Iya Rainbow, real name Idowu Philips, is a veteran in the movie industry but has been shot to a modern type of prominence with the success of the Airtel adverts series.
In an interview with Punch, she recounts the days of her early beginning and how she literally stumbled upon acting only to be “discovered” by Late Chief Herbert Ogunde.
The actress also talks about her foundation which caters to widows and her interaction with men outside the job.
On how she got into the movie industry
My husband was the actor. But I started acting in 1965. My husband’s group was having a play titled, Rabiatu Dance Drama (it is because of that particular play that I was nicknamed Rabiatu). The play was to hold at the Glover Memorial Hall, Marina, Lagos, but the lead actress was not on the ground even after tickets had been sold. There were already so many people in the hall, and they started grumbling when the play did not start on time. I noticed that my husband and his managers were agitated. So, I told them that I would play the role of Rabiatu. My husband initially dismissed me, saying that I didn’t know much about their work since I only came around when I was not on duty at the hospital (I was a nurse at the time).
However, I eventually went on stage and acted the role. They told me what I had to say, and I thank God I was able to deliver.
The late Chief Hubert Ogunde also attended the play with three of his wives, and he was astounded when he saw me on stage. He then told my husband that he had an ‘instrument’ at home, so he shouldn’t look elsewhere. And that was basically how I started my acting career.
On the name of her foundation and when it started
It is called the Mama Rainbow Foundation. It started over 15 years ago and we have been assisted by God and some people. For this year, we want to hold our annual event in a way that everyone would know about it. It will take place on Children’s Day in my house at Ojodu Berger, Lagos. In the past, whenever we called some people for our programmes, they weren’t aware of our activities. But now, we want everyone to know about us so that whenever we call widows and other people, they can attend our events.
On getting advances from men
I am now a grandma. They call me mummy.
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