…says celebrities who live fake lifestyles are being pressurized.
Nollywood diva, Aishat Lawal,in an exclusive interview with Evelyn Ohiolei shares her story of how she has weathered the storm of the Nigeria Film Industry, while still being relevant as an entrepreneur, wife and mother. She speaks of the major challenges that beset filmmakers and actors in Nollywood. Read below:
Tell us about your early years.
I was born into the family of 5. My dad was an estate surveyor and valuer while my mum was a teacher. I was born and grew up in Ibadan here. I attended Adin International School for my primary education. For my secondary school, I went to Federal Government College, Ogbomoso. I obtained my first degree in Law from Lead City University Ibadan. Then I went for my second degree in Public administration. I practiced law for awhile. Afterwards, I went for my Diploma in theatre arts and fully went into the movie industry.
Why did you diversify?
I actually loved everything about law most especially when I was doing my court attachment. It was quite challenging and interesting. The tougher the case, the more interesting it is. However when I went into acting, I started with stage plays and there is this feeling acting on stage gives you. I guess that was how I fell in love with acting. So it was like me doing something I love and still being paid for it.
In my quest to be more grounded in the profession, I decided to go to J17 Academy by Femi Adebayo and I was trained in dancing, acting and scriptwriting
How did your parents react when you dumped law for acting?
Well, My dad was already late when I took up acting as a profession but if he was alive I knew he would have supported me all the way. I say this because while waiting for admission into university, I had an opportunity to study performing artsat the University of Ibadan, my dad supported the idea but my mum blantantly refused.
So how did she come to accept her daughter being an actress?
When I finished my law degree, I decided to go into acting part-time not as a screen star but behind the scenes crew, so she agreed to that. But along the line, I started performing and there was a time she came to watch me on stage, I was playing the lead character then, she was quite happy that I was making waves in my little world of stage performance but I am sure she didn’t know I would go into fully as a screen diva that I am now.
Talking of stage and screen acting, which do you prefer and why?
I prefer stage. This is because there is this originality in stage. You earn your roles on stage. For stage dramas, there is no patching up like what you see on the screen. You can’t really cover up for an actor’s incompetence. It is either you are good or you are not. Then for stage, you get your viewers’ feedback/reaction on the spot. Stage is actually better only that it is underrated.
What inspires you as filmmaker?
The society inspires me. Me wanting to tell a story that connects with the society especially the younger generation.
What is your latest work?
I have two on ground; Jalaruru is an epic movie. Also Aiyepegba which focus on cybercrime and betrayal. I also have Apala which is still in the production process right now. Apala focus on a genre of music played by the south-western part of Nigeria which is ‘APALA’. There are quite a number of musicians on board like Saheed Osupa because it is like a musical.
As a producer in the industry, how has the journey being so far?
Wow, it has been great. I started off in 2010 and I have produced 15 movies so far.
How do think Nollywood is fairing on the global scene?
On the global scene, I would say it is getting better. Like the year 2019 was a good one for the industry. Initially, we were lagging behind. We hear more of the music industry doing so well on the global stage but the Nigerian film industry was nowhere to be found. Piracy is also one major challenge that continue to drag Nollywood back. Filmmakers no longer give their best because they don’t get back what they put into the movie. However, I think the industry is improving now. We have filmmakers with great contents whose movies are doing well on the global stage. For example, look at Genevieve Nnaji’s Lion Heart acquired by Netflix. It is a big one for the industry.
How is the fight against piracy coming up?
Firstly, we are yet to get the full support of the government. Pirates don’t get prosecuted when arrested and this always give them an edge in what they are doing.
What has been your major challenging movie?
Irugbin. That was one movie I had issues with because I was on set as the lead character. It was a typical indigenous Yoruba movie so I was expected to speak the rich undiluted Yoruba language. I could only speak the contemporary Yoruba so I had to really put in more to deliver on that project. A lot of times I had to repeat my lines countless times on set. Also I had challenges with those chants and incantations. Getting the appropriate props wasn’t easy at all. Actually a lot goes into indigenous movie that you can ever imagine. Because for the contemporary movies, you are likely to have everything at your disposal but for an indigenous movie, you will have togo the extra mile to get your props, sometimes build it from scratch.
Well, it was an interesting experience for me because I had really wanted to produce an indigenous movie and I am happy I did.
What other challenges have you experienced in the movie industry?
Another major challenge I have with the movie industry is that people don’t appreciate Yoruba movies. It’s frustrating that most cinemas don’t accept Yoruba movies. I don’t blame them too. They don’t accept Yoruba movie because people don’t watch it. All these boil down to the society. Parents are very comfortable not teaching children their native languages anymore. So youths and kids don’t value the Yoruba movies as parents do not encourage their kids to watch them because they feel it is local. The generation that value Yoruba movies won’t go to the cinema to watch it but would rather buy the pirated copies, so it can be very frustrating for filmmakers who are putting in all their resources to make these movies.
What the way forward to encourage indigenous movies to thrive in the market?
There are no two ways about it. Nigerians need to promote their indigenous languages. We must at every given opportunity rate our language and culture high even in international territory. Parents must be proud to teach their children Yoruba. Look at India, China and some other countries, they don’t joke with their languages. They speak very little or no English in their movies yet their movies are widely accepted. This is because they have been able to let the whole world know that their language is their identity. Back in the 90s, we had exceptional Yoruba movies that had good markets. For example, look at Saworo Ide, Agogo eewo, Oleku etc. the turnover was encouraging but you wonder why these same producers in the industry do not want to invest greatly in Yoruba movies anymore. The answer is simple, there is no available audience.
Let me diversify into your personal life, it is believed that you are one of the few actress that have managed to keep your personal life private. Tell us why and how you managed to achieve that?
Firstly, I would say my mumfrowns at everything public. Secondly, My husband also doesn’t like being on public view and personally I love my privacy. I want to be a celebrity but also live a normal life like every other person. I need to give my daughter the choice of choosing if she really wants the public focus and attention. She may grow up tomorrow and not like the idea of the media exposure already given her without her consent. That is why I keep everything about family especially my daughter away from public view.
But recently you shared the story of your daughter’s birth on social media. Isnt that bringing her to public light?
No no. That was different. That was a testimony I needed to share with friends. It’s been one year and I felt I needed to let people know how God delivered me and gave me another chance to live. It was an awful experience and that was not in any way to publicise my daughter. I was surprised the story went viral. My husband and mum didn’t like the idea when it went viral but I had to make them understand that I needed to tell that story.
So, how do you balance your family and work?
My family comes first before any other thing. I don’t joke with anything family. I don’t allow my work to interfere with family. For instance when I just had my daughter, I don’t accept jobs that will make me sleep out.
Who are your mentors/role models in the industry?
Femi Adebayo is a mentor to me. I got trained under his academy. He inspires me. One major person that really inspires me is Joke Silva. Like I look forward to be on the same set with her. I like everything about her. She is also another role model that has been able to manage her work, family and fame well.
Let’s talk about the fake lifestyle most celebrities live just to match up. Why do you think this is so?
Well, most celebrities think they have a lot of expectations to meet. Fan’s expectations, Family’s expectation, expectation from colleagues etc. This put a whole lot of them under pressure to match up. As an actress, I don’t put myself under unnecessary pressure and I don’t allow anything or anyone to pressurise me. I do things for me and not because of what people will say. The industry is a show biz, so people will always want to showcase their affluent lifestyles. Not all are fake though.
Where will Aishat Lawal be in 5 years time?
In five years time, I see the Nigerian movie industry to be in a very good shape and also doing greater on the global scene because that will determine where Aishat Lawal will be too. I am Nigerian and I believe in my country.
Your advice to young aspiring actors?
God is first in everything. So they have to put him in his rightful place. Also, they should put themselves out there. If you have the talent, don’t wait for anyone to promote you. You can promote yourself through the different social media platforms. It’s cheap and you can showcase yourself to the world.
My husband fully supported me when I acted half naked – Actress Tope Adeoye
Rising star, Tope Adeoye has revealed that her husband is the brain behind her new movie, SADE IHOHO where she acted half naked.
Adeoye says her role in the movie is the most challenging so far due to her going half naked but with constant encouragement and push from her better half, she was able to deliver , she told The Root Media Celebrity Corner on Friday.
“SHADE IHOHO was a very challenging movie for me because I had to be half naked according to the script. This was hard for me because I have never done anything like that before. It is a true life story so I had to portray the true character of the lady involved. This brought in a lot of criticisms from people. At first it got to me but my husband supported me all the way because he gave me the go ahead to do it.
The movie which is her second work as a producer will be released anytime soon, she disclosed.
The former sportswoman who began as a make-up artiste in the make-believe world spoke extensively on the challenges she encountered at home when she ventured into acting.
Being the only child of her parents, Adeoye’s decision to become an actress caused a rift between her and her mother in which she had to leave the house for 18 months.
According to her, the decision caused a rift between her and her mother but they reconciled after her boss, Femi Adebayo intervened.
“When I decided to go into acting, it was a thug of war between my mum and I. she never wanted me to go into acting. I left the house for 1year and half.
“When I left home, I slept at the rehearsal premises for 3 months. Then, Titi Adebayo (Femi Adebayo’s sister) and my friend, Aishat Lawal heard about it they spoke with my boss, Femi Adebayo and explained everything to him. He took me in and treated me like family, I spent nothing less than 1 year and 3month in his house. Later he took me home to plead with my mum and she accepted me back. When I graduated from the J15 academy, she finally accepted my profession”, she narrated.
Asides Shade Ihoho, Tope Adeoye has produced Ijawa, Eli and others in the pipeline.
Speaking on her role models in the movie industry, Adeoye says “Femi Adebayo is a boss, mentor and role model who has inspired me to be the best in me chosen career. Also, famous Ghanaian actress, Jackie Appiah is another person that I look up to in the industry. I love her acting prowess and how she interprets her roles perfectly.”
Adeoye gave a word of advice to those aspiring to join the industry, she said “Be yourself and try to be creative, Always learn to learn everyday and always be positive, Though, the road may be rough and tough but with creative content and hardwork, you will be noticed.”
My love for Faithia Balogun is unquantifiable – Actress Omolola Aromasodun says
Nollywood actress, Omolola Aromasodun has proclaimed her love for veteran actress, Faithia Balogun.
Aromasodun who is widely known by her nick, ‘Iya Dammy Costumier’ says Faithia Balogun is one actress that she respects so much in the industry.
She said this on Friday during an interview with The Root Media celebrity corner.
According to her, “Faithia Balogun is a mother in the industry. She supports me in all I do and I can’t imagine the difficulties I would have had to face alone if she wasn’t there. She is a mentor and role model”.
“I admire Fausat Balogun (Madam Saje) also, she is simple to deal with and won’t look down on you irrespective of who you are”, she added.
Speaking on her journey so far in the movie industry, she said:
“Over 20 years in the industry is no joke and I’ll say what has kept me on is patience and perseverance. This is what young and upcoming actors lack. Patience is a virtue and anyone who wants to go far especially in this industry needs a large dose of it.”
The Abeokuta native-born while speaking on her latest work; Ajidara which speaks of God’s supremacy says it’s a must-watch movie lovers.
The proud mother of three boys is a fashionpreneur who has used her expertise as a fashion designer to contribute her bit as a costumier in the make-believe world.
She has produced movies such as Alago, Olojo Ọmọ, Ayomide Olugbeja, Eniyan, Murewa, Ijapa, Foleyin and Ajidara coming out soon.
As an actress, she has featured in several movies such as Batanle, Iranse aje, Oro kilo, Opa kan, ASA, Oga kan, Ibosi òru, Kotun ọrùn, Gbafun, Oluwari, Omo ijoba, Omo Alhaja amongst others.
Ewadara: A close one with the producer – Blessing Daramola Akinola
“I can act any role in a movie except nudity roles” – Akinola
The Nigerian movie industry has gained prominence and wide acceptance on the global stage and as each day passes new talents are given opportunity to thrive and contribute their bits to the ever bubbling industry.
Blessing Daramola Akinola is one of the few that has grasped the opportunity to register her name in the hearts of viewers and become a household name.
She is an actress and a producer who majors in indigenous Nigerian movies.
In an exclusive interview with The Root Media Celebrity Corner, Akinola gives a full recap of how her journey began in the movie industry and how she has constantly worked to remain relevant in the business of film making. She introduces her debut work as a producer; Ewadara which is presently trending and gotten massive positive reviews.
Read the full interview below:
Let’s get to know you better. What was your childhood like?
Growing up was amazing and great. I was born into a Christian home. I had a very strict upbringing. I was born and bred in Ilorin, Kwara State, but I am from Ondo State, Ọka Àkókó to be precise. I am the third child and the third girl in the family of five children.
Your educational background?
I attended Gem Basic Nursery & Primary School, Ilorin and Government Girls’ Day Secondary School, Ilorin, for my secondary school. I obtained a National Diploma in Office Technology and Management from Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin. Afterwards, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Yoruba Studies with honors from the Department of Linguistics and Languages at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Àkókó, Ondo State.
How did you get into acting as a profession?
Acting was my childhood dream. It has always been a passion. When I was in school as an undergraduate, I was a member of a Cultural troupe called ‘ISESELAGBA’. I used to feature in plays, dance and chants that were staged in school. When I graduated, I joined Odunlade Adekola Film Productions in Year 2016 to pursue my dreams.
As an actress, how has the journey in the movie industry been so far?
I won’t lie to you. It has been hard and easy, it has been beautiful and difficult. There has been ups and downs. Filmmaking is the hardest and most exhausting. It takes much sweat and stress. My love for the job is the only thing that makes me want to do it again and again. I have a keen interest in acting. Being on set gives me joy. It’s not easy but God has been wonderful and merciful. My ups and downs have molded me for my greater goals in life.
The first movie I featured in was Lawonloju produced by odunlade Adekola. So far, I have featured in about 40movies… Yeye Alára, Ade Ọba, Soku Daye, Sáàmù Alajo3, Ìgboyà, Àjànàkú, Odaju, Big mummy, Daddy G, Matron, Ajebidan, Folagbade, Folawunmi, Folami Alagbe, Fawoya, Idà, Gbemileke, Jenrayegbe, Regret, òkùnkùn, Were Alako, Ase Gun, Ologini, Okuta Ija and so many more.
What roles do you always prefer to go for in a movie?
I am actually open to any act/role, because as a thespian, you should be able to act any roles but you can be choosy about the scripts. So I am good for any role asides nude.
Ewadara is your debut work as a film maker, Tell us more about it.
Ewadara is a Yoruba blockbuster movie full of suspense, morals, and at the same time educative. It is about a prophetic insane lady, Ewadara, the covetousness in her opens the door for tempter (Folashade) to come in. It educates everyone to always think of the future before taking any step in life because what goes around surely comes around.
The movie was produced by my humble self and directed by Odunlade Adekola. It features Odunlade Adekola, Mr Latin, Toyin Adegbola, Eniola Ajao, Alebiosu and many more fantastic actors.
Ewadara is in two parts; the first part was released on June 3rd, 2020 and the second part was released on June 12th, 2020. Still showing and trending on YouTube/Yorubaplay.
What’s has been the experience so far as the producer of Ewadara; onset and offset?
Ewadara was a story I instantly connected with without stress. It’s a movie we all had fun working on. The crew and cast gave it everything. Glory be to God. Che Che Che Che… ODEBE!!!!
I have been so overwhelmed, reading all the reviews. I feel grateful, blessed and motivated than ever after reading all positive comments and feedback for my movie. The soundtrack/music of the movie is also much appreciated. Personally, I love the songs.
The credit of the movie Ewadara and soundtrack goes to my amiable boss, Odunlade Adekola.
Who are your mentors and/or role models that inspire you to work?
My mother is a mentor to me because she has influenced my life in great ways. Mr. Odunlade Adekola is a mentor, a role model and a father to me. He is a man of integrity and believes so much in young talents. I am still under his tutelage. He inspires me.
Speaking of role models. I like and admire all successful actors and actresses in the industry.
Honestly, I admire everyone in the industry because each one of them is excellent and has their own style. I want to work with all, if possible.
Who is Blessing Daramola Akinola off screen?
My kind of person off-screen, I am an easy going lady that loves God. An extremely private person. To a certain extent, I am an introvert. Mostly, I’m always indoors. I only go out when it’s necessary. I don’t keep friends. I love being with my mother and siblings.
So, what next after Ewadara?
Well, it will be an action or thriller. When it’s done, I’ll surely let you know but Ewadara is still showing on you tube and also available on VCD/DVD nationwide.
Che Che Che Che… ODEBE!!!
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