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Bold, beautiful and articulate, Damilola Oni is a fast-rising actress and movie producer. With almost a decade-long experience in the make-believe business, the top-heavy actress says her journey in the movie world has just begun. In this interview, she speaks about her plans with SEGUN ADEBAYO

Looking back at the journey you have had and the future you intend to build for yourself, what do you think you need to do to stay in the limelight?

I think what brought me here is strong enough to keep me relevant. Work, prayers and not giving up on myself brought me here; so, as long as I am doing that and I am getting better at it, I will be fine. This time, I just have to be strategic with the work I do and put myself out there the more for people to know that there is one Damilola Oni and this is what she does for a living – acting. So, I intend to work more with producers who have built a name for themselves as worthy and valuable. The plan is to push the name further.

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You have appeared in a number of skits with popular skit-maker, Mr Macaroni; how would you describe his personality?

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Mr Macaroni has been my friend for about seven years now or more. He’s a wonderful person whom I met through a friend and I also met Jide Awobona through Debo as well. He’s one person that is selfless and very reliable. He’s one person that does not judge; he puts aside sentiments and sees you first as a human being. That is why I prefer to talk to him more than any other person and I like him a lot.

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Which would you rather do? A skit or real movie?

I would love to do a real movie of course. Though skit-making has become an industry on its own now and it’s a good thing that we are seeing how the lockdown and other factors gave birth to the rise of skit-making and to make it a big industry. If I am invited to be a part of any skit, I will not hesitate but I will choose a real movie over skits.

People say being top-heavy is your selling point; is this true?

I don’t even know what it means to be top-heavy but, of course, everybody has their own personality and selling point. So, I guess, having an attractive body makes me an attraction, so I can call it a selling point because of the social media world. Then the opposite sex has a photo chromic memory; that they would rather dwell on what they see than any other thing. So going by your words, being top-heavy is a big selling point for me.

The industry is peopled by different characters and people with diverse backgrounds; how do you try to be different?

Damilola Oni is different and from a different background. Way back, I have noticed that we don’t try to embrace what is ours. Intentionally, I studied Linguistics in Yoruba language at the University of Ibadan and I had my Master’s degree in Indigenous Knowledge and Development, also leaning towards that path of culture, tradition and to embrace originality. When it comes to language, if I am speaking Yoruba language, I speak the deep Yoruba language and when I am speaking English too, (I speak) as a linguist. I am lucky to be able to speak effectively in English Language. I think that is one thing that has differentiated me from any other person in the industry.

Does it bother you that the Yoruba movie industry does not pay its practitioners well enough, compared to what obtains in other climes?

Before now, it used to bother me that the Yoruba movie industry doesn’t pay well, but when I studied the market and environs and when I became a producer myself, I saw how difficult it is. It opened my eyes to a lot of things; it is actually pretty difficult to pay hugely. I give kudos to whoever is making movies right now and inviting actors to pay them reasonably. This is not to say that it is very terrible but this is to say that when you check the market, you see the value you take to the market and what they offer you, you will see that it is ridiculous. Then this thing goes way back, because we have, by ourselves, maligned one another. We’ve heard and seen cases whereby somebody will go to somebody to say with this small money  you can produce this movie. The producer will reach out to some of his friends whom he has gained their trust over time that he wants to produce a movie and they would come to honour the person out of respect.

But despite the poor fee, most of you would rather stick your necks into it rather than quit. When something does not pay you, how do you draw the strength to keep going?

We have seen how actors before us did it despite the poor payment; they still made something meaningful with their lives and careers. So, their success stories inspire some of us to keep going; it is some sort of encouragement in itself. Thank God for social media that has given everybody a leverage now, as people all over the world can see what you do and appreciate God’s gift in your life. There are brands that want to associate with you because they love what you do and how people love you as well.

If there is something or someone that really worked for you and push your career to this level, what could it be?

I am grateful for the Aajirebi show on Africa Magic. I am happy that people wake up every day to see me on Africa Magic. I am grateful for Red Media Film and Arts Academy. I am grateful for Libra TV too.

Rising to the top of one’s game is one thing, staying relevant is another thing. What is your take on actresses and actors who usually fail to maintain their celebrity status for long?

I believe a lot in destiny and whatever God says as the author and finisher of everything. If He says you are not going to be famous, you will not get there. There is also the place of consistency. A lot of people get carried away when they get to the top and forget why they should remain consistent. They get carried away with frivolities, parties and politics here and there. You have to train yourself to stay focused, to always be in the face of your fans. You have to keep searching your inner self to give people something fresh. It takes grace to stay relevant.

Why do you think actors and actresses don’t love each other genuinely?

I don’t think that’s true. I think there is a soft place for one another in our hearts. As much as you are my colleague, it doesn’t mean you are my friend but that doesn’t mean I would wish you bad. I don’t think we don’t love each other genuinely.

How successful are you being a thespian?

I am not there yet, but I am moving closer to the goal. I am not where I want to be yet but things are working for me.

You have a penchant for entertaining your fans on social media. People say they love you because you put your boobs on display a lot of times; is that a strategy?

I don’t think people love me because I expose my boobs or otherwise on social media platforms. What I do is not a strategy because my boobs are part of my body and I can’t cut them off. I will wear what I want to wear, but I want to keep my fans glued to my page. Please can we stop talking about my boobs?

It seems to be working for you because people love the fact that you expose your cleavage a lot.

I love good attention and it doesn’t bother me that people say I want people to see me. I want to step on the stage and people would talk. I enjoy attention.

It must really be hard finding true love, isn’t it?

Finding true love is not hard, but I have always been unlucky with finding somebody within my age bracket asking me out. It has always been like that and I can’t complain; it is just life happening to me.

Or have you found the love of your life?

I guess the love of my life is on his way; hopefully he will arrive very soon or alight from the train or come in a private jet.

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