Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, recently spoke to OLUMIDE IYANDA on the set of Kunle Afolayan’s forthcoming film as part of a magazine project on cinema in Lagos.
What is this Kunle Afolayan film about?
It’s pretty much about the subject of discrimination. I play a boss accused of discriminating against an albino working with her. The movie is called Tribunal and we examine the idea that once you see an albino or certain kinds of people you naturally discriminate against them.
Have you experienced discrimination in Nollywood?
As a person I haven’t, but I am not going to pretend I don’t know it exists.
Why do you think you’ve not been discriminated against?
On what basis will they want to discriminate against me? Because I’m a woman? I don’t know or I guess I don’t see any basis for it. Maybe they tried and I didn’t notice.
You mother was afraid acting exposes young women to prostitution. Were you able to prove her wrong before she died?
Absolutely. I started out at the age of 15 after I left secondary school and got straight into the entertainment industry. So, naturally I could understand why she was very apprehensive and worried about me joining the industry. But I am a very strong person and I know exactly what I want. And what I wanted then was just to help. She knew I was trying to help her but she was also scared and she tried to stop me. She died in 2001 and was very proud of what I had become.
You were trying to help her do what?
Help her because I had lost my dad and I knew very quickly that life had become very terrible and things had taken a nosedive from when my father was around. I finished on scholarship and my younger brothers didn’t have the same opportunity. I knew their school fees were expensive and needed to be paid. As a child, she didn’t want me to carry that burden with her. She wanted to prove that she could do it alone but I could see clearly that she couldn’t do it alone.
You told me a while ago that finding Christ helped you; did marriage also help you stay focused?
Indirectly, in the sense that my husband did not say ‘don’t go here, don’t do this’ or because of marriage I didn’t do this or that, but in the sense that naturally I have more responsibility. Even the little exuberance that one would have indulged in, you won’t even have the time. I’d say it indirectly sharpened my vision and you have to remember immediately I got married that I got pregnant. It wasn’t like I had three years to do nothing and be thinking of my life. No, I had a baby coming on the way and so I had to take care of my kid. My cares, my worries and my attention were in a different place entirely. I have always been responsible in the sense that I took care of my two younger brothers like my children. Even though my mother was alive and it was not like she was living in a rented apartment – she was living in our own house – but my two younger brothers moved in with us so that tells you how much responsibility I was carrying from an early age. And so I had too much on my plate to think of frivolities. I’ve never, even while I was in secondary school to be honest, been one to be that way. I’m not even a girly girl. Till now I don’t care about make-up really, I don’t care about jewellery really. I am not likely to be at a forum where they are talking about shoes, bags, those are not things I care about.
What did you do in an upcoming movie that has got people talking?
What did I do? I didn’t do anything. I just did my job and all I can stay is that the movie is steamy. But even in saying that I don’t want to disappoint people. They might go and watch it now and feel what’s steamy in this one?
Is there any similarity with The Prostitute which caused controversy years ago?
The similarity is going to be in the shock value. Then people were just shocked and I think people are going to be shocked now as well. So in the shock value, yes but I don’t think there is any other similarity. The stories are different. Obviously what both treat are also different.