Oluwadamipe Iyanuoluwa Adekoya, a graduate of Dramatic Arts from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State is a Nollywood actress and producer. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, she speaks about her foray into acting, how she combines her career with the home front and her most embarrassing moment. Excerpts:
Why did you study Dramatic Arts?
Well, I didn’t have it in mind until I was going to cross to senior secondary school. Then I was a student at a private school; Hosanna international High school. I didn’t even know there was a course like that at the time. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon but after Junior West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination, my principal came to my class and asked us about the class we all wanted to be in.
When it was my turn I answered “Science class,” he laughed at me and said, “You’d better go to Arts class.” He said that because I was always involved in all arts activities in school. So, he told me about Theatre Arts and I began to consider it. I got my JAMB form and was admitted into the university for that same course. After my National Youth Service at the Lagos Internal Revenue Service, I went for an integrated media course in scriptwriting at Afrinolly which is in affiliation with Pan-Atlantic University in 2018.
How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to study the course?
Although, my parents are not one to choose careers for their children, but my dad wasn’t really happy because he wanted me to be a doctor. So, when I told him about going to art class, he felt maybe Law was what I wanted to study. I had to plan with my brother to change the course written on my course form. He was furious at first but later I convinced him that I had chosen my path. My mum supported me all the way.
When and how did you join Nollywood?
I joined Nollywood fully in 2013. Before then, I featured in a movie shot by Abiodun Aleja in 2009 entitled SKILASHI, which featured the likes of Gabriel Afolayan, Jude Orhorha and so on. In 2013, I began to go for auditions and met people both in the English and Yoruba industry. I met people like Muyideen Samsiliu, Niji Akanni, Muyideen Oladapo (Lala), Adebayo Tijani, Greg Odutayo and so on. They all helped my career in one way or the other. So, I should say 2013 was when I joined the industry and fully started for me.
What were the challenges you faced when you started?
I think being in school which was in Ife and coming back to Lagos made things stressful because we were not given the opportunity to go for auditions or feature in movies when I was still a student; it was like starting all over again, hustling for my talent to be noticed. Finance was an issue too. Anyone who goes for auditions will testify to the fact that we spend a lot in transporting ourselves to audition venues. You have to always communicate to know about auditions and you know in Nigeria, once you are a graduate, your parents stop the monthly allowance they give you. So, it was frustrating but I thank God for where I am today. I have featured in movies like, Soul sistas, Imoran, Keregbetofo, Freezing point, Tales of Eve, Freshly Divorced, Ologo Didan, Atupa, Itura Ife, SKILASHI, Efuufu, Arabi, Kondo, Police, Aima’s cross, among others.
Who are your role models in the industry and why?
Gabriel Afolayan and Sola Shobowale. I always ask God for 30 per cent of their talents each, I will be satisfied with that. They are both professionals and are humble. When they hear action, they are no longer Sola and Gabriel. They are out of their bodies and entirely into the role. I think that is the point I want to reach in this career. When it comes to business, Mo Abudu, Jane Maduegbuna and Funke Akindele are my mentors; they have three things I wish for, confidence, connections and money. I want all three.
Of all the movies you have featured in, which one is your favourite and why?
Itura Ife, because it was produced by me and I put a whole lot into it. Also, because it is a story of the trials we go through, especially in relationships, revealing that not everything that seems right to us go the way we think it should go.
It is said that many producers prey on upcoming female artistes. Did you experience sexual harassment?
Yes I was, but I don’t think it’s about my industry alone. It’s in every industry, the only reason why eyes are fixated on the entertainment industry is because it’s showbiz and everyone is involved in our business.
How has being a celebrity affected you?
I am really, still who I am, I don’t even see myself as a celebrity. But on the other hand, it just really gives one a voice; to be heard when you needed to be heard.
How have you been coping with advances from your male fans?
The same way I have coped with male advances all my life. I am a very beautiful woman and I’m expecting more.
How have you been combining your career with the home front?
Well, I have a very understanding husband and I do not take that for granted. He supports me in every way he can and when it’s my turn I return the favour too. My success is his pride and vice versa. I’m also grateful to my parents; they take care of my daughter when I’m not home which gives me full rest of mind that she’s in safe hands. I consider my career and my home as two of my children; I could never choose one over the other.
As a married woman, are there some roles you can’t take?
My job is different from my marital status. So, I do what I have to do as a professional.
Can you share with us your most embarrassing moment as an actress?
In 2016, I was on a particular set; we had already shot for like 10 days and on the 11th day, I was summoned to the office of the executive producers. I was asked to pack my things and as I was wondering why, I noticed a new cast on set and began to hear rumour that I was being swapped. Unknown to me, everyone on set already knew and started giving me the pity face (I hate that) I got emotional and cried as I took my walk of shame out of the location. The excuse was my acting was similar to the acting of another character on set. I took it in good faith, went back home and got back on my feet.
How have you been able to avoid scandal in an industry that thrives on it?
Oh! I am not avoiding them. I live my life the way I think it is morally right for me, after all I am an adult, and your truth and mine will always differ. Good or bad press, it’s all news.
What is your philosophy of life?
The love of money is the beginning of hard work. I am a Gold digger, it takes strength and determination to find gold.
How would you describe yourself?
I have always been one who knows what she wants and dream big. I don’t believe in starting small or waiting for resources to come. I had to strive for everything I have gotten in my life that is why I think things over before doing them, so that when it goes wrong, I won’t feel any sort of regret. I am a respecter of people but with a mind of my own. I’m also very funny and playful, so much that when I get serious people are always surprised. I am a team-player and a non-judgemental individual; everyone has the right to live his\her live the way they want.
What advice do you have for young people?
As for young people like me, hard times and harder times are coming but let’s not give up easily, always keep your eyes on the price. Watch out for me, I am unfolding gradually.