How does one go from designated chef to hall of fame actress?
I have a friend named Tee. Over the years, our relationship has become such that if I ever needed to hide a dead body, his name tops the list of my emergency contacts.
So it was no surprise when he called me sometime last year and said “I need you to cook for a couple of people this weekend”. Turns out his brother was just starting out in the movie industry and was going to shoot a short Christian film somewhere on the outskirts of Ibadan. He needed me to cook for members of the crew on Friday night and the whole of Saturday. The offer came with an undisclosed pay and I had no problem with the arrangement as I had scheduled nothing else that weekend.
So I donned a black blouse and some good old fashioned boot cut jeans. I packed an extra cream colored shirt, a cardigan and some toiletries in my cute brown tote bag and took a bike to our agreed location to meet the rest of the crew.
Perhaps it’s true that sometimes we dress the worst for our best moments and the best for our worst moments.
The crew consisted of one make up artist called Cynthia, 3 photographers Tee included, Tee’s brother and a young man called Paul.
We fit comfortably into two minivans and set off on an unusually far journey. Sitting there, in a minivan, in the middle of the night with a bunch of strangers made me realize how much trust I had in Tee. Or maybe I’m just reckless.
Let it be known that while my mates attended late night parties and got drunk, I took weird field trips with strangers in the middle of the night . Same difference.
By 10pm, we got to a 3 bedroom flat in a painfully new area on the outskirts of Ibadan. By painfully new, I mean that all buildings including ours were freshly plastered and the iron gates still had a factory smell. I made spaghetti with smoked catfish that night and engaged in friendly conversations with the other two photographers who were also students.
Cynthia and I got a room with a big bed, the three photographers got another room, while Tee’s brother and Paul got the masters bedroom. Paul requested that since we would be shooting a Christian movie, we should all endeavor to play only gospel music on the sound system.
It’s easy to come out of your comfort zone. The difficulty comes in remaining outside that comfort.
The sun rose and so did we. Paul and Tee’s brother left to get the ‘rest of the crew’ while I made fried plantains and eggs for breakfast. We messed around with the cameras and enjoyed the guilty pleasure of playing non gospel music on the sound system.
Turns out the ‘rest of the crew’was a young short bald man with the confidence of an Oscar award recipient. There was a little boy too who was extremely restless.
On second thought, children are always restless. I need to chill.
The set up for the movie began and I disappeared into the kitchen to prepare jollof rice for lunch.
Things happened really fast.
Their voices were getting louder.
Tee appeared in the kitchen with a smile on his face.
He looked like a lizard.
“What’s happening? ” I asked.
He said nothing but continued smiling.
A smiling lizard.
Paul appeared in the kitchen with a worried look on his face.
He looked like a cockroach.
“Have you ever acted before?” he asked.
“No” I replied.
A worried cockroach.
“We really need you to take up a role in this movie. It’s not a big deal, just about 3 scenes. The lady who was supposed to take the part bailed on us”. He said maintaining a frightening eye contact with me.
I just wanted to cook. Is that too much to ask?
I said yes. Not because I wanted to become the next Genevieve but because at that moment; between the smiling lizard and the worried cockroach, I could feel how much it meant to them.
It’s so difficult to please ourselves. Yet so easy to please others.
I was to be the wife of the bald man and the mother of the young boy. We were to happily married and reflect this happiness. But how does one fake chemistry with a stranger with zero appeal to me? He stood at least 4 inches beneath me and was way too bossy for anyone’s liking. The little boy was cute but didn’t exactly make my ovaries itch. And I know that I also didn’t make anyone feel like a husband or a son. It was a beautiful mess. I felt sorry for Paul.
At some point, we become like pawns on the chessboard of life. We live for a greater purpose that we neither know nor appreciate. But still, we live.
The first scene showed a happy family at morning devotion. All I had to do was say “Amen”, hand my husband his briefcase and instruct my son to be a good boy. After about 100 takes, we had the shot. No big deal.
The second scene was a robbery scene. The Armed robbers barged into the house, trailing my husband with toy guns and making away with many thousands of Naira. All I had to do was fake some tears and say “please don’t hurt us” or something like that. After about two hundred takes, we had the shot. No big deal.
It was dark already and although Paul insisted that I stay the night so we could wrap up the final scene the following day, I refused. I had lost interest in acting and socializing and just wanted return to my life of solitude. I made Paul drive me home, well half way… and I promised to meet them the next day for the hospital scene.
Spoiler alert, the robbers had shot my son and he was rushed to the hospital. It was an ugly mess. I felt sorry for myself.
I slept in my bed that night, not that it was any consolation. The next morning I was torn between continuing what I’d started and disappointing Paul. However, by 9am I said fuck it and took a bike to our agreed point of rendezvous.
Consistency can either be a virtue or a curse. For me, it’s both.
We drove to the make shift hospital(which was actually a primary school) and began setting up.
All I had to do was act disturbed while my husband prayed to God for a miracle.God heard his prayers and the doctor announced the recovery of my son. Yayy…..after about three hundred takes, we had the shot. No big deal.
Two days later, I got a credit alert that could settle my data subscription for a month. Three days later, the movie was released on YouTube and everyone was excited.
I never watched the movie.
I never shared the link or promoted the movie.
I never spoke of that experience
And as much as i tried to deny it, I knew I didn’t give it my best and for that reason, I was ashamed.
For my actions, I am ashamed.
So I write this post to admonish myself
That I am not perfect, never have been and never will be.
That a constant pursuit of perfection is itself a sickness.
That one cannot be good at all things. And that’s okay.
That I was wrong to not watch and share the movie despite knowing how much it meant to Paul.
That anything worth doing is worth doing well. And maybe if I’d given it my best, I wouldn’t feel this way.
That maybe if I’d given it my best, I’d still feel this way. But that’s okay too.
That for my actions, or lack of actions, I am sincerely sorry.
To watch “IN ONE DAY” a short Christian film about the unpredictability of life and the unending power of God and maybe if I’m bold enough, to share the link with my contacts.
And if you make it to the end of this post. Here’s what you should do.
Reconcile with the things,events or people in your life that you’re ashamed of or embarrassed about.
Because at the end of the day, life’s too short to live in shame and regret
What things have you done that you’re not necessarily proud of? Tell me all about it in the comment box below!