…Now bears Nigerian name, Damilola…
For sexy Ghanaian actress, Yvonne Nelson, heartbreak is a painful experience best avoided. Not exactly in the mood to relive her sensational breakup with popular Afro-hip hop act, Iyanya, she ended up doing so just to set the records straight. The actress was in the country to premiere her latest movie, “House of Gold” at the Silverbird Cinema, Lagos, yesterday, and opened up on sundry issues. Now bears Nigerian name, Damilola: Excerpt:
How are you enjoying your stay in Nigeria?
Did I tell you I’m half-Nigerian and half-Ghanaian? I was given a Nigerian name recently which makes me half-Nigerian. My Nigerian name is Damilola. It has been wonderful, I always say Nigeria is like a home for me. When I’m here, I do not feel like going back home again. But it’s just that everything seems to be faster here.
You are in the country to premiere your latest movie. What’s the movie all about?
The movie is titled, ‘House of Gold.’ It is a family-oriented comedy, and I want people to come and see two of Africa’s music stars Ice Prince and Omawumi make their debut in a movie. I produced the movie in partnership with Media Ghana.
“House of Gold” tells the story of Dan Ansah Williams, a high-flying entrepreneur, business mogul, polygamist and socialite who is battling with cancer and has six weeks to live. With the help of his long-time associate and legal representative, he embarks on a mission to recall all his children, most of whom were born out of wedlock, back home.
Dan’s last wish is to have all his children under one roof for seven days so they will get to know one another and bond due to the fact that they share the same blood line. However, that reunion proves a little more than everyone bargained for as each child indeed returns with an agenda, and this sets the stage for the most hilarious and bizarre seven days of their lives. I’m urging people to come and see the movie because they are going to laugh and have a nice time.
How did you get Ice Prince and Omawumi to star in the movie?
It was very challenging given the fact that they are busy people, always performing at shows. I have my own way of doing things. I spoke to them and they gave me their time and schedules, so I worked with it. We spent about 15 days on set.
Your first movie, ‘Single and Married’ was also directed by Paschal Amanfo, what do you have with him?
Paschal is one of the best directors in Ghana. He is a very straightforward director and it’s very easy working with him. You would like to work with somebody who helps make things go smoothly while on set.
What’s your experience like working with Ice Prince and Omawumi on set?
They were amazing on set. Ice Prince was the one who really shocked me because he had a show a night before joining us on set. He did not even sleep, as he took the next flight to Ghana and the moment he stormed the set, he started reading his script and mastering his lines. Omawumi was so good that I was tempted to ask her why she’s not into acting in Nigeria. I also had the funniest Nigerian actor,Francis Odega, on set.
Why did you decide to star the duo in your film?
It’s my own marketing strategy as a producer. I believe they have their own fan base and audiences. I wanted to spice up things. When you watch my movie, my cast are usually very interesting. People are sick and tried of seeing the same Nollywood and Ghollywood faces in our movies. I could have used notable Nollywood actors, but I just wanted to spice up things because I don’t think people are expecting what they are definitely going to see in the movie.
Controversies have been trailing your acting career in recent times; from your break-up with Iyanya to accusations that you bleached your body and more recently, an article posted online where you lamented that Iyanya used and dumped you. Why all these controversies?
Did anybody hear me say that? Nobody used and dumped me. As journalists, you should know that your colleagues are fond of using sensational headlines to drag traffic to their blogs and websites. At the end of the day, I did not say somebody used and dumped me. I don’t remember saying anything like that.
But what actually happened between you and Iyanya?
I guess it is out there. I granted two interviews on this whole thing; Bella Naija and Toolz(The Juice). I don’t want to repeat myself. My interviewers took what they wanted to take away from the interviews I granted them. I don’t have any control over what they decide to publish or put out there.
You have moved on after the break -up?
It happened last year. The reason I granted those interviews was to let my fans know the truth about what transpired between Iyanya and myself. Sometimes, one’s fans desire to know what’s happening to their idol.
How do you address the allegations of lightening your skin?
Do I look like someone who is bleaching? One thing people should understand is that we use a lot of photo tricks.If you watch our movies, for instance, I look a little bit dark but if you see my pictures, I look fair in complexion. Commonsense should tell anyone that the pictures are treated. What happened is that I posted my new picture online and people started alleging that I was bleaching my skin. That’s how the whole thing started. My mum is fairer than me, and my siblings are all fair in complexion. I don’t bleach and I don’t intend lightening my skin.
Do you feel hurt each time you read negative stories about yourself?
I don’t. I don’t even know why they say all the things they say about me. To some people, if you tell them you can fly, they would believe in you. Whatever they read in the dailies, they believe in. It’s good for them. So, I can’t go into everybody’s home to tell them, “Look at me, I haven’t bleached before.” I’m happy with myself.
Are you in any relationship at the moment?
Not that fast. I’m now a “sacred virgin,” meaning you are not a virgin but after a long time, you become a sacred virgin. There are some special people in my life that I hang out with once in a while. But I’m not in any relationship at the moment. I just want to take my time. It’s not as if I’m looking for guys. I believe that when it is the right time, they will come looking for me.
But are you not thinking of settling down?
It’s something that I’m thinking about, but I just want to take my time. More so, I’m still young. However, if it comes my way, why not? But definitely, not with somebody in the entertainment industry.
Meaning that you wouldn’t want to date an entertainer again?
Not at all.
Is it because of your experience with Iyanya?
I guess everybody knows that. It was quite a shocking experience.
Even after your break-up with Iyanya, there were some tweets meant to be an apology to you from one of your contenders, Tonto Dikeh. How did you receive the tweets?
Like I said in my interview with Bella Naija, I hate a situation where you bring a third person into any relationship that I’m involved in. I don’t want to mention names. There are certain things I wouldn’t want to talk about here. I know that those tweets were actually meant for me. There is no problem. I hope she’s happy now because she did whatever she had to do. She advised me to move on, and I wish her good luck.
After reading your interview in Bella Naija, we sought Iyanya’s reaction and he told us you were free to say whatever you wanted to say. Has it got to that extent?
Fine! You guys should go back and read the interview again. We are in a business where everybody is trying to protect his or her fan base. Most of his fans are women while my fans are basically men. So, I would do anything to protect my male fans just as he was trying to protect his female fans. He can’t run away from the truth. I decided to open up because I didn’t want to disappoint my male fans. I was ready to talk about it. And nobody could stop me from doing so.
Given this situation, would you turn down any offer to be on the same set with Tonto Dikeh?
I don’t have any problem with anybody. As a professional, if I get a phone call from a producer and the script is something I like as well as the person directing the film, why not? I will. I’m not fighting with anyone, even though we are not friends. But all the same, whatever tweets she posted were meant for me. It’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. We all have our lives to live and were brought up in different backgrounds. I don’t have to respond to anything.
At this point, would you say you were heartbroken?
I once was.
What’s the healing process like?
Just like any other person. I guess everybody goes through heartbreak. It’s a natural thing and as time goes on, you get over it. I can’t sit down at home and cry all day long. I’m occupied with a lot of things; I have movies to shoot, I’m travelling and handling other projects.
How would you describe Iyanya?
Great guy with great talent. He’s like the best singer I’ve ever known and he gives me good reason to think so.
Before the breakup, were you envisaging a situation where the relationship would lead to marriage?
I don’t know.
But you gave the relationship your best shot?
I’m sure if you are in a relationship, everybody gives his or her best to it. We all gave our best.
What was the real problem?
The real problem was what I spoke about in the two interviews I granted to Bella Naija and Toolz.
What is it that people don’t know about you?
Back in Ghana, you hardly see me hanging out with any guy. This is because I’m always indoors even when I’m not shooting a film or travelling out of the country. But here, in Nigeria, the reason people get so many stories to tell about me is that each time I’m in the country and they see me in the company of some of my colleagues, they will start drawing conclusions that we are dating. That has been my problem in Nigeria.
I cannot control what people say about me because I don’t live here. Sometimes, I need these guys to take me around. In Ghana, I drive myself around and do my things in my own way and nobody says anything about me. It looks as if I can’t have friends any more.
If anybody they see me with is going to be an issue, then there is already an issue. Am I the only person that hangs out with friends? All these things doesn’t disturb me either because I’m a free spirit. I think people should stop linking me with guys. I’m not hiding anything. If I have a boyfriend I should be proud enough to talk about him.