I’m not a lesbian – Empress Njamah
Luckily, for all the men out there, Empress is not such a woman. She would have none of that. She prefers men. But don’t begin to get funny ideas. She’s not searching.
But that is one reality she’s been severally called upon, by the rumour mill, to explain.
For “controversial” is one adjective that aptly describes Empress Njamah’s rise to movie stardom. Every step of the sexy eyeball’s march through moviedom seems to have been trailed by one controversy or the other. One redhead swears on his mother’s grave that Empress is a lesbian. Another says she’s a kleptomaniac while yet another says she dates many men at the same time – not by way of three-in-bed, just double (or is it multiple?) dating.
But Empress says all the lesbian stuff is just the figment of some jobless guy’s not-so-rich imagination. “It is a product of warped minds”, she assured Saturday Sun.
“It is not only that I am a lesbian, they said I am multiple men person and a kleptomaniac. But it is not true”, she says.
“Lesbianism is one terrible thing in the bible that God does not like. I am somebody who is close to God. I don’t joke with my Sundays and Wednesdays. Talking about multiple men, they can not call me a lesbian and still say I am multi-men. So they don’t know what they are talking about. I can’t be a lesbian and still talk about multi men in my life. I am one person that doesn’t have much time for men”.
As for the kleptomania bit, she says there is a story to it. “It happened when I went with a friend of mine to the Airport and he gave his jacket to the gate man to hold for him. When he came back, he wore the jacket and travelled to United Kingdom. When he got there money got missing from his jacket and he was asked who he gave the jacket to, and because I was with him his secretary never liked me and thought it was the best time to really blackmail me… Trust Nigerians, the story just spread.
But I am saying I know myself and that I am not lesbian, a kleptomaniac or multi-men kind of person”, she restated bitterly.
Acting runs in my family
Beside all this distractions however, Empress is one hell of a star. And she’s been around a little while now. The dark-skinned, stary-eyed, all-feminine bomb exploded unto the scene in 1995 and since then has been able to hold her head high in the industry. Of course whatever she lacks, she can always dig dip into her veins to bring out from the genes - for acting runs in the family. Two of her siblings were already in the profession before her.
“We are five in number. Three of us are into acting. My brothers were into it before me. I went out with my brothers one day to a rehearsal in Surulere and the girl that was supposed to play a particular role did not come and I was asked to stand in for her. After, the director called me and asked if I was interested in acting, I said yes and got the role. But my father never wanted me to be an actress because of the negative things one get to hear about actresses. But when he saw one of my movies, he said I should just give it a try. But my mother has always been there for me”.
An actress’s lifestyle
There is a stigma that goes with actresses in Nigeria that unnerves Empress: the Imo state-born actress is not happy with the belief that actresses are promiscuous. And she is ready to do battle on this turf. “It depends on the factor you are looking at it. I believe, as an actress you have every right to marry or date an actor. It happens everywhere, hospitals, banks even in your (The Sun) office. It’s just that we are in the limelight and people tend to say bad things about us. If an actress wants to go out with a colleague, I believe there is no problem to it. One has to follow his or her heart in this”.
Sleeping to the top
“I hear a lot of cases of actresses sleeping with a director in order to get a role, but I always say that if you don’t have it there is nothing you can do about it. If you want to cheapen yourself to get a role and it came out in the movie with you not doing well, then you have yourself to blame. Acting is not something you jump into, it’s something that lots of people see and commend your worth and say ‘yes she is doing well’. But you can not put a square peg in a round hole”.
So has Empress slept with a director for a role she desperately wanted?, you ask.
“ I am not supposed to be answering that question. Nobody you actually ask that question would ever tell you ‘yes’, she has done it before, but I can boldly say I’ ve not done it before”.
Come to my room
Asked the English undergraduate if directors have sexually harassed her and she said: “Of course, a lot of time. (Keeps mute) look, I really don’t want to talk about it, but it’s a normal thing: a director sees you and asks you out but it also depends on you and how you were brought up. It’s normal thing, you are on set, somebody comes to you and tells you that he has this script, ‘if you want to play the lead, come to my room… if you want to take part in it come to my room. You know, normal harassment, threats and if you want this or that come to my room. But men! It does not get to me because I am very lively and easy going person, those things don’t really bother me. I will look in your eyes and tell you, you have to grow up and that you have a long way to go. I see it as empty threats. One thing people always say is that my brothers are always there for me. But I’ve never done any movie with my brothers because they are directors. Ever since I did my first movie, they said ; ‘Okay, Empress you can stand on your own’. I only meet them when I get a script and ask what they think of it and if I should go ahead and do it”.
I did not escape the ban
Empress is not happy with the ban on some of her colleagues and said she did not escape it since the people she likes working with were all banned. “I really do not like the ban or think it was necessary. If an artiste is growing beyound herself, we have a guild that actually takes care of such cases and takes action on it. But saying you want to ban an artiste from his job I don’t think is worth it. I don’t think is necessary to ban somebody because he or she collects so much money. I can understand the case where you abscond from set. It is not nice and you hold a lot of people to ransom and money is also going, but that is why we have the guild. You don’t have right to ban somebody. A lot of people are saying they are happy because new ones would come up. Yes, the new ones would come up but one thing they have to understand is that there are fans out there who would really want to see more of their movies and won’t buy any movie without their favorite stars on it. I would say I did not escape the ban because their problem is my problem and, at the end of the day, the people I really want to work with are the people I can not work with presently. So the ban is also affecting me”.
“ Is not a stable thing. It depends on the movie, director and the role. Is something that you negotiate. But we are not being paid well in Nollywood. The fees is not encouraging at all and it’s the same thing that causes the ban because we are demanding for our sweat. When I started I was paid N40,000”.
First time on screen
Unlike many of her colleagues, Empress said she was excited the first time she worked with already made stars. “I was more excited than nervous. It was not really new to me because I always go with my brothers and has always wanted to be on the screen. The first time I played along side Ngozi Nwosu and Olu Jacobs. I played their daughter and the encouragement I got from them is something worth mentioning. They helped me climb the ladder”.
The Girls Hotel star said she is yet to do anything challenging. “At the moment, I’ve not done anything challenging. I want to do something away from the Nigerian home video kind of thing. So I’ve not seen any of the things I have done as being challenging, is normal playing somebody’s daughter/student or bad girl. I am yet to hold life guns and shoot with live bullets, jump a storey building and all. I want to do something that would blow peoples mind”.
I am not in any relationship
“I am not in any relationship. Having a boyfriend is not compulsory. I’ve noticed that relationship takes a lot of your time and I am somebody who loves flying and be free and I love to be with my brothers. I am not that kind of person that says I want a tall, rich and dark guy. It is a spiritual thing, once you meet the person that is going to be your partner you will know. I want a God fearing man and right now I’ve not found him. I am looking for a true friend and he is looking for me. Some people call it boyfriend, lover or husband but I call it true friend. So I am looking for my best friend, if I get to find him I no go waste time waka go church, I am not getting younger, and if God willing I should be able to walk down the aisles very soon”. She said with a far away look in her eyes.