There Are Sentiments In Nollywood
Former beauty queen, actress, producer and model, Regina Olakunle, speaks to http://nollywoodgists.com about the movie industry and other issues.
Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: I'm a producer, an actress and a former beauty queen (former Miss Oyo State). I read Theatre Arts and at the University of Ibadan.
Q: How long have you been in this business?
A: I have been involved in showbiz for a long time. I'm a producer with a television station and have also produced some films.
Q: How many films have you produced so far?
A: Two. Ebure and Ogede Dudu.
Q: How many films have you featured in?
A: Apart from Yoruba films, I have also featured in some English soaps. I have featured in films like Ire Ayemi, Ami Ayo, Alapa Dupe, Otapo, Moritemise, among others.
Q: Where do you draw your passion from?
A: Passion? I never was interested in acting at the onset because I never saw myself as an actress. I wanted to do communication, be a journalist. I got admission into Ibadan Polytechnic but my uncle said my 'O' Level result was too good, so he asked me to get a diploma form at the University of Ibadan and that was how I got admitted into U.I. I later got to love acting and realised it's in me and that was how it all started.
Q: Are you saying, you got into acting by accident?
A: I wouldn't say it's by accident, because, it is possible for me to read Theatre Arts and not go into acting. I could go into the media aspect of it like am doing now, but, I think I just got to love it, after myself and a couple of other actors performed Iyalode Ilu Ibadan on stage, where I played Adetutu and after the show, everybody commended my effort. So from there, I believed I could do it. I met some people during the stage play including Muyiwa Ademola, who later became a good friend of mine and that's how it started.
Q: Prior to acting, what were you doing?
A: I was into modelling as I said earlier. I contested at the Oyo State beauty pageant in 1998 and I won.
Q: What has being a former Miss Oyo State done for you?
A: It gave me the opportunity to meet some important people. I was given visa to London and so many other gifts.
Q: Are you from Oyo State?
A: I'm not from Oyo State.
Q: So how did you get to become Miss Oyo State?
A: You don't have to come from a particular state to be eligible to contest in the state's beauty contest. What it require is that you must have gotten what it takes to be a beauty pageant participant. You must have been screened, got past the preliminary stages and must have contested at a beauty pageant before. Those are the criteria.
Q: When exactly did it occur to you that you could be a good actor?
A: I started acting professionally in 2000 when I starred in Erinlakatabu. That was my first Yoruba film, though I had been acting on stage prior to that time.
Q: Would you say you belong to the Yoruba sector of Nollywood?
A: I wouldn't say so, because, I have acted in some English soaps. Next week, I am going to be on an English set where I will be taking up one of the leading roles, in a film to be produced by Larry Coldsweat. So I don't see myself as acting in only Yoruba films, I do good films, English and Yoruba.
Q: How will you compare / rate both sectors?
A: They have good stories in the Yoruba sector but they also play lot of politics. I wouldn't want to expatiate on what I mean by they play politics because I wouldn't want to be quoted, rightly or wrongly. In the English sector, I will say they are not really sentimental like their Yoruba counterparts. The people in the Yoruba sector are jealous of one another, especially when you are educated, they start seeing you as a threat and when this kind of things go on in an industry, it hinders improvement.
Q: Looking at the English sector, we have various guilds like AGN, DGN, the producers' guild and so on. If you register with the actors' guild and do not do so with either DGN or PGN, it means you can neither direct nor produce a film. But considering the Yoruba sector, you don't have to be a registered member of any guild before you can act, direct or produce, and you find that everybody in the sector wants to produce. What is your reaction to this?
A: I think the English actors are not too bothered about producing a film because they are paid good money for acting. It is a different thing in the Yoruba sector, so they believe that for them to earn more, they have to go into production. This is why everybody wants to produce in the Yoruba sector.
Q: How will you rate the success of the films you have produced so far?
A: I haven't released both films but some expatriates have been commending the film (the first one) including the marketer. We didn't release the film until now because we wanted to do a good job and those that have seen it so far, have been giving it thumbs up. It was directed by Muyiwa Ademola and features characters like Jide Kosoko, Femi Branch, Moji Olaiya, Regina Olakunle, Muyiwa Ademola, among others. It's a film you will watch and be able to learn one or two lessons from.
Q: Are you saying, none of the films you produced is on sale yet?
A: Yes. The first one, Ebure, will be released, first week of May, by Olasco Films. Though Ogede Dudu is ready, I don't know when the marketer will decide to start selling the movie.
Q: What are the unique features in your film that is hitting the market currently, what makes it different from the ones from other producers?
A: The film is quite unique because we actually took our time to shoot it. We are not afraid of telling the truth as is the case in some films. The story line is fantastic and the characters that participated in it are A-list actors and actresses. It is also fully subtitled in English.
Q: Giving proper subtitles is another aspect the Yoruba film industry is not getting right. How will you rate that of Ebure?
A: I took my time to do the subtitling myself because I thought why should I give it out when I know I can do it better. I oversaw everything about the film, though nobody is perfect, I think, to some extent, I have done a good job.
Q: And the sound track?
A: The sound track was done by Wale Lawal, a professional in that field and it's all looking good.
Q: Do you have any role model(s) in the industry?
A: I think I have those that have contributed to my success in the industry. I cannot talk without mentioning the likes of Prince Wemimo Olufowo of Wemimo Films, Muyiwa Ademola and Wale Lawal among others.
Q: Can you tell us about your background?
A: I'm a Yoruba from Lagos State. I'm the second child in a family of four. I'm an actress, a producer, I love reading, doing business and listening to good music.
Q: Who is/are your favourite Nigerian musician(s)?
A: I think I like 9ice, P-Square, Dbanj, Timaya, Asha, among others.