NOLLYWOOD SHOULD BE SCRAPPED!!
Any fool can have sex
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett is by every reckoning a role model to most Nigerian motion picture actresses. But left to her, Nollywood, the local movie industry as it is presently constituted, should be scrapped for its lack of professionalism.
For her, all the hype about love in Nollywood is misplaced. “They don't know anything about love,” she says. “Even the so-called love they said they are dealing with, is not love, it is sex.. The reason she thinks so is that sex is no big deal really after all, “any fool can have sex.”
At any given opportunity, Taiwo has not failed to give Nollywood a deserved knock. Also, in this interview with SAMUEL OLATUNJI, the veteran addressed the same issue - state of Nigeria's movie industry - her sex life in the last 15 years without her late husband etc.
Given the swipe she took at Nollywood, its practioners would think twice before accepting certain wishy-washy roles. For the veteran, theirs is nothing but a knock-kneed industry. Call it a no-confidence vote.
Taiwo became popular in Nigeria with her dexterity in interpreting roles. And for those who don't know, her climb to fame was by virtue of the roles she played in movies outside Nigeria. Of course, she's done a couple of Soap Operas on television and about two home videos, one of which was Tade Ogidan's Hostages. It is always a delight to watch Ajai Lycett, as she dazzles and mesmerizes, indeed a true Nigerian star with a global appeal. Little wonder many Nigerian stars see her as role-model. Industry watchers are, however, puzzled that such a hugely talented star is not being maximally tapped to the advantage of Nigerian movie industry. But the 67 years old veteran says “there is nothing to act in Nigerian movie industry.”
No role to act
“What is there to act? I'm not going to act plays that are not credible. And I'm not going to act plays that are not educative. Movies should be issues- oriented.”
Probe her further, Taiwo says: “Nobody has offered me anything. Two, I have not seen good scripts yet. I don't want to do any work that is not credible and I don't want to do any work that is not evergreen. I want to do works that will still be relevant and evergreen in 20 or 30 years down the line. The works that I did over 30 years ago are still evergreen.
Go and check real Hollywood movies, you will discover that they don't date. Or do they date? It is the quality of the content; it is not just the technical detail. As at the time of doing those works, the technology that we have now was not available. If you bring their works out now, they will still be there. They will never date. Even if it is fifty years down the line, they will still be there. And technical advancement would have gone forward. Is that the kind of work we are doing here?” she queried.
Sex, not love
She took a swipe at producers who think they are preaching the message of love via love movie. “They don't know anything about love,” she says. “Even the so-called love they said they are dealing with, is not love, it is sex. The things they are dealing with is sex, not love. When you are talking about love, it should make somebody realise how you deal with people around you.”
Works in Nigeria
Part of the few works she's done here include 'Wings against my soul'; Village Headmaster; Eyo; Aluta Continua and The Mansion, by Rasheed Gbadamosi and a play by John Pepper Clark.
Although 'Winds against my soul' was hugely popular in those days, the television soap used to empty the streets. In fact, one soap she would recollect with nostalgia is 'For better, for worse.' Reason? She had to walk out on the production when the producer said he would not pay the acting crew anymore because the play was making them popular.
Taiwo relocated abroad in the wake of armed robbery invasion of her home. “I went abroad to heal myself. Though presently in Nigeria for a promotion and holiday, she says United Kingdom is her mainstay. She acts, writes and manages her investment. It may interest you to know that she still receives royalties from the works she did over 30 years ago.
Regarded as an arm chair critic by many who think she should do more than talking, to improve the quality of Nollywood motion pictures, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett shrugged off the tag instantly. “I have been running a training school for movie practitioners for as long as I can remember. But the problem is, our people don't like to train, they just want to become stars.”
Training school for Actors, others
She started the training school actors' studio with her late husband who passed on in 1993. She says, it is a place where training refines talent. “It is a school where I coach you one-on-one. Many people in Ibadan are also interested. It is an NGO where we train actors, actresses, costume persons, and others. It is a school that meets the need of what you need in order to stage a play. We train everybody. We will bring people like Danny Glover and co to train them. The big artistes over there are not just used because they have talent, they have training as well. It is erroneous for people to say they don't need training because they already have talent.”
She disagrees with the argument that actresses like Omotola and Genevieve are very good yet they lack formal training. “That is a very interesting argument. But this is what I'm saying, what could they do if they have classical training? That is what they should ask themselves. If they are this good, what couldn't they do if they have the training? There is no doubt that people can display natural talents that dazzle people but I feel sure that I wouldn't be what I am now if I did not have the training. My body, voice, and mind would not be what it is now if I did not have the training…”
Marriage to a white man
Since her husband died in 1993, Taiwo refused to remarry and she revealed the incredible - she has not had sex.
“I married a whiteman because I fell in love with a white man. I fell in love with a real man; he was buried here at Atan. He was a man; if you know him you will know he was a man. He loved me and was constantly looking for ways to promote and expand my talent,” she said.
Continuing, Taiwo said: “We were very compatible. When he was alive, he supported me. When I said I was coming to Nigeria, he said he would come with me. He was working with Shell as at that time. How many men can do that for their wives? No woman has ever been that loved. So, those who say they are talking about love don't know what they are talking about. When he died, I said to myself that God has decided that he has completed his assignment with me. I don't know how many women have that kind of advantage.”
On her decision not to remarry, Taiwo says thunder does not strike twice in the same place. “Where can I find a man like that? They don't grow on trees. Lighting cannot strike twice in the same place, not possible. That is why I think God has made him for me. I would be wasting my time by thinking I can find that kind of man again. Whom do you want to date? Will I date a married man? Have you heard any scandal about me? You're likely not to, that is another responsibility you have as an artiste. If you are going to marry, find somebody and marry but to be the talk of the town is not my style.”
Any fool can have sex
Sex is in the mind. Sex is not in your loins, sex is an intellectual pursuit. My husband and I used to say that any fool can have sex. Sex is also a creative pursuit and since I am creative I channel all my energy into my creativity. It is what I used to do. To tell you the truth, you don't really need the physical sex. I can't tell you that because you are young. The body rules when you are young. But if your mind rules you, you will have peace all your life.
We have to carefully choose whom we have sex with; because if you must enjoy sex as I had with my husband then, you must love and have something in common with your sex-mate beside physical contact. The most intimate you can be with anybody is with sex. So, how can you be having it with every Tom, Dick and Harry? That means you don't love and respect yourself. So it is not that I am being holier than thou but sex, it is a matter of hygiene. You cannot be claiming that you own yourself, I can do whatever I want with it.”