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SHOLA ONAYIGA

Source: nigeriafilms.com

Although, she believes that audition offers artistes opportunity to showcase their abilities, yet she noted that there is more to it. "Most directors and producers want beautiful faces in their TV/Film productions. Oftentimes, I have told myself that I don't have a selling face and for that reason, I don't attend auditions.

According to the actress, she earned the role of Ireti in a T.V. soap, Checkmate because Bolaji Dawodu reserved the role for me. When Amaka Igwe saw me, she shouted, that is the Ireti I needed," Sola, who recalled with nostalgia how she came into acting explained how she used to imitate broadcasters and actors.

Background
I am Mrs Sola Onayiga, nee Awojobi.. I am from the same family with late Professor Ayodele Awojobi, former dean, Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Lagos. Actually, we were born of the same father. When I finished Secondary School, I started working with the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA. I was employed as an interviewer, that is, I interviewed those who went round the country to sample opinions about the suitability of Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory. This was around 1976 and 1977. I was posted to Dodan Barracks to interview the soldiers. From there, I was posted to NET. I hail from Ikorodu, Lagos State. I had my primary education at St. Mathias Catholic School, whle I had my secodary education in my home town.

How I started
I had some friends then, one of who would always remind me that I was missing something from life. They used to give the impression that my life was incomplete if I could not get a job that would situate me in acting. She told me that they artistes and artistic inclined people used to meet at the premises of Nigerian Television (NTV) as it was then known. She told me about a programme titled: Youth Forum where I could meet young and aspiring artists like myself. Dr Ekpo Eyo, the Director of the museum, was happy with us. The museum accommodated us and sponsored most of our programmes. We were young and talented artistes. I really learnt everything about theatre in the group and from there I thought of going back to school. I obtained an admission form into the National Institute of Internal Auditors. I was given admission into the institute. When I got to Part Two, I became restless and I felt like acting. I felt possessed by acting and I convinced myself that I do not think I am cut out for the audit profession. What worsened matter was when one of our teachers told us that as an auditor you have to travel frequently. So, I came to the conclusion that audit was not my line and I abandoned it and sought admission into the University of Ife (now OAU) to study Theatre Arts in 1981. When I took the form to study theatre arts, my father refused to sign in the space meant for parents or guardian. He told me that Theatre Arts was meant for wayward girls, who at the end of the day, might not get married. As I argued with my dad,my elder brother, Professor Awojobi, came in. I asked him to appeal to dad to allow me to read the course. My father accepted and I went to the varsity to study Theatre Arts. I got married later but I wish that he was alive when I got married.

My first professional job
Before I went to study Theatre Arts, I was an amateur actress. But the first professional job I did was my participation in The King Must Dance Naked by Fred Agbeyegbe. I played Queen Odosun, one of the principal roles and was paid what I could describe as a professional fee. After the role, most people started calling me, Queen Odosun. The role was energy sapping because the queen had a fierce personality.

Inspiration
I watched actors such as Jab Adu (Bassey Okon), Elsie Olusola (Sisi Clara) among other talented artists in a popular television serial, The Village Headmaster. When I left secondary school, what I used to do at home was to gather newspapers and read; pretending to be a broadcaster. I was imitating T.V. broadcasters and I also imitate other people's mannerisms.
This grew to stimulate my interest in acting. It was even this interest that gingered me into the role I played in the setting up of Abuja as the Federal Capital Territory.

Messages
I do not just go to the stage or appear on the screen for the sake of acting. I believe that I have a message to relay to my audience. When I have a script, I go extra mile to study my role deeply. By so doing, I discovered that the message in the script requires that I deliver the message very effectively. The reaction of the audience after the production tells me if they got the message or not.

Most challenging role
My most challenging role is that of Queen Odosun in the King Must Dance Naked. In preparing myself for this role, I worked very hard. I devoted all my time to it. I delivered the role the way it should be delivered. At the end of the production my director was highly impressed by my performance.

Television acting
I was among those who started some Yoruba drama on television. I have played many roles on TV. When Checkmate was about to start, I read the note for the audition. But I told myself that I should not go. I believe in auditions as the best way to test your ability as an artist. But it is just that there are auditions I attended and at the end of the day, I was not picked. It was not because I wasn't good but in most of the auditions, the producers are on the look out for beautiful faces. So, I told myself I would not go for auditions for television drama. I told myself, perhaps, I am not beautiful enough to appear on screen.
But Bolaji Dawodu, the director of Checkmate came to see a friend at the National Council for Arts and Culture when he saw us at a rehearsal he told me that he had a particular role for my kind of person and invited me to come for audition. So, I went along to see him and I was given the role of Ireti in 1991.

Fuji House of Commotion
In Fuji House of Commotion, I also played the role of Ireti. I am happy that I was given that opportunity. If not for that, people would not believe that I can act on screen. In fact, Checkmate was my first soap opera in English. It was from there I moved to Fuji House.

Radio Drama
I have acted and presented programmes on radio too. On Radio Nigeria, I played the role of Madam Sikira in Theatre on Air. Later on, I was auditioned for radio presentation and passed. Somehow, along the line, I travelled and by the time I came back after two weeks, I missed the job. It was Jide Ogungbade who introduced me to radio

List of Productions
Survival Express; King Must Dance Naked; Woe unto Death; Marriage of Anansewa; Who is Afraid of Solarin among others.
Advice to up and coming artistes

To young artistes, especially girls, whatever they are interested in, they must be dedicated to it. The moment you are able to prove your mettle, directors will fall over themselves to cast you. Most girls believe that when they get to a producer and they can charm him and at the end-of-the-day, pick a role. No! It doesn't work like that. It is only a director, who does not know his stuff that falls for such things. The best thing is to go for excellence as an actress. For instance, the last time Langbodo was to be performed in Abuja, somebody recommended me to the director. Although the play was not staged, late Chief Wale Ogunyemi had informed me earlier.

Age
No! That's a lady's secret.