Scarlet Gomez: My husband doesn’t care if I kiss in a movie role
Gbemisola Scarlet Shotade Gomez is an actress, singer and model. She was born in Lagos. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos. Her father, Toks Shotade was a renowned music producer and sound engineer. Gomez got her early musical influences working with her father in the studio as early as age seven. She began her career as a model and has participated in beauty pageants. She won the Miss United Nations Tourism pageant in December 2012 in Kingston, Jamaica. She recorded her first studio album, The Scarlet Letter, in 2016 and got her big break in the movie industry for her lead role in the Africa Magic’s original film Armour. Gomez has since featured in numerous movies and soap operas. She is well known for her role as ‘Fadekemi’ in the Africa Magic TV Series, Flatmates. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for acting.
We have not been seeing a lot of you lately. Why is it so?
I don’t do every movie, I do the ones that will challenge me and tell stories I can relate with or lessons I support. I feel it is very important for artists to pick their films. You cannot do everything.
Are you saying that money doesn’t motivate you?
I will be lying if I say so, because Nigeria is a hard place to live and you need money to survive, but most times I let the work judge. This is because I realised that most of the movies I have taken because of the money, I ended up regretting taking them; it wasn’t like I believed in the story or was lending my voice to a because. Every time I watched them, people might not see it, I knew it wasn’t my best, so I rather not.
What roles are you looking forward to?
For me, I want to do it all; the more challenging, the better for me because we are in a country where they get to typecast people and so they keep giving you that role. But then, Hollywood is the goal, I am not here to play with anyone. I feel that the more you take on challenging roles the better you are. My goal is to put Nigeria on the map and tell people that we are good besides the negative things we are known for.
How do you handle and interpret scripts, especially at short notice?
Right now, I can look at a script, glance through and understand. I feel like I have a retentive memory, it is a gift. So, I find it easier and I thank God for it. Usually, when I am madly in love with a script, if I am called upon while reading it, no matter what it is, I won’t attend to it. If I do, then I won’t take on that job. I see it as a sign, I don’t know if it’s me being superstitious, but that is it for me. And then, because a lot of our stories don’t have backstories, our characters are not rich. For example, we hear ‘Funke, 39’ and nothing more. But what does Funke do, why is she temperamental? All those details we don’t get. So, as an actor, it is your duty to do your research and give that flavour to your role.
What is your take on culturally sensitive content in the industry?
Nollywood has a lot to do in terms of putting our culture on the map. I feel like we still want to do glam, tell foreign stories and be more British than the British, which is impossible. Our cultures are so diverse, we have so many ethnicities and stories that have not been told and until we start telling our stories, we will not be taken seriously.
How are you able to hone your skills?
Nigeria is a place where your skills will be honed naturally. Acting wasn’t something I wanted to do, it is something I stumbled on. It is a means to an end for me. I started acting to pay the bills and eventually I fell in love with it.
Police brutality is an issue in the country. Do you think that Nollywood is doing enough by lending their voice to campaign against it?
It would be unfair of me to say they are not doing enough because I know how hard it takes us to tell our stories. But then, I am not impressed yet because I feel like we can tell more of our stories and we can tell people what is going on and the reality. I feel like it is the happy endings we put in movies that make people feel that life is a bed of roses. We need to tell our stories more and let them know that as much as we like to live in the clouds, this is our reality and we cannot shy away from it.
What specific challenge would you say the industry is facing right now?
Funding is a huge challenge, to be honest. Also, casting people right for roles. It shouldn’t always be the popular faces we know else the industry will not grow. I have been on set where I saw new faces act and I stepped back to learn a thing from them and I wonder where these people had been. We need to do better, give people the roles that they deserve and not by who they think is popular and will sell the film.
How would you describe your style?
Comfortable always over how I look.
What is the most expensive jewelry you have?
My wedding ring
How is it being married and in the Nollywood industry?
I will say I am blessed because not a lot of my colleagues have been blessed the way I am. I am blessed with a partner that puts me first before himself. He is not selfish in anyway. I am extremely lucky to be called his wife. He lets me be me, make my errors. He is my number one supporter. There are people who tell their wives that they cannot kiss in a movie, my husband does not care so far it will help me get to where I want to get to. He supports me.
What is your favourite food?
I love to drink garri
What has fame taken away from you?
Nothing. I don’t let it take anything from me. For now, I feel like I can still go anywhere I want to go. Maybe because of the kind of person I am, I really do not care what people say. We have very limited time on earth to give a hoot about what people think, because if anything should happen to me tomorrow, life will go on. So, I won’t let people dictate how I live my life.