Olu Jacobs and Joke SilvaVeteran actors, Joke and Olu Jacobs met in 1981 at a rehearsal and got wedded in
1985, showing that love can truly last a lifetime.
Cornered at the 100th premiere of Battleground, Joke Silva shares her
journey in the industry with MUTIAT ALLI, and her thoughts on marriage
break-ups, domestic violence and loving moments with husband.
While growing, were there circumstances that made you make a detour from acting?
After getting married and having 2 children, work had dried up. I got
married in 1985 and my second child was born in 1998. There was very
little work and I was bored. So I went back to the university. I did my
drama with the drama school then went to the University of Lagos to
study English. It was while I was at the university that I now did some
more work under Fani Kayode, mind-bending but there was one-time work
dried up and I found myself teaching so many students in private
schools. I taught in Abbey schools, I taught in Green Woodhouse, I
taught in Atlantic Hall and a lot of my students are now in the
industry. So many of them.
You are one of the celebrities whose marriage have worked and
is still working. Unfortunately, we get to hear too many stories of
broken homes. Does that not bother you?
It doesn’t, not particularly. I think it’s important for people to
know what their thresh hold of pain is, what their thresh hold of
acceptability is, I think sometimes in this society we tend to say “Oh,
you must stay in the marriage no matter what he does to you”, to the
individuals who have stayed in the marriage. You will hear of some women
who have stayed with their husband right throughout the difficulty and
when the husband dies, you hear them, they’re so bitter because it seems
as if they wasted their life and this is something that the younger
generation doesn’t want to go through. With that being said, I think
also that there is a little need for both sides to see each other as
human beings. There is a tendency for us to have the wrath of a man, our
boys are raised from when they’re babies, and they’re saying “ehh! Wo! O
ma sawonbirin leshe” (he will deal with these women) (claps)… so when a
woman all of a sudden, say that this man should become responsible,
should become accepting, should be able to take a leadership position,
where he is a servant leader, how?
He was never brought up to be a
servant leader. He was brought up to be the king of kings and lord of
lords! (Claps…). So, it’s a shift thing in mindset. It’s difficult but
it’s something we have to do and that is why we are seeing what we’re
seeing. That is why the marriages are not making it. The woman are like,
“excuse me, I’ve gone to school, I do my share in this house” you know?
Let me give you an example; I remember I had a brief conversation with
someone where I said “Oh! WOW! Your house is beautiful. Ah! Well done to
you and your wife.” He said “What did she contribute? It was me. I
built it.” And I said “Sweetie, the fact that she wasn’t asking you for
the money and she was making sure it was possible for you to build the
house, if she did not give you a dime towards the house, her support to
you building the house is her share in the house. Do you understand? But
you know, they weren’t built up to think like that so you find that a
lot of mothers will say; when you are building your house, if it’s only
the roof, if it’s only a few tiles you can buy, you should buy it so
that you’ll have a claim of the house.
With your successful marriage story; there must have been a Pet name for your husband and for you?
(Giggles) Ahh yes! His pet name is Omo boy and he feels excited and fulfilled whenever I call him that.
Are there no moments it becomes heavy for you and you don’t want to call him Omo Boy?
Laye (Never)! When there is Omoboy and then I say “Olu”, that’s
Wahala (laughs). And then same is with me when he says “Iya”, that’s my
pet name and when he says “Joke!” I know am in trouble.
You have sure paid your dues in the industry and still very
much relevant; some scholars are of the opinion that there is a parallel
line that exist between stage actors and screen actors?
I am a part of “Heart Beat-The Musical” which is a stage performance.
Now there are the techniques for the stage actors, and the screen
actor’s techniques are different. But there is a point where they
converge and that is the understanding. Analyzing and understanding your
character! They converge there in understanding the script and the role
of your character being the world of the play, and accepting the
reality of the world in the play of your script. Where they diverge, is
the energy, the energy as in projection, not just in voice but in the
entire personality. On stage, you have to project everything, your
voice, your personality, your gesture, everything is projected. But in
screen, even if it’s a big screen, the bigger the screen, the smaller
your projection has to be (laughs..) because if you go all big as you go
on stage because you’re going on a big screen, you will look at
yourself and go – wawu. (Laughs).
Which do you find more comfortable?
I love both; I understood the techniques of both. I didn’t understand
the techniques for a while in the early years so I used to feel much
more comfortable on stage but once I got an understanding of the screen,
it was easy.
How do you feel whenever a project brings you and your husband together?
usually fun and exciting; at the same time we put professionalism in
what we do. Take for instance, if we are to play the role of a couple in
a movie set, we do it according how the script explains and leaves
everything behind. So after the set we come back as family but on set we
are who we are ‘Actors’.
What’s that one word that keeps you going?
In reflexion, what are you most grateful for career-wise?
Being able to re-invent myself in ways that make sense. I am very
grateful that at every point of my career, re-invention has made sense
for that particular time it occurred. This has also ensured that I
You have stayed on top of your game for over four decades. Do you see yourself retiring soon?
I am very lucky to belong to an industry that doesn’t recognize
retirement. There are so many actors in the West who say they are
retired but still find their way back into the profession. Ours is an
industry that allows for longevity and I have taken advantage of it.
What are your thoughts on domestic violence?
These days many women come out, talking of abuse in marriage. I think
I’m very happy more women are coming out to talk about it. It is
important their partners must give themselves space. Once the violence
starts, give yourself space! I think it is the most spirit destroying
action one can put on their lover. And it doesn’t only happen to women.
It happens to men as well. I think it is sad that any relationship gets
to that point where you need to break the spirit.
But then, is there anything like a woman provoking a man to hitting her?
I think in relationships especially when we are angry with each
other, I think lovers go for the jugular when they are angry. I know I
do. (Laughs). I think it’s important to understand when you are getting
to that point where you understand that you’ve gotten to the thresh
hold. Like sometimes when I counsel young people, I say there is a role
that you recognize, that if I push anything further, we’re going to be
in trouble. When you hear that, when you feel it, it’s in the eyes, you
can’t hide it. Each person, waka! There is also the violence that people
don’t associate to domestic violence and that is the emotional
violence. Emotional violence is the violence that is so deadly because
you don’t see it. It damages the person psychologically; I think the
onus is on those who love the person. To let them see it and be aware of
it. Marriage is not do or die affair.
What is that meal uncle Olu cannot do without?
That’s an interesting question. (Laughs out loud) ask him. (Laughs…)