I never thought my marriage could fail–Lepa Shandy
Lepa Shandy as Shade Omoniyi is called is not giving up on marriage despite a six-year not-too-rosy marriage that packed up in 2010. A second marriage is not the only thing this actress is hoping for.
She wants to be a mother as well. Shade passionately spoke on her broken marriage for the first time and revealed that her not-palatable experience is prompting her to turn marriage counselor to keep others from falling victim.
You have been quiet for a while. What have you been doing?
I've been working underground
What kind of work were you doing underground?
What kind of job do you think I do? Movie production.
What movie are you producing now? Can you say something about your latest job?
My latest job is called Eri Ife (Evidence of love). It's a six-cast movie, shot in Nigeria, directed by Muyideen Shasiliu, the guy that directed Jenifa. It's a story about love and how love should be handled. My stories are mainly about love. It will be out very soon, this year by God's grace.
Why a six-cast movie?
At times, production does not need a large cast and some people have done two to three-cast productions and they are nice.
Aside that what should we expect from you this year?
Expect to see a new me because 2010 was a challenging year for me but I thank God I came out by His grace and 2011 will be better and so expect more from me. Things will surely be different in 2011.
What do you hope will be different for you in 2011?
I usually leave all I am doing in the hands of God. He who has God has everything. He is the final decider of my fate and I know he has better things for me in 2011. I don't like counting my chickens before they are hatched. When it is done people will see it.
What was challenging for you in 2010?
So many things and I really don't want to dwell on it but the major one was my marriage and I thank God I came out of it victorious and I hope to start afresh in 2011.
Is that why you were a bit quiet in 2010?
Somehow, when you are not settled it is like you don't have focus and everything will be upside down. For the last two three years, it has been God and I give him all the glory in my life. And I hope to reshape my life better this year. I started late last year and hope to improve on it this year.
On another level, will you marry again?
Why not, if I told you I wouldn't marry again won't you scold me?
Will that happen this year?
That I don't know, but I hope to start a relationship very soon.
What are you looking for?
Firstly, you must be presentable, working. You must be God-fearing. You don't have to be a rich man but you must be comfortable. What I look for is not all about money but most importantly he must love me for who I am.
If you say it is not about money, why did you marry a man outside Nigeria?
Then you don't know anything about me. Last year, I intentionally did not grant any interview because most of you don't take time to find out the truth before you write and you either add or deduct and I don't like that at all. I said I am not marrying a rich man and you ask me why did I marry a man from abroad. Do you know when I got married? I got married in 2004 and my husband has been here all along in Nigeria with me and only left for the UK in 2007, so what are we saying?
But most people don't know. We all thought he has been living abroad all this while because actresses always want to marry from abroad.
That is why I always want to clear any misconceptions with journalists as best as I can. But anytime I grant interviews, it is either they add or subtract. I got fed up and decided not to talk to them again. Let me tell you, I dated my husband from1991 when we were at UNILAG until we got married in 2004 and we were staying here in Nigeria and I have been traveling even before he traveled at all.
Before I got married I had the opportunity to meet so many people but I don't believe in money and got married based on love and don't forget I met him when I was nobody. I did Lepa Shandy in 2002 and we'd been together before then. I made my choice based on my own thoughts. People don't want to know the truth and just twist what they know and my logo is not to care what they say. Once I satisfy myself, I don't care.
Okay, most times it is misconception but you need to know how to manage the information?
Even before the whole thing started, people were already carrying different rumors when he left for the UK but I was not bothered. Last year I personally called City People to release the news and I did not grant any interview because I don't want to deceive myself and say because of people I must cover up but how long could I cover it up?
I have to move on with my life because when people see me with another guy, they will start to talk. It is better for me to just end the speculation about my status. I want to start all over again. I know what journalism is all about and I don't want people to just start saying anything they like about me. After that, Alaroye called me but I declined because I decided that I wasn't going to talk to anybody on that issue..
But does it have anything to do with the fact that you are an actress?
I don't want to talk about whatever caused the problem. I don't think it has anything to do with me being an actress, it got nothing to do with his family, it's between me and the guy. It is irreconcilable differences.
As an actress, are you happy?
But you don't get to go to every location like every body.
What I noticed about the industry is that seasons come and go. It is not happening to just me or just the Yoruba section, it happens everywhere. It's no big deal. Producers will use who they want to use. If you follow my career, I have not been that actress that features in every movie. By the time I did Lepa Shandy I did not ask God for Irawo, he gave it to me on a platter of gold.
He thinks I deserve it and I told him, I want good luck on this job, not how far but how well. It is not appearing in all movies that matter, the important thing is for people to know who you are, value and appreciate you. Being a star or celebrity does not mean you appear in all movies. I am still very relevant despite all odds, I thank God for that.
Considering the fact that acting is the only job that you are known for, will you say it's been financially rewarding?
So far so good, I thank God. I don't beg for food, I am comfortable. I am not rich but I am comfortable.
Do you do any other thing apart from acting?
Yes, of course I do. I do buying and selling. Whenever I travel, I buy gold, bring them back to sell in Nigeria. I am still working on some things.
So would you say life has been fair to you?
(Sighs) God has been fair to me. I don't want to talk about people, they could be fair today and fail tomorrow, but I know God has been very fair to me in all ramifications. I don't have cause to regret anything.
Apart from your marriage, what was really wrong last year?
Nothing. Let me tell you something: these days, ladies or women do not appreciate marriage but if you see a real woman that appreciates her marriage, she won't want anything to happen to it. I am one of those people that really appreciate marriage. I appreciate my home. So when things happened the way they did, basically, it affected everything. So I will tell you, my career is very important to me but I value my marriage so much.
Probably you can give up your career for it?
I have never been in that situation anyway. When my ex-husband used to be my boyfriend and I was in that situation that he said I should pick one, I did not really know anything about marriage. I wouldn't pray to be in that situation again that somebody would say okay, you would have to leave your work. Probably because I look before I leap. I don't think I will find myself in that situation that somebody will say you have to forfeit your career for me or for marriage, no.
But what happened when you had to pick between your career and your relationship?
When I got into the industry, it was really taking much of my time, and because we were so used to it, maybe he thought this thing is taking too much of your time, and I was so engrossed in it and bent on making a career. Before I got into it, my dad called him and asked him if he permitted me to go into it and he said yes. So why should you say that I should leave it when I had already gone into it? So after that had been solved it was even years after that we got married.
But how did you resolve that phase of your relationship?
I don't know, I think it was just love, the love we had for each other.
Did you beg him or did he beg you?
We never had cause to quarrel over it. He just said, okay o this thing I don't think I am enjoying it, are you going to forfeit it. I said my dear, no, you won't do this to me at this stage? No o. He just looked at me and he waved it off. I assured him the job won't come in between us. I will try and blend and we did.
You said you are one of those people that value marriage, why didn't you fight for your marriage?
Why didn't I fight for my marriage? I tried! I really don't want to talk about it, I am waiting for a period of time when I won't even mind calling a press conference and talk about it. I know where my faults are, I know where I tried my best, I can even give myself mark, I know I really tried but what can I do?
I think that the woman is in the best position to make the marriage work…
I was just about a year old when my mum left my dad. My dad raised me and I my mom couldn't have raised me better than what I am today. That is why I appreciate my dad. He really tried. When I came of age and started hearing stories about how they parted, I was very neutral. It takes two to tangle, it is right from the beginning that the woman was created to be patient and from the culture that we have nowadays, marriage has become nothing to write home about.
Even at that, we still have so many people that are still bent on saving their marriages but when it gets to a stage where it wants to take your life, there are no two things to do than to bow out. I know one woman, if you see how this woman walks, her back is bent, she personally told us that it is beatings she got from her husband and she is still in the man's house. What if the woman did not survive it? So these days, it is the two parties that can make it work. Yes, the woman should be more patient but when a woman discovers that her husband is cheating on her, if you say you want to leave your house because of that, it is even the woman's family that will call the woman and ask her what her problem is.
Did you ask him for money and he did not give you? Is he not taking care of your children? Didn't your grandfather have many wives? An average man will have a girlfriend, there is nothing we women can do. But if it is vice versa, the woman will leave that house on that day. So it still boils down to the fact that women are very patient. But you know that God did not create us the same way? Our make-up differ. What I can take, another person may not be able to take it.
When it goes beyond what you can take, the best thing to do is to take a bow and leave. If you don't, you may even develop hypertension. There are some sicknesses that you won't discover until it kills, I don't want to mention the names of people that marriage has killed. I am an advocate of a successful marriage. I will tell you anytime anywhere, I got married very late so I never wished, I never prayed, I never envisaged it that I will end up like this.
How old were you when you got married?
I was 34 years old. Why will I get married at that age and want the marriage to crash? My dad is an old soldier and he instilled a lot of discipline in us, despite the fact that my parents were separated. So I know what marriage is. So why should I plan to fail? He who wears the shoe knows where it pinches. Maybe God did not really want it to happen but I don't know. But I know that whoever I want to marry or whoever want to marry me God will let him be mine and me his because I will not want such a thing to happen to me again in my life.
When you were courting, you will have seen some signs about him. Why did you go ahead?
They normally tell you not to allow love to overshadow your reasoning but at times you allow love to overshadow your reasoning. When we are courting, we had our ups and down but I never envisaged it will come to this. What happened to me now has taught me that anybody can change. If I have put that in mind from the beginning maybe it will have been easier to accept and prepare your mind for it. I never envisaged it for once because of the kind of relationship we had.
They say man proposes but God disposes. It is only God that can only know it all. Don't let us blame or apportion blame now because there is no perfect relationship anywhere, you work with what you have and try to make it better by the day. There are some things you only believe them when you experience them. There were things I used to say before I got married but it was when I got married that I started seeing one or two things you will never see unless you are there.
Do you think women fight enough for their marriage?
Before I got married, I used to think some things could never happen to me in marriage, I don't do that anymore. What I have bottled up inside is more than what I'm telling you, when the opportunity comes, it will be unveiled. I have a friend that I talk to, she says marriage is more than going for counseling. That is what is affecting most marriages. When intending couples go for counseling they don't really tell them what marriage is all about. Deep inside, some of them that are doing marriage counseling are supposed to be those that are very, very old in marriage.
They must have seen so many things about marriage, they ought to prepare their minds. For instance I won't blame my ex for everything that happened. I know where my faults are and when I go into another relationship, I would be better prepared. I might have done some things without knowing, just like what you said that if a woman is richer than the husband, the husband would feel insecure. I don't want to talk about it now but it takes a certain kind of man to put his feet down, no matter how rich the wife may be, he will be the man.
What you just said, is very important and I will implore you, whatever your wife needs, whether your wife is richer than you or whatever, it doesn't matter, let that woman know this is my husband. even if she has all the whole wide world as money, your husband is the head of the family, you must be submissive but the man himself too, if your wife is richer than himself, he should not see it that way, some men do make mistakes, if their wives are richer than them they won't even bother about anything anymore. No matter how rich your wife is, you must take up your responsibility as the man in the house. That is what makes you a man. As young as I am in marriage matters, I've learnt a lot, I've seen a lot of things.
What mistake would you not want to repeat?
I don't want to put that on paper. Let that be for another day. The only one I can give is, not that I don't trust anybody, I don't want to be believe anybody cannot change, anybody can change, that was the mistake I made. I see you and I think I know you so much, that was one of the mistakes I made. I don't want to make that mistake again.
Somebody once said that when a man has money, he could change?
Not necessarily. I know some people who are rich and they still behave well. The person might just decide to change his or her behavior, not because of the money.
How was growing up?
It was splendid. I just told you a little about my growing up, I grew up with my dad and he is a disciplinarian. Believe me, he really tried because it is not easy for a man to raise his children, although I came from a polygamous home.
Was that where you developed the impression that men will always have a woman outside?
No. When I'm no more with my ex now, won't I marry another husband? It's not all about that but let's be practical about the whole issue. African men, I don't know what their problem is, they can't do without having girl friends. There is nothing we can do about that.
They will have girlfriends and they will still flaunt it. You know there is a way you will do something and you will hide it but African men they will even flaunt it. They take women for granted, that is why they should appreciate us, African men should appreciate their wives. Because despite all odds, they still want to be with you. They still want to fight for you, they still want to help you, believe me really it is not because I'm an African.
Are you one of those who believe that love has not been fair to women?
I think I will join the race, in Africa.
Could it be the fault of women?
I just told you I don't want to apportion blame, if you say women, it will be generalizing things, whereas there are good women. There are good men and there are bad women and there are bad men, whatever happens in a marriage it may be the man's fault or the woman's fault. It varies.
Tell me about your education?
Because I grew up with my dad and he doesn't believe in one staying at home. He wants you to do something every time. He doesn't wants you to be idle. Like those who says an idle hand is the devil's workshop, he doesn't tolerate idleness. So, immediately I left secondary school , I went to School of Agric in Abeokuta, and after then I worked for some time and when I came back home because I was outside Lagos then I worked in Owode Ilaro.
I was still trying to pursue my University education and I came back and I could not enter the University and he said you know what, you can't just sit at home find something doing and since I really appreciate fashion and beauty, I went to School of Cosmetology first before I went to Unilag to do diploma in data processing after which I did my IT in a bank and I worked here and there for awhile before I started acting. I actually started as a model.
How did you get the Lepa Shandy role?
Actually it started from the location. I got a minor role in a movie called Makan and I met Gbenga Adewusi's manager there and he saw me and because of that small role I was invited to audition for Lepa Shandy's role and that was how I got the part because I didn't even know Gbenga Adewusi then.
A lot of people were of the opinion then that you actually dated Gbenga to get the role?
Let them have their opinion, everybody with his or her own opinion. I just told you how I got the role.
Are you not worried that you are getting older?
In the eyes of people it is like that but for God it is not so. The ways of men are different from God's way. That's food for thought. To your question, yes I am worried but I know I can still compete physically, morally and in every other way with a 22 year old lady. True or false? When I told you I got married at 34, you were shocked. So if I don't tell you my age, you might not really know. If you see me you will think this is a 24 or 25 year old but it is not me but God. Basically what I am saying is this, when you have God you have everything.
Can you have children outside wedlock because of your situation right now?
Let's leave everything to God to decide. But I will definitely have my kids.
Other than the movie, what should we expect from you in 2011?
First and foremost is to get myself together and concentrate on my life and make myself a better person and remember I am not getting younger so I have to look out for myself.