Encourage actors who play sexy roles – Foluke Daramola
There is an issue Foluke Daramola absolutely refuses to speak about nowadays: her failed marriage. Her reason for this is that she is protecting her children. Nonetheless, she remains one of Nigeria's most successful actresses. OSEYIZA OOGBODO met her recently and they had an intensive chit-chat.
How many movies have you done this year?
This year? I've not done much. I think two. Because I'm doing my Master's in International Law and Diplomacy and I can't really combine acting or directing with the programme. It's my final stage of the course, so I have to give it all my time.
How soon are you going to have that Master's degree to your name?
You are an actress. What do you intend to do with your Master's?
Well, I don't even intend to stop there. I'm most likely travelling to the UK for my PGD because I'm aiming for my Ph.D. I read International Relations for my first degree and I intend to pursue my career in international relations.
That means you'll say good-bye to acting?
No, no, no. No. Like I've always wanted it to be a part-time thing for me. And it's becoming that way for me now because I've always wanted to be a diplomat and that's what I'm driving towards now.
Should we now say that you don't want acting as a full-time career because it's not as dignified as being a diplomat?
Noooo. I've never said that. But like I always say, acting is a talent. When you have the talent to act or to sing, it's always there. But being a professional is no talent. It's something you have to work hard to become. And I've discovered over time that we lay so much emphasis on show business, and that has not helped the mentality of the youths of our generation. We're derailing from the norm. We're derailing from professionalism to stardom. Fine, you can have stardom and be a professional at the same time. That is what I am preaching in my act. I was acting even before I got admitted into the university for my first degree. But at the same time, I've been able to make an impact in my generation because if at the end of the day, I have my Ph.D which I'm definitely gonna have, I will be a more positive influence on the youths. During the days of our forefathers, they had professionals acting then, but now, we don't have anything like that again. You just find out that somebody can be a school dropout and before you realize it, the person is acting, and before you know it, the person has become a star, and then you'll find out that my child will look at that person and say, 'Mummy, that person did not go to school and that person is already a star, so why do I have to go to school.' And that is going away from the norm. So if I tell my child you have to go to school because I was a celebrity even in my time and I still went as far as a Ph.D, then you don't have any excuse.
What you've just said is that a professional can keep acting?
Do you think diplomats who handle sensitive issues can keep acting?
Like an ambassador? Is that not ridiculous?
It's not ridiculous. Let me give you an example. What would you call Fela Anikulapo-Kuti? What would you call Mariam Makeba? They were the ambassadors of their time. Because Fela was well-read, and he decided he wanted to go into music, and he was preaching international politics in his songs. So I can preach international politics in my movies. It's not something that clouds, it doesn't becloud one another. It still flows along the same line. I have a popular face. I can air my view, representing Nigeria, and people will listen to me better as Foluke Daramola. And it's a combination of both, so they work hand in hand.
Usually, how many movies do you do in a year?
I do a whole lot. Sometimes I do 50, sometimes I do more. But because of the fact I've other things I've been doing, taking care of my kids, going to school, other businesses, I've reduced it because I don't want to join the bandwagon of those who do thousands of movies in a year and they just bring out the same old thing every now and then.
But what people say is that roles have reduced nowadays because Nollywood is dying out due to a deluge of movies in the market?
That's what I said at the end of the day. We have a whole lot of rubbish. everybody wants to act. People that don't have anything to do with their time, they say 'OK,' acting is doing a lot of good to people, even though you have any formal qualification, you can still be an actor and you still gain ground. But over time, you find out that things will take its course. The weeds will move away from the real seeds and we'll be able to decide who are the real theatre professionals and who are really into it for the passion of what we want, theatre, not the fact that you just want to make money or you just want to have a popular face. I just don't want to have a popular face. I've had it for over 15 years. by now, I should be tired of it. But it's making an impact to your generation, making an impact to the world, being a model even in the international scene, not just being a face.
Are you sure the problem will go away by itself if you guys don't do something about it?
You know how it is now, law of diminishing returns will set in by itself. even if you don't do something about it, when the law sets in, and a typical movie comes out and it doesn't sell 500,000 copies, definitely everybody will move out of the system and the real people meant for it will stay.
How did you know you had talent for acting?
I've always had it since I was much younger. Each time I look at myself in a mirror, I talk to myself and me and my friends then do mummy and daddy roles and over time, I discovered that I really had a passion for it. Then in JSS, I was invited for a talk show, Teen TV, on DBN, then later to Our Time on AIT when it started and I got to meet my mentors, Tunji Bamishigbin and Ralph, and it started for me.
Some people say that the English sector of Nollywood is far better than the Yoruba which you are into mainly. Do you agree?
I beg to disagree with that. The reason is because of the advent of some channels that we have English movies featuring. At the end of the day, I don't know how much of a difference that would make to Yoruba. Though Yoruba has its shortcomings, but it just depends on the way you market your stuff.
What is your next movie project?
Wakati Eda coming out. It's not yet out. It's due out in July, but apart from my talk show that I'm working on that I've not had time to finetune, my TV series that I've shot, the next one I'm working on comes up later in the year, Ibudo Igbeyin.
You're an actress and producer. Which is more lucrative?
I'm also a director.
Is that more lucrative than the other two?
Producing is more lucrative, but at the same time, it comes with a whole lot of money. Directing is also very lucrative but it comes with a lot of stress because you cannot compare a director's role with an actress's. The actress is the one that just says her bit and leaves and is restricted to the characterization of that role. But as a director, you have to be able to feel all the pulses of your cast to be able to assign them roles and bring out life in every scene you shoot. So being a producer is very stressful and very capital intensive. Being a director is extremely stressful but you don't have to pay anything, they'll pay you. Being an actress is also lucrative, depending on how you want to look at it, but you can't compare it to be being a director.
So which is the most lucrative for you?
I'll say being a producer.
You actresses in movies have to kiss other men and sleep in the same bed with them?
Do you think this is proper?
It depends on what you are given and how much of a professional you really are. I can't expect you'll do something that will not make it real. If you don't make it real, then it's not worth it. It's called 'make-believe'. If you know you are restricted by religion, marriage; tell your producer. But if you have to do it, do it well. When people try to discriminate against people who are doing it, I don't encourage it because it takes a lot of guts for you to be able to do it. So when you see people that are doing it, encourage them. Don't criticize them because someone has got to do it. At the end of the day, just know that this is their profession, that is why they are doing it. It doesn't mean that because I'm kissing or hugging somebody else or in the same bed with him that I have any other form of emotional affiliation or relationship with him. I'm just doing my job. That scene that you people see that you think is erotic and everything, you have over 15 or 20 people behind the camera. Yes, so they are there, and there's no way you can be having a hard-on, I'm sorry for my use of French, in that instance because you are not too comfortable there. You are all sweaty and you are doing it 15, if not 100 times. You are going to repeat it until you get it right. Tell me how long will you continue to be feeling desire for the person you're acting with? Maybe when you have left that set ... but while you're on that set, I'm telling you it's another ball game entirely.
Now, do you think marriage can make an actress thrive?
Well, it depends on ... it's an individual thing, believe me. It takes a man that has a whole lot of self-confidence and believes in the woman's dream and someone that is extremely understanding. Even it doesn't really have to be an actress. It could be anything, you know, and like the Yoruba would say 'Toni emi amoju kuro' because it comes with a lot of stress, temptation, jealousy, but if you have someone that's understanding, well, you never can tell.
Tell us about in your own case.
I'm sorry I'll not like to talk about my marriage.
Don't you think it would be better if you clear the air by doing so?
I'm sorry, but I won't talk about my marriage.