Why I didn’t marry my baby’s daddy -Bayray McNwizu

Whether she is talking about career, family, relationship and fame, actress Bayray McNwizu, is brutally honest about the things that matter. That is what QED found out in a recent encounter with her. 

You now appear in more productions than you did two or three years ago. What has happened?

How do I say this so it does not sound cliché? If I say it is grace you will say well other people have grace. I really cannot explain it, but I know that I have always been passionate about my work and I think that people can relate to that passion. I am also passionate about doing credible stuff, and I guess like attracts like; that is why all of this happening. This is something that I have always wanted. Like I said, I do not want to sound cliché but it is down to grace. I believe there is something more powerful than a person’s desire and I think that thing is working for me.

 Seven years after winning the Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO) reality show, have you done as much as you dreamt you would have done by now?

There is so still much to do. I was very active from 2008 to 2011 and I took two years off to attend to personal stuff till I came back in 2013. I have roughly been in this for three to four years, and within that short period, I did so much. I have been in films, TV and stage. Once I am back in the industry, and I do hope I do not have to take off that kind of a long leave again, I am always working and always in the limelight. There are new grounds to explore, there are new projects to enjoy. Whenever I get there – whatever “there” means – I still believe that I have more grounds to conquer. I am proud of what I have done. I’m so proud that at my age I am able to touch so many lives. Whatever thing that I am associated with is quality. That makes me sleep well at night. There is no competition, there is no hurry. Every good thing comes to me and I am grateful for it.

Are the people who say you do more sitcoms than movies right?

Well, there is a certain truth to that. Last year I did more sitcoms than movies but this year I have done more films than sitcoms. It is not my fault; the scripts mean a lot to me. Take for example Tales of Eve which is a true-life story about a female prisoner, her plight and injustice. Who would not want to play that? Of course, I took it. For me it is a challenge to evolve and become a better actor because it is not just Nigerians that are watching; it is the whole of Africa watching, the world that is watching. Lupita (Nyong’o) went from Kenya to America. She did Shuga by the way which is a Sitcom. If you look at Hollywood there are so many actors these days going back to made-for-TV productions.

Did going to PEFTI help?

Yes, absolutely. I got to meet Uncle Wale Adenuga who is a source of inspiration to me. They helped with my speech, building stage confidence and all of that. PEFTI is a reputable school and I think every actor should have some form of formal or informal education for their craft. That is what PEFTI did for me.

Did you go to PEFTI before AMBO?

I did. I remember at that time I was working for my mother and she wanted me to study law. I knew I was passionate about acting and she always said education was important. I told her that if I go to school and get more information about acting maybe I could make a success of it. So she said, ‘okay, that is a good idea. Why don’t you go to film school and then go to Law School? I said let us see how it works. So, she paid me my salary, I went to PEFTI and I paid for it.

We understand that you met a number of actors who came to your mother’s hotel, related with them and had a working knowledge of what the industry was like before AMBO

Not at all. There is something that people do not understand, and that is the fact that I can be painfully shy. When actors say this around me I understand that. I used to watch the actors from afar but my mother would want me to come and ask them questions. My response then was let me just watch them. I admired them from afar. People like Geneviève Nnaji, Uncle Pete Edochie, all of them. So, it was not like I related with them and they told me secrets. At the end of the day, I understand that actors really need their space. It was always an admiration from afar and respectful gesture. It was never something intimate. I did not have the privilege to do that.

Then, unfortunately, your mom died

Yes, it is quite unfortunate because she is a person who deserves to live life to the fullest and enjoy after having suffered a lot. It is quite unfortunate that she did not get to live all her dreams and I wish it had been a different case but she is in a better place. I can only be the best that she wants me to be.

Didn’t her passing away coincide with the period you were off the scene?

I had just had my child and I was preparing to come back to the industry. In fact, I had already got a job when I heard that my mom was terminally ill. I was like “this is just fantastic.” She was ill for a while and then she passed on. We made preparations for burial and the family business. That took a while but she taught me to be really strong and responsible no matter what. I had to assume that role as painful as the season was. I mourned as long as I needed to. Sometimes I still mourn but I am fine now.

What projects are you working on right now?

I am the co-founder of a foundation called Girls Rock! Young girls have a short attention span so we came up with something catchy so that they do not just snap in and out.  We understand the importance of passing information from generation to generation, especially women to women. I think I can help Nigeria which is ailing at the moment in my own way. So aside from chasing my dreams and enjoying fame, it is important to say what I have done to make the situation in the country better before I complain. This is not a PR stunt. I am going to schools that no one has heard about and talking with the students, spending quality time with them. We take the girls on excursion to meet prominent people who will teach them to believe in themselves and make their society a better place. I hope that this passion continues to burn inside of me. Aside from the girl child project, we will be showcasing two of some of Wole Soyinka’s best plays The Lion and the Jewel and The Trials of Brother Jero in July and August at Terra Kulture and Freedom Park (both in Lagos). I will be filming in Ghanain subsequent months. It is a busy year for me and I am grateful.

Are you enjoying fame?

Fame is quite pricy. People want you to be like a million persons at the same time, and it is not possible. They want my attention whether I am happy or sad or with my family. It is almost like you are a very beautiful public property which I am not complaining about. But it borders on your peace of mind. Sometimes I want to wear flip-flops and take a walk, buy ice cream and gist with my girls but I cannot do that. There are times when I just want to have a nice time with someone that I am with, but it is quite pricy. I can’t complain because there will be bigger grounds to conquer and new challenges every day.

There was a time you said people should stop marrying you off

Yes, I granted that interview because I just kept hearing that I got married and I was wondering if it was true or I missed my own wedding. People would come to me and say“I heard on TV that you are married” and I figured that the best thing to do was tell the public that I was not married. It is a good thing to be married. I will get married, and when I do it will be so obvious that everyone will know about it because marriage is a beautiful thing.

You also said in another interview that no man would ever leave you

I did say that in a recent interview.  I was asked if I was married and the marriage crashed or something like that, and I said emphatically no. If I was married I do not think my husband would ever leave me. That is what I said. Aside from striving to be the best in my career and be the best in every other thing, I also want to believe that I strive to be a better woman who is not to be compared to any other person. I take these things very important because I do cherish the God idea of a man being with a woman and I hope to succeed at it. I do believe that I have some of the qualities that will make me succeed at it.

Why did it not work out with your baby’s daddy?

It was a personal choice not to continue with the relationship because there were issues that bordered on culture. It did not work and it was not going to work. The issue of culture was obvious to both parties, but it came to a point where there had to be a choice of love or culture and culture won. If we both had the choice of being together forever, we would have taken that option. Sometimes, I guess some things are more important than love. It was not because of my person. No. It was a result of culture, which is fine.

Looking back, is that a decision you can live with?

Of course. Absolutely. I did not just make that choice. It came down to both parties deciding what works so that we can remain friends. Again, my mom taught me to be independent. I have to be careful with what I am saying right now. This is not about not needing a man or his authority. It is about assuming responsibility, doing what has to be done and weathering the storm.