Motilola Adekunle, an actress and filmmaker, is a graduate of Philosophy from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile -Ife, Osun State. The delectable actress, in this interview with EDWIN USOBOH, speaks about her life experience, family, career and sundry issues. Excerpts:
How has it been combining the stress of home front with your career?
Honestly, it’s a lot but I think women are hard wired for stuff like this. We can naturally multi task and wake up the next day and do it all over again. It’s stressful but I have the skill set for it.
Can you share your experience growing up and how it has influenced your career or life?
I grew up in a very strong Christian background. My mother plays a strong influence in our lives. When we lost our dad, we had to live with some of my cousins who were very mean to us. We endured it for a while but when my mother had had enough, she decided that we should move out and we did. By then, her circle of friends had greatly reduced. People pressured her to remarry because she was quite young but my mom would often say these words in her dialect (idanre) “lede ati awon omo e, a n to otu” which translates to “the pig and her piglets are enough to make a squad.” I didn’t understand it then but now I do. Simply put, “Family is all you need.” In this industry that has a lot of downsides, you will eventually find out that Family is all you need. Whatever happens, those are the ones that will have your back. That’s one lesson my upbringing taught me and that life experiences have reinforced.
How did acting career start for you?
I started in church a couple of years ago, and the minute my first professional performance was over, I had found my profession. I fell in love with acting and even though we have had a couple of break ups, we always find our way back to each other. Our love is forever.
What’s yours view about this accusations of perceiving upcoming artistes as threat?
It has never been an issue for me. I believe that the world is a really huge platform and we can all blossom at our own time, there will always be new acts all the time. There will always be new talents and each one with his or her own peculiar qualities different from mine. Somehow, no other talent can be me. They can be like me but not me and if that doesn’t change, I’m fine. All talents are welcome.
You were once rumoured to have separated from your husband. What really happened?
That was one very funny story with no iota of truth in it. He was the first person I called when I saw the story and we laughed over it. It was a joke. We were never separated
Was your husband fully in support of your acting career?
No, he wasn’t. It was quite a struggle. He had issues with some of my decisions and I’m not a great judge of character but he is and with the benefit of his hindsight, I must say he was right to be concerned but he was never against my decision to act. It was more of a 70:30 thing.
How did you meet your husband?
We met during our service year in Katsina
Do you mean you were both corps members then?
Yes, we were both corp members in 2008/2009 or there about.
What attracted both of you to each other?
I was quite intimidating back then. A fine girl by all standards – tall, black pretty brainy and bold. So we had just finished camp parade that day and I was lacing my shoes on the parade ground. I saw some guys walking towards me. One of them had met me in my 100 level at OAU and he wanted to say hi. So they approached me and introduced themselves. While I was still trying to connect with the guy from Ife, I noticed this guy walking away saying ‘I told you not to come and meet this girl. I know her type.’ I was wondering ‘what did I do to this guy?’ So, I said ‘hi’ to him and asked for his name. He told me his name the next day he promised me lunch and I have held to him for ten years now with two kids. I am still holding him to his promises and God has been helping us.
What impact has he played in your career?
He keeps me grounded. When it all seems to be tough, he is the person I go to find balance. He is my soundboard. He listens to my rant and he is a constructive critic.
Before choosing to feature in a movie, what do you consider?
I consider the storyline, the character and how it suits me. Some characters make you look like a weak actor because you don’t fit the role. So I think deep to see if the role suits me; then the director also plays a large role in my decision. It’s a large industry and there are some directors I believe in while there are some that I don’t click
What do you think has improved in Yoruba movie industry over the last decade?
We have come a long way. Our stories, the technical aspect of our shoots and the industry has witnessed an inflow of educated young ones who are currently changing the way things are run. We aren’t there yet and yes we have a long way to go but if we keep moving we will get there.
Piracy still remains a challenge. Do you suffer the effect in your production firm too?
Oh yes! We do. Everyone does. It’s really hurtful to do all the work, get little or no profit and see someone makes so much money just because they can pirate. Piracy is their only talent and yet they make all the money. It’s just sad very sad. Like how much have you lost to piracy? I honestly don’t think that’s a fair question to ask anyone. Let’s put it this way: it’s like asking you how much you as a person have lost to oil bunkering. Bunkering is bad, it affects the economy and it has a domino effect. That’s exactly how it works in this case too. Anyone that pirates my intellectual property without permission with the sole aim of making profit off a venture you didn’t invest in has robbed me of more than just money. That human being is incredibly telling me that I work for him and I don’t get paid. It’s an exact replica of the ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey chop scenario’. And every time I see a pirated copy of my work, there is a certain level of pain that I feel and you can never put a price on that. I think it’s even wrong to think its just about money. They rob us and it’s not just in financial terms.
What role can reject even if offered N20million? And why?
Never say Never! There are some characters that will send shivers down my spine but ‘never say never’. I’m professional.
Why is it that we rarely see Yoruba movies in cinemas?
This is not a Yoruba movie issue alone. It affects indigenous movies. People tend to forget that aside the English speaking movie makers, we also have kannywood and the Igbo movie makers. How come we don’t see those ones at the cinemas at all? I believe it’s because Cinemas prefer movies in the official language of Nigeria so that everyone can relate and that’s quite understandable. We hope that in the nearest future they will understand that we also drive our own audience and be more open minded. I am 100% confident in our ability and I know we tell the best stories especially Yoruba movie makers. Though there are a few bad eggs and that’s not strange because even the ‘almighty’ Hollywood still has bad eggs.
Yoruba movies are often criticized for fetishism, cultism and repetition of storylines. What’s your defence against these?
I believe that a society’s movie industry is a reflection of that society, the same bunch that criticize Nollywood for being fetish are out there selling their girlfriends panties for 100k. The same people saying oh they are too fetish are barking before they make money and, that just makes me wonder – if nobody is fetish, who then is buying these panties? Who is making them bark, how did the plus get added to yahoo? It’s our job to expose these madness everyone wants to shy away from. If you want to be an ostrich, just hide your head in the sand and leave the rest of your body outside to live in your “unfetish” cocoon. It’s fine but at least you won’t say we didn’t warn you about pants sales.
How do you relax?
I spend time with my family and rest a lot.
Is Yoruba movie lucrative? Would you say it’s career fulfilling?
It’s not so lucrative, but it’s fulfilling. There is nothing that compares to being able to… unless after you hear the words “action” and the madness ends on “cut”. It’s beautiful to be able to turn on and off on stage.
How would you describe your personal style?
Personal style is tomboyish and simple.
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