Jumoke Odetola is an actress, movie producer and scriptwriter. In this interview by SEGUN KASALI, she shares her memories about her father and early life, movie industry experience, among other issues.


Tell us a bit about your childhood and relationship with your father


It’s been very interesting. If I would have to come back to this world again, I would still like to come as the last child because I enjoyed the privileges that my older ones did not get to enjoy. One of such, is me being in this industry fulfilling my dreams and passion. If I were not the last born, I would probably not have been able to become an actress because my parents were very strict.

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For a long time, I did hide and seek about my acting jobs. I did not let my father know. It was something I hid from him. He loved me so much. In fact, I was the closest person to him. I am addressing him in past tense because he is late now. So, because of this, I did not want to break his heart by letting him know that I had a flair for anything that had to do with entertainment because he was a core professional man with the belief that his children should go into core professional fields like engineering, etc.

What other privileges did you enjoy as a child?

Part of the privileges was that my father would not let me do any physical work around the house. Even while I was at Abeokuta Grammar School which was a boarding school, my father would tell me not to do anything during the break period. He would tell me that if anybody sent me on an errand, I should tell them that I was doing something for him. Again, he would go out to buy confectionery and share with me in the recreational room. So, he was always forcing me to eat because I was very skinny.

What do you hate about ‘normal’ life?

The routine. I actually don’t like it which is one of the reasons that if I were probably in other field, I would have been bored. I hate it doing the same thing. I am a very spontaneous person. I just like to wake up and make decisions. But somehow, I would say his training was also a good experience for me because it actually helped me in becoming an organised person. So, that actually shaped my life. I guess that was one of the experiences he wanted us to have.

 Your ambition in life as a child then was what?

Then, I was always going back and forth on my decision. Then, I recall that my principal was a very charismatic man. He commanded respect even in his appearance alone. At that point, I saw him as a small god. My decision kept on changing as I progressed in life. I actually went into art class in secondary school but I did not tell my father because he wanted me to do sciences. One day, he came visiting and asked for my notebooks. I didn’t have any choice and so, I gave him. He was upset with me when he saw that I was in art class.

What did he do?

That day, he said, “you just have to change your department”. This question you are actually asking is a very interesting topic. I told him it was not possible for me to go into sciences. He resolved to meet with the school authorities to change my department and I was happy that they would counsel him to allow me go for my choice since that was what they had been teaching us. But our JSS 3 result that would determine our fate in different departments of our choice was not out yet, so, the principal explained to my father that maybe I already knew that my result would put me in art class and that was why I went there.

 His response?

They dragged on for a long time but reached a resolution when the principal said that the result was actually out but not yet officially announced. So, this is what we would do; bring the results and we would both check. When he brought out the result, it was discovered that I passed in flying colours. That was how they dragged me to science class (laughs).

You must have been very brilliant…

Well, I can’t say. I like to read so yes, I have always been brilliant. From there, I went to Ajayi  Crowther University, Oyo to study ICT/ Computer Science where I graduated in 2011 with a grade point of 4.42. I knew I was the highest when I started but I think I came second best in the department thereafter.

At what point did you settle for acting?

It was after I finished school, before my NYSC, when I started thinking about it. I had always liked acting but I did not know I would take it up as a profession. I had always enjoyed watching great actors like Omotola-Jalade, who was my screen goddess then. Then, I would act in front of my mirror, something I had always been doing from childhood until my sister caught me and told me I was really talented.

So, she was the one who actually engaged me after she told me about an audition. Funny enough, the movie never came out and I never saw it. I can’t even remember the title. I auditioned for it and I was picked for the lead role. But, the movie was never released

What shot you to limelight?

I started with English movies. Then, I diversified into the Yoruba sector later. My first production was ‘Heroes and Zeros’ by Koga Studios but ‘Binta Ofege’ was the movie that brought me to limelight because I played too many roles in that movie. Also, it was the movie that got me my first AMVCA award.

You like acting in horror movies, why?

Well, it is not that I like acting in horror movies. Let me just say I act it from the heart. Perhaps, because in this sector of the movie industry, we don’t see many horror movies. So, maybe when I play the movie, I get scared and it become horrific (laughs). That is all I would say.

You don’t get scared when you act in horror movies?

Let me say this, I don’t see myself when I act. But, when I watch movies, I get scared myself at times. Most times, I even forget that it is me and say to myself, “this girl is crazy o”. (Laughs).

What is your reaction to the allegation that female actors engage in prostitution to live large?

That is not true. A lot of times, people just cook up stories. Have they named such people? Did they catch them? Did the accused admit to it? Anybody can just sit down and say something. We have to start talking with facts. If you have the facts, it is fine then. At times, you don’t want to explain your businesses that fetch you money to people. I am talking about real businesses not personal affairs. That might be your trade secret. So, most times when people don’t understand how you make your money, they can just make up assumptions. So, we have to start talking with facts.

Your charge to upcoming actresses?

The first thing I would say is that it has to be your passion. If it is not your passion, don’t even try it. If you want to be an actor because you see people in it living large, it is going to be frustrating then because everything you will be doing would not be about following your dream. It is something you build. It requires a lot of perseverance and consistency.

 Challenges you have faced?

The first thing I would say is that it has to be your passion. If it is not your passion, don’t even try it. If you want to be an actor because you see people in it living large, it is going to be frustrating then because everything you will be doing would not be about following your dream. It is something you build. It requires a lot of perseverance and consistency.

 Challenges you have faced?

For me, I really don’t see what you might see as challenges. There cannot be a success story without challenges. I am more of an inward person but I tend to go out more by the virtue of the job I do.

What about rumoured harassment of upcoming female actors in the industry?

Believe me, I never experienced such. What I experienced and still experience are men’s advances towards me. You know it is normal for a girl to experience such because I am beautiful. So, it is normal to see people who admire you. But, I never experienced harassment