Never be intimidated into silence and never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself because they can never take away your dignity if you do not give it to them.
There are so many young girls out there, willing to do whatever it takes to be extremely successful. But as much as I would like to encourage each person to be willing to sacrifice contentment, comfort, money, good health and a social life to go hard for what they want out of life, I do have to advise them that some people they might meet along the way may not have their best interest at heart. They will meet people that can sense ‘desperation’ or ‘weaknesses’ and they will surely take advantage of that.
I have never ever told this story before (not even to my family or closest friends) but I feel the need to disclose it now just to encourage girls out there. I always simply avoid this part of the story when I talked about my past experiences with friends but one way or another some girl needs to hear it. Who knows my story might be a saving grace.
Years ago, a few months after I graduated from College, I was at a very confused state in my life. I had also just broken up with a guy who had cheated while I was away on holiday with my friends (he’ll tell you otherwise —‘we weren’t together’). My spirit was broken and I was trying to put all the pieces together while looking for a job in the Western part of Nigeria and still working full time in my sister's hair salon.
One night I went out alone and I met this girl who worked in the Nigeria Entertainment Industry or something, (It’s all a blur), but she seemed pretty nice and good looking. We had a good conversation at Mr BIGGs (just like McDonalds over here) exchanged mobile number and everything seemed pretty cool. A few days later she sent me a text message and told me that she had given my information to a movie director that was looking for an amateur actress in one of his movie. Since I was desperate looking for a job, I said, ‘Okay’.
I studied Public Administration not Theater Art and it wasn’t my goal to be an actress. But just that text message alone sent my mind off into fantasy land of what could happen if I was to be a Movie Star. I had stars in my eyes. Finally, I could leave this hard job at my sister hair salon which was stressing me out because of our numerous customer and I have to stand on my feet all day braiding. I was really happy and I said; now I can prove to my family that I was really going to be ‘somebody’. I saw ‘lights, camera, and action!’
The ‘director’ contacted me shortly afterward and I went on lunch break so that I could converse with him. We talked for about an hour and he asked me questions about my life and told me from that he thought I’d be the perfect person for his film which was about a girl who had a similar story as mine. He would just need me to come out and audition the next night. I said, ‘fine’. Meanwhile, I never mentioned this to my friends. I travelled to the location he gave me the next night (which was a huge house) and I was immediately relieved when his significant other answered the door and there were many girls sitting in the living room.
This isn’t going to be too bad I thought. We were shown a brief teaser movie that involved the normal story of girls, prostitution, money flying, and violent crime (if you ever saw the film ‘Outkast’ with Shan George’. It was along those lines). The director said, I just wanted you girls to get an idea of what the movie would be about. He also showed us some of his work. Everything seemed reasonable and I was waiting for the script to come around so I could learn those lines. I knew enough that I’d have to perform a monologue or at least a scene from the script right? This time I was wrong
What he requested next was kind of strange. ‘The girl has a lot of erotic scenes in this movie. We’d like to see if you could handle those kinds of scenes’. I browsed over at the Director’s wife to see what her reaction would be and she seemed to be fine with it as well as the other girls.
The first thing they wanted us to do was to kiss each other. The other two girls were then asked to get naked and to ‘act’ as though they were making love with each other while moaning and groaning and the whole ..... The husband and wife kind of joined in too and it was like watching one big "saturnalia'', meanwhile this director told me to watch so that I know what to do when it’s my turn. I completely blanked out. The whole room went animalistic, smelling and all I could hear was sounds.
Everything became cloudiness because in my mind, I knew my father and my mother were somewhere turning in their grave at the thought of me participating in such iniquity. Yes, I was trying to help God. I wanted some form of success but I would be condemned if I was going to get it while losing sight of my morals and dignity in the process.
The director guy took one of the girls off in a room somewhere and he may have come back for me 5-10 minutes later. He grabbed my hand, he was completely naked and I burst in to tears and cried for my dear life. He said, ‘what’s wrong?’ I said ‘I can’t. I won’t. I’m not’. No way…… I was beyond distraught, my body was shaking as if I was about to die and mucus was coming out of my nose. I begged the director and I was praying to God secretly for HIM to speak through me. From what I saw the other girls doing, in my mind I asked myself what are you doing here. Clearly we were raised to know that this isn’t in the least close to being right.
I can't tell you why and how he let me out of that house: I signed a confidentiality agreement to keep my mouth short, he told me to promise him never to date anyone in the Entertainment Industry, He said I hate hurting orphans because he fears God's judgments and because I have the gut to say “No” he was impressed and angry at the same time. I knew at that time that prayer works and God's mercy triumphs in any situation. The director went inside to discuss with his wife and they later asked me to get out of the house.
As soon as I got out of the building, I was just thanking God for my dear life. It was really dark, I didn’t know where to go all I could do was to pray. I walked for a while before I could lodge myself in a lodging house around 3am. I was really scared, could not sleep and I have a sense that I had failed again. There would be no lights, no cameras and definitely no action. I also realized that I would never tell my friends what happened that night because I was too ashamed. I thought they would rebuke me ‘why didn’t you tell us’, why did you go to a location without telling us where you were going to be’ and all of those things that people who care about you will say. I knew they would be right but I didn’t want to hear it.
After checking out at the hotel, I didn’t go back home in the morning, I went to a nearby church to fellowship and asked God for His forgiveness. My best friend called me and said, ‘Your sister has been calling me, you didn’t show up or anything. She is worried’. I told her, ‘Tell her I’m fine’. She was confused but she told my sister and we left it at that. My attitude was thus matter-of-fact that she didn’t ask any more questions. After the church service, I was a little bit calmed, I took my luggage and I travelled back home.
My adventure .........
Looking back, I believe I saw what I saw for a reason. I never again in my life put myself in a position where I felt compromised, what I was doing was morally wrong or that I was defying my own dignity to achieve a certain level of success. God put me through that for a reason, because he knew I could potentially be faced with that same situation time and time again if I wasn’t careful.
The message in this story is: When you are trying to climb your way to the top, people who may or may not be in positions of power, will approach you and promise you the world. ‘What are you willing to do to get what you want? How bad do you want it? It happens everywhere not just in Africa, and if you don’t have a good strong support system around you that can help protect you from those type of things, you can find yourself lost and caught up in the environment.
If I didn’t beg for my life or say ‘No’, I would have never been able to live with myself. But unfortunately there are not enough girls or ladies that are saying, ‘No’.
Stay true to yourself and guard your dreams. Don’t put them in the hands of someone that may not have your best interest at heart. And always know that if it goes against what you believe in and your moral values, it probably wasn’t meant to be. You want to be able to live and be happy about your success when all is said and done.
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