My wife is my guiding angel -Sunday Adewale
To many, being in the same profession with their spouses is a taboo, but not for Sunday Adewale popularly called SA. This movie maker and... producer is the husband of star actress, Toyin Adewale popularly called Mama T. In this interview with FUNMI SALOME JOHNSON, Adewale speaks on his journey into the world of make belief, his experiences on the job and how he met his wife of 18 years.
Why did you pull out of ANTPP?
I did because there were many complaints on so many things which I will not like to talk about again so as not to open old wounds. We complained and since they could not really defend what they had done wrong at that time, we were forced to leave. It was not as if we prepared to leave but we were forced to leave. That was what led to the new association called Indigenous Movie Makers Association of Nigeria (IMMAN).
What has been the impact of your departure from ANTPP on your career?
It has been very tough leaving our friends behind because some of them were of like minds while others were not. Some are still there and for such, we don't have any hard feelings, but there has been victimisation or should I say excommunication. Sometimes when you see your friends, because of the association issue, some behave as if they have never seen you before or that they don't even know you while others react differently. They don't even call you for jobs anymore and even when you call them for jobs, they don't come because ANTPP decreed that they should not work with us.
So it became a personal war of some sort?
Yes, some of them took it personal except for some professionals among them who believe that as long as the association is not paying their house rents or feeding their families, if anybody is has a job for them, they would do it.
On a very sincere note, it has been very tough for us but the only thing I would say that God has done for us is that we have been able to register the association for over two years now and we have our certificate. That means we can deal with anybody officially and we are very happy about that.
Considering the way ANTPP treated us and what IMMAN intends to do in the industry, we still believe that we have to be one; to be united to be able to achieve all of that.
For instance, the issue of piracy has become a very big cause for concern in the industry today. If a movie is released today, that same day, you will be surprised to see the same movie in a 20 in 1 DVD and this is nothing but the handiwork of pirates, so that is part of what we are looking into. We have a lot of known faces in the industry but they virtually have nothing to show for all their years of hard work because of pirates.
But I want to use this medium to express my profound apology to some people and associations whom in the course of our struggle, we might have hurt in one way or the other.
What strategies is IMMAN putting in place to combat piracy?
Fighting piracy physically is usually very difficult but you can appeal to the persons concerned. I have seen a situation where people discuss with pirates in an area. They will address the pirates, telling them that they know that their work is being pirated in specific areas. They would tell the pirates what they want from them so that they can give them the right to sell their movies and this worked well in some areas. But there are situations where that does not work and that is the reason we want the government to step in. Many are veterans today who have put in so much of their lives into this industry and yet can virtually not feed well.
There is no country you go to today that they don't know of the Nigerian indigenous movies, so the government should step in and create an enabling environment for us to work.
How did you get into the world of make belief?
Acting has been in me since I was a child. Since I have discovered that acting is an in-built for me, I have been trying hard to get there. I started by joining a group called Kakaki owned by Ben Tomoloju and I worked with people like Antar Laniyan, Papa Ajasco, Biodun Ayoyinka, Jah man in Guardian and a host of them. But in that group, you cannot just be an artiste without being educated, so we were all advised to go to school. This made me to go to Rimax Institute after my secondary school where I met my wife. I was in the Diploma class when she came in. After that, I went to Obafemi Awolowo University where I graduated in Accountancy. I worked for some years before returning to acting.
Have been acting on stage before you started producing movies?
Yes I have. Although I cannot really remember my very first movie, I am sure that it was in 1987 when I was still with Kakaki.
I thought you said that Kakaki was a stage thing?
Kakaki produced Caregoey Gbekeyan. Then Channel 7 was doing very fine and there were programmes like Feyikogbon and the rest of them. I was also producing Comedy half hour, I was a comedian.
What don't you like about the Yoruba movie industry?
It is the idea of serving as an apprentice. Acting is an in-built thing, not something you learn like a trade. Some people will say, 'after serving my Oga for two years, I have to do freedom' and that means they can do the job. It is not my belief. You have to go to school no matter how small, even if it is in a vocational school, you have to go through a formal training. It is so bad these days that you will see somebody getting up, saying 'I want to act. But when you ask them where they are coming from? They will say, 'when I had a quarrel with my husband, I just felt I should while away my time with acting'. Even dropouts too will tell you they want to act. Just as you cannot get up one day and say you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, it is also the same with acting.
As a film maker, have you ever faced any form of sexual harassment from female artistes?
We go through that on a daily basis. This is not only peculiar to the movies industry, even in schools, you have such things all the time. When they are supposed to read in school, they will not and when they now manage their way out, they want to get good jobs and they go out sleeping with people. Even after sleeping with people sometimes, they end up not getting the job. But I tell you one thing, you cannot have your way with me because producing a good movie these days is something you have to work very hard to achieve. So for you to now say that I must give you a lead role just because I have slept with you even if you are not good enough for the role will be a big error because that is not going to happen. I have seen so many of such situations and they don't move me anymore. You can imagine going to produce jobs for somebody and a lady walked up to me in a night gown without bra or any under wear and say, 'sir, we are too many in that room, and you are the only one here, can you just allow me to sleep till tomorrow and I will go back to where my things are'. When such situation arises, you know it is only a message for you to catch fun but for me, it is not my style. Besides, there is a great need for care because it can be a trap from wicked people.
Why have not fallen prey to seduction from the opposite sex?
I have been faced with numerous of such situations and I believe that at this stage, none of it can move me. I love my wife very much but I am a man. What I am saying is that such things don't get me. That is not to say that I am a saint, but I still have my integrity to keep. And I cannot do that to my wife. She has been a good woman who has been scandal-free all these years. So it will be very bad for me to be the one to give our family name such bad reputation. May be if not for my wife, I would have been somebody else. That is why I am very careful and besides, we have witnessed a lot of homes that have been destroyed in the industry and so I am being very careful with the way I behave. She is some kind of check and balance for me and that has been a great help for me over the years. If she is not around, I know what she can do and that is always on my mind and has helped me to stay out of trouble.
What attracted you to your wife the first time you saw her?
She is beautiful and presentable and besides, when I saw her, I never knew she was going in for my kind of profession. I just saw her coming and I said to myself 'I like this girl and I can marry her'.
How does it feel being in the same profession with your wife?
It is lovely and very interesting. The only painful thing is that you hear people say that they can never marry an actress, 'I cannot trust an actress' and all that. Hearing such things from people makes me feel bad.
I feel bad because as happy as we are at home, people will still not believe that we are truly sincere with each other. Not that I really care about what they believe but sometimes, it just get to one and you know sometimes, people's opinion counts.