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BIMBO AKITOLA

Source: nigeriafilms.com

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.

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.
Your role in The Mourning After must have demanded so much of you, how much?
In the Mourning After, I played the part of a woman of about forty years of age who has two teenage daughters and has to go through a whole lot of battles with the Igbo tradition, on the kind of treatment meted out to widows. She goes through a range of emotions; from sad, depressed to almost insane and then I had to cut off my hair. I did it because of the mood of the film, you know, to drive the message home. It was an integral part of the story.

What was the feedback from the film like?
It was warming because a lot of people were moved by the story. There were a lot of the people that came back to me to talk about the fact that they had gone through similar things and at the end of the day, I felt like I had done something. It was just something great.

Are you in anyway motivated by that role to want to go into an NGO to fight the depravities of women in our society?
I never really thought about it,but it sounds like a good idea because there is a lot that we have to change about our traditions. I'm not saying that traditions are bad. I love tradition, but there are certain traditions that just seem to damage life. In Africa somebody dies and it has to be that somebody must have killed him. It can't be by natural cause. People forget that we don't do regular check ups here and we don't do autopsies. So you could never tell what killed who, when or where, or why. These are part of the things that the film brought back to me, things it made me realise.

Outside acting, what do you do?
I have this talk show I'm producing, oh, I keep talking about my talk show, people are going to start stoning me one day when they don't get to see the talk show. Maybe I am being a perfectionist. I want it to be good; I will always give my best effort. I don't want to give the people anything shoddy. So, I do have a talk show that I have been working on for quite some time now, on adn off, I'm taking my time.

Have you signed with any particular TV station for this show?
I've not thought about a particular TV station, but I'm thinking network. What I'm working on is a talk show on topical issues, things that affect each and every Nigerian, in whatever way, small or big. Things that we need to address, things that people never want to talk about but are a part of the problems in the society.

Would you say you are sociable?
Do I like to go out, you mean? Well, yes, I like to go out with my girlfriends, my right dames. So what do you see, I go clubbing once in a while, depending on my mood. I am sociable, I can be very sociable.

Talking about your girls, why the girls, why not the boys? As if the boys don't matter?
Why, of course, the boys do matter. Come on, 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.

Who is the man in your life?
Nobody!

How do you mean, nobody, you are an African and here at an age as yours if a girl has no man to take to the parents, you know what they will think?
That's one of the things I think we need to address in this country, the fact that people say “At a particular age, you need to have a man”. A man does not define your right, a relationship is suppossed to move you forward in a particular way but it does not define who you are. 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. I don't have a man, I'm proud to say it...

Is it that the men have stopped making advances at you?
Let's say I haven't found Mr Right. There is no Mr Perfect, but there is an honest person, you know, no, my taste is not high. 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, very talented, any which way you like to put it.

What is the greatest thing that has happened to you?
The fact that, at a tender age, I found out what I wanted to do and had stubborness, you can call it any other name, but my mother says it is stubborness, to achieve it.

Is that stubborness paying off?
Yes because it enables me do what I want to do.

Regrets?
I learn from my mistakes but harbour no regrets, really.

Your first English language movie was Out of Bounds. How really bad was the feedback like from your fans?
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 love 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.

What was the character about, really, other than one wayward satanic girl?
She is just a girl crying out for help. You know that when children want your attention, they tend to behave badly just to get your attention. She wanted the parents' love and attention because she believed that she wasn't getting any of that and she behaved badly in the hope to get it saying since they didn't really love me then I don't have to conform but at the same time, she wanted so much for them to love her.

How were you able to handle the negative publicity it gave you?
I don't think it gave me a negative image. Nobody has come up to me and said you were some kind of a bad girl, instead I have had comments like “Oh, I love that character, you played it normally, so I don't believe it gave me a bad image.