With numerous divorce tales currently rocking Nollywood, star actress, Mercy Johnson, has been lucky. Since she tied the knots with Odianosen Okojie in 2011, her union has not come under public scrutiny.
Early this year, reports made the rounds that their marriage was troubled after Mercy deleted all her pictures, including the ones that captured her
husband, from her Instagram page.
PREMIUM TIMES caught up with the Kogi State-born actress at the premiere of her latest movie, The Lamb, in Lagos. In this interview, she speaks about her marriage, career and political appointment.
PT: You must be used to all the divorce rumours trailing your marriage by now. But, we are curious to know why you deleted your husband’s
photographs from your Instagram page?
Mercy: There was absolutely no problem between my husband and I. I only deleted the old pictures on my Instagram page. They were old so I deleted them to post new ones. I am not letting my husband go; even when he is angry, I would beg him. You see these beautiful rings that
he has given to me- I am never returning them. I did not feel bad when I read the news that my marriage was hitting the rocks because it was not true. I am very comfortable in my own space and I am not out to please anybody. I am always true to myself and I continue to be a happy person.
PT: Is it true that you had to stop some roles in movies because your husband was not comfortable with romantic scenes?
Mercy: He wasn’t comfortable with the romantic scenes. I stopped taking up such roles in 2009 when I realised we were getting serious and headed for marriage. I was so in love with him that I started adjusting my lifestyle and personality to suit him. He is enlightened and well travelled. He understands the demands of my job and has no problems with my career. He simply gives me space to fly. Also, I cut down on my nude dresses. He made me understand that with age, you have to let go of certain things because life is in phases.
PT: Not many are aware that you speak your husband’s dialect, Esan, fluently?
Mercy: I learnt how to speak my husband’s language, Esan, in less than a year. It wasn’t difficult for me because I was crazy about him. I bought CDs and Esan literature and my husband also spoke the language to me whether I understood or not. I also wanted to be part of his discussions with his family as well. It didn’t take me up to five months and I already knew the basics before we wedded. I speak Esan very, very well. I am crazy about my husband. I do anything that makes him happy. I understand the language to the core.
PT: Do you plan to have other children?
Mercy: Very soon and I am obsessed with having kids so we can even things out and play football three boys and three girls.
PT: How have you managed your responsibilities as the Senior Special Assistant on Entertainment, Arts and Culture to Governor Yahaya Bello
of Kogi State and acting?
Mercy: It has not been easy combining my roles as an actress, representative of Kogi State, a mother and a wife but I describe myself as a home girl and everything has always been about a system of priority for me. So God comes first, my family and then work; God and my family have to be settled before we can talk about work because when I am not happy at home, I cannot function in whatever capacity I ought to function, so I have always followed my priorities. As I speak with you, if I get a call from my kids’ school and they inform me that something happened, I would leave everything I am doing and rush
PT: Your movie, The Lamb, is set in Igala land. Why didn’t you shoot an Igbira movie since you belong there?
Mercy: I have been asked this question before, I would say it’s not about tribalism but it was to bring the entertainment system in the state to an enviable position where people would want to learn from us. If we were to make an Igbira movie people would make side comments. I decided on making an Igala epic movie because the story is quite known and relatable and the research into the movie went on extensively.
PT: Is this project a one off?
Mercy: No it isn’t and that is why we have the Kogi State diary to showcase the talents in the state. That is why we got Nancy our lead character in the project. Expect more from the Kogi state diary to showcase of these talents.
PT: Your posts on social media have made some people tend to see you as leaning towards the girl child than the male child.
Mercy: (Laughs) My son tends to like the father more and my daughters are attracted to me and you know this family dynamics.
PT: Since your appointment what has been your greatest challenge?
Mercy: I don’t see myself as a politician, my husband is; and I don’t need an appointment to effect a change in my community. I think it is
a responsibility that you are in charge of people and certain actions. When you are in the public eye, you are under much scrutiny and this comes with much responsibilities. I do believe I can effect a change in my community without political appointment and represent humanity in a good light.
PT: How have you been coping being under public scrutiny?
Mercy: I would say it has been God all the way. I have been coping quite well and I can’t undermine the strength of the media since I consider you guys as stakeholders. I would say it has just been God all the way.
PT: When you put up pictures of your husband and family on Instagram, critics say you are mocking your colleagues, whose marriages have crashed. Is this true?
Mercy: I am in competition with nobody and I am just being myself because I do not know what tomorrow holds. I am on my own lane.