Top Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, has returned to
Nollywood. After a three-year hiatus, the 39-year-old is lined up to
debut “Alter Ego” alongside Wole Ojo and Jide Kosoko.
PT: You went off the scene for three years. Was this deliberate?
Omotola: Yes it was. I knew I was going to embark on a break so I
starred in a few movies, which have not been released. I shot Blood on
the Lagoon with Teco Benson, and another one in London called Amina,
which are yet to be released. I got to that point when I felt like
nothing was challenging me anymore and I began to feel like my standard
was dropping. I went through that period and I knew I needed to stay
away and wait for Nollywood to catch up with some of our ideas.
PT: Do you think starring in Chineze Anyaene’s 2010 movie, Ije, in the United States, sort of placed you on a pedestal?
Omotola: Well, I knew cinema movies were the next step for me. After
starring in Ije I knew that the industry was not moving fast enough and I
knew the only way out for me was to make that sacrifice and just
dropout. So I starred in movies that I thought could hold forth for me
while I concentrate on other things like building my business. Coming
back was hard for me because I was aiming for that movie that would
challenge. I was looking for something as strong as or better than
Mortal Inheritance. I knew I had to reset my mindset, I was looking for
something that would excite me the same way Mortal Inheritance did. I
got a lot of scripts and none of them filled that gap. I could have
taken up some of them for the sake of money. But I have gone past that
Omotola in a scene of Alter Ego
PT: Your fans can’t stop talking about your sex scenes in Alter Ego. Was your husband comfortable with you playing the role?
Omotola: Some of the sex scenes in Alter Ego were downplayed because
I’m married. But I won’t play the sex scenes if it wasn’t necessary to
be included in the film. I know by starring in this movie that my fans
would either hate me or love me forever. While shooting the film, I knew
I was doing something quite risky. There are several ways to shoot a
sex scene tastefully. I’m all for playing a sex scene convincingly and
my husband knows this. I tell my husband, “You know what darling, you
married an actor”; and secondly, he is my biggest fan. I tell him, “Do
you want me to be great or do you just want me to be good?” He will say,
“I want you to be great, sparklingly great”. Then I’ll say, “Ehen, we
go love o” and he’s fine with it. He understands but just like every
other human being and the professional that he is, he too wants to be
convinced that I played a sex scene because it was necessary. I know
when he watches movies sometimes he would say, “Did they have to kiss if
they were not going to kiss well?”
PT: You got pretty raunchy with your co-stars in your latest movie, Alter Ego. Are you ready for viewer’s criticisms?
Omotola: When I wasn’t even confident, I starred in a movie called a
prostitute, which was released 22 years ago. If I didn’t die then, is it
now? I’m ready.
PT: Playing a believable sex scene would mean going extra lengths. Do you think Nigerians will embrace such films?
Omotola: You don’t even have to “chop” somebody’s mouth if you don’t
want to. If the scene is not about you showing real mad crazy love then
you can’t now be showing mouth to mouth kissing or removing of clothes.
In Nigerian movies, we have downplayed chemistry. I hope we can bring
that back. Back in the day when I shot Mortal Inheritance in 1995, I had
to spend time with my co-star, Fred Amata. He was already a renowned
director and in those days, directors were revered. So imagine, my
director who had directed me in a movie prior now acting as my lover. I
was really afraid but we broke the ice by spending time with each other.
So, he demystified himself and we had chemistry and you could tell. So,
I’m hoping all of this returns to Nigerian movies. So, as
professionals, we need to ask ourselves if it is necessary for a movie
to have a sex scene and when it is, it should be done well.
PT: With regards to Alter Ego, how were you able to build some on-screen chemistry with your co-star, Wole Ojo?
Omotola: I was working with Wole Ojo for the first time, so we had to
spend time together and we played very rough. I understand the power of
being friends with your love interest in a movie so we became like a
couple. We ate together and basically just broke down the walls to make
sure we were both comfortable with each other and have each other’s
backs and interest at heart. So, it spilled into the movie without you
PT: Alter Ego appears to be the first Nollywood movie to
truly address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Do you think it would
appeal to the Nigerian Nollywood audience?
Omotola: We don’t talk about PTS that much in Nigeria, so, when you
see someone that is mentally traumatised, the first thing that comes to
your mind is, “this person is crazy!”. We don’t talk about depression in
Nigeria. We don’t talk about how it affects children, especially those
that have been abused.
When you ask a lot of adults, you might find out that some people
have been abused as children. And if we want to tell ourselves the
truth, how many of us were actually able to tell our parents about this?
In Africa, it’s always a taboo to say, “uncle, somebody touched me”.
They will practically ask you one million questions. “What did you say
to him? How were you sitting? What were you wearing?” As if it’s your
fault, you become the victim. Alter Ego sets out to address how sexual
abuse affects victims as kids and as adults.
Sometimes, you see people as adults behave in a certain way, but
because we have not diagnosed this problem – because in Africa, you are
either just crazy and should go to Yaba Left; but we don’t think about
the fact that people actually have psychological trauma and that PTSD
actually affect Africans. We think it’s an Oyibo disease.
PT: Why were you drawn to Alter Ego?
Omotola: It’s the soul of the movie. It must come quickly in a movie
and must also be underlining throughout the film. Some come naturally
while some don’t. The movie got me on time because I switch very
quickly; so if I read through the first 10 pages of a movie script and I
don’t get the story, I get bored. I loved the film from the beginning
but it was a diamond in the rough. I knew what was lacking in it. So, I
called the director and told him we will have to tear the script apart
and rebuild it and he gave me his nod. It takes a big mind to shoot
PT: You once hinted of plans to build a film village in Badagry in conjunction with your husband. Will it be ready anytime soon?
Omotola: I hope it will be ready next year hopefully. I also began
another project on Mobolaji Bank Anthony,Lagos, which is supposed to be
annex of the film village first called, Double Doors. So, these are some
of the things I was busy putting together when I went off the scene. I
have always said that what we need in Nollywood is infrastructure. So, I
needed to start building infrastructure.
PT: Do you think the Buhari administration has done enough for Nollywood?
Omotola: I think this government needs to wake up. The sad part is
that they go around the world and they brag about Nollywood. That’s why I
don’t understand how to brag about something you are not helping
enough. They need to understand that Nollywood in itself is a force and
it should have its own ministry. We have a problem in Nigeria which is
that we are afraid to allow ourselves be great. So, instead of allowing
someone who knows his or her onions do the job we put stumbling blocks
because of “see finish”. But if a white person comes along, we will
support him or her. We need to start supportting ourselves. You will be
amazed to know that Nollywood is the second (highest) employer of labour
in Nigeria after agriculture. I think if they want to be sincere they
will say Nollywood is number one. Why don’t we forget our immediate
petty jealousy and begin to invest in this industry?
PT: You have yet to star in a Yoruba film?
Omotola: I starred in one a long time ago titled No Rival and Oyato. I
might be shooting one soon. It’s not a fully Yoruba film; it’s a
collaboration. I’m currently reading the script.