WOMEN SHOULD KNOW HOW TO HANDLE MALE ADMIRERS WITH WISDOM - TOLA OLADOKUN
Madam Owomitola Oladokun (a.k.a Ika lomo ejo) is unarguably a seasoned actress. And while facial marks are considered a minus in the reckoning of some people as far as beauty is concerned, hers complement her beauty. In this no-holds-barred chat with Gbenga Olumide, Oladokun gave her fans the opportunity to know her much better as she spoke about her childhood, profession, marital life, aspirations and more. Excerpts:
Tell us about yourself
I was born in Igangan, a town in Ibarapa, Oyo State over 40 years ago. I had my primary and secondary education there, at Methodist Primary School and Igangan High School, respectively. I had to stop after my secondary education, because I am from a polygamous home. My father had about four wives. You know how things are in polygamy. My mother was the first wife. The second wife came in and things changed. Father didn't want to have anything to do with us again though he was okay, and mother was financially powerless.
When I saw how difficult it was for my mother, I decided to go and learn a trade. I learnt fabric selling. After my apprenticeship, I started selling fabrics. It was around that time that I met my husband, Samuel Adeogun. He is dead now. He hailed from Igangan too, and was a member of the Methodist church like my family. So, we met, got married and started having children.
But some things happened after sometime. He and my father had some misunderstanding, and my father ordered me to leave him. I was so young and inexperienced then. I left him. If I had been older then, maybe I wouldn't have left him. He was young too anyway. It was about 15 years after I left him that he passed on.
After leaving him, I left Igangan for Ibadan. Before then, I had been wooed by a police officer who served in our town. Initially, I had thought my husband and I could resolve our differences. But when my child was about 10 years old and there was no sign of reconciliation, I agreed to marry the officer, and together we left for Ibadan.
What made you go into acting?
I had loved acting right from my school days. I remember that during festivities in our church, I used to act different roles; even to the extent of acting a man in which case my father gave me his wears as costumes. I had loved acting since then. But it was when I got to Ibadan that I got inspired by Deji Aderemi, popularly known as Olofaana.
Then, we were living at Lalupon, and Chief Aderemi used to come there often. One day, I approached him and told him I was interested in acting. I was still selling fabrics then.
One day I was invited to Montana Hotel in Agbeni where these seasoned actors were having their rehearsal. I took my fabric there, of course. I saw how they acted, and I asked to be permitted to take part.
He (Chief Aderemi) promised to allow me subsequently, and he did. The first film I participated in was Alhaji Toyosi Arigbabuwo's film, Tibitire. But Chief Deji Aderemi is my boss. He was the one I saw then that made my interest in acting come alive.
What was your immediate family's reaction when you decided to take up acting?
Before people started misinforming my husband, he supported me. In fact, he liked the job. He even went as far as getting roles for me, because he knew some of the renowned producers then. But people started creating doubts in his mind, telling him that he allowed his beautiful wife to go out and mix with other people, men inclusive. That was when he changed his attitude towards my job. He loved it initially and my children too, they liked what I do – even my parents and siblings. They all know I only love acting that I have my trade.
You used to co-anchor a request programme on radio in your dialect. Why did you stop?
It happened that for some time I was off the programme because my father was sick, and being the first child, I had to stay by and take care of him. So, I couldn't anchor the programme during that period, until my father breathed his last. After his death, I went back to the radio station, and the ogas asked me to write a letter to indicate that I had come back. I wrote the letter and they said I should be ready to present the following episode.
On a Monday, two days to the day of the programme (It's aired on Wednesday), I called to confirm. That was when I was told that the producer (I don't want to mention his name) said I shouldn't have addressed the letter to those I addressed it to; that I should have addressed it to him.
I was doing this programme just to promote my dialect; it was not convenient. No matter how far the location, I had to be in Ibadan on Wednesday for the programme. I was paid for each episode, but it did not even cover transportation from location and back. Since I was going out of my way to anchor the programme purely for the love of my dialect and not for any pecuniary reward and they were now saying all that, I just decided to leave it at that. That was what happened.
Are you fulfilled?
I am very fulfilled. The reason is that by the time I joined the profession, I was a bit contented financially. I was not wealthy, but I was not hungry either. When I joined, I didn't even expect any financial gain. I just loved to be seen acting. Therefore, when money started coming in, it made things easier for me. I told you that my first husband is dead. He died in 2000, and our child had just finished from secondary school then. It was after that that she gained admission to the Catholic School of Nursing, Oluyoro, and I was able to see her through from the proceeds from acting. I have a car, and to the glory of God, I will soon complete my own house – all from acting. I've gained a lot. The profession pays me and I thank God my Creator for this.
Many actors today have taken to singing. Should your fans be expecting one or two records from you too?
I don't condemn any of us who takes to singing; music is part of our job, but I don't intend to go that way. I did one sometimes ago, but it was not music per se. It was a rendition of Bible passages, titles Agbara Oro. It was not my brain child; I was called upon to do it. The person even wanted me to do another one, but I turned the offer down for some reasons. I don't intend going into singing. Even this acting profession, I have a target. I don't intend getting old as an actress, carrying location bag in old age. No. I have set a target that at certain age, I will rest.
Does that mean you will retire?
Not exactly. I wont retire, but I will cut location-going down to its barest minimum. In fact, I will be producing, in which case I don't have to be on location at all. But once in a while, when the elders in the profession request that I be on location, I will go. It will be drastically reduced, not like how that I may not rest for a full day before I'm called to upon to set out for another location. At times, one doesn't even get home at all; it is from one location straight to another. By that time, it won't be like that, by the grace of the Almighty.
Who are your mentors in the industry?
My boss, Olofana, (Deji Aderemi) is my number one mentor. He was the one who put me through when I was a baby in the profession. He always fought for lead roles for me. Then, I used to say I wanted to act a few scenes, not major roles, and he would scold me, telling me that there were actors who begged for such big roles, and here I was being fought for. So, it was he that tutored me. Apart from him, God Almighty has always been there for me. Whenever I'm going on location. Whenever I'm on set, I call on Him, and He has never disappointed me.
None at all. The only time I was a bit shaken was when I faced a spiritual battle in the profession. Someone I don't know, but whom God knows, shook me up spiritually. That is the only time, and it's not that I regret it. It was only a challenge and I was able to conquer with God on my side.
So, you guys 'shake each other up' like that?
Not like that. You see, every human being has his inherent power. Even you, as you are seated there, you have your own power. We all do; only that we may not know exactly where God put it or how to use it. It happens in all professions, not with actors alone.
It's not that we make juju to attack one another, but one may be sitting down like that and a thought crosses his or her mind towards a colleague. That thought may start manifesting immediately with the recipient, whether such a thought is positive or negative. That was why I said someone I don't know, but whom God knows. You know some people think, 'Is she the only one'? It happens everywhere, in all walks of life.
Personally, I don't say that somebody is attacking me; but I saw that what happened that time was not the handiwork of God. Anyway, God took control of everything at the end of the day.
Do you have any film to your credit yet?
I did one, but the marketer I sold it to then was not kind. If he was kind he would have paid me in good time and at once so that I could use the money to produce another one. But he paid me piecemeal, and I spent it. As I said earlier, I'm the oldest child. There are many dependants who look up to me for money. This and the first reason I gave have not made it possible for me to produce another film. The only one I did was titled Temi L'oko. That was about four years ago now. But very soon, I will produce another one.
You actors usually have some form of unpleasant story or the other to tell about marketers. What do you think should be done?
My only prayer is that God will help our leaders to find a way of rescuing us from the traps of the marketers.
Who are your role models in the industry?
I have quite a number of them. My boss, Deji Aderemi is one. Also are people like Eda, Baba Wande, Bukky Ajayi, Mama Rainbow, Iya Awero. Those are the people I always try to emulate, whose professional lives are worthy of emulation. They are my role models.
How many films have you partaken in till date?
I can't remember how many. Since the time Alhaji Kareem Adepoju (Baba Wande) featured me in his film Ika L'omo Ejo, I have done scores of them. Though I partook in Ti Oluwa Ni Ile made by the same Baba Wande, it was Ika Lomo Ejo that brought me into limelight. Since that time, my star has never grown dim. And I have the almighty God to thank for this.
What is your favourite colour?
White and blue.
You are a beautiful woman. How do you ward off persistent male admirers?
It is by wisdom. I don't snub them, but I don't give them too much attention either. By the time a woman fails to make an appointment like three consecutive times, standing her date up, such a date would read between the lines and find his way.
He may now be saying, ”Is she the only woman in the world?” and all that, but at least, you as a woman have not entered into a relationship you don't want. I'm not calling myself a saint here, but I know how to go about it without injuring my pride.
You don't look your age. What is the secret?
Secret? I don't have any secret.
I don't even have any special food. I may stay without eating till two, three p.m. But I drink a lot of water. I take about three glasses of water when I wake up in the morning. I don't have any regimen.
Do you have any group?
I don't have any group. I don't want to have any. Though I'm not temperamental, I'm not patient enough to gather people of different characters under my tutelage.
However, I have one or two trainees who are understudying me. Whenever I'm going on location, I take them along.
Could you remember any pranks you played as a young girl?
I was not allowed to play any pranks. My father was a strict disciplinarian. He didn't condone any frivolity. As a young girl, I was not even allowed to make friends. I was always indoors after school. It was that serious. And that is why till today, I don't have friends. Neither am I a party freak. This however does not mean I don't socialise at all. I do, but I'm not used to going to parties for a whole day. Whenever any of my colleagues is celebrating, I make sure I attend, give the celebrant my token, spend like two hours and take my leave. No more, no less.