Mercy Aigbe-Gentry is known for three things -decent acting, beautiful persona and impeccable fashion taste.
The Nollywood actress who recently caused an internet frenzy with her outfit to the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, has of late, been fighting against the marginalization of the Yoruba sector of the movie industry.
Mercy reveals in an interview with Punch Newspapers, that there is a gap between the English and Yoruba speaking sectors of Nollywood, but added that it is already ‘being bridged’.
“I didn’t choose to be in the Yoruba movie sector. I started out in Nollywood and I featured in several soap operas and movies. My career took a different direction when a Yoruba film producer cast me in his movie titled Ara. The movie became a hit and I soon began getting scripts from other Yoruba filmmakers and I couldn’t turn them down because I had just launched my career. In no time, I became a household name in the Yoruba film genre.”
“I really don’t know why and it has been on for a very long time. However, we have started to get better recognition unlike what obtained in the industry four years ago. The gap is already being bridged and I think it is only a matter of time. I think we Yoruba actors also need to let people know that we are also a part of Nollywood and demand to be respected like our English counterparts. Our works will speak for us at the end of the day. I think it is about time we are respected, so the gap that currently exists can be closed.”
“Our counterparts in the English genre have always had fantastic stories and actors. I think Nollywood should be one and devoid of any form of disparity or segregation. The term Nollywood in my opinion means movies made in Nigeria irrespective of the medium. I am also featuring in a Hausa movie which will be released soon.”
Speaking on the perception of Yoruba actors as illiterates, Mercy Aigbe said it’s a function of people being uninformed.
“This is one area where I have a problem with people’s perception of Yoruba actors. Many people think we are uneducated and can’t speak good English. I think people are not informed, so whenever someone tells me they are not aware I speak proper English, I simply laugh it off.”
She further revealed that her fans often nudge her to act more ‘English movies’ in order to get wide ‘acceptance and recognition’ but however, added that she would never stop acting Yoruba movies.
“Some people write to me and request that I should feature in more English movies because they believe that only then will I gain more acceptance and recognition. My fans believe I’m not being appreciated in my sector.”
“I can never stop acting Yoruba movies because that industry made me who I am today. As a matter of fact, a lot of people don’t know I am from Edo State. When I began featuring in Yoruba films, I wasn’t speaking the language flawlessly, so I had to learn on the job. My industry is very accommodating and that is why I would always be grateful to them for accepting me and giving me a platform to excel. I also produced a movie titled Osas in order to connect with my Benin roots.”