Sex-for–role no big deal •‘It is not restricted to Nollywood’
By SEGUN AJIBOYE
For the busty and talented actress, Bimbo Akintola, it is no holds bared. Bold and daring, she says it the way it is, no matter what anybody might feel.
During her sizzling romance with the late Fela's protégé, Dede Mabiaku, Bimbo, short of advertising it, made no pretence that it was wild between them. Bimbo's revelation then, came at a time when it was fashionable for dating lovebirds to openly deny an affair with each other.
Though the affair had long gone with the wind, Bimbo revealed to Sunday Sun that she has since moved on. Presently having it hot with a new catch, Bimbo, untypically would not drop a hint about his identity.
On why she has been on the experimental exercise for this long, without any firm cimmitment, Bimbo offered: “I am not presently making any move about marriage,” reminding that “marriage is a very important institution that one should not rush. Get me right,” she declared, “I am not saying I don't have a boy friend. I sure have one. You don't know him yet, and he is not in showbiz.”
Debunking her alleged dating of gospel singer, Sammie Okposo, Bimbo said: “Sammie and I never dated. We were friends and we shall continue to be friends. If I hang out with somebody, it doesn't mean that I am dating the person. You see, I hang out with a whole lot of people. If we were dating, I'm sure it would have been difficult to hide. When I was going out with somebody in the showbiz, everybody knew and I didn't hide it. I don't hide my relationship.”
Bimbo, who started her acting career as an undergraduate, almost a decade ago, when she starred in the highly successful Yoruba movie, Owo Blow, in 1995, is however sad with the searchlight on the private lives of actors and actresses. According to her, artistes deserve some privacy. “I know people are so curious about who goes out with whom. But I think that is not important. We are already in the limelight. There are certain parts of you that you would want to keep secret, and I am sure that would be the one part that is most important to you.”
Bimbo sees nothing spectacular about movie directors and producers allegedly demanding sex from young girls in exchange for roles. According to her, the experience is not peculiar to the movie industry alone. The noise in Nollywood, she insisted, is owing to the nature of the profession. “I have never been solicited by a director or producer. I am not saying it doesn't happen or that it does. But you must realise that this is Nollywood. It happens everywhere: in the medical profession, banking etc, it is not new. It is human nature, not that it is only between directors, producers and actors. It is everywhere. But our own is more noted because we are in the limelight.”
Hinting on a few acts who got roles on the strength of their talent, Bimbo said: “ If you are good, you won't need to be in anybody's bed to get a role. I know a lot of actresses who got roles without baring it all. Rita Dominic is my friend, and I'm sure she's never had such experience. Kate Henshaw is another good example, she is happily married and she has what it takes to excel as an actress. Sex-for-role is definitely not a criterion for girls to get movie roles. I am not saying it doesn't happen, but it is not as bad as people are making it appear.”
Bimbo's road to screen success was not on a roller coaster. Her father wanted her to be a mass communicator or an accountant. But the young lady was strong-willed. She prevailed. “My father was not sure that the profession was something that would support me. He was right, because it was a period when actors hadly made enough money to eat. But I was able to convince him by remaining stubborn.”
So, instead of Mass Communication or Accounting that her father wanted her to study, Bimbo studied Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan.
But it was her debut role in Owo Blow that did the magic for her. She earned accolades from movie buffs. It was therefore not surprising that she was already making money for herself, even before she left the four walls of the university. Following on the heels of Owo Blow was an equally great performance in Out of Bounds. Though Bimbo resists pressures to disclose her biggest pay pack yet, she however revealed that she earned a highly respectable amount for her debut movie.
Bimbo sees a bright future for the Nigerian movie industry. Nollywood, according to her, has a lot of talented artistes that can compete favourably with the best around the world. “A child must learn to crawl before it can walk. Days were when actors earned less than N10. Things can only get better. Moreover, we have too many talented professionals in the industry for it not to get better. We have the likes of Olu Jacobs, Joke Jacobs, Ajai Lycett, Bukky Ajayi, Liz Benson etc. These are wonderful people. Nollywood will surely get better.”
On the Nigerian actresses she admires, she spoke of two particular persons, Liz Benson and Joke Jacobs. She explained her first encounter with her screen idol. “I remember my first encounter with Liz Benson. It was during my days at the University of Ibadan. She did a play, it was a two-man American play with Funso Alabi. She got a standing ovation for her effort. It was a monologue that lasted for about 20 minutes. I was really impressed.”
Bimbo's role in a recent movie, entitled: Beyond the Verdict, a campus cult movie that highlights the evil machinations of cultists, she said it was her own way of giving back to the society. She explained that the movie exposes the dangers of cultism on university campuses across the country. “For every movie that you do, there is always a message. That movie was my own little way of giving back to the society.”
A happy-go-lucky lady, Bimbo said she enjoys dancing and reading. She, however, said she is not a party freak. “I enjoy dancing a lot. I don't mean the partying type of dancing. I also do a lot of reading. As a matter of fact, my friends know me as a book freak.”
Having achieved her childhood dream, Bimbo is planning to take on new challenges. She wants to own a production outfit where young and budding talents can be groomed. When it comes on board, Bimbo's movie production outfit, she vowed, “would definitely be spared the troubles of sex-for-roles accusations. Afterall, the producer and the actresses are of the same sex.”