Actress, Halima Abubakar, tells ’Nonye Ben-Nwankwo about her life and career.
You released your first movie recently. What prompted you to join the league of movie producers?
I have always wanted to produce my own movie. I had wanted to do it five years ago, but I felt it wasn’t the right time. I was busy with other jobs. I shot my movie two years ago. But we had a little problem with the camera. There were some issues with the voice and everybody had gone and I couldn’t call them back. I didn’t want to dub. We had to recall some people and I added new cast. But I said I would bring it out this year and that was what I did.
What is the movie, The Mistresses, all about?
It is basically about single ladies who date married men and married men who lie that they are single in order to deceive ladies and fulfill their sexual desire. Some of the girls are not worried that what they do is wrong.
Actresses date married men and some of the men who eventually marry them do not tell them they are married. Is your movie based on happenings in the movie industry?
There are so many actors that I have not met or worked with. There is no way I can put one person’s story or what I read in the papers as my story for a movie. This is what happens in every sector. It is general. This is my first job and maybe that is why people are talking about it.
How did you move from Halima who played waka pass roles to lead actress?
It is just God’s time and it is destiny. This is the time God wants me to be recognised. I don’t think 11 or 12 years is too small. It is already a long time. I grew up in the eye of the people. I knew I would get here at a point with hard work and focus. That was what I did. Now, I can take a break. I can even go and rest.
Tell us how you got into the movie industry.
I used to watch a lot of Indian movies when I was growing up in Kano. I just wanted to be a part of the movie industry and I didn’t know how to do it. Somehow, I came down to Lagos without my parents’ consent.
You came on your own?
Oh yes. I went to one or two auditions. Initially, it was fun meeting all the stars. I was so happy I was seeing the people I used to watch on TV. I decided to be patient. I waited for nine months and I didn’t get a role. They told me I didn’t have an epic face. They also told me I didn’t have a pretty face and height.
How did your parents take it when you got back home?
I got the beating of my life. When I got back home, my parents welcomed me. My mother even gave me food and made sure I ate very well. I was relaxing when my father came and beat me badly. My dad didn’t talk to me for three months and we were staying in the same house. My life is an open book. I don’t usually like something that is not true to be said about me. That is why I always say the truth myself.
How did you survive when you came to Lagos?
I came to Lagos with N7, 000. I slept in different peoples’ homes. There was this actress, her name is Bukky. She is no longer in the industry. I stayed partly in her house. She told me her mother wouldn’t accept my staying in their house, so whenever her mother came to her room, I would have to hide. I did that for two weeks and I was sleeping on the floor. I got tired of that after two weeks. I had to go back to my aunt’s house and begged her to allow me to stay in her house. She didn’t agree so I had to go back to Kano.
So what happened when you got back to Kano?
I had to go back to school. Years later, I came back to Lagos to see what was going on and this is where we are.
Who gave you your first break?
My big break was by Mr. Hollywood. The movie was called ‘Gangster Paradise’. That was in 2001. I left and came back in 2004 and then I came back in 2006.
Why were there breaks in between?
I got tired of trying to get a role. I was tired of being told I didn’t have the face. Some other unprofessional people I met along the way tried to tell me to follow another way. I decided to go back to school and finish up and come back as a mature lady. That was actually what my father wanted. I was very young then.
So many scandals have been written and said about you…
I didn’t read the magazines. I was in Kano most times, especially when all those things were written about me.
But how true were all the stuff said about you?
I was very sad over the stories. I always felt people reacted to me based on what they had heard or read about me. I had depression because of that. I treated the depression for about seven months. I just refused to die. If I didn’t die of depression then, nothing else would kill me. People were just twisting stories.
But we learnt you were pregnant for an actor…
That was just a movie. Just because one actress did something bad, you don’t have to generalise
Are you saying that all the politicians in Nigeria, are thieves?
Everybody cannot be bad. Everybody cannot be a ‘runs’ girl. You don’t know me, you only know my profession. A lot of people are not feeling good because of what have been said about them. I am an example back then. People were saying negative stuff about me; I was told I wasn’t good enough. It was a terrible period for me. If I see people who come now to encourage me and tell me, ‘didn’t I tell you that you will succeed’, I just look at them and laugh. It is a lie. Nobody told me anything.
We also learnt you fought over a man…
I have never fought over any man. Men are just too many. I cannot fight over any man. Why will a girl fight me over a man? The kind of men I have dated (they are not many though) don’t have eyes for other women when they are with me. If you are in a relationship with me, you are really in a relationship with me. There will be nothing like another girl by the side. I have never been in such situation.
Why do they stick to only you and not bother looking at other babes?
Why will a man have roving eyes? If you want to date other people, then we have to break up. I don’t have that kind of strength. I can’t be thinking of one man when he is on top of another lady. It is just that men lie a lot. You hardly know a man who is saying the truth when he is saying he loves you. But all men and women are not the same any way.
Has any guy broken your heart before?
No. I have never had a heart break in my life. I do quarrel with them but nothing like heart break. If I were a bad person, they still won’t be calling me. I don’t want to get distracted. I know my pains and happiness.
Are you the one that walks out in a relationship or they usually leave you?
I have never had to break up with anyone.
So how do you part ways with them?
I don’t have to get into details but I am telling you the truth. Most of the people I have dated still want to be my friend. We are not enemies. When they see a hard working babe, they still want to support her not feeling that she is their ex. If any of them tries to get back, I tell them I am in a relationship. I don’t cheat when I am in a relationship. There is no reason for me to tell you I love you and I go behind you to do some other things. I need peace in my life. I don’t want to be scared of getting caught while cheating.
Are you also saying you don’t get into relationships because of financial gains?
I don’t do that. If I did, I would have been one of the richest ladies in Nigeria.
So rich men ask you out?
Of course they ask me out. Why won’t they ask me out? It is normal. It is the truth. But if I start it, I might end up dating half of the Nigerian men. I am not like that. If you love me that much, then come and marry me. If you are married, then there is no need starting a conversation with you.
Are you saying you don’t date married men?
I don’t. When I was much younger, there was this guy I really liked, I didn’t know he was married. I found out he was married and I had to stop seeing him. I don’t want to make another lady sad at home. I know men lie a lot that they are not married. I don’t know why. It is not good and that is why most ladies fall for them.
Are you comfortable with the fact that you are not yet married?
I am fine. Nobody is pressurising me. My parents know my story so I am not under pressure. They want me to be happy. I will get married but I need to see that person that I will wish to spend the rest of my life with. I need to see that man that is worth the risk. There are a lot of people who are older than I am and not yet married. I am not looking at them but people should concentrate on them and leave me alone. I am very happy. I just started becoming so successful. I need to enjoy my success.
But are you in a relationship?
I am in a relationship. I wouldn’t want to share that.
Have you discussed marriage with him?
Even if I have, I won’t want to discuss it. There are risks involved in marriage. I need to get the right man. I am not in a hurry. People will not live with me. They will not be there when I am hurting. I will get married but don’t expect an invitation. I don’t intend to do a big ceremony.
You no longer have friends in your industry…
I don’t really have friends. I just have colleagues.
It is better that way. If you bring people close to you, you might not get the same love back. You have to be in a good state of mind to keep such friends.
Do you still remember your first boyfriend?
I don’t. But he still calls me. I told you that I don’t quarrel with people. I don’t offend them. But they still call me, if I like, I pick the phone and if I don’t like, I don’t bother after all, it is my phone.
Can you go back to any of the people you have had a relationship with?
I can’t do that. There would have been a reason we broke up and I wouldn’t go back to it.
Do you still drink?
I no longer take alcohol. I only take cocktail now. Alcohol was making me lose sleep. I used to take spirit and it was giving me heart burns. So I had to stop.
But you still smoke…
I have never smoked. People said I smoke and they even gave me a brand. If I smoke, I will tell you. I don’t have to hide it.
But it was also rumoured that you are into same sex relationship with some of your colleagues…
People always like to tag me with a name that doesn’t belong to me. I can only bear the name that my parents gave me and not any other name. People just say rubbish about me in order to tarnish my reputation. That was how they came up with the story that I smoke and even went as far as giving me a brand.