Really, sometimes when I remember some of her jokes I laugh out loud!
Actors are known to run busy schedules. Were you beside her at her last moments?
No, because I didn’t even think it would happen. She died January 8, 2012. It was a New Year. We were preparing for strike so I made some provisions for her for and asked someone to take them to her. So when they got there they just called me to tell me they met her corpse.
How did you take it?
Though she was old, very old, it was still a shock and painful for me. Immediately, I started to imagine how I’m going to cope without her. I thought to myself, if I offend anybody, who will they report me to? And who is going to talk on my behalf? Who is going to take care of my daughter? At least, we visit grandma from time to time. My daughter was always fond of saying, ‘let’s go grandma’s place’. So her death was very painful.
Now that there is no grandma to look after your daughter, with your busy schedule, do you make out time for her?
Thank God my daughter is not a baby. She’s in boarding school. Moreover, it’s a matter of setting your priorities. When I’m supposed to spend time with my daughter, like when she’s on holidays, I give her my all.
So prioritising is the word. With that you can’t go wrong. During her holidays, we come here; we come to my shop together. If I’m going to buy my stock I take her long. I try to show her one or two things with respect to the business. Though I don’t take her with me when I’m travelling abroad to get things but I’m already making plans for her to study abroad after her secondary school.
At a young age, you’re already involving her in your business. How old were you when you started doing buy and selling?
I actually started at a tender age; very, very tender. My mother used to tell me that as a woman if you can’t work with your hands you will work with your body. So the choice was mine to take. And then she would add, it’s what you labour for that lasts long. I realised I love business so it was easy, my mother didn’t have to force me to do it. Some people say it’s the Badagry in me. That Badagry people love business a lot.
How do you feel when they call you an Egun girl?
I like it when people make that their usual snag, omo Egun. I’m not a bastard. I’m proud to be an Egun girl. My Egun name is Oyenukume. If you check my BB, you will see on my display, Elizabeth Anjorin Oyenukume. And the meaning of Oyenukume is Ni sho ju won ni mo ma se se rere (I will succeed while they are alive). If I’m travelling to Babagry at times and I tell them my name is Oyenukume, they give me special treatment. They treat me like a queen.
Then they start to speak Egun. That’s when I now tell them that I don’t understand the language. I’m proudly Egun. Some people will be like omo Eko ni mi (I’m a Lagosian) when in actual sense they are not, but not me. I’m not ashamed of my heritage. There was this guy I know who’s from Badagry and when I said to him, he denied. He said he’s from Lagos Island. And I told him that anyway, me, I’m a proper Egun girl. Don’t I look beautiful? Egun people are beautiful.
How long ago did you set up this place?
About ten months ago. ‘Peak Me’ was formerly at Abule-Egba. But I relocated to Ogba, like I said about ten months ago, and the name changed from ‘Peak Me’ to ‘Peak Me Reloaded’ Super mart.
The beads that I see here are a quite unique and I’m shocked to find out that you actually do them yourself. So what time did you have to go and learn how to make beads?
Initially I had people who were beading for me. But there was a day somebody ordered for six beads at very good prices. I called my bead maker and gave her the money and told her when to deliver the beads based on my agreement with the customer. But to my surprise, the very day the person was supposed to pick up the bead, I called my bead maker to bring the beads for me and she said, she had been busy, that she didn’t have time.
To crown it all, she said, ‘ I’ve not even touched your job yet’. Upon hearing this I was mad. When the customer arrived I pleaded with her and told her about the situation. To my surprise, she said, ‘Oh don’t worry. You can keep the money. When I’m back from my travelling I will come and pick them up.’ After that incident, I started trying my hands on beads.
As God would have it, it all just started to fall into place. After sometime, I became more creative than I ever imagined. My beads are unique as you can see. I rarely admit to people that I never learnt it formally because it’s hard for them to believe but honestly that’s the truth. I can call one of my staff to confirm it to you. But that’s by the way. Whenever I travel I get brooches and glass crystals. With those two, our beads look unique. I’ve seen customers who say to me, Lizzy, I don’t like beads but with all these that I’m saying, I’m falling in love with beads. With bead you’ve got to be super calculative. If you have ten steps of bead when you get to the tenth one and you are not correct about it you have to lose the whole thing and start from the scratch. Beading is hard really. Its complex but I love it. I have passion for it just like I have passion for acting.
What class of people in the society are your clientèle?
I have beads as low as N7, 000, N10, 000, N15, 000, N20, 000 upward. We have bead of N150, 000, so you see I carter for all levels of the society. For me it’s not about the money really. It’s about the creativity that I put into it, that each time people see my work that they go like, wow! Who did this? So that is it really. I believe in being the best in everything that I do.
Back to your acting career, for 2013 what are the things you are working on?
I’m working on Kofo The First Lady. It’s a continuation of Kofo Tinubu. The movie Kofo Tinubu centres on the physically challenged in the society, their plight, among other things. In Kofo The First Lady is a governor and his physically challenged wife. Now, are the people going to accept the woman as his first lady? How is she going to cope among other first ladies? These and many more is what the movie seeks to address.
Is it a real life story?
No. It was inspired by my idea of what the physically challenged in our society go through daily, the rejections and all. It’s a well known fact that they are discriminated against. People condemn them. People don’t want to have anything to do with them. Even their parents are so shy of them. They are not proud of them. They keep them in the house away from people. And they go through emotionally tortured.
You seem passionate about this. Do you have a first-hand experience of something like that?
No. But after Kofo Tinubu, I came up with Liz Anjorin Foundation for the physically challenged. I went to their different schools and home. And I saw different cases. Some of them have been locked up in one room since the past fifteen years. They just open the room, throw food at them and lock the door against them. Some of them have never seen day-light before. These scenarios were actually what led to the Liz Anjorin Foundation (for the physically challenged).
How has the foundation been of help to the physically challenged?
We’ve been to the school of the blind for instance. I went there. Spoke to them. When I was leaving, I gave them some things. I let them realise that in disability there is ability. I made them realise that being physically challenged is not a death sentence. It’s not the end of one’s life. Basically, I advised them in company with my team. We hope to revisit them soon.
What I’m trying to do is to let people know that these people do exist and need all the love, care and attention that they can get. As an individual you can go and see them and appreciate them with little gifts. I can assure you that it goes a long way. Truth is some people do not know that we have such people in our society.
Like me, for instance, if I hadn’t done Kofo Tinubu and had not gone to see them I wouldn’t have known that some of their cases are really extreme like that. Home or Orphanage is different from theirs. In homes we have able bodies, just that they do not have mothers and fathers. But these people that I’m talking about, some of them do have mothers and fathers but they’ve been disowned by their own parents.
There is the story making the rounds that you just landed yourself an endorsement deal. Tell us about.
It’s not a rumour. It’s true!
Is this your first endorsement? And how do you feel about it?
Yes it’s my first. I feel happy. I feel great because first, coming in the beginning of a New Year, 3rd of January to be precise, it’s a great thing. It’s something to be thankful for. It’s a blessing from above. Coming five days to my mum’s one year remembrance, indeed, my mum lives on.
How financially rewarding is this endorsement?
I can’t tell you how much is involved but I can tell you for sure that it’s financially rewarding with an official car (laughs).
How many years’ contract did you sign with them?
It’s a one-year contract.
What is the name of the brand?
This is your New Year and already goodies have started to come your way. What are your resolutions for the year?
For me, I don’t like to make resolutions. All I can say is pray for me that God should give me long life, strength, wisdom, knowledge and understanding. With that I can do things. Me I love surprises. So I don’t like forecasting that 2013 I will be this I will be that. I don’t own myself. God owns us all.
What are those things you did in 2012 that you would want to do differently in 2013?
Everything I did in 2012 was perfect, except my mum’s death. January 8, 2012 was pathetic. That event took a toll on me because I didn’t really plan for that. Imagined, I and my mum had talked about my movie Kofo Tinubu. We had fantasised about its release but unfortunately, when we released it she was no more. But by and large, 2012 was a great year.
After her death I opened this shop. I did her final burial and dad’s final burial too. I did a lot of things. And I thank God for my life. I bless Him; exalt His name because for everything He was there for me. I can’t think of anything I want to do differently this year. When my mother was alive, being the only child, there were insinuations that my mother was instrumental to my success.
I don’t know if you understand what I’m trying to say. What they mean is that spiritually, my mother was my back bone. So immediately my mother passed away, a lot of them were like, let us see how she’s going to continue to make it big. Seeing that many of them were expecting my downfall, I went to God in prayer, seeking His face and telling him about their thoughts and asking Him to intervene because He’s my father and mother. And I thank Him for proving Himself faithful. If I know where that man lives, I will go there, wash His clothes, iron them and cook the best meal for Him. I mean my God!
As an upwardly mobile chic, with all the ‘extras’, doesn’t it sometimes scare men away from you?
That’s there cup of tea o my sister. Now, Nigerian men are crazy o. They don’t want to carry any burden. If you are hearing such thing as, ‘my sweetheart, ‘my heartthrob’, na money. But looking at it, should it be a put-off for men? I think it should encourage any serious man.
Are you saying that you’ve never met any man that got intimidated by your success?
No, in fact they fall in love crazily because I’m an entrepreneur.
How are you sure it is not because of your money that they fall crazily in love with you?
Money, I don’t have money. Business woman no dey get money. For where? As a business woman, everything we make we put back into the business. You can’t find money in our accounts.
Frankly speaking, when are you going to say the words ‘I do’?
We’ve been hearing this soon for some time now. It is likely to be 2013?
I don’t know. You wan give me your papa? He will buy me a stretch Limo (laughs).
Recently in one of your interviews, you got into an issue with a fellow actress, Iyabo Ojo. Tell us about it.
No don’t let us go there. We’ve settled. Iyabo Ojo is my best friend. As a matter of fact, she was the first person that greeted me for my mum’s one year remembrance today. So she’s my best friend.