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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Presenting Nollywood Actress Ireti Osayemi

There is this tendency or is it assumption that Nollywood marriages don't last. How have you been able to sustain yours?
 It's been the grace of God . That's all I can say
You are not doing anything special?
I guess those whose marriages don't work-out do not pray for it to happen that way . It's just the grace of God. We all wish that our marriages work-out and we work towards it. Sometimes things go wrong along the line. Unexpected things happen that you can't handle and you need God to intervene . I'm not saying I'm perfect, I'm just saying God has been in control and should be in control.
Is the fact that both of you work in the same industry a plus or minus?
 For me, it's a plus. A big plus
Why is it a plus?
My husband understands my job, I don't have any problem with him. Imagine an actress, a mother, a wife going on location for 5 to 6 days and your husband is at home with the kids ? What will you tell him? That you will be on location for 6 days ? The man is an accountant.What will he think? My husband understands the nature of my job and he has no problem with that.
 How do you cope with rumors about you in this industry?
 Like I tell people, my husband is a don dada in the industry and before they know it, he knows all that its happening and people will have to think twice before peddling any kind of rumor to his hearing, because he knows about the rumor already.
 Is it because he's a don dada that you find it difficult to misbehave?
 No, that's not it. This is you, no matter how don dada your husband is, you will still be yourself. Do you understand? That's just me, people still bring rumor to him but we talk about it and we laugh over it. There was this location I went and he was working around there too and I felt let me go and stay with my husband since I've not seen him for two weeks. I left the location for his hotel and at that moment too another actor was leaving the location. He drove out first and I drove like 5mins after him and the next thing was that my husband got a gist that 'your wife just left with another actor and she is going to sleep there' That was even before I heard and it was not up to 24hrs .I actually slept with my husband that night.
 Has there been any rumor that really got to him, that really shook your marriage?
 No, there has never been. If you have been following our marriage very well, you'll know that there has been no rumor to that effect.
 Last time I was in your house, you were studying for an exam. Why are you still in school when you already have a career and you already have two children?
 My brother, you know you don't stop learning in life okay ? You have to forge ahead, you don't become stagnant. You have to look for a way to flow and you get knowledge from wherever you think you can get it . That's why I'm still schooling. I want to acquire more knowledge. I want to fit into any category, anywhere.
 What are you studying and where?
Economics, at LASU
What level are you?
400 Level
So, after you're done will you dump acting for a career in banking?
 (Laughs) No, not at all. I will continue acting.
How do you cope with your children?
I guess God has blessed me with wonderful children. Even when I'm not around, they don't really mind. All they need is to see somebody. It's God's favor anyway. You leave some kids for a while and on the second day they are running temperature. I have just been blessed.
 You seem to be scandal-proof, except for the rumor making the rounds when you first married your husband. How come you've been able to keep a scandal-free sheet?
 Well, basically, when you don't tread the lines of scandal, you don't get scandals. When you walk on a free and safe line, you'll definitely be free and safe but when you walk on the line of scandals, you definitely have scandals. That's just it. I don't go anywhere scandals originate. I don't do questionable things, I'm just myself.
How did you handle the rumor that you snatched somebody's husband?
Well, in most cases, your conscience will judge. I had no problem with that, because basically, a lot of people didn't know what was happening .They were just jumping into conclusions. The moment rumors start bothering you, you start living another person's life. So, that didn't bother me in anyway because I knew where I was coming from and where I am going and we both knew the initial problem. So we didn't need to go to the press to explain. We just didn't let it bother us.
 Are you happily married?
Yes, though there are ups and downs . Couples are two different people coming together to be one. So, you don't expect your husband to become you totally or vice versa. If you really love each other and you have God with you, you will definitely overcome hardship because you understand each other. Couples fight over little issues. Marriages have fallen apart because of toothpaste.
 The wife says 'why are you pressing the toothpaste from the middle? You must be a bush man and her husband will say, maybe I'm a bush man but could you explain how to press the toothpaste? Another husband may say, what do you mean? Who brought you to Lagos that you have the guts to talk to me like that? Are you mad? And a fight ensues. It's just your level of understanding that matters. Always remember that you cannot be right always.
 Did you have challenges in getting close and personal with him at the beginning of your relationship?
 Truly, we were friends from the onset. We were more of friends than a couple. When I'm talking to some people, I sometimes tell them that my husband said this or that and they feel so strange wondering how my husband can say this to me? I tell him a lot of things and he does likewise . That's why when you talk about me outside and you feel it will get to him,it doesn't, because he knows it already. I don't hide anything from him and I guess he has hidden nothing from me.I know that.
Why must you guess, aren't you sure?
No, I'm very sure he has hidden nothing from me.
How do you feel winning the afrohollywood laurel?
Well, I'm very happy. It's so amazing when you are recognized in your field and somebody is actually telling you that you're doing well. Not just somebody but a lot of people are saying 'we enjoy watching you do what you do'and they feel for that, you should be given an award. I feel so happy, because it motivates me to move on in the industry that I have improved and that I can do better. I say thank you to the organizers, I say thank you to my fans, I say thank you to my husband and everybody that made it happen.
 Do you think you deserve the award?
(Chuckles) Life is full of opinions. Some might say she doesn't deserve the award while others may say she deserves it. Lati gba ti alaye ti daye ni iru e ti n sele (It's been like that since the beginning). You can't be everybody's friend, you can't be everybody's age mate. It's normal if everyone doesn't like you because if everybody loves you, you need to go check yourself.
 Why do you avoid your colleagues?
That's just me. I don't think there is anybody in the industry who will say 'Ireti is not my friend'. We are all colleagues and we get along. In most cases, friendship in the industry is sometimes difficult, because this man might even be out for the next twelve months and besides, I'm not the type that keeps so many friends. It's not as if there is anything wrong with keeping friends. It's just me.
What should we expect from you in 2011?
Well, like I always say, the best is yet to come, watch out for more from Ireti.
 Will you be producing your movie by yourself in 2011?
 Yes, by the grace of God.
Should we expect another child from you in 2011?
(Laughs) Well from my side, I don't think I am expecting any one now but you never know what God wants to do next. That's why I am saying from my side. For me, I am not planning for one yet.
Was your husband with you in the labor room?
(Laughs) He ran away
Why did he run?
He's very emotional. He doesn't like seeing another person in pains. So, whenever it's time, he runs away. It was a better experience when I had my second child, because he couldn't run but he eventually later did.
After you came back from the labor room, did he treat you like a queen?
 Labor room or not, he goes out of his way to make me feel secure.
 So how will you spend Christmas?
We are looking forward to spending our Christmas alone.
 So, I am not invited?
So we are expecting another baby in 2011?
Don't bother. It doesn't lead to babies always.
What about New Year, where do you plan to spend New Year?
 Well, it's normally a family thing and we have some family friends that we spend our New Year with. So that is definitely going to bring us together.
 What was your experience like in Omo Ghetto?
(Laughs) That's another thing entirely. You have to be what you've never been in your life.You have to be a ghetto girl.
 People say love is not kind in Nigeria. Do you share the same sentiment?
 Well, I don't know what they mean by in Nigeria because I know men are the same anywhere. I prefer an African man to a white man because a white man can come home and say 'I don't love you anymore', he doesn't care if you still love him or not. An African man will still put you into consideration and believe that this woman loves me o, how can I tell her I don't love her? And he will start fighting himself on the inside and say 'I must love this woman, I must not be ungrateful, I must show love'. I see no reason why someone will say love is not kind in Nigeria. Love is not kind everywhere in the world if you are saying love is not kind in Nigeria.
 People say before you meet your prince charming, you would have kissed many frogs. How many frogs did you kiss before you married your prince charming?
 In life we all grow. You can't expect your first boyfriend to be your husband. Then you lack experience, you lack so many things. You don't even know what life is all about. I have seen so many people that say this is my first love and this is the person I will marry. Believe me , along the line, they will have so many problems because firstly you don't really know who people are, you don't know how to tackle different people, you don't know how to tackle different problems. One of them will have so many problems that one has not seen in life. Along the line, you start feeling like I just should have tried someone else maybe it would have been better. Take it or leave it, you will have different experiences and you choose the right one out of that.
 Why is it that your first love doesn't last?
It doesn't usually work because one, you are inexperienced. You don't really know what love is all about . That's just the simple truth. No matter how old you are, you are still learning. So in most cases the first relationship will not work because one you are still selfish. You still think of me, me, me. You don't think of the other person and the other person is there as well and is thinking 'why is she thinking of herself only? She should think of me as well'. You get angry and you know, everything smashes. In most cases, the first relationship doesn't really work.
 When did you start acting and when did you come into Nollywood?
 I started acting in 1999 and my brother was into the stage then. One day, he came home and said 'these people you're crazy about, I know where you can see them' and I was like really? Are you sure I asked , and I was like take me there so we had to sneak out of the house because normally, you are not supposed to get out of the house at that hour of the day. I sneaked out and when I saw them, I was so overwhelmed.
 Where was that?
That was Winnings in Surulere. It used to be the happening place and I was like this is unbelievable. Can you imagine, I'm seeing everybody live and direct and I got my first job? So someone was like 'who is this girl? You fit into the role I am looking for'. I have been looking for a girl who will be this, that and I got my first job!
 What job was that and who gave it to you?
I can't remember his surname now, but it was Emeka . He was the production manager.
 Why did you switch to the Yoruba genre?
In life, you feel more comfortable where you are more accepted. I was more accepted in the Yoruba movie industry, and more jobs were coming from the Yoruba movie industry. That doesn't mean I cannot act in English movies. If I get a role in an English movie, I can do it. The thing is that jobs are not really coming from the English sector.
 Does your husband negotiate your fees for you?
Sometimes he does. If it's coming from him, he does.
What if it's coming from you?
If it's coming from me, sometimes I prefer that he negotiates for me.
 There is this stuff I saw online that actresses sleep with a director, producer or marketer to get the job. Is that your experience?
 Well, like I tell people, it's what you want that you get. A lot of us are not patient. We want to come into the industry today, make a name and become a star tomorrow. That's why a lot of actresses get frustrated and leave the industry. A lot of them end up doing a lot of things that they are not happy about. You don't get into an industry that you virtually know nothing about and you want to become a star tomorrow.
 It works nowhere, so patience works a lot. If you think that sleeping with a director or a producer or a marketer will make you a star in a jiffy, you go ahead to sleep with them if you want to,but if you are patient, people will definitely see you. I believe a lot of girls in the industry that are not sleeping with anybody are getting their roles. They are getting jobs and they are getting their jobs done. So for someone to have said that, that means the particular girl must be notorious for doing that.
 But have you ever dated a marketer ?
But they have money and they control everything. Don't they?
 They don't control everything. You can't say marketers control everything. They don't shoot films. Films are shot and taken to the marketer. Okay? So you can't say the marketer controls everything.
 Why do Yoruba actresses date marketers?
Well, that I don't know. I'm not dating a marketer and I don't know those dating marketers.
Has it ever crossed your mind that something could happen to your marriage since your husband was married before?
Well, every marriage is prone to ups and downs and there is nothing you have seen or heard that will make you say that.
Yes. So the moment you think of anything of such, you work against it to make sure it doesn't happen in your life. That is just it.
 Thank you, but how will you feel if this is a woman's world without men?
 A world of women (laughs).
This world will be a world full of selfishness
Why do you say so?
Women are always selfish, we think of ourselves a lot.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Presenting Fausat Balogun aka Madam Saje of Nollywood

Who is Fausat Balogun a.k.a Madam Saje?

My name is Mrs. Fausat Balogun, a.k.a Madam Saje, who does not fear anybody except God.

Where do you hail from?

I am from Oke-Ode in Kwara State.

What of your parents?

They are from same place.

What's your educational background?

I had my primary school education at Ansar-u-deen Primary School, Oke-Ode, Kwara State. I did not further my education after that.

How did you come about the name Madame Saje?

The name Madam Saje is from a television series called 'Erin Kee Kee' by Baba Suwe back then in 1990.

Who gave you the name Madam Saje?

It was Baba Suwe in the TV-series called Erin Kee Kee.

Has there been any embarrassment since you came into the industry?

In the industry, as a famous person, there's bound to be embarrassment sometimes. As for my own case, there's been none so far.

What about joy?

A lot. At times, you go somewhere and being that you are famous, people tend to honour you as such. You get real expressive carpet-treatment. There is nothing you ask for that you will be obliged.

So, how have you been managing fame?

It is not easy to manage fame, but just as any elderly person, I have since learnt how to manage my fame to my advantage.

Even embarrassing ones?

There has been none so far.

When I mean embarrassment, like some people when they see you and are just overjoyed to the extent of doing anything?

That is not embarrassment really; it is just some people's way of expressing their feelings. This, I know. Hence I take it as that of obviously excited fans who just saw their idol face to face unexpectedly.

Did you get married before or after becoming a star?

I met my husband in the industry. He happened to be my boss. His name is Rafiu Balogun, a script writer, producer, director and actor. In fact, he is a consummate theatre practitioner. He is an icon in his own right.

How were you both able to raise children because both of you are virtually outside 24/7?

Before the home movies started, the children were born and already also grown up but when they were much younger during the days of stage, at times we do take them along, leaving them at the back stage. There, they patiently waited for us till we finished.

Is any of your children into acting?

Yes, my first son, Balogun Azeez is in the industry. He is a producer and an aspiring movie director. My last child, Bintu Balogun is also in the industry. She is an actress.

Was your husband agitated over your being a star, thinking of losing you to Nollywood hawkers who may do anything to have you?

Not really because he is also into the business and knows how it's being done. He has been my manager and also behind my success; he's been wonderful, very understanding.

Has big time marketers, producers or directors made passes to you as a pretty woman?

Back then, when we started, it was on stage. My husband was already an icon in the industry, so there wasn't any room for such being the wife of an icon. Oh yes! The stake- holders know him and me as husband and wife. So, there was no room to embarrass me for this reason.

Perhaps as a mark of respect to him?


How have you been able to remain in the industry for long without serving some powerful male cliques?

Like I said earlier, I have a husband who is an icon in the industry. So, with God's grace and him, I have been able to manage successfully till date.

How have you been combining being a mother and the demands of acting?

My family as a whole does understand the industry and this has made it a lot easier for me to combine both demands of being a mother and an actress together.

Which of your family, your immediate or your husband's people?

My children and husband have been really wonderful in this aspect.

How do you spend quality time with hubby when you are off-set?

Well, he has been very understanding. When we are on set, we know we are on set and off-set, we spend our quality time very well.

At such times, what do you do exactly?

Let that be our secret because this is supposed to be a very private matter. It should not be for public knowledge. Haba! We too, na human beings!!

Your fans would love to know what you do at such times!

We hang out sometimes, visit our families or go to parties.

At parties, it is believed that Madam Saje would be all over the place; how have you been managing that?

Nothing special, when I get to parties, people welcome me and I am happy. They really appreciate my presence there. I thank God for making it so.

When you get to parties, do you beg to stay at the back so as to avoid possible harassment from people like area boys?

Yes the area boys around are only there to collect money and at such parties, there's need for security to be put in place.

Is that one of your conditions for attending parties or you probably put it out subtly that there should be security put in place?

Not really, it is not every party I attend. I make this a condition. However, I expect my host to provide good security which should be on the stand-by in case of any embarrassment.

Does this make you selective concerning the kind of parties that you attend?

Yes. As a famous person you need to be selective as to the kind of parties that you attend. This is because it is not possible to attend all parties.

Has your husband confessed to you what physical quality he saw in you that swept him off his feet when he met you and does that quality make him crazy till now?

Of course! Everything about me, my beauty, my skin, my stature and they have since remained the same. In fact, none has actually changed over the years.

Do you engage in any form of physical exercise to maintain your stature?

Yes. In the morning, I just do some jogging on a regular basis.

You have a gym you go to?

Not really a gym, it is in my house.


Yes regularly.

What of your eating or do you starve yourself because you do not want to become fat?

I don't starve myself O! I eat whatever I want to eat. I mean everything I want to or love to eat.

I noticed you are not the cosmetic crazy type. Why?

May be due to my natural beauty, which I am convinced of. I don't really like cosmetics except when we are on set. I allow make-up because it is inevitable for our kind of business.

When you saw your husband at first, what swept you-off your feet?

(Laughter) It was due to the kind of his job.

Was he a producer, an actor or director?

He is a producer, actor, director and script writer. He knows everything concerning this job. This was the real factor that swept me off my feet when I first met him years back.

Would you say your childhood days were interesting or challenging?

Yes, very challenging because in this life in whatever you want to do, there are always challenges. My childhood was very challenging but I thank God for everything. I hawked.

What did you hawk?

I hawked fruits and sold cigarettes to people. That was what my mum sold.

What is one of your childhood experiences that you cannot forget?

That was when I started this job. My parents really wanted me to go to school, but after my primary school education, I fell in love with the job. I do go for practice but my parents would come especially my father would beat the hell out of me and even strip me naked. He did not want me to go into the acting business. May be then, they thought people who were into it were wayward and irresponsible. But now, I thank God that people are encouraging their children to go into the business. It is really interesting. I so much love my job to the extent that I had to encourage my children to come into the industry.

What about your father?

He is dead now.

May his soul rest in peace?


What of Mama?

Mama too is dead.

But mama did not worry you?

Yes, it's so unfortunate that my dad did not live to see what his little girl he discouraged from being an actress has become. It is really saddening.

How much of your childhood experience contributed to what you are doing and how?

My childhood experience? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Have you been opportune to act English play?

If I am called to, why not.

Do you have any personal opinion concerning English plays?

No, no, no

Do you have negative opinion about English movies?

Not quite. The fact still remains that I am more of a Yoruba actress, but if I am called to do English movies, I would do it very well.

What do you want to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered as a good role model having tried my best to contribute my quota to the industry and the society at large. I would also like to be remembered as a role model.

Madam Saje and Fausat Balogun are seen to be two different persons but the traits you see in Fausat Balogun are also in Madam Saje. Why is it so?

I think they are two different characters.

There must be some small traces.

Because acting must have helped you in doing some things in life, that is rubbing off on your real life personality. Can you itemize some of these?

If you watch two of my films 'Odo-Aiku' and 'Igbodudu', you see a different Madam Saje. I act any character given to me very well.

What final word do you have for the upcoming actors and actresses?

My message to the upcoming ones is that they should keep their heads cool and having known this is what they wanted, they should pursue it with all determination.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Olumide Bakare Chief Koko of Nollywood

We want to know how your transition from employment in the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) to being a key player in the home video industry has been.
I retired from the NTA officially in 1994 and I never did anything until late 1998 when I came back on board and I started this home video thing. Along the line I think I was hooked up on a particular vice. I have talked so much about it and I think I don’t want a repeat performance of it. Thank God today, am clean. The rest is history.

You said you joined the home video industry. What was the prime motivation for joining the industry judging by the fact that it was a concept that was new in the country then ?
My former president in the ANTP, I am a member of the ANTP, though we have a number bodies now in the theater art industry. The former president,Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello) who is a close friend and associate brought me into the system. After my rehabilitation, I went to him and he encouraged me telling me I could still be very active, asking me if I could join them in the home video industry. Before I knew it, this popular guy, Muyiwa Ademola and one other producer approached me in my house in Ibadan. They said they wanted me to come and play a role in their movie.

I asked them to tell me how much they were going to pay me and they said they were going to pay me 3,500 Naira. I was shocked and I asked him what kind of money was that, I wanted to know if that was the kind of money they paid to artists then. He encouraged me, telling me that it was just the starting point. He told me that my consent would do the two of us a lot of good. I introduced the idea to my mother, my mum is somebody that is very close to me. So, I told my mum and she also encouraged me, telling me that God was behind me and I went. You won’t believe it that before the end of the month, a was in about three, four other locations, raking in little money, here and there. That was my entry into the home video industry.

What was the title of the film?
I think the title was Aderounke. That must have been that guy’s (Muyiwa Ademola’s) first or second film. When we were shooting the film, we carried cameras from one house to the other on our heads, there was no vehicles to move us but I thank God for the guy today, he rides on a jeep now that tells you how lucrative the industry is.

You have featured in many films since then, what was the highest amount of money you’ve ever been paid to feature in a movie?
Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I have been paid the sum of 100,000 Naira, the only time I was paid the sum of 120,000 was when I featured as Agboniregun in the epic Yoruba film Oduduwa, since then, I can’t remember having been paid over 100,000 Naira.

How did you get involved in the sitcom, Koko Close?
I was then a civil servant working in NTA Ibadan. The whole story began when some of us namely Akin Lewis and some others sat down to work on the concept. Credit for the idea that brought about the programme goes to one Ghanaian. Then the General Manager of NTA Ibadan, Chief Yemi Farounbi gave us all the freedom we needed to put the programme together. We were young men who were given all the opportunity to bring the programme idea to light. For the first time in the history of television programming, Koko Close was the only programme that was allotted both it’s own editing suite as well as vehicles to convey cast and crew to location. It has never happened before in NTA but because of the success of the programme these concessions were given to us. This success was too much that one of my ogas had to call me aside, telling me to make use of the success attained for lifelong opportunities.

How did you get the role in Koko Close?
The situation was such that we knew one another very well. For instance, everybody involved in the production knew I could play the role of a troublesome landlord very well, so it was not too difficult fitting perfectly into the role. Akin who played the corps member knew he was also very well suited for the role and some others who took part in the play.

You played the role of a difficult landlord. How much of yourself would you say came out of being Chief Oluwalambe?
Olumide Bakare is different from Chief Oluwalambe. Olumide Bakare is humble and gentle but Chief Oluwalambe was a typical landlord of those era who would brook no nonsense from his none paying tenant. You see, before I could do that, I picture what a typical landlord of those days went through to build a four-flat building. Chief Oluwalambe was a cocoa merchant who struggled to build his house, you will agree with me that such person would have to be aggressive while collecting his rents. That I tried to do.

Why was the programme rested?
The programme was never rested, it actually wound up. The programme ended with the landlord selling the house and ejecting the tenants. He later went ahead to buy another bungalow where he would not be bothered by the tenants.

There are so many groups in the Nollywood industry. If you look back at your participation , what gains has been achieved so far in the industry and where do you think attention should be focused on to move it forward?
If I understand your question very well, I will say we need to make improvement in all areas. I want to say that the question of Nollywood being the term to describe the industry is faulty. Probably because we have Hollywood in America, Bollywood in India and some people believe that the best term to describe the industry is Nollywood. Who is Nolly? Who is Wood? Let’s assume that the name Nollywood has come to stay to describe the Nigerian movie industry, is Nollywood being fair to the movie industry in Nigeria?

Then, do you suggest any name?
No, I can not. It only pains that the name has been hijacked by one ethnic group

Does that signifies a dichotomy in the industry?

How serious is the dichotomy?
My brother, the dichotomy is very terrible.

Then, what suggestions do you to remedy the situation both in the long and short term as the industry is beginning to attract attention from all directions?
The way forward is that all stakeholders in the Nigerian movie industry come together to form a common body. There so many bodies or groups now.

A veteran like you, Chief Chike Okpala (aka Zebrudaya) said he decided not to be part of the home video industry because those in the industry are not well grounded?
Yes, I think he is right because, some of us doing it (home video) are in it because of our love for the profession. You need to see the kind of insults we get from some of these our younger colleagues on locations. Anybody can just accost you on the road, telling you he or she wants you to help facilitate her/his emergence as an actor just like that.

Since you’ve identified the problems, have you been able to discuss them with other stakeholders who might share the same sentiments?
Presently, the ANTP has been able to put somebody at the helm of affairs. He is somebody who is very intelligent, that is in the person of Prince Jide Kosoko. He has invited a lot of us to come and give suggestions on how to move the industry forward. I believe this kind of initiative would lead to a conference.
At the end we would call on our friends in the other language sector, I mean the guys in the Igbo sector, the Hausa sector, the Kanuri sector and others. The thing is that we need to sit down and look for a way for the industry. The problem is that every sector in the industry wants to be unique. This is my grouse with Nollywood. The effect is such that the money that ought to come naturally to the artistes is going to the marketers.

When we look at our brothers in the Igbo category of Nollywood, one would conclude that they area better organised than you people in the Yoruba category. Why so?
The average Igbo executive producer is first, a businessman. He has a very a strong network of marketing. Being used to trading, they (the executive producer) will go all the way to sell their films.

You were the lead character of the now rested Koko Close (a television sitcom) that was widely and eagerly watched across the country. Now, we don’t have popular programmes that commands such viewer ship. Why has that become our lot in this country?
You see, in those days the country was much more buoyant than it is today. Security (of the country) was tight. The rate of crime when compared to what we have now is better. I also want to tell you that Nigerians have options to chose from. God has been so kind to us, he has been kind to us to have producers in the likes of Wale Adenuga. I want to tell you one thing, he has been producing a programme in the Nigerian television today, they call it Super Story. The kind of viewership that was given to Koko Close then is what super story is getting now because of the quality of production. I would still tell you that there is still something close to it.

You said the ANTP is doing something to sanitise the industry. Can you throw more light on that?
This year, God being on our side, we will invite the press to come and see some of the programmes we have in the pipeline. This year, we hope to reform the sector in terms of artiste fees, artistic quality, technicalities, marketing and content. One of our major problem is marketing.

What kind of participation would you advocate for the government in the industry since it has shown the willingness?
We have the Nigerian Film corporation, it can do a lot but I think the corporation has its own problems too, if we have a corporation that has not at anytime gone out to produce what I would call ‘a Nigerian film’ then, what is the essence of the corporation and its usefulness to artistes. What is the essence of the corporation since they don’t assist Nigerians to make movies? I have never heard of any form of collaboration between the corporation and the relevant stakeholders in the industry, especially between the so-called independent producers and the corporation and they say they have equipments. I understand that they have just bought new equipments, what are they doing with it? I believe government can still do a lot for the industry in terms of collaboration.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Picture Glance at Funke Akindele of Nollywood

Funke Akindele, a very popular actress on the Yoruba home video scene in the Nigerian movie industry was born in Ikorodu, Lagos state on August 24 1976.
She had her primary and secondary education in Lagos. She later proceeded to the Ogun State Polytechnic, now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, in Abeokuta, where she bagged an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in mass communication. She then proceeded to the University of Lagos, from where she bagged a degree in Law.
Funke Akindele worked as a television presenter. She gained popularity through her role in the Nigerian television show, “I need to know”. From there, she stepped into full-blown acting. To date, she has featured in many Yoruba movies. In 2009, she won the African Movie Academy Award for the Best Actress in a Leading Role. Her best work, is a comedy film, which narrates the escapades (Jenifa), a village girl who later moved to the city after gaining admission to the University.
On May 26, 2012, Funke Akindele got married to Alhaji Kehinde Oloyede Al-maroof.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Picture Glance at Yoruba Nollywood Actress - Sola Kosoko

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.

Dedicated to the memory of Teslim Olamilekan Suleiman (1992 - 2005) [Click Image to read about him]