I’M WORKING ON MY TEMPER ––IRETI DOYLE
Iretiola Doyle is an actress, a television producer, a presenter and a script writer. She tells ADAEZE AMOS about her challenges.
What was your early years like?
I was born in Nigeria, in Ebute Meta, Lagos to be precise. But at the age of two, my parents migrated to the U.S. and I was taken along. So, I had my early education in the U.S., came back when I was about 11 years. I then went to Christ's School, Ado Ekiti. From there I finished up at the Apostolic Church Grammar School, Ketu. I didn't get into higher institution immediately. I worked a bit with the Industrial Training Fund in Jos and in 1987/89, I did a diploma course in Mass Communication at the University of Jos. Then, in 1992, I went in for my degree in Theatre Arts in the same university. Then in 1995, I got my first professional role as an actress.
What do you mean by professional role?
Professional means being that that was the first time I was paid to do it. But prior to that, I had been involved in school plays in secondary school, but 1995 was the year I got paid to act. It was a soap produced and directed by the late Mike Tasie called Riddles and Hopes. It was very popular in Jos then and here in Lagos because it ran in Lagos for a long time. I did that before graduating and remember the 90s were times when schools were being shut incessantly. There were always long periods of time when students were at home. So, during one of such periods, I just got bored of sitting in Jos. So, I came to Lagos and I told a friend of mine that I wanted to act. He took me to Whitewood. It was called the Whitewood then. It was a marketing and production company. They were in the process of running an audition for a new soap. I walked in, never been seen before in the Lagos industry and I landed my first professional role. It was a soap called Dread Option that was produced and directed by Patrick Doyle, who later became my husband.
Are the so-called popular faces in the industry popular because they are the best?
Let me speak personally. It can be pretty frustrating when you know that you have been blessed with an amazing talent and you assume that everything is based on your level of talent. But that's not the case. This is not peculiar to the Nigerian movie industry alone. Luck forms a large part of it because some of the celebrated actors in our industry today are not the best.
Are you picky when it comes to roles?
No, I didn't come into the industry saying that I'm going to be picky about the roles that I take. If all roles come my way, between you and I, I would have taken each and every one and made a bundle of money and so on. But they didn't. So, because of the way my career has gone over the past few years, I'm one of the few actresses that has become synonymous with quality as opposed to quantity. When I say small, I mean small if you are going to compare it to the number of films the average actress does in Nigeria. There are people that have a hundred films to their credit.
Can you tell me something about Standa which you played a prominent role?
Yes, Standa fetched me an actress in the supportive role nomination from Amaa. The award went to a Ghanaian, but I'm still waiting for my own time.
Are you enjoying what you are doing?
I have a degree in Theatre Arts and a diploma in Mass Communication. I have had working experience in the civil service. I have had working experience in two or three establishments before settling for acting. If I wasn't enjoying what I was doing, I'd dust my certificate and go and get a fantastic job as a corporate person in some big conglomerate. Acting is my passion. I won't do anything else except act and maybe write because that is something else I like to do.
You are also into producing and presenting. Tell us about it?
I produce and present my weekly show called 'Oge the fashion show.' It has won an award as the best fashion show on television. It has been on for seven years. It has a life of its own. I can actually walk away from the show and give it to a younger person to present and it will still be strong. Apart from the Oge show, I also write scripts. I have written a few film scripts that have been produced. I'm currently writing script play for Amaka Igwe's Tempest, which runs on MBI.
Which habit have you been trying to curb?
My temper and my impatience. I'm a very impatient person and I tend to be quick to anger, but fortunately for me and people around me, the anger disappears as quickly as it appears.
Do you keep malice?
I used to keep malice. I used to have a deep capacity for malice, but to the glory of God it is one thing that God has been able to take away from me. Now I'm trying to work on my temper. Nothing is attractive as a woman who stays calm and cool regardless of what is going on. So, I'm striving very hard to get to that point.
How do you cope with your fans on the streets?
Publicity is part and parcel of what I do. The fact that I have decided within myself to get up on stage or put myself in the video or theatre, which is a medium that is open to the masses, means I have agreed to put myself out there. So, I'm open to my fans. I appreciate them, they give meaning to what I do, but at the same time, I also crave privacy. I will always want my private life to be private and in the last 11 years that I have been navigating this industry, I have been lucky.
What lesson has life taught you?
One, not to take anything for granted, absolutely nothing; not that groundnut seller that says hello to you down the street. I have also learnt not to be snobbish no matter what.