Most actors get to play different roles in their line of work and many Ghanaian actors will admit to having played the good, the bad and the ugly. With time, actors become synonymous with just one of the many roles they have played and viewers who are unable to distinguish between real life and the make-believe of film easily tag actors as husband or wife snatchers, womanizers, criminals and, for those who are fortunate, kind-hearted individuals. Actress Martha Ankomah has, on occasion, played the maid servant and school girl, but her raunchy romantic roles in movies may have earned her the status of a sexual icon among some admirers. In an interview with me, Martha said although she was only human and had shortcomings, she still believed she was a very good girl.
As one whose supposed sensuality has become a matter of public interest, the actress must have a way of coping with the often spicy rumous that characterise the lives of people in entertainment. Martha says she’s grown a tough skin for rumous. “People say a whole lot of things about you as an actress…people say things they don’t even know about you. Look at me, I went to Labone Secondary School but someone claimed that I attended Achimota and that I was her classmate. One time, another person also said that I lived at East Legon but that is not true”, she disclosed. The actress continued that in most cases, it was almost impossible to deny many of these spiced-up tales in the public domain. So she’s had to let them pass like water under the bridge. “You hear a lot of things, but you can’t defend it, some maybe you might but is it even necessary? You just have to move on with your life…as far as you’re ok with God, you’re ok in life” she stated.
When quizzed about reasons for often being cast for sizzling and sometimes sexually explicit roles, she responded “I don’t play just one role…I play many different roles, but I believe that maybe the producers or the directors I work with think I’m good in a particular role or rather versatile. So they’ll give me any role like being a bad girl, a house girl, a nurse or being a secretary or journalist. Most of the time, I get many different roles to play so I believe if I’m getting a particular role then the people I work with think I can deliver that’s why they’re giving me the roles”. Being versatile is a talent that most actors must possess in order to excel. Martha says she loves to play challenging roles, and that the most challenging role she played was in a movie titled ‘The Bed of Roses’ where she featured as a person who was bed ridden and with a deformity. “It was very challenging to look like that sick type…from the beginning it wasn’t challenging, but getting to look like that sick character twisting her mouth and looking awkward was very challenging. I had to keep that look for over six hours, and if I’m working with an actor who doesn’t get her lines, it means we have to do many re-takes”, Martha said.
Talking about her journey to stardom, the actress said “it’s not been easy, but God has been wonderful and I thank God for what he’s doing in my life. I appreciate God every minute of my life. You could fight for a very long time but you would never get there. It takes God’s favour. I started from church as a kid acting at Sunday school, and moved to stage acting at ‘Fun World’ in 1994 or 1995 thereabouts. Then when I got to J.S.S., I did Theater Performance for Schools (TPS). We used to do stage performances for the Secondary Schools to come and watch us. Then I did a stage drama with ‘Abibigroma’ at Alliance Francaise entitled ‘The Innocent’…I played the lead role and a director called George Bosompim saw me and gave me a role in the tv series ‘All That Glitters’. So from stage performances I went into tv series”. Martha’s stint in mainstream television included roles in: Sun City, Bosses, Where Is Your Mobile and Fortune Island. After her brush with television, the actress auditioned for a movie role and landed a minor role in a movie.
Actress Martha Ankomah has joined the table of top actresses over time, but reveals it’s been a journey-and-a-half getting there. Some of the minor roles she landed at the beginning of her career were taking back and some were not paid for. “It’s not easy…sometimes they call you for scripts and expect you to meet them in their hotel rooms and all that. But I’m telling you this; if any aspiring actor or actress is reading what I’m saying right now you don’t need to pick up a script in a hotel room or at odd hours. Nobody can make you a star apart from God. If it’s God’s time…it’s God’s time! You don’t need to give yourself to somebody to become a star…what if the person puts you in the movie and the movie doesn’t sell? The person may even say you’re the reason for which the movie didn’t sell. What happens then?”, Martha said. Too many times the actress felt like given up on her pursuit of stardom. She had turned down a promising job after graduating from university as a Business Administration major, and completing her national service. Her decision for turning down the job was because she’d realised she couldn’t effectively combine acting and office work. Martha expressed that it was prayers that sustained her in these dark days.
Asked how challenging it was staying on top of her game as a top actress, Martha said “if someone just carried you on top of a story building that should tell you that getting down would be a problem. You didn’t even know how you got there in the first place. If you had climbed the stairs, you would remember how you got there but because you just got there, you think it’s easy. So staying there would be a problem. For me, I didn’t get it easy…it’s just been by God’s grace…I would have given up a long time ago”. She added that the fact that she was still in the acting business showed her love for acting, and determination to survive.
On a personal level, Martha described herself as “a very good Christian who loves to go to church a lot if she’s not acting. I’m very simple and humble”.
Asked what role she played in church, the actress who says she loves to sing, revealed that she had long desired to join the choir at church but the strict rehearsal schedule had naturally ruled her out of membership. Her acting schedule was hectic and unpredictable and would often cause her to be absent when she had to be at rehearsals. The actress is also a firm believer of gender equality, and says “for the gender equality issue, I think it’s right for women to fight to get whatever they want, but it doesn’t mean that because you’re fighting to get to where a man is you should be disrespectful or act in a way that is not right. We should encourage women in our country especially from where we’re coming from as Ghanaians. In some environments, there are people who don’t send their female children to school because they think they belong to the kitchen or they’re marriage materials that should be married off to men. I believe that, as a career person, if I’m working and for example you’re my husband, you could be paying school fees and I could be paying bills. It could solve a whole lot of issues and allow us to plan for the kid’s future. The kids will also learn from us. So I think women should be given gender equality to be up there but we have to be very humble and submissive”.