How my acting career started ― Mercy Aigbe

For an outsider, the dream of working in Nollywood may look like a tall one, especially in a country of more than 200 million people. Creating a space for oneself in the movie industry may therefore seem to be a herculean task.

While thousands of wannabes are joining the industry every day to pursue their dreams, thousands of others are steadily dumping the craft without realizing their dreams. But this is not the same story with top actress Mercy Aigbe when she delved into the world of make-believe in 2006.

Why I need break from acting – Mercy Aigbe

Despite the odds, the Edo State-born actress did not give up her dream to work in front of the camera. While she had an undying passion for acting, Aigbe said nothing could discourage her from realizing her acting dream even when she faced the worst challenges of her career.

The actress shared the amazing story of her journey into the world of make-believe with the participants at the just concluded maiden edition of the Edo State International Film Festival, ESIFF.

Sharing her story to inspire the budding actors from Edo, the 44-year old mother of two recalled how she dumped her lucrative banking job to chase her dream in acting. She also narrated how she abandoned her Financial Studies at the Ibadan Polytechnic to study Theatre Arts at the University of Lagos, all in the bid to follow her dream.

She narrates: “I just want to share my story, my journey so far and experience, hoping that it would touch someone positively. I have been a film maker for close to 20 years. It has not been devoid of challenges.

“Before you become a champion, you must have fought many wars. It’s not easy sustaining one’s achievements. That’s what many people don’t understand. This is a young lady who had a passion for acting from childhood.

“From the outset, I have always known what I wanted in life. But when I gained admission into the university, my late father, being a typical Benin man, wanted me to study Accountancy.

“But I told him that I wanted to study Theatre Arts, and he frowned at my choice. He believed that actresses are promiscuous in nature. He vowed that none of his daughters would have anything to do with the course. So, I had no choice than to respect my father’s wish and went on to study Accountancy at Ordinary Diploma level at Ibadan Polytechnic.

“After my OND programme, I couldn’t go back for my Higher National Diploma programme. Instead, I sat for JAMB and gained admission to study Theatre Arts at the University of Lagos. When my JAMB result was released, I couldn’t summon the courage to break the news to my father. But when I finally did, he objected to it, insisting that I must continue with my Accountancy programme.

“According to him, he wanted me to work in the bank. He reminded me that my younger sister was studying Medicine in the university and therefore, I must have nothing to do with Theater Arts. At that point, I pleaded with my uncles to talk to him. But being a traditional Benin man, I slaughtered many goats to make him happy.

“At last, he gave me his blessings and after graduation, I encountered another obstacle when I wanted to join the movie industry. Then, we would storm the National Theatre complex in our numbers scouting for non-existing movie roles under the rain or sun.


“At a point, I thought acting wasn’t my calling, I therefore found myself in the banking hall.

“My father was very happy, as he kept telling me that acting cannot put food on my table. He advised me to see acting as a hobby, not as a profession.”, Aigbe recalled.

Narrating further, the actress said despite her lucrative banking job, she didn’t feel fulfilled, hence she walked out of the job to chase her dream again.

She continued: “Despite my lucrative banking job, I wasn’t fulfilled. One day, I made up my mind to quit my job in order to chase my dream, though I wasn’t sure I was going to make it in the movie industry.

“But I had to quit my job to chase my dream. There must be a time you learn to take a bold step to achieve your dream and aspiration in life. I started all over again, storming the National Theatre complex in search of auditions. But when it looked like I wasn’t going to break into the English genre of the movie industry, I crossed over to the Yoruba industry. I could understand and speak a bit of Yoruba language. But the truth is that I learnt on the job, that’s what many people don’t know. I was virtually worshipping Yoruba producers to the point that they would be patient with me whenever I wasn’t delivering my lines in Yoruba very well. I didn’t want my father to be disappointed in me. That was my driving force. We are where we are because of hard work and perseverance. There is money in this industry, but don’t make it your first priority. Work on building your brand and that should be your focus for now.

“I recall one time I was on a movie set for two weeks. Throughout the two weeks, I slept inside my car because I wasn’t lodged in a hotel. Every morning I would go to the hotel where we were shooting the film to beg them to allow me to take my bath and use their convenience. When we finished filming, I was given an envelope containing N5000. Then I was already a single mother who had a lot of responsibilities. I had every reason to quit acting but I didn’t because of the passion I have for the craft.

“Many of you are on social media and you can’t use the space to your advantage. I wonder why you are on social media and your page doesn’t reflect on what you do for a living. Learn to use social media as a tool to achieve your aim. When I look at the youths of today, using social media to troll celebrities, I’m like they don’t know what they have. When I bought my first house, people thought a man bought it for me. I laughed at their lack of knowledge. I made my money from social media as a fashion icon,”the actress narrated.

On how she delved into business, Aigbe who operates one of the most followed online fashion stores in Nigeria, MagDivas, revealed that she started her business from social media.

“ I am a fashionista. I love fashion and I love to look good. I love swag and it gives confidence. So, when Instagram came on board, I was posting alluring photos and a lot of people were following me.

“I am one of the most followed celebrities in Nigeria with over 11 million followers on Instagram. So, when I started posting nice photos on Instagram, a lot of fashion brand owners started giving me their outfits to wear and when I showcased such outfits on my Instagram page, people started patronizing them. At a point, I felt like I was being used by these fashion brands and decided to set up my own fashion online store and clothing line. That was how I set up my own clothing line, MagDivas, one of the most followed fashion stores in Nigeria. I converted my fans to my clients. Imagine having 11 million followers on Instagram, if one million patronize me then I am in money,” Aigbe revealed.

On his own part, Desmond Elliot recalled how he developed interest in politics in the 90s during the period when late MKO Abiola contested and won the annulled 1993 presidential election.

Leave a Reply