Growing up, how was it?
Growing up was fun. My secondary education was at Aje Comprehensive High School, while my primary school was Aje Methodist Primary school. Both schools are side by side at Ebute Meta, along Borno Way which used to be called WEMA Street. That was where I grew up in Ebute Meta. It was my grandma who brought us up – myself, my elder brother and my younger ones. We were staying with her, though my father was in Lagos, he was always travelling, always on tour. I lost my mum when I was very, very young. Whenever my father was around, he was always with us, playing with us, taking us to different places, like the amusement park.
Can you recall the day you lost your mum?
It was in September 1993.
Where were you that day when you got the news?
I was with my grandma who, like I told you earlier, was training us before my mother’s death. It was my dad himself that came to break the news to my grandma.
How did you react to the sad news?
The normal reaction when you lose someone you love, but because I was young, you won’t compare the kind of feeling that I would have then to what I would have now. If my mum just died now, the way I will feel it is not the way I felt the other time. Then I just felt “oh my mother died” and I cried.
Looking back now, what do you think you would have benefit from her presence if she is around now?
I cannot begin to count the benefits. There were a lot of times when I was in school, in the university, that I really felt the vacuum. A lot of mothers were always coming around bringing palm oil and other stuffs for their daughters - that was when it actually hit me that I didn’t have a mum. My daddy cannot bring palm oil, sugar, salt and those stuffs for me in school. Though he was always coming to see, but it’s not comparable to the impact of a mother. That was a period when I really missed my mum.
Secondly, when I was getting married, I felt that something was missing and that is my mum. Though I hardly cry, but I felt the pain deep in me. There are a lot of times I would remember her and I will cry, in my closet though.
You are a popular actress, being a star what does it mean and how has it affected your life especially when you compare yourself with your peers that are not in the movie industry?
Being a star affected me both positively and negatively. Being a star has a lot of advantages-
Can you give us some instances?
For example when I was still in school, whenever it was time to do my clearance and the queue was so long and we were suffering under the scorching sun, because of the fact that my face was familiar to the officials in charge, he would ask the other students: can you allow us to attend to her, she is a star and we cannot afford to let her stay in the sun for too long? Some people said yes, some said no. but at the end of the day I was attended to on time. Such are the benefits I get a lot of time. On the other hand, the negative side of it is we spend a lot of money for the touts. They don’t want to know if you have the money or not. Sometimes you might be going out without much in your pocket; but they will still collect. Sometimes they will collect everything in your pocket, they will collect at every junction, but we cannot help it. It is the kind of society we have. I have been to Europe a number of times. When you are there, they don’t ask you for money; instead, they give you gifts. Someone gave me a phone – he said: what can I give you? He simply removed his SIM card and he handed the phone over to me. In our own society, things worked in the opposite way.
There was once a prevalence of cultism in the institution you attended; were you not in any way molested by cultists?
I was never disturbed at all. Though there were times some people would come asking for one thing or the other, which is money, and I gave the little I could, but I didn’t get into the habit of giving them all the time so they wouldn’t get used to it and then take it for granted. When I have, I give, when I don’t have, I told them off. I was never disturbed for any reason at all.
Didn’t your status as a celebrity got into your head?
I got into school relatively late, so when I was in school I had gotten over youthful exuberance or any juvenile indulgence. I wasn’t a kid anymore. Not that there were no others that are older than me in the school, but for the fact that I got admission into university late, I felt I was there to just study. So I wasn’t distracted by anything.
For you what is the ultimate level?
I am contented with what I have. I don’t look beyond my income and I don’t fixate on what I know I have no capacity to achieve. Yes, I still see myself riding a Hummer or Range Rover jeep in the nearest future, but as of now, it is a not a matter of do or die for me to ride a jeep or live in an expansive mansion. I believe that things will happen the way God wants them to. And the fact that I am not a lazy person and I am still working, I have the conviction that the sky is my limit.
Why did you go to the university late?
I always beat the cut off mark; but there was a time they introduced this entrance exam, I am not that very good at mathematics, so it always lowered my overall score. I wrote JAMB on two occasions; one UME and another PCE, though I really did not want to go to the polytechnic, I just wrote the exam to satisfy my father because he was insisting that I wrote all exams. When I wrote JAMB, I beat the cut-off mark but couldn’t scale the entrance exam, hence I did a diploma course at Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State. It was the diploma that earned me a direct entry admission to study Sociology where eventually I got my Bachelor degree.
If you are not an actress what would you have become?
Initially I wanted to become a broadcaster. I love to be seen on TV reading news; maybe that was why it was easy for me to become an actress. But I also yearned to be a lawyer, unfortunately I did Industrial and Labour Relation in my Diploma, so it was difficult to cross from social science to Law. Then I said if I cannot do law, let me do Mass Communication, which, unfortunately again, is an art course in OOU. So, I went for Sociology.
Growing up in a polygamous home, what insights can you offer some of us that grew up in a nuclear family?
The truth of the matter is that I will not even encourage my enemy to go into polygamy. It’s not the best; even my father will always tell you that. He is a polygamist, yet he wouldn’t advice anyone to go into it. Not that we have any bitter experience, but it can never compare with monogamy. I come from a polygamous home and now I am married, but I don’t pray that my husband would ever walk in the way of polygamy, because I can’t just imagine it, having another person to share my husband with, No, no. I can’t just imagine it. Aside that, there is a lot of struggle. But the truth is I don’t have any problem with my family, we live fine - that is the truth. But you cannot rule out little misunderstanding, something that happens too in monogamous family. Still I won’t advice anybody to go into polygamy.
While growing up at what point did you start seeing yourself different from people from another family?
I have always known from childhood that we are different as a movie-making family. I have been acting since I was a small child. I participated in Omo Orukan , a celluloid film, viewed at the National Theatre between 1986-7. I remembered that I was in primary 1 when I participated in that film. I have always seen myself and my family as different from others in the society because we are known everywhere, even where and when we seek to be anonymous. Even in my primary school, when I had not started acting professional, they still knew. My mate all knew that “that girls’ father is an actor”. Then my father would come to my school for PTA meetings and people knew he was different. By the time I got an admission into the university, I was already a popular actress. In the class, if they were contribution towards a cause, they would want me to contribute twice as much.
When did you start acting professionally?
I started acting professionally in 2001 when I starred in Omo Olorire, produced by my father, Prince Jide Kosoko. Before then I have been acting, I starred in Ola Abata. It was my father’s movie as well, produced in 1999 and released in 2000. I also participated in Oko Irese, also produced by my dad for Adesqueen production. It was released in 2001. I participated in Omo Olorire (2002) and that was the film that shot me to limelight. Between 1999 and 2002, I featured in my father’s films. From 2002, other producers started beckoning. Iya Rainbow first called me for a role. Alamu S’eniyan was about the second or third movie she cast me in. Same year, Taiwo Hassan, (Ogogo) called me for his movie entitled Tolulope. In 2003, Muyiwa Ademola called me for Ori, a movie that further gave me immense popularity. The movies in featured in during that period gave me momentum - Olorire first, followed by Abe Sekele (by Oga Bello) then Ori, all in 2003.
Since you became professional, how do you pick your roles?
There are lots of movies that I don’t even like my character. Others were not packaged well. Nowadays, I scrutinize my scripts very well and ask myself: is this the kind of movie I can participate in? For instance, some people called me for a job yesterday, they have called this morning, they have been calling since three days ago but I declined their offer. Before I would participate in their film, I must know who the director is. There are some projects, when you see the script, you fall in love with it; but by the time you get to the location, you ask yourself: why am I? A lot of time I felt like returning their money, except that it would amount to a breach of contract. So in recent times, I have rejected a lot of movie roles. When I was in school, it was easy to turn down movie roles. Once I see the roles and discover that I was to play about 30 scenes – I will miss lectures and my time will be curtailed –I will turn down the offer. The ones I used to accept were the ones that were not good enough. Once they said, “come and do five scenes for us”, I would be interested in that because I knew that my lectures wouldn’t be affected and I’d just be away for one day.
How did you get the roles you played in your father’s movie? Did he create those roles for you?
No. He is a professional. There are times when my stepmother would exclaim, “That’s my role!” but my father would tell her firmly “no, I don’t see you playing that role”. We are very strict when it comes to casting. In Olorire, I refused vehemently to play the role of my character because then I hadn’t gotten my admission into the university and my priority then was to become a graduate before I took up acting professionally. But my father insisted he couldn’t see another person taking that role. I went to the extent of getting another actress to take my place. But he was assertive that I should take the role. And then my father dictates. Once he tells you that you are doing it, that’s final. So I had to take the role. And it was that movie that shot me to limelight.
What is the next level?
I see myself becoming a director someday.
As a member of Cherubim and Seraphim Church-
I am no longer a member of C&S. It was my grand mother that introduced us to the church, because she brought us up, but when I am grown, I joined the Redeemed Christian Church of member since 1995.
What do you consider the most trying period of your life?
I stayed at home for five years before I got admission into the university. It was like hell then. Though I was doing certificate courses, but it wasn’t like the real university. Then I was being called for movie job, so I became distracted; sometimes there were forms that I was supposed to obtain, but I would keep procrastinating till I eventually missed the opportunities. Before my four-year degree programme, I did a two-year diploma course. That experience hurt me.
What is that fondest memory you have of your mother?
Three days ago, me and elder brother were discussing some few things our mum taught us. We remember a folk song – “Talo bami r’omo mi meta: jalo lo jalolo”. My brother said “didn’t you remember it was Iya Sola [our mum] that taught us that song?” I said “My mum? I can’t remember her teaching us that song.” We started remembering other songs that she taught us. We remembered a lot of thigns about her that day.
Are you shy?
Forget the fact that I am an actress. I always have stage fright. When I see a crowd, I can easily forget everything I want to say and I will start stammering. But I think I am outgrowing it now. When it comes to my work, and I take the stage I become transformed.
Talking about relationships, what lessons did you learn from your past relationships?
I don’t have a lot of relationships
How many did you have?
Hundred ni (laughs). The truth is that I didn’t have a lot of relationship before I met the man in my life. Then, I used to visualize my dream man. I wanted to be a lawyer and I was thinking that my husband should be a doctor; I always dreamed that my man should be dark complexioned (after all I am fair-complexioned) but in life we propose, God disposes. My husband is not fair-complexioned, but he is not dark either, so I ended with a man that is somewhat fair. I dream of a doctor for a husband, but he’s an architect. Talking about past relationship, I didn’t have any.
That is difficult to believe. How many men did you date?
I dated like hundred (laughs). Really I didn’t have that experience. The man that is my husband has always been with me since I was in secondary school. I remember the first JAMB I wrote, we were doing the running together. At that time, he was already a graduate.
Your father married four women-
Eyin le’n ka o - You are the one counting for him.
When the other women came, how did you feel?
To be realistic, I am not pretending and I don’t like pretending. I didn’t feel good. I thought in my mind that he was making a very big mistake. I was not bold enough to call him and tell him that “Daddy, what you are doing is wrong”. Why would he go and marry more than one wife? Okay, I lost my mum and my first step mum – My mum was my father’s first wife, and together with his second wife, my father lost both of them. He was still young then and the truth is it’s only logical for him to remarry another wife, which nobody would blame him for doing. But going for two again is what I really disagreed with him. He shouldn’t have gone for two. Why? Why would he think of two? One would have been okay for him.
What if your brothers choose to follow your father’s footstep?
I’d be there to advise him, to let them know that they are derailing. Aside that my father, as long as he is still alive, he will never support such. I told you earlier that even my father will not encourage anyone to go into polygamy; it is not the best, that he survived it, that is why we are happy, it is by God’s grace. But for real, we have a lot of polygamous families that are the worse for it.
How much is your first earning as an actress and how did you spend that money?
The first money I earned - I can’t remember the title of the movie now but it was produced by Adebayo Salami (oga Bello) but not 1980s Omo Orukan - I was paid N3, 000. When I got home, my father shared the money; he gave my step mum a share, he gave my brothers and sisters and I took the rest.
Why the sharing?
It is a tradition among the Yorubas that when you make your first money, you share it among the members of your family who will pray for you to have a successful professional career.
How much was your share?
Abut N1, 000, but it was a long time ago.
You gave your life to Christ when?
In 1995, then I did my baptismal in the Redeemed Church.
What is your baptismal name?
I have a Christian name from childhood and that is Janet.
You use to have an Islamic name-
I still have it. It is Wasilat. My father is Joshua, but he’s also Abdul Rafiu, because we came from a Muslim background – my grandfather was a Muslim, but we are Christians because of my grandmother, who was a Christian, and who brought us up the Cherubim and Seraphim way. But my husband is a Muslim, though, he’s not dogmatic. He is liberal.