By Ebun Babalola
Shade Omoniyi Kazeem
Shade Omoniyi Kazeem
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The story that actresses who go for auditions to get roles give their bodies to producers and directors is very common in the movie industry.

And so when Shade Omoniyi Kazeem attended the audition for the role of Lepa Shandy, she was scared. She was so scared that she attended the second audition with a friend. Luckily, the producer and his director turned out to be more than just ordinary gentlemen.

Apart from winning the role , Shade whose acting in the movie shot her to fame is for ever grateful to those gentlemen who turned her life around.
This is her story.

How did you come about the name Lepa Shandy?

It was the title of a movie where I played a lead role. The movie was produced by Gbenga Adewusi and since then it has become my second name.

What is the criteria for playing a lead role?

Well, it takes a lot. People might think talent is the only criteria but there are still other criteria. My own philosophy is education. Anything you have to do, you have to be educated. I tell anyone that comes my way that the first thing to do is to be educated while other things follow.

Why were you chosen to play the role of Lepa Shandy?

That question has to be directed to my producer. Although, when I met Mr. Kolade Ogunjobi at a location in Ijebu, he asked some questions like, if I'm opportuned to play a role where I have to drive, smoke, and wear skimpy dresses, will I do it and I said why not, but it must be an extremely naughty role.

After a few days he brought a script and told me about playing the role of Lepa Shandy. My initial reaction was, is this guy trying to mock me because of my slim nature. We laughed over it because I didn't consider his offer serious enough. But three months after he called and ask me to come meet the producer of the movie and that was the first time, I would meet Gbenga Adewusi.

He looked at me and said go, I will send for you. It was later I knew that he had already gone to University of Lagos for another audition. I now began to wonder why with all the multiples of lepa in the University, I was chosen for the role. All I could say was that it was the grace of God.

What do you mean, going to the extreme?

You know, these days, people will ask you, if you can go nude for a million naira, but naturally, wearing a mini-skirt, hot pants, spaghetti top, all those are still within the limits of what I can wear.

What happened in the second audition?

My sister, I was scared. The first thought that came on me was what I used to hear about the man. So when he called me for another audition, I was scared. I had to call my friend who later accompanied me there. Surprisingly, when the man saw me, he just gave me the script and the costume.

Your role as Lepa Shandy paved way for other ladies who are now wearing all kinds of wears....
I'll tell you what my friend said recently. He called me and said, Shade any time I look at you, you amaze me. And I asked why?

He said, do you know that you are the one who brought a new dress sense into the movie industry? I could only laugh and thank him.

But some of my colleagues in the movie industry were abusing me saying that I'm a disgrace to womanhood. I can say boldly that I'm a decent lady, even though today they are going to the extreme now. I mean what I couldn't do then, they can do it now.

In the movie, wearing such dress is just like seducing somebody.Dont you think so?

Naturally, I wouldn't have to wear a skimpy dress to seduce anybody but that was what the script required that I do and I did it. You don't have to wear a skimpy dress to seduce anybody. There are some men who would want their ladies, to dress properly but if wearing skimpy dresses makes you comfortable, then there is no big deal about it.

There is this intuition that before a producer choses anyone to play a role, such individual might have been representing such character...

Gbenga Adewusi did not know me from Adam, so it is not true. It's just that, it has to do with audition for several times before the producer could finally come out with the best hand. That is why they say acting is make believe; portraying what you are not and making people believe you are the person.

What was the impression after acting?

It has been impressive.


Hmm, people now see me as one who they can associate with, take me as a friend and for me it has really paved way for me.

Have you ever been a victim of a producer who would want to sleep with the girls before giving them a role ?

I don't answer such questions anymore because I used to say that once you are an adult, you are free to decide anything for yourself, but as for me, I turned down advances politely.

When did you come into the industry?

Since 1995

Was lepa shandy your first movie?

No. It's just that one movie must bring the face of someone out. If you are focused and you know what you are doing, you will get there one day. When I came into the movie industry, I started out as a crew member, make up and costume artiste.

You seem to be silent these days?

In Nigeria, the problem we are facing is management. You will see somebody who opens a shop and in the next minute, that shop has become another thing, that is the true representation of an artiste who wants to be seen everywhere. Well, it is not that I'm no more acting. I just don't want to be seen in every poster.

There is something in this movie industry that people don't understand. You don't have to be in all the posters. Our producers are kin with bombarding people with jobs and forget them in the next minute. I think, what is important is for me to make myself relevant to the public, and not to appear in every poster.

Tell us your educational background.

I attended the University of Lagos and studied Data Processing and also attended the School of Agriculture Cosmetology. If I have my way, I still want to go for further studies.

What is it like being in the home front?

I wouldn't want to say there is any difference because God has given me my husband as well as good in-laws.

Your role in Family Tie

If you've been watching Family Ties, you will know, it's a totally different character from Lepa Shandy. I love that role because people have seen another side of me because it is not all about snatching people's husband.

Nowadays, I pick the role I play. Producers would want to stereotype me to snatching people's husband so that when you are going on the road, people would think, that is what you are doing.

You know, acting is make believe, if you do your role well, people will think that is your real character. So when I saw the script to play that role in Family Ties, I knew ir was not a difficult thing. Even my husband gave me courage to do it.

Why do you think you are the right person to play such role?

That question is not for me. It is the producer who had seen something in me. I wouldn't want to play like somebody, I wouldn't want to say I am the best but I am myself and when I play a role, I am always giving my best.

What are your plans in the entertainment industry?

I hope to be more steady on soaps.

What are your turn offs?

I hate people lying.

Your turn ons?

I like people who are very truthful and open minded because I am open myself. I don't like pretence. Be yourself anytime, any day.

What other works do you engage yourself in apart from acting?

I have been into buying and selling. I also have a salon as well as a video shop. I do anything that brings me money, so far it is not illegal.