Veteran actress, Rose Odika is the Governor of the Theater Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) in Oyo State and one of the few actresses in the Nigerian movie industry who have spent at least 30 years on stage. In this interview by FEMI OGUNTAYO, the veteran speaks on why the people need to celebrate actors and actresses while they are still alive and also why she is not married and other issues. Excerpts:
Can you tell us new things about yourself which may be unknown to a lot of people?
I am doing my second term as the governor of the Theater Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) in Oyo State. We just concluded our conference in TAMPAN for 2019 and Oyo State came first again in our drama competition for the second consecutive time. This means, we are now in the book of records of TAMPAN as the first branch to do that, because if a state wins the competition, it automatically has the chance to host the next conference. We won that of 2018 in Ogun State, so we hosted 2019, now that we have won again in 2019, we will be hosting the 2020 conference. So I thank God and I am happy about that.
Another new thing about me is that I will be celebrating my 30 years on stage to God’s glory; I will be celebrating it in April this year and I want all my fans and lovers worldwide to come together and celebrate me, because that is the only thing that will make me happy. People do not appreciate us when we are alive, we should be celebrated when we are still alive not when we are dead. All the money you will spend when we are sick, spend it on us now so we won’t fall sick. So, come April 2020, I will be celebrating my 30 years on stage.
Another thing people do not know about me is that I have given my life to Christ totally and I am working for God now. I now head a ministry where we pray. It’s not a church, like many take it to be but a prayer ministry for women, to come together and pray for our families, for our nation and for ourselves. We call it Women – Pray Until Something Happens (Women PUSH). It meet every first Tuesday of the month in Ibadan for now. So, I will also be celebrating my one year in the ministry alongside my 30 years on stage. Another thing is that I am still not married (laughs).
Why are you still not married, since your last marriage, even when you are now born-again and runs a ministry?
I only had one marriage that did not work and I never had another one for about 15 years but I don’t want to publicise my marriage. Yes, there is someone already in the making because if you must do God’s work, you must have someone by your side and that is going to be a silent one. But for now I am still for God, I am married to God.
So, are we expecting a marriage soon?
By God’s grace
When and how did you join the movie industry?
Professionally I joined the movie industry in 1989. However, I was discovered during my secondary school days by my vice principal then, Dr Mrs. Ero, who saw it in me from the school’s Drama group, that I have got some talents, I was advised to go into acting fully and I took it up. I started with Odu Themes Meridian, owned by Professor Bode Sowande.
Do you still remember people you started together with then?
Yes, a lot of them. Funsho Adeolu met me there; I met Clarion Chukuwura there, not as students but as people who I acted together with, because it was a stage thing. The late Sam Loko was there, Professor Ayo Akinwale was also among people I met there.
You are Igbo, but you do more of Yoruba movies, why that?
Yes, I am from Delta State. I am vast in the Yoruba genre of the movie industry but that does not limit me. As an actress I can act in any language but I am fluent in Yoruba and English. However, just give me the script, give me the time, I will act in any language. If I could act in French while I was younger, tell me I won’t. I was in the French group and we acted plays in French, those days in secondary school. So, I don’t believe there is a language I cannot act in as an actress.
So, I am not limited to Yoruba. Unfortunately or fortunately, the Yoruba films brought me into limelight and they are the ones that give me jobs. An Igbo producer has never called me to come and act and I refised. You can only act in jobs that you are offered. I have featured in so many English soap operas, like Wale Adenuga’s Super Story, I was in ‘The Thunder’, I was in ‘Edge of Paradise’ by Debby Odutayo, the RTV man, I have also acted with Mr and Mrs Asamu, I was in ‘Together we are one’ and many other English soap operas.
How would you compare Nollywood when you started to what we have now in the present day Nollywood?
Well, comparing the two, I will say we are progressing but we need to work harder. We don’t really have those blockbuster movies like we used to have in those days anymore. When you can still lay hands on one film like, Jeleosimi, Orun mooru, Efunsetan Aniwura, we don’t have films like that anymore. Now you just do a film, under six months it is forgotten. We should work more on our stories; we should work more on epics that can last; films that have second hand values.
Any upcoming projects, like movies?
Yes, I am working on a film that will be in cinema this year. It is an epic, produced and written by me. It is going to feature Nigerian actors and it is a Yoruba movie, I don’t want to release the title yet but our viewers should be expecting that.
Tell us briefly about Ewa Asa
Ewa Asa is an annual cultural event which I host every November and it was designed to give our youths a platform to showcase their talents culturally and to also make sure that the Yoruba language does not go into extinction. To also promote the Yoruba dressing; in our dressing, our food. I said ‘our’ because, I am a Yoruba now. Our food, our attire and things like that. I just felt all I have achieved in life is from Yoruba land, what can I do to give back to that society that made me? So, I created Ewa Asa because I love the Yoruba culture so much and I want to have an input in promoting the culture.
You are a singer and you have a music band, tell us more about that. When and how did you start singing?
Spring of Comfort Voices is a band I started in 2008 and I have waxed an album to God glory. I called it ‘Ara Jesu’ and since then, I have had the band. We don’t sing at parties, we only sing at conventions and prayer ministrations. My songs are more of prayer ministrations. I sing and at the same time I pray. So, we go to churches when they are having their retreats and programmes like that.
What if you are invited to a big event like a wedding or a big reception?
For now, no. Mine is more of an evangelism thing because we don’t want to mix money with spiritual things. You cannot tell me in an event where you have bottles of beer, you want me to minister there, I don’t know, the Holy Spirit might not come down. Of course, if you want to catch them, that is why we produced the CD. You can buy the CD and listen to it and if God touches your heart, it’s fine.
Your best moment in life?
The best moment in my life was the day God gave me my own child because it took me seven years after marriage to have a baby. So, the day I carried her in my hands and say, so you are alive, it is something that I pray for every woman out there seeking for the fruit of the womb, that God will just grant them their request. It is not good to be married and you are looking for a child. So, the day God gave me my own child, I can never forget that beautiful day.
Your most embarrassing moment?
2009, the day armed robbers broke into our hotel room again after a movie location at Mowe. The producer took us to a certain hotel. It was around 1 am and we just heard a bang on the door, they broke the door and it was really embarrassing. Three hefty guys, they took everything we had, but thank God they didn’t harm any of us.
Your word to upcoming actors and actresses?
They should take it easy. What will be, will be. It is not until you sleep with all producers and directors before you can make a name. It takes the grace of God and the talents that you have. When it is the right time for you, there will be a platform for you to showcase yourself, so they should take it easy.
Do you have a retirement plan?
No, I do not. By the time I am 70, 80 years, invite me for special roles, I will come.