Who is Rose Odika?
I am a very simple person, a down to earth person. I am from a very humble background. I am the second child in a family of seven and I passed through St. Richard’s Catholic Primary School, Eleyele Ibadan.
From there, I went to Ahmadiya Grammar School, which is now Anwar Ul Islam Grammar School, Eleyele. I waited a little bit before continuing my education. While trying to get my JAMB right, I was briefly at St. Andrew’s College of Education, Music Department. I was there for six months. I didn’t make the first JAMB exams I wrote because my father wanted me to read German Language or Linguistics as a second course.
So, I decided to change my course to Theater Arts and my father never liked it. So, we were having that problem. While waiting for my JAMB result, I went briefly to Mr. Tunji Fatilewa, he had a studio then in Old Bodija and he used to run some soaps on the then T.S.O S (Television Service of Oyo State).
So we had series of soaps, but the most popular of them was “Neighbour Next Door”. I was with him for one year. From there I went to the University of Ibadan (U.I). There was this thing they called ‘Occasional Studies’ then, it has been scrapped now. While you were waiting for your result, you could do a one-year preliminary programme in the university. I was in the Theatre Arts Department under the programme before I got admitted into the university. I went to Alvan Ikoku College of Education, I read Health Education but the certificate is affiliated to the University of Nigeria Nsukka. So, I had my BSc/Ed because Health Education there belongs to the Faculty of Social Sciences.
I used to act in one or two films whenever I was on vacation. I was invited to Bode Sowande Odu Themes Meridian in 1989 to partake in some stage plays. I was there for three years and we had stage plays like ‘Vanity House,’ ‘Mammy Water’s Wedding’ and ‘Circus of Freedom Square,’ ‘Ewe Nla’ and the likes. I also taught briefly in St. Isabel Nursery and Primary School as an Assistant Class Teacher before I eventually had my degree.
So, I already had all these experiences even before I got to the university, which I think propelled me to where I am today. In short, Rose Odika is a hardworking, straightforward, trustworthy and God-fearing person.
Let’s talk about how you really got into acting
When I was in secondary school, the then Ahmadiya Grammar School, I used to have a Vice Principal then, Mrs. Ero, she’s now in Canada. She was in-charge of the French Group and most times, she took the group on different dramas and we would go and do stage plays in schools during literary days, cultural days, and we took them round secondary schools and she saw that talent in me. She invited me to her office one day and said ‘look Rose, you are a bunch of talents and I see that you can excel in the acting world.’ I was in Form 3 then. I began to psyche myself on why I should be an actress. So, I concluded from Form 3 that I would be an actress. The only challenge there was that my father never wanted it, but I still passed through that challenge and from there, I would jump to Odu Themes for rehearsals, from there to Tunji Fatilewa. So, I concluded then that I could be a success as an actress. That was why I decided to fly it.
When did the big break come?
To God’s glory, the big break came in 1993. I was invited to Prince Wemimo Olu Paul’s production. Then I was in UI. He asked our President in Association of Theatre Arts Students (ATAS) to bring five beautiful females for a particular film, so I was part of those selected and when he saw me, he said ‘look you are playing the lead role’ and that was it; I had never acted in any Yoruba film before then. That was my first Yoruba film and to God’s glory, the film sold well and that brought me to the limelight, the title of the film is Ododo Eye.
What was your relationship with the people you met in the industry, when you joined them?
Number one; there was no relationship between me and any actor in the Yoruba genre as at that time. As I said, I was just going from one person’s group to another and those groups were English. Bode Sowande never did any stage play then in Yoruba. They were all English, Vanity House, Mammy Water’s Wedding. I was in UI, I went to Bode Sowande, from there to Tunji Fatilewa for TV series. But I never had any relationship with the Yoruba movie stars until I was invited through the president of ATAS to act in that movie.
Of course when I came, there was the challenge of ‘she does not belong to any association’ because as at then, all these film stars had their different associations; NANTAP, ANTP and the likes. I never belonged to any; I was a student, so I never thought of belonging to any association. The only saving grace was Prince Wemimo Olu Paul, who told them that ‘I am an independent producer; I don’t belong to any association either. So I have the right to invite any person that I feel can act well in my films and as long as it is my money, Rose Odika is playing the lead role”. So I was able to overcome that challenge and thank God, the film brought me to the limelight. That puts me in an enviable position, where every producer, big names and stars want to associate with me. They were forced in a way to work with me because I somehow became a celebrity and they started inviting me to take part in their films. So, I decided to join the association.
Have you produced movies of your own, and what are the titles?
Yes, to God’s glory. Remember I came to the limelight in 1993; I became a producer in 2008 after studying the industry and knowing that it’s a place I can work as a producer. So, to God’s glory, I have produced 6 movies. I produced Alaparutu (2008), Enu Eje (2009), Amuni Madajo (2010), Iya ni Iya Mi (2011), Gbosee Wo (2012) and Ataare (2015).
There seems to be discord in the industry. There are so many bodies, ANTP, TAMPAN and so on. Where do you stand in all these?
The industry is very strong. The only association that has problems is just ANTP and the problem came when we all forgot about our careers and became political instead of facing our careers. We had problems when there was election and when they could not be resolved, TAMPAN, Theater Arts and Motion Pictures Producers Association of Nigeria came out of ANTP.
So now, in ANTP, they have their way, and TAMPAN, we are on ground and I represent TAMPAN in Oyo State as Governor.
Your birthday is close, how old is Rose Odika and when you look back, what are the things that call for celebration?
I won’t tell you my age, but I am still very young. I am 40 plus but I am celebrating 40 because I want to feel young. And looking back, why I want to celebrate, I have one thousand and one reasons to celebrate. One, I am still alive, that calls for celebration. Looking back at where I started from, I told you I lost my father at a tender age. He died before I got admitted to the university and I have five younger ones behind me, my mother was just a fulltime housewife. My father left no property and we were able to scale through it. All my brothers, everybody is doing well in one place or the other, that too calls for celebration because I know the part I took in sustaining the family. So I want to say ‘Father, thank You for being faithful, thank you for the success I have recorded over the years.’ I just want to thank God for where I am today.
How do you feel when people address you as Rose Ododo Eye?
I always feel happy. I see something that has been designed by God. What is Rose in Yoruba? Ododo. So the thing so blends with my name, Rose Ododo Eye. What is Eye? It is something to be cherished. So, anytime they call me Ododo Eye, I say yes, you should cherish me. I am somebody you should appreciate. So I love that name. Anytime they call that name, it reminds me that I am being loved here. It shows that God has prepared you that you will be somebody that would always be cherished in life.
From Rose Ododo Eye to Yeye Rose Odika, what has changed?
A lot has changed. Rose Ododo Eye was a very innocent little girl of 19, who being in the limelight was a big deal. Many had been there before I came and just a film got me there. I didn’t appreciate it then. I left for school, I didn’t even look back. I never knew I was a big name until I came home for holidays and everybody was shouting my name and I was like just that film? Se bi won se ndi star niyen? (is that how people become stars?). So it has been ordained.
Yeye Oge, that’s a matured Rose now, telling you that Rose, you are not getting younger, but you are achieving because it’s not easy to become a chief. I’m an Ibo woman, to become a chief in Yorubaland, it means they have watched my contributions.
There is always this issue of sexual harassment in Nollywood, sex for roles. Some say it’s not real. What’s your take?
It is real, but it is left for those who have come for people to harass them. This is my 25th year in the industry, I have never been sexually harassed because I put it in my head that I am going there to work and achieve, to merit it from day one. It is unfortunate that many of them are coming with the notion of the use of what you have to get what you want syndrome. I believe they should use their heads.
It is just an idiom, use what you have to get what you want means use your head. But many people have turned it to using what they have behind their laps. Of course, if you fall into that category, you will be sexually harassed, so it is real. There are some directors who are ready to harass some people but when they come to you and you stand your ground that look, I will wait until I merit a role. If you don’t want a quick name, if you want to become a celebrity in one or two years, just make sure that you wait and wait until that role comes. And when it comes, act your role out. They will definitely look for you but some people are coming, they don’t know why they are coming to join the actors, some are coming so that when they are having parties, they can call their colleagues as celebrities to join them, some are coming to date the men. So, those who are harassed fall under those categories, it is not everybody.
Scandals are usually associated with people in the movie industry, how do you manage to be scandal free?
That is God o (smiles), I have integrity. I have been scandal free because my feet will not take me to a place that will not glorify God. It is always when you are in the wrong place that you get scandals. I don’t go after people’s husbands; I am not going after big names in town. So where is the scandal coming from? I am not going to where almost ten actresses are dating a man and I will join my head there and we will start fighting.
In all my 25 years, I have never had a problem with any female colleague dating the same man. It has never happened, those are things that helped.
When was your most embarrassing moment as an actress?
My most embarrassing moment was the day I went to Oshodi in Lagos to get something and I was tying a wrapper. It was a silk material. I didn’t know that the wrapper had fallen off because I don’t know how to tie wrappers. People were like” eeh Ododo Eye, eeh”, I didn’t know, I was smiling and waving to them. I thought they were hailing me until one woman said ‘your wrapper” (smiles) I can never forget that day.
When you look back, when would you say was your saddest moment as an actress?
There is none in the industry, but in my personal life, my father never wanted me to become an actress because he never liked them. He felt those who go into acting are those you can call ‘never do wells’ and he really fought me to make sure I never became one but because he died early, I went on. I started acting in 1989 from my secondary school, I lost my father in 1993, I made my name in 1993. So it was when I was supposed to say Daddy, can you see now that I didn’t make a mistake? I now lost him.
When I look back and realize that my father is no more there, it pains that he didn’t wait to see that oh, so eventually; this thing can sustain this girl because I will tell you it is this acting that has been sustaining me since I lost him. That’s my only regret that my father is not here.
How romantic are you?
I am all about work, work and work. My boyfriend knows because I am all about work, work and work. I lost my father early, I wanted to achieve, my younger ones had to feed. If you are coming into my life and you are not bringing anything, I beg, go. You can only stay if you are coming to impart my life. So it’s about what are you bringing into my life, not about I love you. So I am not romantic.
Who is the man in your life?
He is a very shy guy, who doesn’t want to be mentioned at all. You won’t even believe he is the one and I think that is why I am still happy. If I date somebody that is active like me socially, I might not have all the peace. He too is about work and that is why we are enjoying it. We might not see in two or three months, but we talk every day.
What are the qualities that made you stay glued to him?
He is the only man that understands me. I am very aggressive, I am not patient with men, I get hurt easily, I am very short tempered and I am always glued to my phone, texting. When a man hurts me, the next thing I’ll do is to start lambasting the man with text messages and most times, these men too will start abusing me and I would be like ah ah, obinrin ko ni e now, se oo le ni suuru ni? (you are not a woman now, can’t you exercise patience?). But this my man, abuse him from morning till night, the only thing he will say is “Rose, when you are free next month, let me send you to U.K for Anger Management. He got me with that and he understands me and I am enjoying him. May God keep him for me.
What does he do?
He is a businessman.
What are you working on presently?
I have a project and what propelled me to write that project is because general elections are coming and I know that most Nigerians are not patient to dialogue. We like conflict, we like fighting. So I am coming out with a movie titled Salujo: The Dance Forest for people to know that we can always settle it on our table through dialogue because war does not bring anything good. Why should we shed more blood? Let’s sit down and dialogue. So, that movie is what I am planning to bring out very soon.
Apart from acting, what else do you do?
Rose is a woman of many parts. I am a singer; I have an album to the glory of God and I have Ara Jesu to my credit. I am in the studio cooking something, Adura Mi Gba, that’s the title. I am also into skin care; I am also a fashion designer.
What brought about the idea of going into skin care?
One, I am a very restless person. I saw that the film industry was no more challenging to me, you know when you do the same thing all the time for over 20 years, I just told myself that ‘Rose, what else can you do so that you will be challenged and you will still be active?” Secondly, when most of my friends see me, they say ‘oh, you have a good skin, what are you using?”. I now felt that since my skin can talk for me, that makes it easier. Then all the things I put together to keep this good skin, can’t I make money out of it? That was what propelled me into skin care. The skin is already there to talk for me and what I am using is tested, why can’t I give it to other people to use and make them look good too? And I have been doing that for eight years now and I have distributors all over Nigeria, my products also go outside Nigeria to the U.K and Canada.
My range of products includes body soaps, five different kinds of cream. I have one exclusively for those, who really want to be white, I have one for people that have damaged skin, I call that Replenish, and I have one for children, which is the moisturizer.
The fashion aspect of it; I am a fashionable woman and theater also requires fashion. When I am on location most of the time, I wear my clothes. At the end of the day, I found out that the money I am spending on clothing is more than what I am collecting; I said okay, if I have my tailors here, they can be sewing for me. When people see me and say oh, ‘I love what you are wearing,’ I just tell them ‘I am the one that made it.’ That was why I said let the tailors just be there.
What’s your message to your fans and well-wishers?
We are in a political era now, elections are here, please let’s make Oyo State peaceful. Let’s make Nigeria peaceful in general. Let there be no violence. And to my fellow actresses, they should always be patient in life. There is nothing that won’t come, it will just take time. So, let’s be patient, be prayerful, we will get there.