A woman poured palm oil on me inside market and I hugged her —Vivian Anani

Nollywood actress, Vivian Anani, has featured in many soap operas and has earned herself the appellate “Queen of Soap Operas.” TAYO GESINDE recently caught up with the actress on the location of The Casino, where she speaks on her acting career, why she always wears black to the market, her fashion obsessions and other issues. Excerpts:


Foray into acting

Though I love acting, I didn’t know I was going to end up being an actress but I have always loved anything that has to do with television. I actually thought I was going to be a lawyer but when that didn’t work out, I thought of being a newscaster. When I was a child, I used to stay in front of the mirror, holding a paper and reading it and thinking I was on TV. Then I never knew I was going to actually be on TV someday but here I am today.


Challenges faced

It was not so easy when I started acting. People in Lagos were the hot cakes then and we were from Calabar (Cross Rivers State). So, the first few movies I did then, I had to come to Lagos from Calabar. If producers wanted to invite people for jobs, they would think of the people in Lagos first. But by God’s grace, I was able to overcome that challenge.


Why I am called the Queen of Soap Opera

I have heard people say that several times. Yes, I have done a lot of television series. A lot of people think I don’t do movies, that I only do TV series, but I want to clear the air on that. I also do movies when they come my way.


How I have been able to remain relevant on TV

It has been by God’s grace and mercy. It is not by my power. It is not even because I can act. I think it is just God.


How I have been coping with competition in the industry

I am not in competition with anybody. I am just me and I am always me. I don’t want to be like anybody and I don’t even want anybody to be like me. I want people to take what they like from me and be themselves. So, whatever you have, if you also take some things from me and add to it, you will be better than I am. I always pray that people should be better than I am.


Philosophy of life

Do to others what you want them to do to you. Stay humble no matter who you are or what you have, it is not by your power, it is by God’s grace and mercy. Stay humble and stay focused. Always give thanks to God.


Definition of style

Style is what makes you comfortable. Style is what brings you out. It is what suits you. Don’t do what others are doing or wear what others are wearing. Create your own style because it suits you. I won’t say I will wear mini skirt because others are wearing it if it doesn’t suit my stature. You need to know what suits your stature, what looks good on you. Most of all, be comfortable in whatever you are wearing.


Beauty regimen

I do my cleansing, bathe with hot water. I make sure I don’t sleep with my make-up on and I do my facials once in a while. I also stay off harsh products.


How I became the face of Befenchy

The creative director of Befenchy, Chichi, was a fan who started following me on Facebook. When I saw the pictures of her jewellery, I discovered she was very creative and hardworking unlike most young ladies today who want everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. One day, she inboxed me that she had a gift for me and asked where she could find me. Coincidentally, I was in Lagos and she came to find me and gave me the gift. I was touched by her gesture. From there we became friends. I got addicted to her brand and started buying and wearing her jewellery. Sometimes she would even give me for free. She later approached me that she wanted to make me the face of Befenchy. Though she said she couldn’t afford to pay me millions but I agreed. I’ve been the face of Befenchy for two years now. I am happy doing it. I won’t tell you how much she gave me but she tried.


Special treat

Every time I have a little time, I try to relax. This job we do, if you don’t create time for yourself, you will never have time to do other things. There are times one has to reject some jobs so that one will have time to rest because whether we like it or not, our body needs rest, especially those of us that are ageing. I have been on set since January and I have made up my mind that after this job (The Casino) that I am doing, I am taking two weeks off to rest.


Secret of beauty

I want to thank God for making me to age gracefully. One thing is being beautiful and another thing is to age gracefully. I think beauty on the inside is more important to me than beauty of the outside. Any woman that thinks she is beautiful, she will see other beautiful women who will beat her hands down, so what will stand you out is your inner beauty. That is what I am more concerned about.


How I handle advances from male admirers

It is simple. You politely tell them your mind that you can be friends and nothing more than that. Some of them are very understanding but some will insist, but you too will try not to encourage them because if you tell someone no and you are giving him attention and audience, he won’t give up. Somehow, God has been wonderful to me. The people who normally approach me are usually very understanding, when I tell them hey! I can’t do this, we remain as friends.


Most embarrassing thing a fan has ever done to me

It was not an embarrassment, it was a show of love. For instance, two times, I have been bathed with palm oil in the market because when they see me, they were excited. The first time it happened, I wanted to buy palm oil at the market, when the woman who was selling it saw me, she jumped up and said “oh! It’s you” before she knew it, she had stained my dress. She was embarrassed and I was equally embarrassed. But because I could see that she was feeling bad for staining my dress, I hugged her again. When I finished buying the oil, she didn’t want to collect money but I insisted that she must. After the incident, I told myself I would never wear bright clothes to the market again, so I wear black tops. It was not a bad experience, it was a thing of joy, and they were only excited. However, there are times you get a lot of messages on social media and everybody expects you to reply but you can’t. So, they will be saying things like “who do you think you are?” But one can’t really blame them. Everybody wants attention. That is why sometimes I create time to chat with my fans on Facebook.  That is the only way to make them happy. Without them, we are nobody. That we are celebrities, is because they are there watching us, so we should create time for them.


Fashion obsessions

Jewellery and perfumes.


Pains and gains of being a celebrity

The pain is that you might not be able to do certain things you would normally do. You have to caution yourself because people are watching. The gain is that sometimes you drive into filling station, buy fuel and when you want to pay, someone would just say don’t worry, I have paid. Sometimes, you go to a boutique with the intention of buying two items and someone ends up buying five for you. I think it is a beautiful payback for us.


Opinion on provocative dressing

As I always say, if you have it, flaunt it. I don’t have anything to flaunt. I didn’t flaunt it when I was 20, 30. Is it now that I will do that? If you think your body is good enough to flaunt, I don’t have anything against you. If your family loves it, if your relationship permits it, your parents are okay with it or your spouse allows it, go ahead. Some men love their women to flaunt their assets. As for me Vivian Anani, there is a limit to what I flaunt.


Opinion on toning

Some people think it is good, others think it is not. For me, I think we should leave ourselves the way we are.


On whether I will go for cosmetic surgery

I am good the way I am, so I will never do cosmetic surgery. I am grateful to my God the way He has created me. My man is not complaining, he is okay with the way I am, so, why should I complain?


Combining the home front with my career

As I said earlier, you have to create time because time can’t create itself and there are many things to do. I take time off from work to spend time with my family. And when I am around, everything is taken care of.


Advice for young girls

If you are coming in because you have passion for it, good. But if you are coming in because you want to use it to sell yourself, because some girls, all they want is for their face to be seen on TV so that they can invade all the men they want to invade. If that is your mindset, I wish you luck but if it is passion and you think you have something to offer, outside nudity, fine. I tell my colleagues that it is not all celebrities that are role models. There is a big gap between a celebrity and a role model. For someone to be a role model, the person must live an exemplary life and have morals. Being a role model is not just about living a flamboyant lifestyle. Young girls today want to emulate celebrities because of fame and fortune, they don’t care if the person is living an exemplary life or is worthy to be called a role model.  So we as celebrities have to caution ourselves that people see us as role models, even some of us are not worthy to be called that. So, I will advise whoever is coming in to come in with positive changes, come in to add value and not come and destroy what we are trying to build. If you have the talent, God will bless you and open doors for you.