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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, April 30, 2007

Conversation with Shan

I have always liked Shan George. At every encounter with her over the last few years l found her funny, completely down to heart and strangely self-depreciating. Last week, she walked into the studio full of life, asking for local rice and joking about her fading black
eye, the result of an attack by hoodlums on Election Day on her way back from the studio where she'd been editing her work. l had her on the "get better" edition of the show; our last interview had been about four years ago in the heat of the so-called nude film scene.

That interview was memorable and this caught me completely off guard. l had set out to talk about her broken marriages and ended up unearthing the story of a courageous search for self, education and love. She told the story of a poor mixed race child whose father died at five and whose auxiliary nurse mother barely managed to pay her way through secondary school in the village. She told of watching TV in groups through the window at the only house with a TV set in the village and wanting to be on TV too. Somehow she believed education would get her there. At 15 she was married off to a much older man on the promise that he'll educate her. 2 children, six years and many beatings later and the promise of education looked like a mirage. At each beating, she runs to her mother, her only relative who sternly orders her back to her husband and who informs her that if she leaves the marriage she had no home with her.

One day at age 21, Shan walks out on the marriage and keeps walking, living on the streets for a while before a kind lady took her in from whom she started learning
dress making and working. It took 8 years but Shan finally makes it into University of Lagos describing the day she got the admission letter the happiest of her life. As a student, she started acting and became one of Nollywood's biggest stars but a second marriage to a London based Nigerian ended up being a cage and the man cheating her with anything that moves. Strangely when she left him after catching
him practically pants down, she is the one who is castigated. The rest of the story including earning her children's love and respect through the years, maintaining a good relationship with her first husband, her work and her quest for happiness is compelling. The studio audience and I were mesmerized by her story but mostly by the way she told it.She spoke with a matter of fact wit and lack of bitterness that was
endearing, only giving vent to occasional irritation at being so

Here are highlights from the show.


Cheetarah said...

Wow who knew Shan had it this tuff, good on her for coming this far! I have heard stories of mothers sending their daugthers back to their husbands when they come home crying, its a damn shame! The clip iz freezing on my screen after 2mins,is it my internet maybe?
Looking good in ur high waisted skinnies Ms Iyanda!

tp said...

she has an indefatigable spirit. you can tell.

p.s. your outfit is spunky! always is!

p.s.s. i appreciate your frequent updates :)

p.s.s.s. what do i need to do if i would like to be part of the audience for one of your shows this summer?


catwalq said...

Dear Aunty Funmi,
My comment might appear a bit lengthy. First of all, thank you for adding those clips. Is it me, or have I been away so long that I never noticed that you had a live studio audience on the show?
Anyways, I was happy to listen to Ms George talk. Her voice carried the weight and wisdom of a surviving woman. This is someone that has been blacklisted in the press as immoral because she has chosen time and time again to break the boundaries of her craft and do things others would shy away from. (Kind of like Malika Sherawat and Rekha in Bollywood).
I have never actually been a fan of hers. Many of the films I have seen her in have fallen short of being able to accurately and effectively deliver the message of the script in a stylish, dignified and educated way. That I do not consider her fault but more an issue of having an industry run by untrained marketers rather than craft-trained producers and writers.
I applaud you for immediately interrupting her and declaring it wrong for any man to hit a woman. Sometimes (and I have seen women do it, Brandy did ut on Oprah) women try to justify the actions of the man when he is cruel to them. We need voices like yours to keep harping it on the public that no woman (or man) is deserving of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. I do not know why we have no laws protecting women and children for all the statements that women have come far in government. i guess the senators, ministers and public officers are more concerned with their profile shots in Ovation and Encomium than using their positions to advocate for and promote the development of Nigerian women.
Even the movie industry that Ms George is affiliated with is more occupied with plagiarizing foreign scripts than taking a pointed look at our society and making movies that not only celebrate our strengths but highlight our faults for correction.
I have been hit by a man before and there is nothing more distabilizing and frightening to have no one to turn to or to hear people ask "you" what "you" did to warrant his anger.
I have sworn that it will never repeat itself for as long as I am alive and if I have to die defending myself and others I will because animals are the only species of life forms that pray on others of lesser physical strength (notice I did not say weaker)and if I am attacked by an "animal" it is my duty to have it put down.

Funmi said...

Wow this is a side of Shan i never knew existed,thanks for sharing.

Nnamdi- Okagbue Chibuzo said...

I watched the show with Shan George as a guest and i saw a very strong personality reflecting from her.For someone to pass through all that and still think positively then it tells us to always remain positive in all that we do. Finally, there would eventually be a way at the end of the tunnel

twinstaiye said...

Thanks Funmi for unmasking this lady for us, now, she earns more of my respect. No wonder she remain undaunted in her quest to weather the storm. I know it when she first hit acting that she sure knows what she wanted and how to go about it, i can deduce this from her friendship far back then with Okey McAnthony (Bakassi) the way she carried herself through then, even when a lot of people insinuates that something concete is between both of them.

solabomi said...

awwwww! i love Shan george. i didn't know she had it so bad but she's always craked me up. ignorance is bliss. i remember people going at her for bin a single mother, married twice, acting nude and then wanted to marry a comedian (cant remember his name. Let us know when ur on BEN tv, i'l be forced to get sky though i think ther are monopolising cable tv (in truth i cant afford it).

solabomi said...

BTW, love the way you rawk the skinnies.

Anonymous said...

wow!such an emotional story..i had in d past judged shan george,...but you cannot judege pple o..everybody is a victim of their cirucumstances..i am happy that she has gotten to where she is

Saymama said...

Saymama looooves Funmi Iyanda :-)Go ahead with your bad self! Pls try and post more excerpts of your show on the blog. I have no access to NTA at the moment.
I think the content of New Dawn is very down-to-earth and unpretentious. Kwabena S.(our mutual friend) was the 1st person that encouraged me to try to catch your show on air whenever I can.
I had no idea Shan George came from such difficult circumstances. I love her Yoruba movies. More joy to her.

ExcitedJade said...

wao.. am first.. aunty Funmi, u're my role model anyday.
Shan's one of the actresses i admire in nollywood. her story is so touching, Thank God she came out strong from all her struggles...

how is Morenikeji? e ba mi ki oh

Anonymous said...

I loved this lady and I do wish I could have seen the entire show. Thanks for posting the excerpt Funmi, I'll look forward to more of the same.

Bukky said...

Hi Funmi,this post is really interesting and educative.i havent been a fan of Shan George but i must tell you that with this interveiw has definately won me over.Its a food for thought for women to stand on their feet and not allow any man trample upon your rights and priviledges.

Ugo Daniels said...

Wow...i've always known there must be a story behind the 'Shan George' facade BUT def. not this.

I can only wish her the best in everything she does.

Tnx Funmi for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Funmi, what in GOD'S name do you think you are wearing?! I LOVE you, but you've really gotta chill

Anonymous said...

Very Compelling interview

Anonymous said...

Hi Funmi,

I loved your interview with Sian George!! I read your blog most days but today I was so compelled to write you. The two snippets of the interview with Ms George were amazing!! I am sure Sian felt totally at ease with you and thus the interview was so relaxed and heartfelt. She was so honest... so true, it was a joy to watch. I wish I could have seen all of it!

I live in London but will be in Lagos in December and would love to come and see your show if it's possible? Please let me know.

I am still thinking about starting my own blog and the more I read yours the more I think I should just do it!

Keep up your amazing work both in the media and charity.

Enjoy the rest of the week!

God bless you.

Ms Omololu Layode clayode@hotmail.com

stevenwagbo said...

Greetings Funmi (Madam) how re you doing, today is yet another edition of your programme keep it up. your programme is really good. precision is the mark of excellence. i will also like you to send me a message across to formal madam minister s son uzodimma iweala. tell him to keep it up with his good sense of judgement. irrespective of his pedigree he is such a kind hearted and humble guy. How i wish am opprtune to know and be in contact with such Nigerian Keep it up funmi it is only when u have the light in you that u can enlighten others that is what enlightenment stands for I am stephen a Blogger too from Nigeria

Anonymous said...

An excellent post - only wish I could have watched the show myself. We need more women to speak out against the violence they experience. It is classic in this case with her own mother ignoring the violence and telling her to go back, shut up and put up. A brave woman.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ all, there are many shan goerges out there both in the context of the story and the person behind the persona. The Nigerian media like many other aspects of our lives is hugely challenged in capacity and talent such that the real people and stories are either misrepresented or ignored whilst the crooked, vain and calculating are vaingloriously upheld as the pillars of the society.

@ catwalq, l feel you and you have said it all, working on something you might be interested in. Details soon.

@chetarah, you might need to download first and then watch play back.

@tp and anonymous, send an email to info@newdawnwithfunmi.com a month to your arrival in Nigeria and you'll get an invite to the show. Be great to receive you.

Confessions of a moody crab said...

Nice one! Quite interesting...I agree with all that she said and more, and because of that pple call me a raging feminist!

Coming from a home where my dad was seriously battering my mum,I decided that there just somethings that I WILL NOT ACCEPT from any man!

There is so much silence abt violence against women (VAW) in the Nigeria...it is unbelievable.

One of my final year research was on violence against women in Nigeria. Believe it or not, I did not find statistics on the number of women killed due to doemstic violence. It just showed that the government is doing nothing on the issue. There are no legislation in place against VAW and victims are forced to keep quiet.

Like I said, nice one Funmi

PS: I was wondering if you have internship programmes. I don't mind working as a researcher on issues regarding women i.e feminization of poeverty, VAW and women and development?

Naijadude said...

Dont I just love what you do to increase the awareness of the state of the Nigerian woman? You are my silent inspiration... Right from Nigeria I watch the show everyday, NTA 10? at 10

Yeah Miss Funmi, I could use some of your inspirations/mentorship eh! I would love to have a convo!

cleo.kelvin said...

well aunt funmi her story sounds pathetic yet carries lot of moral and interesting facts which in our society are overlooked.
well i hav neva really admired her movies maybe cos she gets on my bad side in most of her movies but aunt funmi .
some women help and ask to be beaten by simply nagging even wen uncalled for from deir spouse or tell me why do u slap a man is it not lik putting ur finger in a lions mouth and asking if it ncan bite. also her broles in movies may hav fueled her reputation and given off de wrong signals but thanks to her for clarifyinhg it to the people who dont know de real lady behund the mask


wienna said...

Na wa o. Always knew Shan came from a mixed race home but never knew she was married off. Always knew dat her second hussy be one kain when watching him act anyways. Wish i could see her in more challenging roles. I agree with catwalq, so far i've not seen her in a memorable film so far. Although i think i prefer to see her in yoruba films than english ones. D Lord is her strength. Kudos, to u sister funmi. And pls continue to bring stories of ordinary nigerians like dis to us.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ confessions, l hav always worked with young people but not on a formalized internship, l am working on that starting with getting NYSC to post a corper to us every year. I would love a volunteer researcher.

@cleo kelvin, no one should hit another human being except in a boxing ring as a proffession, period! Shan and all other actors are different from their TV role, not being able to distiguish the two is ignorance.

@naijadude, now NTA nationwide, be glad to meet you anytime you swing by home kid.

@wienna, the problem is less shan and more the industry or lack of it. If she had been more finicky about roles she would not have delivered herself from poverty and despair. Also it shouldnt be necessay to be actor, producer, director, marketer, make-up artist etc but often it is. Until these things change we will not get the best of our talents or even atract a deeper talent pool.

BOBBY said...

I love this woman, i swear...i love you. Like, she is one of the REALEST when it comes to all the females in Nollywood...

She has had a hard life from what i gather and she is a strong STRONG woman...and i give her a lot of props...

Funmi...this is the first time i have watched your show...i am totally digging it!

anijawife said...

I did not watch the show but have read that story in one magazine and i salute her courage and determination against all odds.Do you know the number of women going through that pain and are still stuck in it bcos of the shame of divorce and where will i begin?I wish her well and hope we can learn from her fall to rise,its difficult and could be lonely.Funmi-i give kudos to you and you always make me remember jumoke giwa of those days,keep the flag flying.

Nanya said...

Wow, I love how candid and down to earth/real she is. I really like her comments towards the end of the 2nd clip i.e. we are all individuals, answerable to God and should be able to live by our own convictions free from judgment from other humans (ok thats my own interpretation of her words but it struck a chord). I'm left wanting to see the whole show; thanks for posting the clips.

cleo.kelvin said...

well was not refering to her alone but all ladies cos i guess i dont really fancy her movies dat much but me judging star well i dobnt judge just cited an example

Anonymous said...

The word there is self deprecating. not depreciating. Someone of your status should know this.