Motilola Adekunle is an actress and producer. The graduate of Philosophy from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile -Ife, Osun State, speaks with TAYO GESINDE on her acting career, how she handles advances from her male fans and her fashion preferences. Excerpts:
I grew up in Akure, the Ondo State capital and it was fun. My mother, a disciplinarian, had the burden of raising three girls alone because we lost my dad while we were very young. She was a very busy woman as she had to juggle her timber business with her teaching career. She taught us to be very independent and bold. I must say that I am grateful for that. Despite being a widow, she made sure my sisters and I went to the best schools, from primary to university. I am a graduate of Philosophy from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, my elder sister is a seasoned journalist just like my father, Chief Bamikole Akinlami and my younger sister is a lawyer. My mother did a great job raising us and whatever we are today, all credit goes to God and mummy.
Foray into acting
My acting career started in 2000. I had a friend called Rogers Ofime, he was older than me but we were good friends, he would put up plays at the Adegbemile Cultural Centre and we usually got paid for them. Then we were only doing stage plays. I got on the big screen with Basorun Gaa. I fell in love with acting since I was a child and I have never stopped since then. I’ve been a costumier, a temporary make-up artiste, an actress and now a producer.
My first experience on set
It was fun because I loved every bit of it, I wanted to play for the camera and act like we used to do on stage where you have to say your lines loudly and move quickly and all that but the director cautioned me and since then, there has been no cause for alarm.
My major challenge was that as an up-and-coming actress, nobody knew what you could do; you are yet to open up yourself to a world of varieties so people couldn’t believe in your talent yet. It is therefore your job to convince them and say look, I am for real, my passion is unequalled and my talent is polished. The only way to do that was to take whatever jobs you get and give it your best shot. That was the challenge. However, once they are convinced that you are good, the journey gets a little less rough than it was initially. It is a process that every actor has to pass through.
I am someone who admires and learns from a lot of people but I do not believe in modelling my life after one person, I pick a lot of things and then add my own to it and that is how you get to be unique. I admire Binta Ayo Mogaji’s talent, I admire Toyin Aimakhu’s talent, I admire and learn from Kunle Afod’s drive, I admire Kunle Afolayan’s boundary breaking ability, I admire Mercy Johnson’s flawless delivery. All these things I intend to pick in bits and pieces and add mine to become a hybrid.
The journey so far
Well, for me it’s been tough and rocky but every time there was a challenge that moved me to tears believe me, I have cried quite a number of times, I always remember the words of Tai Solarin “ may your road be rough” and Yoruba people will say “ Ikoko t’o ma je ata, idi e a gbona.” So, I would take it as a sign that I’m on the right path.
Coping with competition
It’s healthy to have completion in an industry like ours but I believe in the words of the Bible, what I know, I know, it says “you cannot take it away from me.” My mother raised me to believe very strongly that there is something I have, a certain flavour I add to everything that I do and that’s just being yourself. Hard work also pays off, so I’m not worried about competition. Whatsoever my hands do, I’d do it well and always give my best.
Philosophy of life
My philosophy is chase your dreams. I don’t know how else to explain this; no matter how well you think you are doing now, you will do better if you do that thing you love doing. I believe that dreams are God’s definition of our purpose in life and only the few who have the courage to chase and succeed at it will have fulfilled their purpose.
Description of self
I am a peace loving, bold, outspoken and very playful person. I stand for equality and justice and that is why women like Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin will always have my heart. I believe in love. I love making money legitimately. Basically, I’m a God-fearing person who loves life.
Definition of style
Style equals comfort. If it’s uncomfortable it’s no longer stylish.
I actually don’t have a routine that’s cast in stone. I wash my face regularly as often as I need to. I don’t wear a lot of make-up and yes, I go to the spa once in a while.
Clothes and shoes.
What I can’t be caught dead wearing
A skirt or short that is way above my thighs.
I love Chanel, it speaks to me and says, come and spend your money but I don’t really go for designers because they are expensive but if I can afford it, Chanel will be my pick.
What I will like to change about myself
I’m a shy person but honestly, I’d love bigger boobs.
On whether I can consider cosmetic surgery
No cosmetic surgery o! I’m so scared of those things.
My view on toning
Honestly, I don’t get the idea behind it. I come from a family of dark people and we are all very beautiful. Why do people tone? So you can be sighted from afar or what? It’s a crazy idea to me, if you are fairer than me, you are too fair. That’s my way and besides, very soon, dark ladies will be endangered species. You will have to take care of us so we don’t go into extinction. So I’d wait till then but I love my skin colour just the way it is. These days, there are all sorts of names for it, Skin therapy and so on. If I get a therapist that can keep me just as dark as I am, I am all for it.
My opinion on provocative dressing
That depends on your definition of what provocative is. A simple A-shaped dress will show your curves more than having your boobs out in the open. What people term “provocative” most of the time is trashy and classless. Be sexy but not too revealing! I’d vote for that. When it is all out in the open, what’s there to look forward to?
I go to wherever my husband is at that time and he takes over from there, he knows just what to do.
Greatest physical asset
My brain! Yes, beauty is cool but to combine both intelligence and beauty is a combination that’s fading out these days, so, I’d pick my brain, but let’s just be vain and say my hips.
Handling advances from male fans
That’s a funny one! Advances from men? I am not rude but there are a million and one ways to tell someone you are not available and I have mastered that act. Most of us end up being friends after a while. We all need friends.
I am married. I have a beautiful daughter. I have all I want in a man in my husband. He scores ten over ten.
Assessment of Nollywood
Nollywood is a work in progress. We aren’t there yet but we are moving forward. That’s the important part.
Most embarrassing thing a fan has ever done to me
I’m prepared for anything so I’ve not been shocked before.
Advice to young people
Hard work always pays. Hard work and humility, nobody can beat that combination. Self development is key too.
To my fans
Thank you so much for believing in me and my talent. I will not let you down but please, remember that I am human too and I might fall short of your expectations someday. So, please, forgive me and correct me in love when that time comes.