Patience Ozokwor is one of the leading actresses in Nigeria who is loved by her fans, popularly known for her roles as a wicked step mother or mother in law. In a recent interview with the Sun, the actress speaks on her career, motherhood and loosing her husband.
Patience Ozokwor popularly called Mama G, in a recent interview speaks on why she adopted five children.
How did you feel when you received the Centenary award?
I feel very elated to have received the award, because it is a sign that Nigerians appreciate my good work. It is indeed a dream come through for me as a thespian, and I promise to always make Nigeria and Africa proud with my work.
How do you feel about all your achievements as an actress?
Stardom has taking me to so many countries in the world. I have been able to meet presidents of different nations. And I appreciate the fact that people commend and appreciate my acting skills whenever they meet me anywhere in Nigeria and outside the country, which gives me a great pleasure and ability to work harder, knowing that I have fans all over the world is worth celebrating.
How has Nollywood helped to transform Nigeria?
Our movies have been able to affect people’s lives as well as make them happy. In fact, Nollywood has transformed Nigeria’s image abroad positively and I am delighted to be part of this achievement.
Has your profession affected your life positively?
I have been able to assist my family financially through my work, my children were able to go to school and they are living a comfortable life with their families as graduates by the special grace of God. In fact, the movie industry has affected my life positively in every ramification and I don’t have any regret being an actress and I give God all the glory.
Have you achieved all that you set out to achieve?
I have not yet achieved everything, personally there are things that I have in mind to do in the industry, but when I look back there is nobody yet qualified to take over the mantle from me. And I pray that God will raise someone that will be better than me, which will be a great achievement to have someone who will replace me, when I finally leave the industry.
Would you support any of your children to go into entertainment?
My second son is already into entertainment, he has a music record label. While my daughter ended up in the church drama. Though, my son acted in few movies before he left for the United Kingdom, hopefully he may do more in acting or movie directing in the future. And I will give him every encouragement if he decides to go into acting professionally, because he is passionate about entertainment.
While growing up did you ever think of becoming a movie star?
I have always been an entertainer from childhood, so getting to the level I have attained in the industry is by the grace of God, consistency and hard work.
Could you share some of the experiences you had in your early days as an actress that almost discouraged you?
During my early days, sometimes when I get to location with a script, they would tell me someone has taken my place, which was so disappointing. But I endured and believed God for mine, and He gave me what belongs to me. Today, God has celebrated me as an icon and I give God all the glory.
Your husband died in 2000, precisely 14 years ago, how is life as a widow?
God has always been on my side because without Him there is nothing we can do. Again, I lived in the village, maybe if I were living in the city, things would be happening to me and nobody will know what I was passing through. And my people in the village know that I am always on location working either in the eastern part of the country or Lagos and Abuja. But when I am not working you will see me in the comfort of my home in the village. I appreciate my people for all their love and peaceful co-existence which I am enjoying. My husband’s family loves me so much, even before I became a star; we were so attached to each other. Everyone in the family calls me Patia; they are fond of me.
Are you saying you still live in the village?
I don’t live in the city; I still live in my village. It is nice to live in the countryside where everyone is everybody’s business. (Laughter).
Not minding the fact that you are a celebrity?
If you see the way people appreciate me in my village, whenever I go to the market to shop everyone will be calling me ‘Mama G’, ‘Gee’ for general, in fact, you will appreciate me more. But my office is located in Enugu town. So, I enjoy living in the village, my hometown. I still live my life of simplicity regardless of fame.
How do you manage to shuttle from the village to other parts of the country?
I have a guest house in Lagos where some of my jobs are concentrated like soaps, endorsements, commercials and shooting of movies. I have a three bedroom flat in Asaba. Because I am tired of staying in public hostels, some are sub-standard; and sometimes you run into small girls that you know. So, I decided to rent an apartment each in Lagos and Asaba for comfort. I have adopted children who I take on holidays, so because I would not like them to grow up in the village without being exposed to city life, when they are on long vocation and I am in Nigeria, I take them to Lagos or Asaba for a change of environment.
Your son had his wedding in the United Kingdom sometimes ago and your daughter also got married in Nigeria, how many children do you have?
I have three biological children. But because of my love for children, I adopted five other children who bear my name and I am very proud of them as my children. But I intend giving two among them to my younger sister to love as I have been doing. I am grateful to God for their lives, my son in-law and beautiful daughter-in-law I love you all.
Your late husband was supportive of your career, would you say you miss his presence now that you have hit stardom, especially being honoured with the Centenary award?
I wish my husband were alive to witness my Centenary award, because he was highly supportive of my career. Though, he was sick for a long time before he died, I wish he were still alive. But God knows the best. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
What did you really miss about him?
I miss the togetherness, when two people work together trying to train the children, bringing them up in unity and love. And all the affection he showered on us. I miss the way he celebrated my children’s birthdays, he was a true father and husband when he was alive. I miss my husband’s companionship and love.
Have you ever acted any role related with your experience as a widow?
Of course, one or two things that happened to you as a widow will definitely come up in the movies, but I have not acted any widowhood role that has to do with my experience as a widow negatively. My in-laws have been very supportive and caring; we have always lived like one big family. I always visit them in the United Kingdom, United States of America and those in Nigeria are united in love with me. When my husband was hospitalized, my sister-in-law and I were taking care of him; she stayed with him at nights while I took over from her in the morning before going to location. On that fateful day, I was on location when my husband died, before my sister in-law arrived the hospital. Thereafter, they informed me about his death and they put him in the mortuary and asked me to continue with my job, because they understand my kind of job, but I blatantly refused. I took permission from the producer and stayed away for some days. I later came back to finish the production of the movie.
Tell us about your parents?
My parents were loving and caring, I miss them so much. My mother was a popular trader. I never had it rough as a child, I only had it rough when my husband fell sick, but my in-laws did not leave me, they took care of my husband’s hospital bills. It’s just that you don’t have to wait for people to survive; instead you struggle to make life meaningful for yourself.
You are looking younger and beautiful even at your age, are you thinking about remarrying?
It is not about my look but my age. I am not thinking about remarrying. Since my husband died, I have been rearing my children to the glory of God. And I decided to occupy my mind on my job and service to God to give my children the best in life.
How old are you now?
I was born on March 25,1958, so do the calculation.
At 56, you are looking elegant. What is the secret behind your healthy look?
God is the secret behind my ageless look, and I also eat what my body needs, I take a lot of fruits and exercise when it’s necessary. And most imperatively, I don’t drink alcohol because I have realized that alcohol does a lot of damage to the body and makes you look older than your age.
Nollywood producers have stereotyped you with roles that make you get bad remarks, how have these roles affected your life?
I don’t owe anybody any apology for the roles I play, because I get paid for them and it is my job. It is only people who don’t understand that acting is make belief that perceive an actor to be living his or her life the way she acts on set. If I could read my script and interpret the role to get the best production, it means I understand acting.
Who is Patience Ozokwor outside the set?
I am a very loving mother, nice, caring, jovial, understanding, and above all God fearing. But I don’t take nonsense because I am a disciplinarian.
You attended teachers training college were you nursing the idea of becoming a teacher?
I attended teachers training college in Afikpo; and then I proceeded to IMT, Enugu where I studied Fine and Applied Arts, specializing in Graphics. But I am a not a teacher today, because my interest is in acting where my passion also lies.