I See Myself As A Humanist - Joke Silva
Joke Silva, no doubt, is a brand in the movie industry. A veteran theatre practitioner, who has seen it all in life, while, to many others, she is simply a woman of substance. Indeed, she was delighted to speak with TOPE OLUKOLE, as reflected in this no-hold-barred encounter. Excerpts:
Isn't really amazing that with just 15 movies, Joke Silva has earned this larger-than-life image in the industry?
It has been God all the way. If God is in charge of a career, it will soar like eagle. God works in mysterious ways. That's why I cannot but give him the glory.
But, why 15 movies all these years?
There are several reasons like not being available, not wanting to work on a particular script and at other times, because I have been blacklisted. I am one of those blacklisted but they didn't announce it. You are getting to hear it directly from me.
Will Joke Silva act all her life?
Invariably, you are one of the privileged few in the industry who have made fortune from acting?
At all, I am not. The truth is that I do very little work in Nollywood in comparison with people of my status. Excluding what I did before Nollywood era, I have only done a maximum of 15 movies in Nollywood. We have some people who have done more than 200 movies.
In the course of your career, has there been any actor who sparked off the best of your acting skill?
There are several of them. I know of Tosan Egbeye, we worked well together. Also is this particular one, The sisters group, Buki Ajayi, Teni Aofiyebi and Iyabo Amoke, we worked together and very well too.
Some critics rate Yoruba movies as second best, what do you think is wrong?
This is really sad because it is the longest and the oldest. People say they appreciate Nollywood because it came from nothing. Nollywood did not come from nothing. It stands on the shoulders of the Yoruba movie industry. Yoruba film makers were making films on celluloid, then moved into video before Living in Bondage. So, Yoruba actually started video before Nollywood came at all. But they did not have the finance to exploit the market like the producers of Living in Bondage. What Nollywood did was to expand an already existing market.
What, in your candid opinion, makes Joke Jacobs tick?
I think, at this moment, you are talking to Joke Silva.
What is the difference?
Joke Silva is a brand and it's the brand that you are talking to now. Joke Jacobs is a total private person –nobody gets to talk to her.
What has kept that brand going?
What has kept the brand going is that my two mentors guided the path that my career will take –I mean Lola Fani-Kayode and Olu Jacobs– in performance and acting. The way they guided my career was such that the brand will become synonymous with quality and integrity. It has been like that by the grace of God for the past twenty-something years.
You sound religious?
No, I am not. Not at all, it's only that I know there is nothing I have been able to achieve without the help of the Almighty God. I am so conscious of it.
One is surprised that women are missing from the Last Supper?
Yes, I am working on the women that will make Last Supper. I initially wanted to have them mixed but the idea that occurred to the artiste and me was to have women serve the food but then, I am aversed to the idea that the woman's place is in the kitchen. I did not want that at all.
You sound like an exponent of women liberation. Are you one?
Maybe I am. I don't shy away from saying that I believe in women liberation. I see myself more as a humanist. I like to stand against injustice and speak for the truth at all times.
There has been so much attention on Nollywood, now rated the third largest movie industry in the world, one wonders if it has translated into mega bucks for the practitioners like their counterparts abroad?
It has not translated into mega bucks for all the practitioners. For some actors, it has transformed to mega bucks. The reason for this is that the avenue for marketing and distribution has not been transparent enough. It has remained a close book to the rest of the industry, which, up till now, has scared away the kind of finance that can cause a positive change in the industry, the kind of finance that will invariably trickle down to everybody in the industry.
As somebody with strong passion for stage, what are you doing to restore stage production to its pride place in the country?
Myself and other like-minded individuals are working hard at winning the stage crowd back. Lovers of stage drama were virtually lost during the military era, which coincidentally was the same period we had the upsurge of Nollywood. So, people just felt they could sit at home and still enjoy drama. But with the gradual revival going on, we have discovered that there's huge followership out there that are eager to watch quality productions. The staging of Vagina Monologue is a testimony to that. We were surprised at the turnout.