The actress and new mother Mercy Johnson has survived being tabloid fodder, for her dress sense, for her first-bumpy marriage and everything else in between – and what has come out of the other side is truly beautiful: Mercy Johnson, the mother and wife. Re-born.
In her first major interview (with lifestyle blog BellaNaija) since the marriage and her beautiful baby, Ms. Johnson speaks candidly about the controversies, how she met her husband, the lessons she has learnt and her fab life now!
It’s great to see you Mercy. Let me start by saying that you have a beautiful home.
Thank you. It was a surprise from my husband, Odi. He didn’t tell me about it while we were in America and when I returned back to Nigeria, I thought we were going to our former house but he drove me straight here. And then he also gave me a new car with the plate number ‘Odi’s Wife’.
Aww, that’s so sweet. There’s been a lot of media attention surrounding the birth of your daughter and her recent dedication. How does this make you feel?When a woman speaks this candidly, you just have to love her!
At a point, I actually felt the whole thing was over dramatized. I really appreciate the fact that some people wish me well and are happy for me which is why I share her picture on Twitter once in a while. On my Twitter page, more than 3000 people ask me about Purity every day. Sometimes I get overwhelmed but I’m grateful for the love and goodwill messages and I can only say thank you.
Purity is quite a unique name. What inspired her name?
When I asked my husband, he said “You. She reminds me so much of you.” He said I have a good heart and he’d really want her to have a good heart and clear conscience like me. And he’d wish for everything about her to be pure.
As a first time Mom, how has the experience been so far?
It’s magical, it’s awesome! I just can’t stop staring at her. When I was pregnant, my sister-in-law came to the house and when her son pooped I said “Oh my God, don’t let it touch my chair!” Then I was about six months gone and she just looked at me and said “In three months time, you will understand”. And really, it is true. Now when Purity poops, I begin to dance. Everything is special. I want to clean her up myself, dress her up myself. I just can’t explain, she makes me complete.
Has pregnancy and motherhood affected or changed you in any way?
Well, you can see, I’ve added so much weight. But aside from my physical appearance, having Purity has changed me so much as a person. Having her makes me want to set the right example, to have good records so she doesn’t get embarrassed when she’s grown. It changes my perspective to life and the way I react to things. I tolerate things more, I overlook things more. I love children generally but now I understand how precious every child is to their mother so I try to treat other children the way I’d want her to be treated if I’m not around.
When did you meet him and how did the love spark between both of you?
I met him in 2009. We had met before on a flight and I didn’t remember but we met again in 2009. He is a good person. I can’t really tell how it started. We kinda clicked and started dating just about the same month and it feels like we’ve been married for four years because since we met, we’ve been really into each other we’ve been really close.
He must have known you were an actress then. How did this affect the way you started off your relationship?
Yes he did, but he didn’t know I was that big because he didn’t really follow the movie industry. Sometimes you meet some guys and they get intimidated about you but not with him. The first time we were supposed to have a date, he said “Let’s go to my house so you can cook for me” and in my mind I was like “Seriously, this guy doesn’t even know my name”. So I said “My name is Mercy Johnson” and he said “Yes I know”.
What is the most romantic thing he has done for you recently?
He got me a new diamond ring different from my wedding band. I kept saying I want a new band, something really big and he got it for me. He is extremely loveable.
In the weeks before your wedding, some controversies sprang up and there were speculations that the wedding may not hold. How were you able to pull through this period?
I knew my wedding was going to hold. It is easy for people who are outside a box to try to explain the inside of a box without coming inside. People who didn’t know anything had lots to say. But it was fun to let them have their say. If having your say makes you feel better, I can’t take that fun away from you. But we in the box knew what’s up and people who wanted to know what was going on actually came into the box and knew the truth.
Was there anything new that you learnt during that period that you didn’t already know?
No. It was just shocking how people would bring negativity into what’s positive. I think that was the only thing that was new to me.
Google ranked your name as the most searched celebrity in Nollywood for 2011 and 2012. Are you proud of this?
When I asked my husband if it a good thing and he said yes it is. I know that it’s not possible for everyone to like me so good or bad, if you ever googled Mercy Johnson’s name, thank you. If you didn’t google, google won’t say I’m the most searched so thank you, keep googling.
Do you have any affiliation with the gossip website mercyjohnson.com?
No, I don’t have any and I’d like to stress that please. I don’t know why somebody would do a magazine and call it Mercy Johnson Celebrity Magazine or why somebody would take my name and put it on a domain for a gossip website. I can’t even use the domain name anymore and I’m so pissed. I am only on Twitter. I’m not even on Facebook anymore because somebody put up a Facebook account in my name where they put up inspirational messages on my behalf and I don’t even know where that is coming from.
Let’s talk about your style. What influences the kind of clothes you wear?
I don’t wear what is in vogue or what everybody is wearing, I just wear what suits me and I’m lucky to have a physique that encourages everything I wear. My husband is a huge critic so when he compliments my dressing, I feel so good. He doesn’t believe that exposing anything makes you look better. He feels when you cover up, you look real nice.
Would you say your personal style has changed since you got married?
You know, you get wiser by the day. Sometimes when I look back at some old pictures, I’m like “Seriously, did I wear that?” I’ve learnt a lot since I got married and I know that if I had gotten married earlier, I wouldn’t have made most of the errors I made. When you are married to somebody who is so organized, he brings you up the right way and reminds you of who you’re supposed to be.
Is there any particular reason why you decided to gave birth to (your baby) in the USA?
No, I could have given birth here but I was at a point in my life where everything meant a lot to me. By God’s grace, I got pregnant barely a year after I got married and I just wanted everything to be fine. Not that it wouldn’t have been fine here in Nigeria but it would be odd for us to say we are not aware of the lapses in our health care system.