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Beautiful model turned actress, Mary Lazarus, speaks with Best of Nollywood on her acting journey and says candidly that fame is not her priority for being an actress. The toothy and leggy beauty also speaks on other issues relating to her family, career and Nollywood.

Give us details of your background?

I’m a Geography Science graduate of the University of Ibadan. I have a twin brother and we are the last born. I am from Abia State.

What was growing up like for you?

Growing up was normal, very normal.

Were you your parents’ favourite?

Yes, actually, I am. In fact, when some reporters came to interview my parents, my dad told them that I am his favorite.

Is it because you are the only girl?

No, we are four girls and I am actually the last; I am the Kehinde.

Who are your mentors?

Let me say Mercy Johnson. Like I always tell people, Mercy is not a stereotyped actor. I hate being stereotyped too. Because of the Desperate Housegirls movie, I have been getting so many scripts to act almost the same thing but I have turned many down. I don’t want to be that kind of actor who is known for being an expert in one role that is why I like Mercy Johnson. The same Mercy Johnson that played the house girl so perfectly will transform into a ‘tush’ girl almost effortlessly. That’s an actor for you.

How did acting start for you?

I started off as a model. When I finished secondary school, I started doing ushering jobs. Then, I got a V-Mobile (now Airtel) advert. From there, I got pampers, semovita then, MTN among many others. So, I got a call from (Gbenro) Ajibade of Tinsel that a certain producer wanted to shoot a movie and I should come for the audition. When I got there, I saw John Njamah, he gave me a script and after reading, he said ‘I haven’t met you before but I believe you can do this’. Then, we shot some scenes and he was impressed. After then, he gave me another job, Living in Lagos and I haven’t looked back since then.

When you handled your first script, what was it like?

Is there any other word than tensed? I was scared because I was supposed to act Yemi Black’s girlfriend. There were other stars on set like Empress Njamah and Kalu (Ikeagwu). I felt like the ground should open and swallow me because I was just too intimidated and tensed. This was around 2007. I was doing my NYSC then and after that period, I got a job.

What was your most humbling experience in Nollywood? That moment that you were like so this can happen to me?

Oh, yes, it was when I got a call asking me to come for Desperate Housegirls. I was really touched when I got the role because someone else had been chosen to play the character. What made the story even more interesting was that on my way to get the script, I had an accident with my car maybe because I was so tensed that I was meeting up with aunty Uduak Isong and Desmond Elliot but the accident happened and that took a long time to resolve. I got to the location where they were around 10pm, yet, they were waiting for me. That, for me, was a very touching experience. After the shoot, someone called me and said, ‘Mary, I don’t know how you did it but you nailed that role’. Trust me, that comment touched me. I was humbled because the person that said this thing can criticize anything. I was touched.

If you were given a second chance to change something about yourself, what would it be?

Well, it’s so sad that I discovered my talent maybe a bit late because I was a social prefect in my secondary school and I had the entertainment spirit in me. If I had known in time, I wouldn’t have gone to sciences, I would have gone for theatre arts maybe I would have started acting much earlier. At the same time, it would have helped me a lot. There are some techniques in stage plays, for instance, that I do not know so I went through hell mastering them. But if I had been properly trained in theater arts, it wouldn’t have been so difficult for me. If I had the opportunity to go back, I will go for theatre arts.

How far can you go to attain fame in Nollywood?

It’s not the fame that matters to me because I am really not into this celebrity thing. I am a very private and reserved person so I’m not in this industry for fame because I love my job and fortunately, it comes with the fame but for me, fame is not my priority in Nollywood.

So, what’s that thing about Nollywood you wish never existed and if you had the chance, what would you do about it?

Piracy is number one. Then, a producer calling you and saying he is shooting a movie but it’s a low budget movie and you should help him do it almost for free. I am always like ok, you are doing this thing to make money and I am in this industry to make money. It is business; so let’s treat it as business. I am a graduate. If I am doing movies for almost free, how do I survive? If you see me on ‘okada’, won’t you be the one that would criticize me and say ‘see this girl on okada’. So, if we keep doing things like that we will chase people that have the zeal and leave mediocrities running the show. If God can help us erase all these people away from the industry, I think the industry will be better.

Do you think it’s intentional?

I wouldn’t say it’s intentional but I can’t understand why someone that got a contract of N5million and he wants you to do a 20-scene role for like a week or two and at the end of the day offer you N20, 000. It is just in some people; it is part of who they are.

What do people admire most about you?

I think it’s my smile and I flow well with people. I am down to earth. Trust me, that’s what I have been hearing but I don’t know if truly I am like that. They also say that my smile is captivating.

So, how do you achieve a very beautiful smile?

I think it’s God because this smile has given me a whole lot of money (laughs).

How do you plan to manage your career and marriage?

Emmm (laughs). I think by the Grace of God I should be able to balance both. I wouldn’t want any of them to suffer at all. Right now, I’m not married so I don’t know what those that are married are going through. The thing is that the stability and success of the marriage start while courting, the guy has to be understanding.

So, is he understanding?

Yes, he understands. Keep digging the words from my mouth (laughs). You guys would never change I swear.

How does he feel when he sees you?

Who is he sef?

That special person we are talking about…

I don’t even know where he is right now. Trust me, I don’t know.

How do you manage both because you know men are attention seekers?

Yes o, they are attention seekers…

Tell me, how do you do it? Teach us nah

God is helping me nah…(Laughs)

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest fear in life is that when I am wealthy and famous, I should not forget God because God would always be the one who will give you all these things and at the end of the day, you should not forget about him. So, most times, I pray to God that God when you are blessing me with fame and money, please, don’t forget to also bless me with the zeal and desire to know you more and not to leave you. That’s my greatest fear.

It’s strange to hear a star actress sound like this because people believe that you have to be crazy to be an actor.

I am not crazy. It depends on the role I get but most times, I kind of act crazy roles.

I am not talking about crazy roles; I’m talking about your personality.

That’s what I am saying. Most times, when people see you and they see a different person on TV, they are like ‘are you serious’? I was praying in church one day and someone tapped my back and it was a fellow actress and she was so surprised that she asked me, ‘Are you the one praying like this’? I just laughed because Mary on set and Mary out of set are two different people.

So people need to eradicate the belief that you have to be crazy or be a prostitute or something to be an actor…

I beg you in the name of God; I don’t have to be (laughs).

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done and you are like, ‘God, did I just do that?

I can’t think of any right now but as much as I sound cool now, I’m not cool, I could be crazy too. However, I can’t remember any crazy thing right now but when I remember, I will let you know.

What are your plans career-wise?

I have this desire to study more about advertising and to own an advertising agency. Also, I desire to have a library where people can go and read because Nigerians don’t read. Growing up, I wasn’t much of a voracious reader but I came out with good grades. In the university, I did a lot of cramming not a lot of reading. When God gives me money, I would build something like a library where people can go and read.

How do you manage to maintain a humble lifestyle because I’m really surprised at your disposition or is it because we have never met?

I will say it’s my background; the house I grew up in. If not close to humble but I’m trying. I have a twin brother and we have a lot in common. If you watched that Ivie character, she was more like a tomboy, I got those mannerisms from my twin brother.

So, what are you doing now?

There is this movie I’m shooting now with Iroko TV, it’s called World 305.


  1. Ekeh modester chioma

    May 14, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Datz gud, I lik ur courage

  2. kanny

    May 14, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    wow! what a personality, your guy must really be lucky to have u, i envy him… u really sound great dear good one

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