A man should not define a woman’s right - Bimbo Akintola
Bimbo Akintola's road to screen success was not on a roller coaster. Her father wanted her to be a mass communicator or an accountant. But the young lady was strong-willed. She prevailed. So, instead of Mass Communication or Accounting that her father wanted her to study, Bimbo studied Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan. It was her debut role in Owo Blow that did the magic for her. It got her on the map of successful Nollywood artistes. It was therefore not surprising that she was already making money for herself, even before she left the four walls of the university. Adia Ukoyen caught up with the vivacious lady recently for this chat.
Tell us about your family and education?
I'm the third child in a family of six. My father is from Oyo State, while my mother is from Edo State. I had my diploma and first degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan. I like singing, dancing and, above all, I like acting.
How did you come about being an actress?
My father was initially opposed to my studying Theater Arts. But my stubbornness had the day. I stayed home for four years before my father agreed to let me do as I wished. He got tired of seeing my face in his house and so, one day, he went to Ibadan and came back with a diploma application form for me to study Theatre Arts.
You are a good English and Yoruba actress. How have you been able to stay relevant in both sectors?
For me, acting is acting. Acting is being able to take on a role and interpret a character and hopefully be able to inform, entertain and educate, all at the same time. I do not want to think that because I do English movies, I am an English actress or otherwise. First thing first, I am an actress and so I act in whatever language I can deliver in.
You are also strong on the stage circuit. Which do you prefer and which has been your most challenging performances on stage and in movies so far?
Stage performance is different because you get an instant response. On stage, there is no break in characterisation. You go the whole length in a particular length of time, unlike with film where you can start from the end and work your way to the first scene. I still consider Chuck Mike's production, Death and the maiden very challenging. It was the first time I found it extremely difficult getting into character. It was real hard work for
me. The role required mental accuracy and so far, it is the hardest role. For movies, Widows: The Mourning After was a most impressive movie. I played the role of a 40-something year-old cardiologist who lost her husband to a heart attack and had to go through the widowhood rites of Eastern Nigeria. I loved the movie because I was able to become that character. I learnt to speak slower, walk slower and all that. The movie touched a lot of people, as I got to know about people who had been in similar situations.
Would you say, therefore, that you are versatile?
I would love to believe that I am versatile because I like to play different kinds of characters.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Who do you admire in the industry?
Joke Silva; she is wonderful in her interpretation of characters and elocution. Omotola is a great actress. I like Eucharia's interpretation of characters. KOK is also fantastic. I admire directors like Tade Ogidan, Amaka Igwe, Tunde Kelani and Jimi Odumosu.
Are you the sociable type?
Well, yes, I like to go out with my girlfriends. I go clubbing once in a while, depending on my mood. I am sociable, I can be very sociable.
Talking about your girls, every young girl wants a man of her one. Do you hang out with guys and do you have a man of your own?
God created male and female for a particular reason. Men do matter, but I enjoy having night outs with my girlfriends. It's just great fun, for us to gist and talk about men. I have close male friends though, and when I say close, like blood close. As for the man in my life, when it is time for him to be revealed, he shall be.
Do you hope to settle down soon?
Isn't that every girl's wish? Look at a little child, a girl; by the time she is as little as say three, she is talking about tying her baby to her back. So, it is in the female make up to settle down someday to family life. A man does not define a woman's right. Now if I do not have a relationship, it doesn't change the fact that I'm Bimbo Akintola and this is what we do to our females in this country; we frustrate them to the point that they marry anybody, not thinking of the fact that there is a life after marriage, which is why we have so many break ups. That's one of the things we need to address. Marriage is a very important institution that one should not rush into. I know people are so curious about who goes out with whom. But I think that is not important. We are already in the limelight. There are certain parts of you that you would want to keep secret, and I am sure that would be the one part that is most important to you.
What kind of people are you attracted to?
I like very, very plain, easy, nice people, people with integrity, principled people. I like people who have something upstairs, intellectuals. I don't think I'm asking for too much because we have lots and lots of people like that in this country. Nigeria has great men, and women too, very talented, any which way you like to put it.
What's your greatest achievement so far?
The fact that, at a tender age, I found out what I wanted to do and went on to do just that.
I learn from my mistakes but harbour no regrets, really.
Out of Bounds was the movie that turned you into a household name. How did you achieve that feat?
First, that was the film for which I was awarded the Best Actress, English actress and the Best Actress in Nigeria, so I would say for me it was a forward movement. And a lot of people loved the character even though most people wouldn't understand what the character was all about, yet a lot of people found her naughtiness very interesting.
How do you deal with negative publicity?
Hazards of the job.