Every man that comes around me wants to take advantage—Nollywood actress 'Flakky Idi Dowo'
Sultry and busty actress, Ronke Odusanya popularly referred to as 'Flakky Idi Dowo' and more recently known as 'Becky' for her role in Funke Akindele's popular flick Jenifa is indeed walking her way to prominence on the movie scene.
Ronke is one of the most sought-after thespians in the industry and she recently returned to her Gbagada residence in Lagos, after a month on set in Ghana and Oyo respectively. Her foray into the world-of-make-belief dates back to her undergraduate days at the Olabisi Onabanjo Univesity, where she joined the 'Awada Kerikeri Theatre Group'. In this interview with MERCY MICHAEL, Ronke opens up amid tears on her life experiences while growing up and how she has managed to come this far. She also talks about her relationship, friends, and other issues…
YOU appear to be very fashionable. What defines your style?
When it comes to being fashionable, I would say I took after my mum in that regard.
She's a very fashionable woman coupled with the fact that my brother is a designer. He studied fine art in Yaba Tech; he makes all my native attires for me.
He just calls me, and says “sister mi there is a new design in town”, and I give him money to make them for me.
He is the reason I have a whole lot of native attires in my wardrobe. I wear more of English casuals these days though because people tend to think I'm much older than I am because I wear native attires a lot.
What is it that you don't like about stardom?
The one thing I really do not like about stardom is that it makes you pretend to be what you are not. Sometimes, you want to be yourself, you want to go out with a male friend but the fact that the person is a male, people tend to think there has to be something between both of you.
Whereas a regular babe on the street is free to have as many male friends as she likes without anyone raising an eyebrow. So basically this makes me kind of laid back. I'm the type of person that likes to be myself.
I'm a very natural person. Like today, i went to the saloon without any makeup, with very flat slippers and casuals because that was the way I felt like looking.
When I was done making my hair, I got up to leave and the girl at the saloon said to me that she noticed I don't make up most of the time.
That is me. But one thing about stardom is that sometimes you have to pretend, you have to make people see you in a certain kind of way that you're just not. Sometimes when I want to go to the market, I might just want to tie a scarf, wear shorts and a T-shirt but if I'm being spotted that way, people will start to insinuate what is not.
Naturally any other person can look like that, but because you're a star, you must pretend to always look good.
How did you come about the name 'Flakky Idi Dowo'?
It was a movie in 2006 or 2007, I can't remember; it was a movie by Fathia Balogun. She's a sister to me in the industry. She was the one that called me up for the job I played the role of Folake. I got the name 'Flakky Idi Dowo' because the character I played in the movie sleeps around with men.
The movie was a blockbuster, it was a hit and people started calling me 'Flakky Idi Dowo'. And professionally I really don't mind because people can understand why I go by that name.
You are an actress and your brother is a designer. How many more creative people do you have in your family?
There are just two of us from our parents, my brother and I.
Do you sometimes miss not having a sister?
Yes o! I really do miss not having a sister honestly but I have a Personal Assistant who is like a sister to me. She's a good girl.
How do you relax?
I watch movies a lot and then I sleep when I have the time. I also love playing games.
How did acting all start for you?
I've always liked theatre arts from day one. A lot of people say from birth, but really acting for me started from my secondary school days. I used to be involved in school drama and cultural dance; my principal noticed I was very active in that area and encouraged me. I was made the leader of these groups.
Eventually after I left secondary school, I told my father I wanted to study Theatre Arts but he refused and said no way.
My uncle and my aunt then said, Asewo lo se film ooo, that my dad should not allow me study Theatre Art. But my father knowing that I liked the course said that I should choose something very close to it and then I chose Mass Communication.
While in school, in 2000, I saw Oga Bello with a friend of mine known as Mistura Aturamu; we walked up to him and we started working with his theatre group. We started training in his school, then it was called Awada kerikeri organisation.
It was formed by Oga Bello, Iya Awero and Sunday Omobolanle (Aluwe). So finally when I graduated from school, I shot one of two movies.
My first movie with my boss, Oga Bello was Baba Ologba. I was the daughter of a gardener. I played the lead role with Femi Adebayo.
I later shot another movie produced by Ronke Ojo (Oshodi Oke). She's a sister to me too in the industry; she's a very wonderful woman.
The title of the movie was Morolayo or something like that. I played the lead too with Muyiwa Ademola.
It was a bit of challenge for me then because I hadn't worked with people like that before. I was a bit nervous but then but it was cool afterall.
After a long time playing different roles, has it in anyway changed your person?
I was a very shy person, but this theatre thing can turn one to an Agbero because sometimes you really have to talk If you do not some people will take you for granted, so in the process of expressing yourself , you tend to offend some people.
There is this notion that some Yoruba actresses don't see themselves as Nollywood actresses. Do you see yourself as Nollywood actress?
Of course I am, anywhere and everywhere and I'm proud to be a Nollywood actress. Everywhere I go people reckon with me so I really I'm proud of myself and I thank God for that.
Why does a budding actor need to go through a theatre group?
I said to you that I'm proud of myself, truly I'm very proud of myself because I went through rigorous training. I came into this industry the proper way; I didn't go through the back door. For people that went through the proper way, I'm sure they will always be proud of themselves.
And for people that went through the back door, who feel if they date so, so and so person, then they will become a star, I say good luck to them. I wish them well but I'm sure anyone that watches their movie and ours will always spot the difference.
What was growing up like for you being the only girl and first child?
My sister everybody has a story to tell…Mine is…Am I sure I want to tell this story? Well, it was rosy at the beginning. My parents were together. It was a nice family but somewhere along the line they had their issues, they had to separate. I was in boarding school then with my brother when my parents separated.
Sometimes coming home was not what I looked forward to because I knew I would have to spend a week here and a week there, it was terrible.
Then later my father got married to one woman, and my father insisted that we had to live with him… It was hell. Imagine in my own father's house, somebody will measure Garri in a cup of tin milk and put in a bow for me and my brother to drink.
My brother and I would then have to leave the Garri to swell and still we will have to struggle with it. It was really tough. She was like devil. She was really a devil.
She later left and my father got married to someone else again but it was the same thing. Later I left the house and took my brother.
My father was a good man; I won't take it away from him. He sent me through school, he sent my brother through school. Even in the midst of nothing, he fought for us to be educated. I won't take it away from him.
My father is the best in the world even though things happened between us but he's still the best daddy. If I have a second chance to live again, I will still want him to be my dad. But later on he was retired, he couldn't pay my school fees anymore, I had to start doing odd jobs.
Two or three years ago, I was on iyabo ojo's set Eromi and the house used as the set in Ikorodu is a building I know too well because I was one of those who worked on the site when it was being constructed. Mo ru Konkere, Mo ru block. Ajo ko ile ti mo ti lo shoot ninu e ni (we built that house with them, that we went to shoot in).
And the day I got into that house, I was just crying because I remembered that particular day that I carried that pan, my neck got snitched and I just put it down. I broke two blocks and they didn't pay me, I was crying.
My brother had to eat. It was really terrible. My mum by then had already lost her job because my father told her to retire because he was still working then. My mum didn't have anything to fall back on. She was poor. She had drained her bank account so we went back to zero. So it was like fending for brother and my mum. It was tough...
The story of your life is great one, are you not thinking of doing a movie of it?
I don't want to because I don't want to remind myself of it again. It's my past and I want to try and put it behind me. When I got into that house, I was shocked. I ran back outside and I looked around. I called my brother and asked him if he remembered the house that we built with the owners, with a friend of mine Ope. It was my friend that introduced me to the job.
My friend had three brothers and their mum was a teacher so they were doing that job to help her. She was a music teacher and a choir mistress at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Headquarters. She was one of their choristers. She introduced me to the church. I was a born again then too.
I was one of the choristers; the first set of choristers when they first built RCCG camp. We used to stay with my friends mum in her house.
She will cook beans for us and from there we would go and do that job with her children. At that time I went back there, two, three years ago, the woman was dead.
I cried because I remembered then that she was like a mother to us.
Looking back from where you are coming from how do you feel?
Ha! I owe God a whole lot. I owe Him my life. If He wants my life right now, all I will just say to Him is to accept my soul because I feel that I'm fulfilled. My brother is okay, my mum is fine. I'm always marveled when people say, that girl, when did she become an actress now she's riding a jeep. I look at them and smile.
That's coupled with the fact that, it's not been easy because in my industry, you need to have a background if you don't want to date a director, a marketer or producer.
It is not to say that those people who are dating them are not good people. I'm not saying I cannot do it, if I have a reason to I will but so far I haven't. It has just been God. So I owe God my life and I owe my mother…I don't know.
My mum is wonderful. She is born again and she says she doesn't have a reason not to be. My mum used to be an outgoing person, you know I said she's very fashionable but now she's all for God.
Do you still work for God in church?
My sister, I work for God but in another way. I'm no more a chorister. I do things in the house of God; I think that is what I can do now because of the nature of my job. But I still go to church and I still know Him as my God and He will always be my God.
Talking about friendship, you've said wonderful thing about your friend. What is the worst thing a friend has done to you?
Friends have pierced my heart with a sword countless times but there was this particular one that was very nasty but I always don't like to talk about it because I've promised God that I've left her for him. So I don't want to talk about it.
Basically who are your friends in the industry?
Everybody is my friend in the industry but I'm closer to my contemporaries. We have elderly friends too but my contemporaries are my friends.
What is your take on harassment, speaking about the Yoruba Nollywood industry?
My sister it is not by force o! I don't believe anyone intimidates anyone. We've all got free will. It is what they want to do… If you know what you have and you trust in God you will get to whatever height you want to get to, it might just be slow but it will be steady.
So no one is forcing anyone to sleep with them those who do it, do it out of their free will because they want to become a star in five minutes so I would not blame those who will seize that opportunity to sleep with them. I would not blame anyone. Life is about choices.
If you have the inherent talent and trust in God, you will move mountains. I'm not afraid of anyone. No one made me, God made me.
Though, through the help of my boss Oga Bello (Adebayo Salami) and a few other friends, God made me. Funke Akindele too is a very wonderful friend. I won't take it away from her. Ronke Oshodi Oke, Fatia Balogun, Dayo Amusa, Adebayo Tijani, Afise Eniola, Femi Adebayo, Kola Odunlade, Abeokuta causus. I have a lot of friends in the industry.
Iyabo Ojo is wonderful. I have a lot of them. They're wonderful people because I do not produce but they still take it upon themselves to owe me a role in their movies. That's why I always say thank you to them.
Have you ever tried your hands on movie production?
Yes, I produced a movie in 2003 but it was not a pleasant experience. Then, it was the first N2millionaire I had, I ever saved, out my struggle, and then the money went just like that.
But I would not say it's a waste because it helped me to learn more but I've not just found a reason to produce movies now because my hands are full.
I have jobs to do and I'm happy about that, but that is not to say that I would never produce but right now I'm not cut out for it.
What is it like being an independent woman?
I think it is beginning to be a problem because anytime I'm in a relationship, the guy in question most a times gives me an attitude. I'm always the first to take a walk because I tend to tell myself there is really nothing I will miss. It's been a bit of a challenge for me. I'm used to being all by myself.
Till date, I hate people barging into my privacy. That is not to say that I'm not a loving person. But the mentality I've always had behind my head since my struggling days is that, I believe that if anyone wants to date me, he wants to take advantage of me. Even when I'm starting a relationship, I'm always very conscious.
Are seeing someone at moment and when do you intend to seal it?
I'm into a serious relationship I just hope it works out. That's all I can say.
So far, have you won any awards?
Yes, I got one in 2008. I won the supporting actress category at the City People Awards. But really I don't believe in awards because I feel they those who organise these awards do not pick people on merit a lot of the time but recently I've been nominated for BON Awards.