Katherine Obiang : ‘My Kids Understand Why I Have To Make A Choice’

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A first time meeting with Katherine
Obiang, former wife of TV guy, Frank Edoho, may lull you into a false
impression. Kaherine, a TV and radio presenter, looks every inch a ‘new
chassis’, though is already a mother of three. In this interview the former
presenter of AM Express on the NTA network, talked about her new love for acting,
life as a single mom and many other issues. Excerpts:
LET’S
talk about your new found love? (Laughs) I didn’t really have a choice when
Ashionye sent the email to me. I had gone to visit, just like I did today, and
we were having a chat; Ashionye and her husband are very close friends of mine,
so we were just discussing and having a good time. She said to her husband,
‘this is Rume’. It didn’t make any sense to me, may be you must be talking
about somebody that I remind you of.

And I
said ‘who is Rume?’ They both laughed. And Carr said ‘it’s true you know, she
reminds me a lot about Rume. And they both laughed, nobody was answering me, so
I didn’t push it. We kept on talking and she now opened up to me that Rume is a
character in a movie she is doing, and I was like okay. Seven months later, she
called me up and said ‘where are you?’, I said I’m in Lagos, and she said I’m
going to email you the script. I said hmn, the script? What script? She said
Rume, and I said who is Rume? I didn’t even remember.
And
then she emailed it to me. I told her I was going to go through it and let her
know what I think. I didn’t think of it as anything. That was not my forte, my
forte is the television and radio and stage. So when I read it, it was like
reading a diary of someone, it was easy. It is like a couple of friends coming
together, just having a conversation. For me, I sat down and read the script
from beginning to the end. That was when I said, if it is Ashionye that is
doing it, I can trust her to some certain degree, she is my friend. And of
course, I know Carr. Carr is a professional, he won’t be involved in anything
that is not potential. And then, I said ‘hey! What the heck? I have been
involved in some stage productions, so this should be like a challenge, and
that was it.
How was
the experience?
It was
great. I was nervous at first, the door to the set, I cannot remember the
number of times I stood there, because we have names like Nse, she is a friend
of mine, but…we have other names like Dakore, a beautiful person in and out. I
have met her at several occasions that I have attended as MC. Several times you
know how you want to respect yourself and stars don’t want to be bothered. She
walked up to me and said you are my friend on facebook. So we just got talking,
it was so easy, even way before the movie.
I
respect her talent and what she’s brought to Nollywood. Ashionye is just a
genuine person. I know that she is also into music, and the campaign she has
been involved in, empowering women. And then there is Tope, the director, and I
have gone through an audition where she was present, and Tope doesn’t smile,
she is simply too serious, and I was like ‘oh, God!’ So in the end I opened the
door, and then everyone welcomed me, at first I felt a bit nervous, but
everyone made an effort to keep the conversation going.
So on
the set , there is really a connection, and nobody is forcing the connection,
which in the end happened naturally. I was waiting for directions from the
director, and in my head, trying not to forget my lines. It was crazy, but once
we got into it, we just started talking and laughing with each other. And then
I would throw a bit of Rume into it. I tell you, I found a new found respect
for actors. It is so easy to criticize people, but the work the actors put in
there, trust me; it is not for small children.
With
this, can you say it is an open door for more to come?
Hmmm. A
lot of people have faith in me and they say that this is different seeing me in
a different light. And I guess people are seeing what I am not seeing. But I
take life easy, a day at a time. But if a good script comes along, I like to
challenge myself. Rume is very contagious in this movie. But I don’t want
people to stereotype me and says this is the character she can play. I like to
break boundaries and do other things. And at the same time, movie for me is not
all about being pretty. It is about you being able to interpret the role,
whether it makes you look ugly or pretty. I guess if the script is good or the
story line is good.
What
stage production have you done?
Kate
Henshaw has always been involved in the fight against domestic violence. So
when the monologues came along, it is something that happens every year in
Nigeria, and always directed by Wole Oguntokun, who is a friend of mine. So
when Kate said ‘monologues is taking place this year; would you like to be part
of it?’. So I went for the rehearsal, I met Wole and he was happy to see me.
And I’m a fan of Wole’s work, his works speak for themselves. That’s how I went
for rehearsal and Wole gave me something to do. That was how I got involved
with stage. It is a bit complex, you can’t edit, what you see is what you get.
When you make a mistake on stage, it is not easy for you to repair it; you have
to carry on as if it is part of the play. And then I did something in Cameroon,
a small stage play, after the monologue. Someone who came to watch the
monologue saw that, and it was like three months difference.
Since I
am a Cameroonian, it was easy to be part of that. And I did it for the love of
my country. It was directed by Shola Roberts, an amazing director to look out
for. He directed a cast of about 30, with artistes like Onyeka Owenu, Timi
Dakolo, Bez, Yinka Davies and other stage actors. It was great and he was able
to manage them, and it was very successful. It took place in October, to
coincide with the independence of the country. It was great, and I must say, it
brought a fresh angle to things as a young director in stage. He blended music
and dance and a bit of abstracts. It was really something different, and people
recognized that. For people who came for the event, they registered the
interest in working with young directors like this.
As a
presenter, how do you intend to balance the two?
For now
I am with Nigeria Info 99.3fm. It is an intense station, we talk, that is what
we do. We talk 90% of the time and play 10% of music. We talk about current
affairs, politics, life style, entertainment, and mostly sports. So I am on air
from 10am to 3pm. I man the shift, called the midday dialogue with Michelle.
When I am not working, I do movies and then I go on leave as well. But it is
all about balancing. I take a script with me, and wherever I go, I make sure
the script is in my bag. I carry my script along and If I have a spare time
during my show, I go through the script.
At
weekends, I don’t work, I do a few things for few hours on Sunday morning, so I
joggle it well. Then I let the children know that mummy is busy this time. They
also respect that. As you are pursuing your education, mummy has to pursue her
thing too, so we understand each other. When they met Ashionye, they said you
are in my mummy’s movie. But I was like I am in her movie. It’s no difference,
but they know this is what mummy is doing, and they are also carried along. It
is not easy, but it is possible.
You
said it is all about balancing, how do you find out time to relate with your
kids?
Sometimes
I just get all of them up in my bed, and we talk until they sleep off. You know
that moment, that you don’t have to sit on the round table and talk. We can lie
down and laugh about things and talk, so kids can feel that mum is not always a
disciplinarian all the time. We can laugh about things and make fun of each
other or their classmates in school.
We talk
things, ‘like mummy when you were in school, did this kind of thing happened’,
‘mummy what is the weirdest thing that happened to you?’ And then in the
morning, on their way to school, we also talk. And when I am not working, I am
home with them. I make sure I go home to help them with their home work, and
also teach them to let them know that they have to do their home work on their
own. But I make sure, no matter how late it is, I must go through their work,
it is the least I can do.
So the
children don’t feel they are lost. They can do anything, mummy don’t really
care. It is really stiff, but what can I do, I just have to find that balance.
And on weekends, I don’t like going out. But they say ‘mummy lets go out’, but
I tell them, ‘I drive Monday to Friday, so let’s just chill out at home. Let’s
have popcorn and watch a movie, let’s watch the games’. My son likes football,
but my girls dont. And on Sundays, we go to church. When I am doing stage
production, I try as much as possible to get them involved. When I was doing
the one in Cameroon, I got them involved. Coincidently, it was a time they had
the half term break. So they went with me, just for them also, for me to open
their mind and see the kind of work I do, so they can understand the demands
involved.
What is
it like managing three kids on your own?
It is
difficult. But like they say, God won’t give you what you cannot handle. It is
difficult, but it is possible. I tell them, ‘guys we are in this thing
together, we have to make it work, any which way.’ My daughter is seven, so you
know you have to start talking to her about the awareness of boys. Tell her,
‘for anyone to touch your pants is wrong, and you must tell me.’ So I make that
kind of effort with the girls, for them to be close to me, so that if anything
like that happens, they can open up and tell me. The statistics are unnerving,
most kids are violated and their parents don’t know about it.
So I
always feel that kids are better off with their mom, and their moms should also
make time to know and study them so that someone outside does not tell you that
this is what your child did. You’ll fight first because you don’t really
anything about your child. So it is not easy, my son and I are close, and we
talk a lot, and I am very intuitive about what is going on with them.
All you
need is to study a child for some hours, for some minutes, and you know you
need to be aware of what is going on. When I am working, I tell them, this is
why I am working on, we have to do this, and that you have to go to school
because nobody knows what can happen in the future. In the same way, I am
teaching you to be independent, to make you stand out. It is constant talking
to them; you just have to keep talking. I realize that my mom do it a lot. And
as a child, I wonder why my mummy keep talking, but I understand it now. It can
be frustrating at times, but you know you have to talk. I have taken them to my
office when I have been in the studio, so it is basically opening them up to
the kind of job that I do and why I need to do the kind of things that I do.
They know that they are living with me now, and I am also working on that,
making them feel it is okay whatever state you find yourself.
At this
level, is their mind open enough to understand the situation they are in?
Well,
you can only do your best and leave the rest. And I always tell them ‘put
yourself in the position of an orphan who lost one parent whether is their dad
or mom’. I ask them if they thought such person will give up on life. So put
yourself in that position, and then, perhaps you can then begin to look at
things differently. I talk to them as adults so they too can begin to believe
in themselves.
I tell
them that ‘If someone talks, never allow that bother you, the most important thing
is that you have parents who love you.’ ‘That your parents are not together
does not mean that you are denied the love and affection you deserved.’ Talking
like that, also help them. I understand with children, you have to talk to them
like they are adults and not children. Of course, you can’t tell them
everything, but to an extent you just try to help them to understand the
basics. As they grow up, things will open up to them.
As kids
from public figures, is there any time they have felt the weight of what
happened?
Yea! My
son goes to school, or when we go out and someone’s says ‘who wants to be a
millionaire’ and he says it is just a name of a programme. And they look at him
and say, ‘are you not who wants to be a Millionaire?’ He says, ‘it is just a
name of a programme, my dad just anchors the programme and that’s it.’ And they
laugh and you know how you just look at kids? Oh, they are kids. But the girls,
they just look at you, and they never really say anything.
But you
know, you have to explain to them, that it is you are in that programme and
people watch it a lot and it is what they will remember first before your name.
Apart from that, I don’t think they really understand the weight of it. I am
still studying them, but it does not make a difference to them. Maybe when they
grow older, they will understand if they want to shy away from all of that, or
they want to go into all of that, or fight for their own courses.
Most
times kids, from broken homes become rebellious or violent.
I have
not seen that yet. I watch them closely, I have one son, I have three brothers,
my mom has a sister that has three sons, I kind of grew up with boys, that is
my point. I am, to an extent, watching that, and I guess I will know the signs.
It also goes down to talking and talking, as well as making your child realize
that your eyes are on them. But know that there are some rules and regulations,
a child does not just grow up and feel that. You can only do the best and leave
the rest.
But I
haven’t seen any sign of that, and him having sisters, I always have to tell
him, ‘you know you cannot because you have younger sisters, sort of looking up
to you, whether you like it or not, it is not something you wish, they are not
looking up to you. They are looking up to you because it is normal.’ But he is
a sweet child, he is always willing to help, he’s very vocal. I have not seen
anything like that now. Trust me, if I see it, I will see it in time.
Why do
you wear low cut?
I’ve
had hair o, I’ve grown hair, but at a point, I got tired. I have done the
weaves, the Ghana weaves, braids, what else is there? So I wonder what is there
next to do, let me just cut my hair. And then you go to salon, and people come
touch your hair, and are like ‘madam, this hair is too full o’.
And the
way you are treated in salons, if you don’t know someone in the salon, you are
relegated and delayed, and nobody wants to touch your hair. But I say ‘you know
what? It’s my hair, it’s my money, and somehow I came down here’. Aside that,
it is comfortable and manageable, except when I have roles in movies, then I
wear wigs. Basically, I like this..
Why the
change of name?
I just
want to get back to me. When I came on scene, I was Katherine Obiang, before I
changed it to Katherine Edoho. But it is just me establishing my identity now,
all afresh. I just want to use my name for projects I am involved in now,
whether its television, whether it’s film or radio, I’m just establishing my
identity and my brand. On paper, I still have Katherine Obiang Edoho. But for
me and my brand, I am Katherine Obiang. On the website that I am working on, it
is Katherine Obiang, so that I can also celebrate my Cameroonian heritage and
my Nigerian heritage as well.
Plans
to remarry?
I don’t
know, I have a number of friends, male friends, yes. I don’t know about
marriage, it is not something that I have even considered. I guess if it
happens it happens.
Don’t
the children feel the absence of a fatherly figure in the house?
Oh,
they visit their dad. They go see their dad when they are on holidays. They
have access to go see their dad, so it not like looking for someone to replace
him. They have their dad, and I have my dad.

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