Veteran actress Idowu Phillips, popularly known as Iya Rainbow, tells Ademola Olonilua of Punch about her career and life as a widow. It is an interesting read. Enjoy:
The name of my late husband’s group is Osumare Theatre and I was always referred to as Mama Osumare but there was a day I did a movie for the English-speaking section of the industry and the name of the film is . In the movie, robbers came to my house and killed my child and I was meant to react like anyone would in real life. I cried and tore my clothes. After the director yelled cut, I was still crying, so some Igbo boys on set came to ask why I was still crying. They wanted to call my name but could not pronounce Osumare, so I told them it meant rainbow in English. They were amazed and said they would be calling me Mama Rainbow which they felt was easier and that was how the name stuck.
I was made the matron of his theatre group. Then, I always assisted them and whenever they had their anniversary, I helped with arrangements and invitations. I can’t really remember how it happened, all I know is that we got attracted to each other and got married. We did not stay together for long before he died. I lost my husband in 1984 and sometimes, I think he just came to this world to work for me because I am reaping from where he had sown.
He was sick for about two and a half years and we tried everything possible to get him well but no luck. Whenever he was tested at the hospital, the doctors always said they could not figure out what was wrong with him. Till now, I don’t understand what happened but God knows best. My husband told me in several dreams that all those involved in his death would die and it happened.
Yes, I was born in Lagos but my parents were from Odogbolu, Ijebu, Ogun State and they were staunch Christians. My father was a prophet before he died. I attended the school of nursing to train as a nurse. I worked at several general hospitals before I retired in 1986 after 20 years of service.
I often remember some painful incidents in my life because it is not easy to force tears from the eyes when you are not beaten. Sometimes, I remember my late husband and that often brings tears to my eyes. When I remember some things I am asking from God but have not received, it brings tears to my eyes. You know that sometimes we cry to God when we ask Him for things. That is how I do it.
I have spent 45 years on stage. Initially, my parents were not in support of my career. It was worse for someone like me because my father was a prophet. When I started acting, parents strongly opposed it. But now, I am amazed when I see parents encourage their children to go into acting. Then, our profession was seen as something meant for lazy people. People always looked down on us until God blessed our job. Now, it takes me around the world. My parents later relaxed because they were told by prophets that it was my destiny. My father told me that because he desperately wanted a female child, he begged God and fasted for 40 days. When he was asking God for a female child, he was told that the female child he would have would be a servant of God and be more popular than her parents. They were also told that she would go to places they never imagined. It was not through my nursing profession that my glory shone but through my acting career. They eventually saw that the profession was paying off and I was receiving awards all over the world and they later supported me.
It is part of the prophecy. As an actress, I am like a lecturer. We teach people about the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of life. God had been calling me to serve him but I felt that if I heeded the call, I would not have time for my job. So, I refused. He called me for over 15 years but I turned a deaf ear to him. In 2004, I went to London and a young lady, Kate, who sews our garments, asked me to accompany her to a church where she wanted to make a garment for a prophetess. Initially, I refused because I did not like people seeing visions about me but I agreed eventually. When we got there, she went in while I waited outside. The prophetess came to meet me outside and in the presence of everybody, she asked me why I was running away from God. Then she said that God asked her to query me about the staff He gave me. I told her I did not understand what she was saying since I was not Moses. She said that God told her that if I did not heed his calling, I would suffer. The fact that I did not initially heed the calling made me suffer in life. Even my children were not spared, they shared in the suffering.
Sometimes, we would wake up and there would be nothing to eat. Often times, we ended our early morning devotion in tears because there would be no food. God intentionally blocked everywhere we could possibly get help. People began to tell me that I was just being stubborn; they said I was suffering because I refused to listen to God. I had to accept the call at last. I have been at it for seven years and ever since then, I have been blessed tremendously and there is nothing I need that I don’t have. I don’t go hungry anymore; I give out scholarships and can afford to sponsor people now. If you have noticed, I have not been in any movie for about two years now and I am doing very fine. But if anyone calls me for work, I would oblige because acting is a calling for me; it is a gift I brought from heaven.
They do not clash at all; I also anchor events. It is a matter of planning and ability to organise one’s life.
I do get tired but when I am, I rest. This is the time I have to do all I can do because there would be a time that even when I want to do certain things, my body would not allow me.