Thelma O’khaz is an established actress in Nollywood. The sultry actress who has starred in flicks like WHITE HUNTERS, WOMEN’S COT, COSTLY MISTAKE, SATANIC CHURCH etc spoke to Enquirer’s Faith Karaemi recently on her career, family and other interesting issues, please enjoy.
Can you briefly tell us about yourself?
My name is Thelma O’khaz, I’m a Nollywood actor and I sing
You sing as well? Wow! I didn’t know I only know the acting aspect, so what kind of song do you sing?
I write inspirational song, R & B Pop and songs that give message to people
Coming back to your acting career now, how long have you been acting?
Ten years now
Ten years wow! So how did you find your way into the industry!
Everybody has what defines them as a person, and it’s between you and your God, you and your God are the only ones that know what actually defines you as a person; so acting and singing actually is what defines me as a person and I’ve always known that from day one, I was dabbling into it then when I was in the University, but I decided to just chill, and fully got into acting after my University.
So how do you merge the two careers?
Well, they are both like brother and sister to me that’s how I see it; one can’t do without the other so I’ve been singing, doing sound tracks (Nollywood sound tracks) even before I go into the University so the acting is like a brother or sister to it; so I can merge them easily but there is always time for the other.
Okay what are the challenges you have faced, for you to be where you are now?
For everything you do if there are no challenges, I don’t think it will be interesting or it will be thrilling, for you to keep going or keep moving; so the challenge is I’m married, I’ve got kids so you have to be a super woman to be able to take care of it because the home mustn’t lack because you’re acting or singing. You have doctors doing their own thing and they still have families, so the challenging thing there was that I have to be that super woman to be able to do things for the home (family) not to lack, for the kids not to lack because of my job so if a normal person wakes up, for instance at 7, I had to wake up at 5 to do what I had to do
You said you are married, how long have you been married now?
Going to 16 years
16 years wow! How many kids?
Boys and girls
Two boys and two girls
You are really blessed, honestly speaking, mere looking at you; you look so young as in one won’t even think you’re married not to think of having kids, so what do you do to keep in shape?
Been that ‘super woman’ (general laughter) actually helps me to be in shape like that, it really helps and I try not to eat what I’m not supposed to eat I seldom try it once in a while because we’re human; and I eat a lot of fruits and I exercise five times in a week.
Alright can you remember the movie that brought you to limelight?
COSTLY MISTAKE, with Saint Obi and Kate Henshaw, then later on BRIDE APART, WHITE HUNTERS and WOMEN’S COT too
That’s really nice, how was your first experience like; as an actress you standing in front of the camera and acting alongside top celebrities how was it like for you?
I don’t know about other people but for me the first time was just like saying thank you Lord, actually it’s the fulfillment I get from the camera been on my face and everything, it was just out of this world; you cannot explain it and that’s why you have to know what is your calling; for you to be able to get that fulfillment, so I wasn’t tensed, I was at home and no other thing does that to me like acting and singing.
So would you say that you were accepted at first shot?
Yes, I was accepted because I know one of the jobs I did with Patience Ozorkwo, that was the first time she saw me (MEGA WAR) she said who’s this one and they told her and she said come if you don’t do it well; I will slap you and I said mama please if I don’t do it well slap me, she looked at me and was like ahhn and I said mama please I’m serious and when we were done, she was like no wonder you said I should slap you because you know you were going to do the job very well (general laughter), so things like that when you challenge me, I don’t think I’ve really done anything because I really want to do my job very well.
So what’s your educational background?
I went to Onike Girls Primary School and then I went to Reagan Memorial Baptist Girls Secondary School Yaba here; then I went to the University of Lagos to study Theatre Arts.
So how was growing up like for you?
It was normal, my dad is a Muslim and I come from Edo State (Auchi) to be precise and my mum is a Christian so it was fun and because we had different kinds of character; there are so many of us and that’s why I can easily relate with people nowadays and it has really helped me.
So where do you stand Christian or Muslim?
I’m a Christian
Do you believe in life after death?
I do believe because there are spirits; I believe there is God, I believe there is devil and there is good and bad so I believe.
Where are your siblings I mean your family?
We are all scattered (laughs)
So where are they?
Some of us are in UK; some are in America, some Yaba (laughs)
What about your parents?
We actually grew up here, we were born and bred in Lagos, my dad is late but my mum is here
Oh! What does she do?
My mum, I want her to just stay at home and enjoy herself
In the next five years, where do you see yourself?
I see more international job being done, I see myself doing more singles and videos
Can you act nude?
I can’t do that
What if a huge amount is been offered?
I can’t do that, what am I going to tell my 15 years old son? I can’t do that, I could do things that are very suggestive but I can’t act nude; and I’ve heard it before that when you go into Hollywood there’s no way you can escape nudity but when we get there, maybe somebody will be the first to say no.
In the course of your career, have you ever faced challenges like been harassed by producers or directors because people say it’s common in the industry?
It is important that we get this thing right because I know about this harassment, even doctors and nurses also go through it, bankers as well but we don’t get to see them; I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen because it actually does; I’ve never been harassed, maybe because I have this code written on me; I am ready to work, I’m not hungry and I’m not desperate, I won’t take rubbish but I’m ready to work so that’s what I am, maybe that’s why I haven’t come across that and maybe they have known from day one that it is not an option for me.
That’s supposed to be a message to the upcoming ones that you don’t have to be desperate to get to where you want to be
Exactly and I also tell them to have something else they are doing because it is not easy because this is all you have and you are just starting, believe you me, they are paying peanuts, so if you don’t have something else doing you may fall into things like that.
So what else do you do aside acting and singing?
Yeah, I work with 960, it’s actually into entertainment and all that, I freelance sometimes to other people that want information on how to go about their films, on line and all that.
What’s your definition of fashion?
Fashion is comfort, it is what defines you, and fashion is what makes you happy.
How do you relax?
With those kids at home (laughs) with them which I don’t get to do all the time so whenever I have the time I’m so happy to be with them and watch movies; because of my job, we go out a lot for events and all that, so when I get that time to really stay at home and have fun with them, I just stay at home to watch movies and communicate with them.
Your own movies or foreign ones?
I watch my own movies, myself (laughs) but when I see people watching them I just moved away because I don’t want to be noticed and when I’m watching them, I’m like okay where did I go wrong? Next time this is how I’m going to do it.
Your husband must be a very understanding person, what is he into?
Let’s leave my beautiful husband out of it
Are you not proud of him?
I am very proud of him
So why don’t you want to talk about him?
Because I don’t want anything to do with my family out there and I think that’s how I’ve been able to keep my family going; I keep them very sacred in my heart.
So how do you feel whenever negative comment is being made about you, like there was this rumour sometime ago that you were bleaching, what do you have to say on that?
It’s amazing what happened that time, I remembered in December a marketer called me and said Thelma please I want you to take a picture that has light, that will make you shine like light, I wished I could say the word he used in Igbo, so I took the picture but I didn’t know how it got out, it was everywhere and people were just commenting and saying all sort, my friends were calling me from abroad saying Thelma what’s happening, this is what we are hearing, so I took several pictures and put them on social networks because I love to express myself, a woman called me from abroad and was like please send me whatever it is you used that made you look like that. It was just picture and nothing more.
What’s your message for upcoming actors?
Just try and get something else doing apart from movie they should not solemnly depend on movie in the beginning because it might not fetch them that kind of money they are expecting; and if you are coming in thinking you are going to be the next Genevieve etc you are just in for a big surprise; if it is your call or what you are meant to do keep pushing ahead, you will get there.
Do you have any embarrassing moment so far?
I think many years ago, I did a job and then went to the old Yaba and a woman said you are Thelma O’khaz , I said yes ma and they said you are married I said yes and you are doing all those things tying towel and a man is carrying you (hissed) I pity you, I pity your husband and she was just pissed and said it; I was just like for me to be able to convince this woman to be this angry, I must have really done my job well (general laughter) so that’s the only thing.
So you don’t listen to the negative side
No, I don’t, you must have a thick skin to be in this business
What are your favourite meals?
The new one I just got is carrot and Mayonnaise have you tried it?
No, I haven’t
Oh my God, those tiny ones, just deep it in your mayonnaise, it’s the bum; then I just ate Amala, you know you kept me waiting, so I went to eat amala, gbegiri and ewedu, seriously speaking one thing I can’t do without, I’m sorry to say this, is my garri Ijebu and groundnut with cold water; if am trying to be white or anything, when they see me and my garri they would know that this one is a bloody Nigerian girl (general laughter) so that’s it.
So who is your favorite person in the movie industry?
In my movie industry?
They plenty o (laughs)
Just mention few
Okay I love Rita Dominic
Why do you like Rita?
Because apart from her acting, she is just a beautiful soul and she easily relate with everybody around, it’s important that you know how to relate, like 2face if you see him he’s a free person and at the same time, you can’t do rubbish, he doesn’t take rubbish from anybody, he can easily communicate with every living person, so that’s the thing with Rita. Then Darling Benson, Genevieve is awesome I love her
How would you rate Nollywood?
You know a lot of us we keep comparing these industries but these people are 100 years old, you can’t compare it with something that is barely 22 years but the good thing is that, we are aware of our mistake and we are really pushing, we’ve got good cameras, good story lines, if you are in the industry now, you must know what you are doing, you just have to if not nobody will give you job to do
There was this particular movie of yours I watched, I think Satanic Church or so, to me the movie look so scary, my question is that, was there any effect after the movie?
No, there was no effect, I’m a child of God but sometimes, there’s one I did that is not yet out, I think it should be out in the next two months I had to pray before I did some of the scenes, I’m not that superstitious but I had to get into the coffin and stuff like that, but I noticed that during that time I was really not comfortable, not myself, I was stressed and because I was stressed, it really helped the character, I can’t wait for the job to come out because it was a bit challenging compared to what I have done earlier; so that time I really had to pray, Lord am doing this to glorify your name you know.
And to expose the kingdom of darkness
Exactly to expose them and everything and I just do my job
Another thing is that the nails you carried in that movie, the last time I saw you, you were still carrying those nails, so I was wondering how do you do things with those long nails?
Okay that’s why you are looking at the nails now (general laughter) I want to play a good girl role so I had to do this short ones; I’ve been doing that nails for 14 years now and I’m very comfortable with it because I like to express myself, I’m not too much of a talker, seriously that’s why when I’m shooting, I’m able to express myself and nobody is going to kill me because I’m shooting you can’t shoot someone in the movie and go free of charge; so I like to express myself with my hair and nails, I like to have them done differently, it is important to me that it is different, it is important to me that people react; you might not say don’t touch me but you might react ah, oh okay fine I’ve gotten your attention.
Can you share with us some of the challenges that the Nollywood industry is facing right now?
Okay sometimes location because in Hollywood, they have set and things that you can easily use that people don’t have and sometimes they are not comfortable, they don’t want you there, so location is one of the things and before it was story lines and everything, seriously we are getting better now, you understand and we need to do more, I know the kind of cameras that we have is better than the ones we had then, we can do better.
So you mean Nollywood is really improving?
Yes it’s actually improving and the thing is we are aware of this, it’s not like you seeing this and you are just comfortable with it you have your cinemas now people are like shooting for them to show them on cinema and for you to do that, you have to have good story lines, so that’s just it, I know with time in the next ten years, we should get better off but one thing that we really do have a problem with is location which I feel that we should be able to get a place where we can build set, like Tinapa, I’ve not been there but I know and I’ve heard that it’s expensive to shoot there, so if we can get places like that it will really help.
What is your beauty routine like, I can see your skin is really shining, you are a mother of four but it doesn’t show on you?
Like now that I’m not shooting I want air to touch me, I use a lot of scrub, body polisher that’s just it and whenever I’m not shooting, I make sure that I stay away from the sun.
That’s nice so what’s your favorite color?
Wine, Green, Red I prefer dark colors because it brings out my complexion.
Alright it’s been nice talking to you
Thank you Faith God bless you