‘I’m awaiting my first million naira from acting’
Veteran actor, Jibola Dabo, reveals the secrets of his staying power in the make-believe world and the new projects he is involved in to Akintayo Abodunrin in this interview.
You've been acting for several years now, how have you been able to guide your career to this stage?
There have been ups and downs but I've never wavered, I've never thought of doing anything else. I mean in the arts, not just acting because I'm also a musician, I was a dance teacher and I'm also involved in graphics. So, I'm a total artist and if you want to do something and your focus does not change, then it becomes imperative that what you want happens for you. It's been commitment and dedication.
What attracts you to a movie script, what are the qualities you look out for in it?
I will tell you what I would love to happen because some actors might tell you I look for good script, I look for a good story. Well, everyone wants to do that. Of course, it's a little difficult in Nigeria here because an actor has to do so many things to survive. So, you don't have the time to really think about good story unless you want to deceive yourself. However, what I like to see, the movies that I enjoy are movies with good story lines, nice sub-plots and intriguing story. And then, there are some stories that tickle your brain cells, that make you think hard.
If I get a script, I think about my character, I want to find out who my character is. And I'm grateful because I've received so many calls and comments saying how convincing my acting has been. It's not because I was the best out of everybody but it's just because I take time to know who my character is and I try to become that character. And where the story is shallow, I try to create an image for that character because sometimes you receive a script, and you read the part you are supposed to play, you realise it's so light, there is no width to it. If you don't want to be a light weight actor, a passive actor, you'll try to give width to that character. You try to put life into that character and I try as much as possible to do that.
How do you cope with the pressures of the work and pressures of admirers?
I wouldn't call the admirers pressure. It's very simple to satisfy admirers, very simple. Any actor, any so called star should remember that those admirers make you the star you are, just remember that. If they don't appreciate you, then you are not a star. All they demand from you; I mean admirers now, not the 'Area Boy' thing, all they demand from you is to say thank you, so you enjoyed it? And some want to talk. If you can, spare time to listen. The pressure of the job...
Tell me about the pressure of the 'Area Boys' first?
'Area Boys' are not just those in the motor parks alone now, there are house wives who now are 'Area Boys'. They think you must give them something. I don't have much money, I don't care people talking about they made millions, they earn a million per job, I've not been paid a million per job. I don't know if some people do earn that or they are lucky to get into a kind of production that is so big and then their money is large, I don't know.
But people see you, they think you have a tree that grows out of your backyard from where you pluck money. And then, there are some people who can also fall into the category of these 'Area Boys'. Young men come to you, they are hale and hearty. They come and tell you they need help, they don't know how many people you take care of. They don't know and when you cannot give, they get upset. That's what is sad. It is sad that people come to you with their difficulties, it is sadder that when you cannot help them, they talk bad about you.
There are some people that don't really intend to come ask you for money but they think it's in vogue. It's common with the women; with the married or market women, the regular women on the street. They think it's in vogue to say 'E gbe nkan le' (Drop something). They don't know that is begging. Sometimes, it becomes intimidation. You buy N30 boli (roasted plaintain), you give them N100, they don't want to give you your change because you're a star. They've forgotten that because you're a star, your responsibilities at home increases. In spite of all that, we still have reasons to give glory to God.
And the pressure of the job?
Some of us came into the industry without thinking about money so, the little that comes now, we are happy even though we might be unhappy that things are not moving the way we would have loved them to move but we are happy that things are progressing. Contrary to the belief of some people that I came into limelight recently, that I just started acting these few years that I returned home, I've been in this all my life. I was considered a star on TV in the 80s in this country. So, if I cannot deal with the pressure now, then I'll never be able to deal with it.
I'm used to it now to the extent that I say I want to catch my rest, or I want to keep going. And I try as much as possible not to jump from one location to another - unless of course the logistics of one particular production delayed me excessively and catches up with the next location. That's when I move from one place to another. Otherwise, I don't like moving from one location to another because of my health.
What's the worst report you've read about yourself?
That is an aspect I don't want to go back to but since you asked me, it was some ill-conceived information they got about me and Ayo Mogaji. She's living her life now, I'm living mine and I don't intend to revisit it. But every now and then, I still run into people that talk about us. She's married now and I'm glad for her. I wish her best of luck and I'm sure she wishes me best of luck; I hope so.
We are living our lives, people should stop talking about that. Let's talk about what impact we are making in the industry now. I've so many young ones who are looking up to me. By the first week of August, I'm starting a series of workshops here. And we already have hundreds of young ones who are calling, who are obtaining their forms. Let's talk about good times and not bad times.
Tell me the objective of the project your Infinite Pictures is about to start?
Infinite Pictures has been brewing for a long time. Initially, it was registered as Infinite Visions in England. That's why the Jombo movie that I bankrolled was produced by Infinite Visions and not Infinite pictures. When I got to Nigeria, to register Infinite Visions was difficult because someone had registered something similar. Right now, I'm in partnership with some young partners who are based abroad and who are determined to ensure that we improve the industry.
Infinite Pictures is about producing international standard movies at low cost as possible and to reach a wider audience as much as possible. About our going for rentals only, Infinite Pictures does not produce just for rentals. We have a movie that will be for rentals only, there are some that will go into the open market. For example Ipinnu Ife that is out now is a two part movie and it's going to be for rentals only. Video clubs are a very good outlet to let people know about us.
We don't want to be lost in the open market. After the next two movies, the subsequent one is going to be for the open market. After Ipinnu Ife, we are going to bring out an English movie Silver Lining that is starred by Omotola Jalade and myself. Infinite Pictures is also having talks with the organisation that has The Next Movie Star because we'll be involving successful participants of the programme and our graduates in movies that we'll be doing.
You've floated a training school or what?
Yes, we are arranging a series of workshops. It's going to be a training forum because people use the word school loosely. Since we are not accredited yet, or government approved, we can't say it's a school. But it's a forum where you 'll be trained by qualified people who were trained by very qualified people. We are also set to help people discover themselves. A lot of people that come into the movie industry, all they think about is becoming stars whereas where the talents are not in acting alone. We want them to know there is a lot to theatre than acting, you can make your money behind the scenes. You can still be a star as a director, production manager, costumier, etc.