For Adebukola Salawu, popularly known as Omofela, being young and making it as an actress-turned movie producer comes with a lot of responsibilities. With more than seven movies to her name, the graduate of Banking and Finance says she wants to keep moving on to bigger things. In this interview by SEGUN ADEBAYO, the actress speaks on her career, among other issues.
You have been in the industry for some years now, but people reckon with you more as a producer and not as an actress. What have you been up to?
I have actually been up to a lot of duties related to the entertainment industry and I have also been doing some projects that are not related to the movie industry. I have been doing my work and pushing myself beyond the limit so that my life can progress. I may not have appeared in many movies for some time, that’s because I have been producing my movies, keeping quiet and focusing on what matters.
You started as an actress, but you seem to have left the stage for movie production. As a young and promising actress, don’t you think producing movies rather than acting may not really help your career?
It depends on how you look at it. I first became an actress before I started producing movies. People know me as an actress, who has now gravitated into movie production. The movie industry keeps expanding and so are the practitioners, who are always thinking of expanding their frontiers and enlarging their coasts. For me, I enjoy being an actress and I still entertain scripts but being a producer has helped me to grow, develop my skills and learn the other side of the job that I might not have learnt if I was just an actress.
I have learnt that being an actress alone does not pay the bills and does not give you the respect you truly deserve. So, I delved into the movie production to show the world what I am capable of doing being the brains behind different projects and ideas that come to life. The feeling of being an actress is one of the most beautiful things about the job. Waking up to do what you are passionate about makes it very interesting for me. I feel very great choosing this career path and I am even delighted that I have used the fame and attention to raise my game to the next level, which explains why I am now producing movies.
It is believed that you must have stayed on the job for a long time before you can start thinking of producing movies. In your case, I realised that you joined the industry some years back, left to go back to school and came back. How did you manage to do all of that?
Determination is the most important thing you must have if you really want to be successful. Having said that, I knew what I wanted to achieve and the impact my career would have on the people if I am educated. So, this necessitated the decision to go back to school and quit the industry for a while. I joined the movie industry in 2007 but I went back to school to study Banking and Finance at Ekiti State University (EKSU) Ado-Ekiti. I remember that I produced my first movie, ‘Omije Okan’ in 2016 with the proceeds of my business and savings when I was in school.
What kind of business was that?
Well, when I was in school, we had this long Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU strike) break, but instead of sitting down doing nothing, I chose to enroll in a cosmetology school. As soon as the strike was called off, I started running the beauty make-up business in school and I was making money. So, I produced my first movie with the money I made from the business. That was how the journey of being a movie producer began.
You shot a movie recently, Omofela. How much did that movie cost you?
I think I should just say that I am grateful that the job went well despite the hitches we encountered on set. I incurred expenses I never planned and it got really tensed at some point because I was worried about how the production would go, but as God would have His way, we had it all sorted out and we had so much fun shooting the movie. As you must have seen or heard, people have been talking about the movie. The social media is awash with pictures and snippets of what the people should expect. I am so grateful to the cast and crew for the success of the movie.
One is tempted to ask how you always raise money to produce these movies?
You are not the only one that has asked me the same question. I have been lucky to have a solid team of people who believe in my dreams and are always willing to support my project anytime I approach them for funds. I have been in the industry for some years and I have worked hard enough to know when to produce and when to observe. So, each time I come out with my movie, people are always excited because they know I don’t disappoint; I always live up to expectations. So, raising funds for my movies have not been hard, but it didn’t just happen overnight. I worked hard, prayed and strategise.
You were signed to an entertainment outfit some years back, but we have not heard much about the deal and what you have been doing with the company. Could you tell us what went wrong?
Nothing has gone wrong in anyway. I am still signed to the company. The deal expires next year. We have been working together on some projects but we will see what happens next year when the deal would expire.
Despite being consistent with movies over the years, your career still seems like it is not there yet. What is responsible for this?
Rome, they say was not built in a day. I have been around for a while and I am happy about the growth I have had over the years. You can’t be in every movie and you can’t produce all the movies you truly desire, but we can keep working hard towards achieving our goals. I know my career does not seem to be where I want it to be, but I am not under any pressure. I just want to take each day as it comes and pray for God’s grace. This is not an easy task but with hard work and God, I will get there. Those who say I am not there yet will tell you I am there when the time comes.
But would you say you have enjoyed being a celebrity?
I have never seen myself as a celebrity. I am just an actress, who is always working hard to keep things running smoothly for herself. I don’t belong to the class of people who see themselves as celebrities because even most of them don’t know what it entails to be one. But everybody wants to be referred to as a celebrity. If you say am I enjoying my life being an actress, I will say yes. The feeling is not something you can explain. It feels so good.
What is the biggest price you have paid to arrive at this level?
Biggest price? I don’t think I want to talk about that now.
Why are you scared of talking about it?
I never said I am scared. I just said I don’t think I want to talk about it.
Have you had any reason to date a producer because you want to feature in his movie?
I have never done that. Moreover, why do I need to date a producer when I am actually a producer too? I have produced about seven movies in the last four years. That is not a mean feat for anyone who is not worth her onions. I make bold to say that I have never been desperate for anything let alone to appear on anyone’s movie. You don’t have to date producers before you are known. Only the desperate ones do that. No producer can make you popular but God.
When will you start shooting movies that could go to the cinemas?
I will do that when I have the capital.
Can you act nude if the price is tempting?
I don’t care how much they are paying me, no amount will make me pose or act nude. Nudity is no go area for me.
You are a young lady who is doing well for herself, when are you settling down?
I will settle down soon.
Have you found your man?
I don’t want to talk about that.
So, you are not sure of the man you want to marry?
I won’t talk about it.
Can you quit acting for him?
Yes, I can. If that’s what he wants, then we roll like that.