Ibadan-based Nollywood actress, Sola Popoola-Adeyemi, may not be one of the popular faces in Yoruba movies but her foray into the industry dates back to 2004. The actress cum producer has since then worked with known names within the Yoruba sector of Nollywood.
Among them are Toyin Adegbola, Rose Odika, who she proudly refers to as her mentors. In this interview with MERCY MICHAEL and LEKAN OGUNSUYI, Sola, who got married to her Germany-based beau last year, speaks about her marriage, regret, and endeavors.
HOW did acting start for you? It all started when I was in school. I graduated from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. Growing up, I used to watch the late Aunty Ireti Adekola. She has been my mentor. I like her so much and ever since I was young, I told myself that if I didn’t become a journalist, I’m going to be a presenter or probably I will become a nurse. So I gained admission to study Mass Communication which to me goes in the same line with acting. That is how it started. I went to meet Aunty Aishat Balogun and she said since I’m still in school I could join and still be going to school. This was in 2004 but I registered fully in 2006, the same year I graduated from school.
You are into the Yoruba genre of Nollywood where they are known to have caucuses. Which caucus did you join from the beginning?
There is this my Oga, his name his Segun Atewolara. He was the one I joined. He was the one that registered me then but later people called me to tell me that they have caucuses in the industry and that I should join any one of them. One day I went to our Secretariat at Imetu Ibadan. We had our Governor; we use to call him Baba Feso. Feso Oyewole, after he realized that I had joined for a while, said that he will introduce me to Chief Yeye Toyin Adegboola (Ashewo to re Mecca) and as we were talking she walked in. That was how I joined her and she has been my good sister and mummy since then. That was in 2006.
How was it learning?
It was quite challenging but quitting was not an option and because Toyin Adegboola is a very loving, caring and accommodating person, it made it easier. I spent three years under Segun Atewolara and I also spent three years with Aunty Toyin. After then I, became my own Boss. Now, I’m on my own but I am still in a caucus, Rock Foundation Caucus in Ibadan.
Who are those behind the caucus?
So many of them; they include Yeye Rose Odika, Presenter Governor Alhaji Mudashiru Ayobami (Bobo B), Elder Lanrewaju Odeajo, Uncle Dele Odule and others.
Some people say the English genre of Nollywood pays more in terms of remuneration while the Yoruba genre gives you fame. As an actress why have you decided to stay put with the Yoruba?
I’m an actress. I am not restricted to Yoruba movies alone. I actually do English soap-operas. I have done soaps like Together, Family Planning, Heart of Gold and so many of them. The truth is, English genre pays more for series while in the Yoruba genre, we do more of the barter trade. For instance, if Aunty Toyin wants to do her movie, I can’t bill her naturally.
How would you describe your journey into acting so far?
It’s been great anyway but as with anything you do in life, there are bound to be challenges. I’m not going to relent because acting is something I have passion for. It is what I love doing. Most of the challenges I faced, I believe I have overcome them anyway. It has been so great.
Which was your first movie?
The title of the movie is Eni Ikoko. It was produced by Baroye. That was in 2004.
After it was released and you saw yourself on TV, how did you feel?
I felt so good. That encouraged me more and I was determined to continue. In my neighbourhood, people started to refer to me as an actress and I became more excited. I felt absolutely happy.
How much did you earn for that job?
Nothing, I wasn’t paid anything for the job. For me then, it wasn’t about the money. It was something I had passion for and despite going to location and not being provided with accommodation or receiving any money, I continued.
In the midst of all the challenges was there ever a time you felt like quitting?
There was this particular movie we went to shoot at Jago, after Ibadan. When we got to that location, they needed a lot of crowd so they called me to act. One of the Production Managers told me to get dressed that I was going be in one of the scenes. When I came out, the Director asked me who brought me on set? Before I could say anything he said I should leave and that I wasn’t needed. Honestly, I felt embarrassed and for once, I felt like quitting.
How difficult is it for ladies to get roles in the industry?
I can say it’s difficult, at the same time I can say it’s not. It depends on some factors. We have caucuses, in my own caucus before they cast anybody, they cast me first. The truth of the matter is if they know that you are capable of delivering and they have seen your jobs, of course they will go for you.
How real are the stories of sexual harassment in the industry?
I can’t really say much about it. Truth is, there is no industry where there is no sexual harassment but because we are in the limelight, we are usually the subject of discussion. Sexual harassment in the industry is not as bad as the media try to paint it. I am in this industry and I can tell you that you don’t need to compromise yourself to get roles.
Have you had any such experience?
Just once in all my years in the industry. That is exactly what I am trying to say. It is not by force. In my own case, I didn’t go for that. They called me and promised to give me the lead role. When I got to the location the Director made some advances in exchange for the role I was to play. I refused and left the location. I ended up not taking the job.
Can you date a movie Director?
I have never dated any movie Director and I don’t think I will.
Can you date a colleague in the movie industry?
No, I cannot date anyone in the industry because I’m married. Actually I have a lot of admirers in the industry but dating is not by force, it’s by choice. I initially wanted to date someone in the industry but when I found out he had dated a friend of mine before we met, I changed my mind and turned down his offer. Since then, I never dated anyone in the industry.
How many movies have you produced?
I have produced two movies; the first was Ayo wa miri in 2011. I was the Executive Producer but the movie was produced by Odunlade Adekola. I also produced Fagba Jale in 2012 which starred the likes of Sanyeri, Aunty Rose Odika, Kelvin Ikeduba, late Bisi Komolafe, Oreoluwa Jokotoye among others. The idea is to release one movie annually. The plan for this year’s movie is still ongoing and it will be released even if it remains a week for the calendar year to go.
You must be wealthy, starring in several movies and producing two of them yourself?
(Laughs)I am not rich but I can tell you I am a little bit comfortable.
As an actress, the trend of marriage crash in Nollywood is no news. What can you say is the cause of these break ups.
I cannot speak for anyone. Sometimes the choices we make determine everything. As celebrities, the media tends to exaggerate, paint stories and blow them out of proportion. In life, prayer is the key to everything. God’s direction is important when one is ready to settle down. In time of marriage crises, the God factor will also help. As for me Oluwasola, divorce cannot be my portion.
Is it now a popular thing for actresses to hook men staying abroad?
I told you initially that I can’t speak for anybody but for myself alone. I don’t know why it has been something hovering around the industry. To me, it’s God’s plan and doing. It is what you demand from God that you get or something bigger. I make my own choices. The way I met my hubby was peculiar. Thank God we met and things worked out fine for us.
If your husband asks you to quit acting, will you?
He won’t do that but I love my marriage so if he demands it from me, I will call quit just to make him happy.
How convenient is it for you staying far from your husband?
It is very convenient since we trust one another. I accepted him even when I know he won’t always be around. He comes around often; the plan is to join him very soon.
If you weren’t into acting, what would you be doing?
I would have been a nurse. My passion are acting and nursing. I have an Aunty who I envy so much every time I see her in her outfit. She’s always clean and I do tell her one day it will be me in those clean outfits. There is no correlation between nursing and what I read in school but it is what I have passion for and it would have been my alternative if movie hadn’t worked out.
What is the major challenge young actresses face in the industry?
To me it’s not really a challenge; most young actresses in the industry are not contented with what they have. They want to have big boobs, extra bums, toned skin and all. It’s not a good thing. As for me I love myself the way I am.
Do you have any regrets?
Growing up, I had some bad experiences as a girl; I would have loved my present husband, Odunayo Adeyemi, to be my first love instead of the guy I met then. The thought alone somehow saddens me but I thank God I got over it.
Can you act in a pant and bra if the role calls for it?
No I can’t. Although I’m an actress but it’s optional. They will ask if you can do it, so it’s by choice. There was this incidence in one movie when they asked me if I can kiss and I said no. We shot the movie and I didn’t kiss. Personally I don’t like kissing and I don’t like it when I am asked to kiss in a movie. I can’t kiss in a movie.
If you can’t kiss in a movie, how do you play romantic roles?
I can act romantic roles but when kissing and wearing pant and bra is involved, I simply tell the Director I can’t do it.
Was meet your abroad based hubby married and separated or properly divorced when you met?
He was never married to anyone at any point in time until we met; the way we even met is unexplainable.
What stands him out from other men?
What stands him out from other men is that he cares a lot about me and he loves me silly.
Are you fashionable?
I can’t really say I am fashionable, I just like wearing and using good stuffs. I can’t say I love a particular label. I love using foreign stuff, my perfumes, pants and tops, I get them from the UK, my shoes from America and I get my bags from Germany. I love German bags
Seven years in the industry, your face does not really resonate to a lot of people. Why is that?
I will get there. It is a general belief in the industry that it is turn-by-turn and I am sure mine is on the way
What are your plans for the future?
I hope for a very good future with my family; my husband and kids living happily together. I hope to be a good wife to my husband. A good mother to my children and a lovely girl to my parents also a good citizen to Nigeria.