Excerpt from nollywood actress, Ufuoma McDermott interview
What are the fond memories of your childhood?
As a child, I loved to read and watch TV so much that I could forget my hunger just to be in front of a TV set. Several times, I burnt meals that we would eat just because of a TV show. Despite all, my parents never banned me from the TV like many would have ordinarily done.
They love my passion such that both of them at different times named me a star even before I could understand the meaning. My father called me Isio meaning a star in Urhobe language while my mother also named after the star actress in Telefest, one of the popular soaps on NTA Benin then. My mum would always call me a TV star at any slightest move I made and it became a household name for me then. We were allowed to travel to Jos and have a feel of its nature’s rocky gifts and explore it.
This, I could say did not come easy and cheap to children but from a rare set of parents that God gave me. I appreciate them and really like I said will want to tow their ways and strive to better it.
What effects would you say all of these had in your adulthood?
You see, when they were doing all that they did, they did not know they were prophesying on my future. Today, I am a Television star and doing well, all glory is to God. In my primary and secondary schools, I was a star. I got an award as a brownie and was the best in Mathematics and French apart from coming first throughout my primary school.
Apart from standing out in the academics, I was a good sportswoman and did my school, Federal Government College Odogbolu, Ogun State proud in sporting competitions. I won numerous gold medals in Javelin, Discus, Shot put and hurdles; these are beside debate competitions where I also did them proudly. I was the Head Girl in my set. What I want to bring out here is that because my parents allowed me to take a leap at every good endeavour, I had no fear to go for any competition and I always wanted to be a star wherever I find myself. I was trained to have my eyes on the best and get the best which has helped me up till today.
The good push they gave me, the good words they spoke concerning my efforts helped me to form a worthy character that I can talk about today. In addition, it has also helped me to develop the same habit and style in training my own children.
What would you want parents to learn from this?
Very simple and clear. They should cultivate the habit of using their tongues positively on their children. Good words work good for children while bad words take a terrible turn on them in the future. Besides, it is always good for parents to be very mature when dealing with their children.
They should take their times to discover their talents, their passion and encourage them as much as they can. It is wrong tom impose their desires on their children no matter how good it may be. Allowing children tow the path they have chosen from heaven or divinely will help them live a fulfilled life and early too. Most parents mislead their children unknowingly through their finicky styles.
They should not again compare their children with others. Allow your children live their own life and not another’s. If my parents had pushed me into such profession as Medicine or Engineering may be I would have struggled to pass but I would definitely have not become the star I was destined to be. Parents should also be careful not to be over-strict with their children.
When you beat or scold your child to the extreme, he or she is likely to develop fear of doing anything good because you would create that Never-doing-well feeling into his or her unconsciousness which at the end of the day will hinder him from taking a determinant leap of success in life. Giving them the feeling that they can do all things is always the best. Some parents take delight in scaring their children about life through all kinds of gory tales of witches and enemies here and there such that the children grow with the feeling of fear and suspicion. They grow to suspect others and even read meanings into their own actions and desires. This is not healthy enough. We must try and help children grow up with a positive mind towards life; this will help them live a positive life at the end of the day. Parents should give good guidance to children, put them through what is right and wrong in life and keep a close watch on them as they grow. They should also pray for them and lead them in the way of the Lord. Parents should know that the kind of childhood a child is exposed to goes a long way in whatever they become as an adult. The period of childhood is a fundamental period and should be taken or handled seriously.
What is your perception of marriage and what tip would you like to offer the youths as they set out to make their choices?
I will advise them to see marriage as a lifetime decision that they will be held responsible for here on earth and in the world to come. They should see it as an institution that is not cast iron. It goes beyond how it has always been and which it should continue to be. Nigeria’s climatic scene is not static, it is dynamic and moves with the trends of civilization and all exposures. Gone are those days when parents would insist on some stringent rules and ideas on marriage, ideas that most times have either boxed their wards in some very tight corners that are irredeemable for life. Marriage is a life decision and it must be taken seriously. Couples must follow their hearts and be sure of what they want. It shouldn’t be what some people want. As long as they are the ones that will live in that new home, the decision must be the type that favours them most and not anybody or some group of people. It goes beyond beauty, handsomeness and all that, it must be what the players desire.
What roles would you then propose for today’s parents?
They still play the major role of guidance and counsellors but they must not lord their ideas on their wards. They should give good and honest advice that will benefit their children and not those that will benefit them. They should feel the pulses of their children and really subject themselves to it. If their motive is to ensure the welfare of their children, they will be objective in their suggestions. Their days are different from ours, what did not work for them then are clearly working for us now. They should allow their children to marry their friends and love and nothing more. All other dictates should be left out of it. This was what happened to me in my own marriage and I thank God there hasn’t been any regret over it. I married the man I love, he has been my best friend and there are no problems whatsoever.
Why is it hard for celebrities to keep their marriages?
Only God and those concerned can best answer that question. There are different reasons for different crashed marriages and these are based on individual differences. Majorly, however, I will say lack of understanding takes the lead. If couples won’t care to take each other for whom and what they are, there will always be problems and if patience and other factors I mentioned above are also absent, there will still be issues. This, may I say is not peculiar to celebrities alone, it cut across everyone. It is just that the fame that we have always bring our issues to public glare.
And sexual harassment, have you had any since you started acting?
No and I can assure you there won’t be any for me. I will never parade myself in any way that can suggest that and so, will not have it. Nigerian men have respect for women and themselves. Except when they are under a particular influence or you boxed them into that corner, they don’t just have their flips off. Nigerian ladies have a lot to contribute to sexual harassment in this part of the country. If we will carry ourselves honourably and put a price on ourselves, we won’t be harassed; These men aren’t crazy, they will seek your consent before embarking on anything. Even rape cases can be avoided if one is careful and vigilant enough. Again, this affects every sector and not just the entertainment industry alone. Mothers especially, should train their children how to dress well, talk responsibly in the public, behave decently and other etiquettes of life, charity, they say begin at home.
How do you handle fame?
Fame comes as a result of promotion which is only aided by God, so, I keep my head low and allowed my popularity to humble me before God. I am careful not to allow it to enter my head.