August 21, 2016
MERCY JOHNSON: I was once rejected bcos of my dark skin
Since her foray into the film industry, Mercy Johnson has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with some fans, but the actress says that she is unfazed by all the negativities that have been thrown at her.
The Nation's Ovwe Medeme caught up with her at the announcing of a new movie -From Freetown - and the bubbly lady dishes on her career, marriage and others.
You just returned from a vacation. How was it?
The vacation was awesome. It was just about taking time out with the s*xiest man alive.
What were some of the fun things you did during the vacation?
We spent a lot of time together. Having 3 kids in three years, everything was just fun, it is awesome. But in marriage, you need to take time out to really talk, laugh and just be free. That was what the vacation was about.
You have barely returned and you have started working. Why is that?
It's not about the cash like people would think. I am a person who knows how to combine marriage, kids and my work together. I’ve done that successfully for the last five years. My kids are on holiday now, so this is actually the best time for me to work before they get back to school. Whenever they resume school, I seldom shoot. I only have to shoot in Lagos and it has to be with a very flexible timing. When they were on holidays, we took a break to the US, we got back, got the house arranged and now I’m back to work.
As I’ve always said, it’s not about the money. It’s about a passion for my work. It’s about getting my timing right so I can do what I need to do now while the kids are still outside school and all of that and still be on track. For instance, I initially told my husband to let me do this film before we go for the vacation. But on the other hand, I chose to go for the vacation, take care of the kids and then get back to work because that works well for me.
What has kept the Mercy Johnson brand going all these years?
Grace and God.
What has marriage changed about you?
People have accused you of not being selective when it comes to scripts. How true are they?
That is not true. People are different. What appeals to me will not appeal to someone else. One of my very popular films is Dumebi the School Girl. I know how many artistes rejected that script before I accepted to do it but it turned out to be one of the highest selling films in Nollywood lately because I know even two-year-olds see me and call me that.
So, I think it is not fair to say I don’t select my scripts or I just jump at any script that is thrown at me. I have turned some scripts down. That is the strength in humans; our diversity, our differences. What is trash to you might not be trash to me. I do select scripts it’s just that I work with all of my heart.
That was a hit though (laughs). I keep telling OD that it was a hit; that is why we had to take time before the fourth one. I think what has taken me this far is basing my decisions on a scale of preference. I love what I do, I adore my husband. I adore my kids. So every time I have to make a decision, I have to think about which is more important and I start from there. I understand that the home front is more important. So I manage the home front and then create time to do what I love to do. I think that has helped me get this far. The balancing has helped me so much.
How soon should we expect the fourth one?
Coming soon (laughs).
How do you cope with the things people say about you in the media?
I keep telling people that when you haven’t gone through life or when you don’t have a bearing in life, that’s when you see other people’s decision as unreasonable. Most of the people who make these statements about me have not even decided what they want to do with their lives yet.
As at eight years ago, I had decided, right from when I was growing up, I arranged my life the way I wanted it to be and that is why, even when I was at the peak of my career, when marriage came, I grabbed it. When I was at the peak of my career, when it was time to give birth, I grabbed it because I know what age does to the womb and time waits for no one. It meant that I can now have my four kids and still get back to shoot and come back to what I love to do.
So I’m not going to put off having kids or getting married so I can focus on acting. Because the young shall always grow, you can never ever get to be number one forever. That’s why whenever it comes, you do it. The Yorubas always say it in their prayers that ‘when it’s time for a child to talk, by the grace of God, he will talk. When it’s time to go to school, he will go to school’. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to define my life the way my son or my daughter would be proud of me.
People say dark-skinned actresses are denied movie roles. Has this ever been the case for you?
It is very true, but like I always say, it’s just about grace. That’s how I see it, because I also faced that. Somebody once looked at me and said that I was too dark for a role. But that is where grace comes in. God never fails.