Mary Remmy Njoku is a Nollywood film star and producer who became a household name in the industry after starring in the movie “Blackberry Babes.”
The mother of two talks about her career and marriage in an interview with Punch.See excerpts:
I’m a Nollywood actress and producer. I am also the CEO of Rok Studios. I was born and brought up in Festac, Lagos. I am married to Jason Njoku and together, we have two beautiful children.
I became interested in acting while I was in school. I just loved the creative freedom and found new ways to express myself. I started doing stage productions in school, before moving into TV series. My mother especially has always been supportive of everything I do, as long as I work hard and devote myself fully to my craft. She saw that I had a flair for acting from an early age and she allowed me to follow my passion.
I suppose that my role in Blackberry Babes, was key. I worked alongside some big names and that was pivotal for my career. In terms of difficult roles to portray, my character in Festac Town was challenging, as it was such a personal account and I became obsessed with getting the character just right. Some of my iconic roles include Hazeezat in the movie Hazeezat, Annie in Husbands of Lagos, Faith in Stranger in my Bed and most recently, Tochi in Single Ladies.
Generally, it’s been a really positive experience. Like all actors, I had my doubts along the way as to whether I could support myself in an acting career long-term, but so far, I’ve been gainfully employed since I started. However, when I moved behind the camera and started producing my own content, I did receive some quite upsetting comments from one very well-known actor in particular, who said that he didn’t think I would be able to make the transition and that I should stick to acting. I was so upset that this person didn’t believe in my abilities but you know what? Once I dried my tears, I showed up for work the next day and set about producing my first TV series, Festac Town, and had the most amazing feedback from fans. That is how I was able to prove my critics wrong.
Like starting anything from scratch, it wasn’t easy. My first production was really epic in terms of size and duration of production. Even though I was heavily pregnant with my first child at the time, I was so determined to tell this story- it was really a personal project of mine that I had been working on for a number of years. It was a relief to finally get a chance to make it. Since then, Rok Studios has produced 12 other TV series and we have a lot more in the pipeline. We produce and co-produce a lot of films as well- over 150 in the three years since we launched, but we are majorly known for our original TV series.
Jason is my best friend, my husband and my business partner. We are a true partnership in every sense of the word. We have a young family and even though we both work long hours, we make sure we find time for each other – this is really important. My marriage is a true blessing.
My children are absolutely everything to me. Motherhood is a joy and a blessing. I am so fortunate that God has blessed me with a happy and healthy family. Most definitely, it is not easy balancing work and family life but very few things in life worth having are easy to get. It’s a challenge I relish and I am fortunate to have great support networks around me.
I am actually quite shy in many ways and people are always surprised at that. They always assume that because I’m an actress, I attend a lot of parties and events and that I’m very outgoing, but in reality, I prefer to be quiet and settled at home, with my family, or on set with my production team.
Role models and mentors
My sister, Judith Bulama, is my role model. She is someone I always look up to and trust completely. In Nollywood, Emem Isong has been and continues to be a great mentor and role model. On the international scene, I adore the work of Anthony Hopkins who is such a compelling storyteller. He really absorbs you into his world through his onscreen characterisation. I’ve loved and admired him for years.
I like classic, fun outfits but above all, I like comfort- I am a busy and working mum, so I can’t put fashion over functionality.