You can call her a trendsetter or a trailblazer. You can call her beauty or princess. And, you can call her a dreamer or an achiever. From conquering the beauty pageant – as Miss Delta – she’s becoming an enduring image in Nigeria’s film industry as an actress. Not somebody who settles for less, Lizzy Gold Onuwaje has demonstrated much dexterity as a film producer with robust ingenuity. Astute as a film producer, she’s methodical as an actress and yet she exudes the milk of kindness as a humanitarian advocate. The Warri-based actress, in this interview with Oge Ezeliora, talks about her passion, her man, life in Nollywood and latest flick, ‘Just a Night’. She also has some words for men who are only successful in turning their wives into punching bags
• Many Nigerian Men Are Lazy
• I Can’t Marry A Man Struggling to Survive in Life
• I’m Not in A Hurry to Get Married – Not All Women Must Marry
What is your view about young actors and actresses making bold statements in the film industry?
It’s a very good development – it is said the young shall grow. Nollywood must grow; we must continue to accommodate and train younger actors and actresses so that they can be professionals. People want to see new faces in Nollywood. So, it is a good development and Nollywood must continue to expand.
You were into beauty pageants – Miss Delta, can you tell us what made you join Nollywood?
I found out that I am a very good actress. As a young girl I always made people laugh. Even in the church, I was in the drama group and people liked me a lot. I attended Delta State University, Abraka; from there I moved to Lagos where I was introduced to the Royal Arts Academy, owned by Emem Isong. I enrolled and learnt a lot about acting. Today, I am not just an actress but a producer. I give God the glory.
You acted and produced a celebrated movie, ‘Just a Night’. How did you get the fund to make the film?
It was a self-funded movie. Though the Delta State Government supported me in some areas, most of the expenses were taken care of by me. I paid all the big actors and actresses that starred in the movie. In this business there is no sentiment. If I work on somebody’s production too, I will be paid. The movie is doing well in the cinemas. It was produced and premiered at the Centage Cinema in Asaba, with actors and actresss in attendance from all over the country.
Why did you choose to produce a movie on domestic violence?
It is because that is what is going on in most marriages. A lot of people think domestic violence is only when a man hits a woman. It’s more than that. It also includes verbally abusing one’s partner; threatening, and making their lives unbearable. ‘Just a Night’ is a family movie that everybody should see; single ladies should also watch it so that when they get married they will know how to address the issue. The movie addresses the issue of domestic violence, and helps couples to avoid it in every way.
Have you ever been abused by your man before?
No. I can never stand an abusive man. I produced the movie because domestic violence has become rampant over the years. Today, it is receiving serious attention from human rights activists, the government and international bodies. Many have gone through the traumatising situation in silence due to the African stereotype that men are the head of the home and women are meant to be submissive. Through campaigns and agitations, Nigerian women have begun to voice out their plights and have received attention. Subsequently, they have been rescued from life-threatening situations. Our celebrities are also not left out in this saga. Many have started revealing the hell they lived in and trauma they had experienced from their abusive partners.
Do you agree that men also face abuse in the home?
Yes, I agree with you. But the women are more often abused than the men. Let us look at the issue of Mercy Aigbe. She was almost beaten to death by her husband. I know so many celebrities abused one way or the other because they want to remain in their marriage. We hear different stories every day. There is no smoke without fire. Before a woman can abuse her husband verbally the man must have pushed her to the wall. No woman wake ups and begins to abuse her man. Every reaction you get from a woman is based on what the man does. Some men don’t know how to take care of women. It’s not just about getting married; people get married and don’t know what to do.
When you get married you have to take care of your wife; pay the bills and do a lot of other things. Some men live carelessly and expect their wives to always dance to their tune. Most men of nowadays are lazy. They want the women to do everything. While they sit at home and command respect. It is not right. I really want Nigerian men to watch the movie so that they can learn how to behave.
Can you tell us some star actors in the movie?
I worked with Majid Michael, Femi Jacob, Yvonne Jegede, Nichole Bana, and others. The movie was directed by Pascal Amanfo.
Was there a time while shooting the movie that you wanted to give up on its production?
No, I did not give up because I was prepared for it. Though at the location it was a bit stressful because we worked both night and day. From the actors to the crew; from the location, post-production and logistics, everything was on a high budget. I wanted to produce a high-class movie that will be seen at the cinemas. There must be challenges in every success. I came out well-prepared to produce ‘Just a Night’.
What impact did the movie have on you as a producer and actress?
It wasn’t easy crying from the beginning of a movie until it ended. I was emotionally down because I must act real. So, I was depressed, tired and weak after shooting. Though very challenging for me, but it came out great. When I had the story in my heart, I called my scriptwriter and told him what I wanted. He came up with the script and immediately I read it, I knew the perfect cast that would fit the story. The movie is a thriller that I encourage people to watch. There was a lot of workload that went down while shooting the movie but I give God the glory.
What scene do you love most in the movie?
I had a couple of scenes I love so much in the movie. But the one I hold so dear to me was the part that I couldn’t tell my husband that he was not the father of our child.
As an actress why did you go into film production?
I’m not a full-time producer. I’m still an actor. I went into production because I realised there are a lot of stories that have not been told and I think I can only tell these stories by producing them. There are so many stories in my heart that I believe if I don’t tell them no one will.
How did you see yourself in the movie with a black eye?
When I watched the movie for the first time, I screamed…the makeup was so horrible! I was really looking depressed and ugly, both physically and emotionally. But the truth is that we are actors so we are used to all kinds of costumes to suit the character we portray.
But some women prefer men that beat them?
I don’t think beating your woman is a proof of true love. Any man that beats his wife is an animal. I think a man that hits his wife is doing that out of hatred. There are other ways a man can prove his love, like buying her gifts, taking her on a trip, being romantic, spend good money on her. A man has to be caring to win my heart.
Which movie will you say made you famous?
I had two movies that made me famous. The first is ‘Bubemi, the Warri Girl’. The second is, ‘Just a Night’. For my second movie, I decided to try something that would be shown at the cinemas. I am not regretting it today though it was quite expensive producing the film.
Apart from movie production, what else are you doing?
I have been spending more time with my family. I have also been doing business and taking a lot of rest. Another thing I am getting involved in is humanitarian acts. I reach out to the less privileged through my NGO which I use in sponsoring indigent students. Whenever the need arises to get into humanitarian projects I don’t decline because I want to give to the society.
Where are you from?
I am from Delta State – a strong Itshekiri single mother.
As a single mother are you not thinking of settling down soonest?
I will at the right time. Every woman must not marry. We have people who are not married but they are happy. I have a lovely son. I am so proud of him. When the right man comes I will settle down. I am not in a hurry. I am not searching.
Since you are not searching, who is the lucky man?
I don’t want to talk about him. But the truth is that I can never marry a man that is struggling to survive in life.
Is he the same person that bought you the Lexus SUV?
Yes. He is the one.
Can you share the story with us?
Actually, it’s been long. All I can remember is that he didn’t let me know that he wanted to get me a car. I was driving a small Kia car when we met. He told me the car was very small. So one day, he just called me over to Lagos because he was about to travel out of the country. So I flew down, when I got to the airport, he drove down a brand new Lexus SUV. He told me it’s mine. But I didn’t believe him. So he brought out the documents and they all bore my name.
Any regret so far in life?
No. God has blessed me. 2017 was a very good year for me and 2018 will be a greater year.
What are some of your expectations this year?
I believe that the industry operators will improve, 2018 looks a bit promising. I think the oil in the water has shown itself and many producers are beginning to re-adjust. Actors and actresses are working harder to reach a higher level. I expect to see some out-of-the-box movies this year. I’m even tempted to shoot a new movie myself – one or two with ‘heart’. Let’s feed our imagination in 2018 – things will get better this year.
QUOTE: I can never stand an abusive man. I produced the movie because domestic violence has become rampant over years. Today, it is receiving serious attention from human rights activists, the government and international bodies. Many have gone through the traumatising situation in silence due to the African stereotype that men are the head of the home and women are meant to be submissive. Through campaigns and agitations, Nigerian woman have begun to voice out their plights and have received attention