Wole Oguntokun gave me many firsts in my career – Lala Akindoju

Kemi Lala Akindoju

Actress Lala Akindoju has penned a tribute to the late theatre director Wole Oguntokun, saying that he gave her many firsts in her career.

Mr Oguntokun died in Canada on Wednesday after a brief illness.

Reacting to the tragic news in an Instagram post on Friday, Lala recollected her first encounter with the playwright and how she became a full actor because of him.

She wrote: “One Sunday morning, sometime in April 2007, 2 years after I had started acting professionally I dressed up to attend auditions for the first season of Wole Soyinka plays to hold at Terra Kulture.

“I got there super early, and I thought the auditions would be quick, alas that was not the case. So after waiting for hours, I was very upset and authoritatively questioned the man who drove in. Imagine my shock when I realised he was the “oga at the top”. I apologised profusely but it was too late- the first impression had been made and I was so sure this man was going to throw me out of the auditions. The opposite was the case, he later cast me as “Amope” in “The trials of Brother Jero…that was the beginning of the career I have today.

“In July 2007, I became a full-time actor through Wole Oguntokun’s Jason Vision, with weekly plays at Terra Kulture. I worked across many departments, played many roles, understood the intricacies of productions, met some of the most talented people I know, formed life long friendships, and built some of the strongest networks I have till date.”

In her tribute, Lala said the deceased did not only listen to her crazy ideas, he also allowed her to execute them and gave her many firsts in her career.

The 37-year-old described Wole’s passing as “very sad”, adding that “for the first time since I was informed, the tears are finally flowing.”

She wrote: “Wole allowed me grow, listened to some of my crazy ideas and allowed me execute. He pushed me on so many levels, and though it was not always rosy, I make bold to say that I won’t be the creative I am today if not for Wole Oguntokun.

“Many firsts in my career happened because of him, and I will never forget. Some of my fondest memories on this journey were made at Jason Vision. In those offices at Sabo Yaba, then at Alagomeji.

“His passing away is very sad and for the first time since I was informed, the tears are finally flowing. Laspapi, as he’s fondly called loved theatre so much and contributed so much to the growth and preservation of theatre in Nigeria.

“Thank you for everything Laspapi, I’m grateful that our paths crossed but I’m more grateful that I told you the value you added to my career while you were here.

“We may never see you point those two fingers when you speak, or hear you say “One Time” whenever you are hailed Laspapi, but we will carry the all the memories forever.

“The Girl Whisperer, Laspapi, Head Renegade, Wole Oguntokun, rest easy. It’s a wrap!”