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Sunday, June 23, 2024

‘Why I never wanted to be like Liz Benson’

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Veteran Nollywood actress, Patience Ozokwor, widely known as Mama G, has shared her journey in the film industry and her resistance to being compared to her colleague, Liz Benson.

Ms. Benson is one of the actresses who rose steadily in Nollywood in the 1990s and recently made a comeback.

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She began her career as a child actress in 1971, aged five, but gained fame after appearing as Mrs Agnes Johnson in a soap opera titled ‘Fortunes’ on NTA in 1993, when she was 27 years old. She appeared in some classic films of the 1990s. Some of the films that highlighted her include Glamor Girls (1994), True Confession (1995), Diamond Rings (1998) and Scores to Settle (1998).

During a recent interview with Nwafor TV, Ms Ozokwor recounted the moment she was first compared to her colleague and how she affirmed her unique identity in the Nigerian film industry.

Speaking about how she started acting, the 65-year-old Enugu State-born actress said: “I don’t know how it started at all. When people started recognizing my acting skills, they called me “Liz Benson of Enugu.”

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She described an instance on set where her colleagues began referring to her by this nickname. “I said, ‘No, with all due respect, I don’t want to be like Liz Benson, I’m Patience Ozokwor from Enugu.’

Ms. Benson and Ms. Ozokwor have left indelible marks on the Nigerian film industry despite starting their careers at different times and following unique paths.

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Unlike Ms Benson, who started out as a child actress, Ms Ozokwor began her career as a presenter and presenter on Radio Nigeria before moving into acting. She rose to fame with her role in the movie “Authority” in 1999. Her first success in a television drama came with the soap opera “Someone Cares” on NTA 1999.

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Both actresses are known for their powerful performances and have significantly shaped Nollywood, each with their distinctive journey and legacy.

However, Mrs Ozokwor’s determination to forge her identity is not limited to comparisons with Liz. In the interview, she noted how she faced more pressure to change her name.

She said: “Some people came to me and told me that I did not need to respond to Patience Ozokwor again. They asked her: ‘What is her husband’s name?’ I said, “Edmond Ozokwor.” They said, ‘Answer me, Patience Edmond.’ I said no because, in Igbo land, you are not married to just one man; You are married to the family.”

Reflecting on the beginning of her career, Mrs Ozokwor admitted that she was unaware of her growing fame. “I didn’t know what it was like to become a star when I started, so it didn’t enter my mind. I just felt lucky that they gave me a role every time I went to an audition,” she said. It wasn’t until a producer pointed out her success and growing fan base that she began to grasp her popularity. “I didn’t know what the fan base was,” she said, illustrating her initial naivety about the entertainment industry.

Despite her growing fame, Mrs Ozokwor stood her ground and gave credit to her humble upbringing. “I come from a very humble and enlightened family. We didn’t pay attention to things like that; We just pay attention to what mom said and what our dad wants us to do today.”

READ ALSO: Saskay, Patience Ozokwor, Tope Tedela and others star in new Nollywood romantic comedy, CAKE

Challenges

He recognized the challenges inherent in the entertainment industry, from financial instability to the pressures of maintaining stardom.

“Every profession has its challenges. In the entertainment industry, income irregularity is a major problem. Regardless of whether money comes in or not, you have to make time for auditions. Sometimes, producers offer you a price that does not even cover your transportation and stay costs on site. You end up going home with peanuts,” she explained.

While noting that maintaining stardom can sometimes be a challenge for some actors, he said, “As actors, you don’t have your life anymore. When you go out, you must please your fans. Sometimes the problem isn’t even becoming a star; is to maintain stardom. That’s a hard blow for some of us. If you don’t learn as quickly or orient yourself quickly, you can start to have problems with your fans.”

The award-winning actress is recognized for having appeared in several films, some of which include ‘Mothering Sunday’ (2001), ‘Ukwa’ (2001), ‘Blood Sisters’ (2003), ‘Alice My First Lady’ (2007). , ‘Wedding Party 2’ (2017), ‘Chief Daddy’ (2018), ‘Bad Comment’ (2020), ‘She Must Be Obeyed’ (2023) and many more.

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