Jim Iyke brought me into movies: I can never marry an actor – Bola Pius
Twenty-six-year-old Omobolanle Oluwaseunfunmi Pius, popularly known as Bola Pius, has made a huge headway in the Nigerian movie industry. An actress and producer, Bola Pius who attended Mayflower Secondary School, Ikenne, Ogun State and studied Sociology at the University of Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State, spoke with OLAMIDE ONI.
Why did you decide to go into acting?
There was a day some artistes were acting beside my house. Jim Iyke was one of them. I actually got into the movie industry through him. He is like a brother to me. I started with the AGN. These are the artistes who do only the English movies (whereas the artistes involved in the Yoruba movies are known as being in the group of ANTP-Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners). I had to leave the AGN because of my name (Bola Pius) because these AGN artistes don't like having Yoruba people among them. I then got into the Yoruba Movie industry through Femi Ogedengbe who at that time was like my boss. I trained in his caucus.
I started acting basically seven years ago. I featured in an English movie The Wicked Mother-in-Law alongside Sola Sobowale, Benedict Johnson, Jim Iyke, Larry Koldsweat. After that movie, jobs weren't really coming like that for me because I just started. I was just looking out for someone to put me through. Eventually though, after The Wicked Mother-in-Law, I did a Yoruba movie directed by Antar Laniyan (Okoto Ife) in 2005 alongside Lola Alao, Antar Laniyan, Baba Wande. After that, jobs started coming in. I then began producing my own movies. I have always had the passion for acting. There has always been this yearning in me. I see actresses like Genevieve, Ini Edo, Rita Dominic and the rest and I admire and want to be like them. After the first movie I was in, people started coming to me, telling me how good I was and encouraging me to keep going, although, right now I do more of producing. I produce my own movies. People do call me for acting jobs but right now my main focus is movie production.
How long have you been in the movie industry?
Who are your role models?
I see RMD (Richard Mofe-Damijo) as a role model. Also, Liz Benson. I really love everything about her: the way she acts and the way she carries herself. I admire Joke Silva too. In the Yoruba scene, I see Faithia Balogun as a role model. She is a fantastic actress. Sometimes people tell me I act like Faithia Balogun. When I watch her act, I observe her manner and expressions so when I act, I usually tend to emulate her. I just think she is a really nice person despite all the controversies surrounding her. She has always been nice to me.
Do you have any principles concerning the kinds of roles you take?
I do. Sometimes, when I am being given a script, I would go through it to determine if there is anything that involves kissing or intimacy of any kind. I reject the role. I just don't like it. Acting is make-believe. I don't believe you should act every little scene like your life depends on it. I was supposed to take part in a movie in 2008 (Odale Baleku). I was supposed to take the lead role actually, playing alongside Sukanmi Omobolanle. I had to reject the role due to the fact that there was excessive kissing, touching etc. Someone else took the role eventually. If you see the movie, I am sure you would consider it almost pornography. I thank God I did not take the role though. I am not a desperate actress because I believe in myself.
I guess that means you would never do nude films?
NO. I would never even consider it because it is just not worth it. I would also never encourage someone else to do it.
What is your opinion about actresses who use sex to get roles from directors or to move up in the industry?
Like I said, I am more of a producer. I would say that it happens among other upcoming actresses. If you are desperate, they would definitely take advantage of that and begin to harass you. I believe that if you have your own money to produce a movie, I don't think anybody will harass you. I told you I came into the movie industry through Jim Iyke and later got to know Femi Ogendengbe who was sort of like my mentor. He is a very influential man in the industry. I am with him very often so maybe that is why I did not experience a lot of sexual harassment that other actresses do. I would not say I have never been approached though, because I have. Usually, before these men give you a job, they try to convince you to have sexual intercourse with them; but I reject their advances. That is why my main focus is movie production. As a producer, you are respected so most men would not even dare approach you inappropriately. I can always promote myself if I decide to. I can decide to shoot a movie every now and then if I want to because people see me as one of the successful producers in the business. When I approach marketers, they are always willing to invest their money in me and ask me to produce for them. I have experienced sexual harassment in the past though when I was still trying to make headway.
Do you believe in the quote 'sex sells' and would you ever produce a sexually implicit movie even though you do not have to act in it?
I agree that a lot of people see sexual scenes as what is in vogue now. They believe it is lucrative. I would not encourage that because of my religious background. My mother is a deaconess and there is no way she would see me involved in something like that and be happy with me.
How would you say the Nigerian movie industry is treating you?
Ah, we are still praying to God to help us o because of these piracy issue. For instance, if I sell my movie to the marketers, they give me a date to come and collect my money. If the movie is supposed to come out on Monday, before 9pm that day, these Ibo guys would have dubbed it and sold it just the same way we did it and eventually, the money ends up not coming back to us as it is supposed to. This movie industry is turning into something else. They pirate your movie and they do not care how much you spent on it. We also plead with the government to intervene as well. I cannot imagine spending a million or two million naira in a movie and not being able to make even half of that money back because of these guys. This is not very encouraging. So many of us take loans from banks with the agreement that we pay back in a specific period of time and these people are not making it easy for us. I believe with time, everything would be fine by the special grace of God.
Any other challenges?
As a lady, it is kind of difficult, I must say. These marketers are usually men, and when they see you and know that you intend to do business with them, they approach you for sexual favours as payback. I would say I have been coping okay with these but it has not been easy. Sometimes, if you don't cooperate with them, they might decide not to buy or promote your movie. I always like to let them know I have a boyfriend/fiancé so I cannot do what they are asking and with time, they would understand you and back off. You should not act rude or stubborn with them. They are very important people in the movie industry as well. There are also some of the male producers. When they notice how good you are doing, they try and come up with ways to bring you down by saying you did not do so and so and expect sexual favours from you so as not to face repercussion. I have been successful at keeping them at arms length though. I have produced up to 13 movies now so I believe the Lord has been faithful.
Are you single? And if not how has acting affected your relationship?
I have a fiancé who is very understanding and supportive. He knows the kind of business I am into and he loves my job. He is not an actor. He is based in the UK. If, for instance, he hears a rumour about me, he asks me 'Bola, is it true' and if I say it is not, he believes me instantly. He trusts me completely. We are getting married very soon.
If you were single, would you ever consider marrying an actor?
No o. I cannot do that. The fact that we are into the same business might make it very difficult. I would not discourage a person who is not an actress to marry an actor. But as an actress, I cannot do that. There would be problems when we begin to hear rumours about each other and we end up being confused on what to believe. Besides, who would take care of the kids when we are on location (laughs)? I think they are also very promiscuous.
What level of achievement do you think you have attained so far?
I am very comfortable with my position right now. It has not been busy but I believe I have achieved a lot. I have a company to my own name (Bola Pius Productions) at Ilupeju. Right now as a producer, I can actually call any of my colleagues and tell them I am working and ask them to come and help and they would say yes without a problem. I am working on a project now actually. I just finished a movie on the 10th of December titled Die ko lola coming out soon. The movie was written and produced by me. It is a very fantastic movie with great actors and actresses in it. I intend to show it first at the Galleria before selling it so as to be able to make some of my money back.
What are the things that you think you can change about the Nigerian movie industry?
The only thing I think I can do for now is to encourage the upcoming artistes. I am in a position to help them, train them and let them be in my movies to encourage them. The problems we have in the industry cannot be solved by just one person. We have to come together. I can help young ladies who are afraid of being sexually harassed by talking to them and being their confidante. I would let them feature in my movie since I am a lady and they would not have to work with the men. That is the area I think I can be useful to the industry.
What advice do you have for upcoming actresses?
They should be focused. Most times, when ladies start acting, they tend to be discouraged by people who say that the industry is no good and they would never get ahead. I would advice them not to heed this stories and keep their eyes on the goal. Let them have it in mind that they are not just going into the movie industry to make money but to make a difference. Some ladies come into the movie industry, not because they want to be star actresses. They just want to meet the stars and sleep with them. They love the attention they get when they say things like 'so and so actor is my boyfriend, I am dating Saheed Balogun, etc'. They should go into the movie industry because they have a passion for acting and not because of the money and attention that comes with it. I, for instance, am not acting because of the money. I love acting very much. Let them have it in mind that they are going in to make a difference. They should not be discouraged because the movie industry is not as bad as people make it out to be. I would not encourage them to sleep with any producer or marketer just because you want to be a star. It is of no use. By the time they sleep with you and give you like two or three roles, the next thing, they would go for another fresh girl and you will end up fading away. There is no way they can stay with you forever. An actress should know what she wants. If she does not want to trade sex for roles, she would not have to because her talents alone can get her where she wants to be. If you are good, people would no doubt notice you. For instance, the first lead role I got in 2007, Salewa, I was just in my house when they called me and told me they have a job for me and that was it. We encourage the ladies coming in to be focused, know what you are there for, do the right things at the right time and before you know it you will make it. And don't do any juju o because the juju would backfire. There are some people who are into that kind of stuffs but at the end of the day, it would fade away and the actresses would fade away with it. New actresses come in everyday