JULIET IBRAHIM: WHAT I THINK ABOUT NIGERIA, JAY JAY OKOCHA AND AFRICAN MOVIES
Ghana’s star actress Juliet Ibrahim speaks exclusively to NEWSLEGEND.COM.NG’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI on a wide range of issues from her career, the upcoming general elections in her home country, relationship with male fans and her passion for sports. The multi lingual also talks about gender matters and her plans for the future. Excerpts…
You have acted in so many movies and won over 20 awards to show for your efforts. Did you expect to achieve these milestones when you began your career?
In whatever career you choose or find yourself in, you always hope for a better future, to achieve this, you have to make a decision, then acting on your decisions is a step forward for your dreams to manifest. So those are the steps I took to get to where I am today. It’s been over 10 years and despite all that I have said, it’s the Lord’s doing and I’m grateful to God.
How did it all start for you? Take us through your humble beginning and the kind of support you received or otherwise from your family?
It started by chance. I went for an audition and I was given a script to feature in ‘Crime to Christ’ where I played the role of the girlfriend of a notorious armed- robber, played by Majid Michel. My family have been extremely supportive right from day one, they’ve always been like that, no one influences the path you choose in life in my family, they just support and urge you on as long as it is legit and makes you happy.
You seem to come from a family that appreciate the arts, so any collaboration with African artistes? Did dad and mom have entertainment backgrounds?
Mom and dad didn’t have an entertainment background. My sister Sonia is toeing that part too.
You are a household name in the Ghana movie industry, Ghollywood. You have also acted in so many Nigerian movies. What has been your experience working with Nigerian actors, producers and directors?
Wonderful experience all through, Nigerians are warm people, very accommodating, they see you as one of them, whilst
they don’t give you preferential treatment because you are foreigner, they treat you with respect and make you have
a sense of belonging.
Interestingly you have featured in Yoruba and Hausa films. Do you speak the languages, perhaps Igbo (smiles)? How many languages do you speak?
I just spoke a few lines that I mastered for the roles I played. I speak English, French and a little Spanish.
There has been so many great movie jobs between Nigerian and Ghanaian actors. But do you feel there is a thinly veiled rivalry over which country produce the best talents or would you say the relationship has been ‘made in heaven’?
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no rivalry. Nigerian actors and Ghanaians actors are all one and the same. We do
projects together and the lines have been blurred out a long time ago.
But there has been some ‘beefs’ between Ghanaian celebrities and Nigeria’s over which is better: Ghana jollof rice or Nigerian jollof rice? What do you think? Be fair o (laughter).
That’s just for laughs, nothing serious. Both Jollof are nice, depending on you preference.
Which of your movie jobs gave you the biggest satisfaction? And is/are there ones that are better forgotten?
I have done quite a lot now, it’s difficult for me to say, it’s just like having to decide which of your kids you
Women face so many issues bothering on marriages, relationships, career and gender inequality. How do you feel these can be resolved from an African perspective?
Gender inequality is built into the organization of marriage and families, work and the economy, politics,
religions, the arts and more. Women and men may be intrinsically different but it doesn’t make women inferior. We
need to continue to encourage people to go beyond stereotypes and recognize the contributions that each individual,
male or female, can make to relationships at home and at the workplace.
How do you deal with negative news in the press? Does it get to you or inspire you to improve on your career and personal life ?
Getting bad press can be so distressing. It is completely unfair and is oftentimes started by internet trolls or
people looking to stir things up. While one tries not to engage trolls in endless arguments, it’s always difficult
to show restraints if one is receiving personal attacks or baseless accusations after all, we are humans too.
You are a very dashing lady. How do you deal with advances from men and male fans who may go
Well I am not married, I’m a single mother. I treat my fans with respect but I draw the lines when they want to go overboard as you said.
Your hopes for the movie and music industries in the next 10 years?
For our movies and music to be part of the most influential exports, from Africa to the world, for it to change the
negative perception about Africa and for it to be a bridge that links us to the rest of the world.
Any plans for more Hollywood movie appearance?
Certainly , I look forward to working on more bigger projects.
You were one of the comperes (Masters of Ceremony) with Robert Marawa at the Glo-CAF Awards in Abuja, Nigeria in January 2016. Were you nervous just before the event, and perhaps disappointed Dede Ayew didn’t win the prize?
No I was not nervous I am a seasoned compere but I was a bit disappointed that Ayew didn’t win the prize but then
again life goes on.
Dede Ayew recently said his dad, Abedi Pele was better than Austin Jay Jay Okocha…join in the debate. Which of the legends of African football would you say had more impacts on the up-and-coming African players?
When it comes to football, each country will definitely choose their own as the best. But the likes of Jay Jay
okocha , Abedi , George Weah and others are all great mentors to up and coming African players.
Who is your favourite sports athlete and team you support?
I don’t really have a favorite sports athlete but my favorite team is Liverpool
Does your roots make things easier for you? How do you unwind?
My roots is what it is, it doesn’t make me less different from any other person, it’s how people perceive it that
differs. To unwind, I usually take trips , holidays every now and then and spend time with my son whenever.
You received an Honorary Awards this year (2016) For Excellence in the use of Philanthropy – MAYA Awards. Tell us about your humanitarian projects?
My foundation, the Juliet Ibrahim Foundation (JIF) was launched in December 2011 to start an awareness campaign
about cancer of the kidney. The JIF is aimed at helping Ghanaians, Nigerians and other West African citizens to know
their status and prevent kidney cancer from getting to the incurable stage. JIF is poised to help save lives and put
smiles on the faces of the less fortunate living with kidney cancer but can’t afford to handle their bills.
The general elections will hold in Nov in Ghana. What are your expectations?
My expectations are peaceful and fair elections.
Any more thing you wish to tell your fans and Africans in general?
I love and appreciate them and would always make them proud.
Thank you so much for your time, Juliet