AS YOUNG GIRL, I JUMPED FENCE TO DEFY MY MUM'S ORDER â€“ACTRESS, FUNKE AKINDELE
Ace actress and filmmaker, Funke Akindele, has given insight into why some men feel insecure in an affair with celebrities. According to her, men feel intimidated by the glamour of celebrity women.
Akindele, who won the 2009 AMAA best actress award, revealed that she is no longer temperamental. She said that her turn around came about after an encounter with Olu Jacobs on location.
In this encounter, she spoke about her growing up, job as a scriptwriter and producer and other things.
Could you tell us about yourself and growing up?
It was full of adventures. I was really stubborn. I was always jumping the fence, running down the stairs to go out whenever mum instructed that no one should leave home. I was always the one doing the bad things.
I started writing drama scripts since my secondary school days, in SSS 1. I was also directing the school and church drama group. I attended the Great Children Nursery and Primary School and the Lagos State Model College, both in Gbagada, Lagos State. I have an OND in Mass Communication and LLB in Law.
My first script is Ojo Ketala. It was my first script as producer. Then I wrote Jenifa, Agbefo, Apaadi and a lot of others.
What is your choice of theme in script writing?
As Funke Akindele, I write to enlighten, educate, and empower the youths. I like to treat the social problems associated with life on campus. And I also make effort to proffer solutions to them. This is what I have done in Jenifa. I treated themes, such as prostitution, cultism and HIV/AIDS, among others. I am mainly inspired by the happenings around me. I have been planning to do something that would be fully committed to the cause of women and also reflect their experiences.
Tell us about your Scene One Productions
Scene One productions is the name of my film outfit. I have just introduced a new dimension to it. It is a drama academy that would take off in July. Right from my childhood, I have always nursed the ambition to be a star actress. I read Law, because my father wanted it. I faced a lot of trials before getting to this present state. There were rejections from producers and directors. There were also plans by people who wanted to bring me down or dampen my spirit, but for my perseverance and resilience I wouldn't have sailed through. So, having gone through this unpalatable encounter, I don't want the youths interested in acting to face similar situation. There are many talents out there wasting. I want to give them a platform on which they can build themselves and realise their dreams. I am hiring professionals to teach would-be students all aspects of the performing arts in the academy. The eligibility to be a student is having an o'level certificate.
Of the 10 movies you have produced, which was the most challenging?
Apaadi is the most challenging of my films. This is so because it is my first traditional film. It was very taxing because I had to learn a lot about the Yoruba culture. That means I did a lot of research on it. Its shooting was mostly done in the bush and that was equally challenging.
What would you have done if not acting?
Nothing else. I have always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. Probably, I would have even been a dancer. Entertainment is my life.
How would you describe the image of women in Nollywood?
First, I want to advise women in politics to ensure that there is peace in our country. In Nollywood, people have erroneously believed that our women, are prostitutes, but that is sincerely not so. Many of us are virtuous. We are here to work and would not do anything that is shameful. I also advise my colleagues in the industry to use their brain and beauty to get what they want. They should not use their bodies because that is shameful.
What is your comment on the high rate of divorce in Nollywood?
Divorce is a common thing everywhere. In other fields, it happens. There are divorce scandals everywhere. But as a married woman in Nollywood, you need to protect your marriage. As for me, once I am married I will never divorce. That is why I am going to marry my friend, brother, father and everything. Some Nigerian men also contribute to divorce. They are often intimidated by the fame and glamour their wives have as celebrities. This makes them insecure. Some of them also get obsessed with female celebrities. They want to be around them. They chase them here and there, even when they know these women are married. They are not bothered. And by the way, it is not all the women in Nollywood whose marriages have collapsed. Our women, like Omotola, Joke Silva, and others are still in their marriages.
Who's your ideal man?
He has to be almost everything to me, a friend, brother, father, confidant and so on. He doesn't have to be very handsome. He should be presentable, God-fearing and understanding. I just want to be happy and contented in marriage.
What makes you happy?
I like to make others around me happy. I am a very generous person. I like making jokes. I like making effort to ensure that people are happy.
What makes you unhappy?
I used to be very temperamental. Little things, like not giving me an attention, used to make me angry and I used to flare up. But I am better now. I take everything as they come. You know, as you grow older, you learn more. Since I had an encounter with Uncle Olu Jacobs and saw the mature way the old man handles things, even when they are very annoying, I have learnt to take things easy. Uncle Olu is so humble, friendly and simple on location. He is so free with everyone. He hardly gets angry. I do marvel at the way he conducts himself on location. And that has really inspired me and made me change.
What is your most recent embarrassing moment?
It was the day an old man bashed my car. Repairing the car costs much money, as it can only be done by the insurance company. The car was badly destroyed, at the back and I was really furious. The old man came down from his car and spoke in Yoruba: ' Sulia jo dakun mabinu (Sulia, please, don't be annoyed), calling me the name of a character I played in my film, Jenifa. I just had to let the man go.
How was your experience in GUS?
Oh! It was fantastic. I felt highly honoured to be selected.
But you said that you were relieved after eviction…
Yes! I felt relieved. GUS celebrity show wasn't a child's play. We slept on the floor in the bush. We cooked with firewood, drank water from the stream. We ate yam and palm oil. I like yam and oil, but it wasn't really that easy. Sincerely, I liked the whole idea and would love to be selected again.
There is this talk that Nollywood apes foreign standards. What do you think?
Nollywood is a Nigerian film industry, irrespective of the language we speak in our movies. I can only speak for my self, however. As for me, I don't copy any foreign standards. Though, I watch foreign movies and learn from them, to improve on my creativity in script writing, I have never copied any of them. I believe as Africans, we should only portray our experiences as Africans.
What is dearest to you?
The fact that I have the conviction that there is God. And He listens to me when I talk to Him on my knees. As a celebrity, I face a lot of challenges. People say all kinds of things about me, many of which are lies. My friends sit where people say so much bad things about me and when they tell me, I don't get annoyed. I know a celebrity's world is dictated by the public and you have to be careful. The truth is that all is not rosy being a celebrity. It is not all the time when we say we are fine that we are saying the truth. Sometimes I feel so bad being a celebrity. Sometimes we cannot enjoy our privacy. Sometimes I feel like not wearing my make-up and putting on my bathroom slippers to walk along my street. But I cannot do that because people will notice and make noise about it.
What are you doing currently?
I am involved in a new film project of Tunde Kelani's Mainframe Productions. He has cast me for an unusual role of an old mother, in a film called Ma'mi. It is an adaptation of a novel written by a Nigerian professor of theatre Arts, Femi Osofisan. Though, the role I have been given is very unusual to me, I intend to do my best to interpret it.