2017 is a year delectable actress, Fathia Balogun will always remember. This pretty actress recently won Best Yoruba Actress of the Year award at the just concluded City People Movie Awards 2017, which was held at the Balmoral Event Centre on Sunday October 8, 2017. She missed the ceremony to receive her award, so, last Wednesday, Sola Arikusa, as she is fondly called by her fans stormed City People Corporate Office at Gbagada Lagos to receive her award which was presented to her by the magazine’s Publisher, Seye Kehinde.
The Edo/Delta State-born Yoruba actress has been the bold face behind several hit movies that were released in 2017 and still counting, like Sijuwade, Sola Arikusa and many others. In 2017, Fathia was very busy, moving from one location to another. She has always been one of the top 5 Yoruba actresses in the last few years, even before Funke Akindele left the Yoruba movie industry to join Asaba movie makers. At that point, Toyin Aimakhu became the favourite. It was then a competition between her and the likes of Kemi Afolabi, Iyabo Ojo and others, and so Toyin Aimakhu became the favourite actress to replace Funke. Many film-makers came calling afterwards and this landed Toyin several endorsement deals. She was very active in the Yoruba movie industry, with series of movie scripts on her table.
Toyin was soon to become the highest-paid Yoruba actress with her professional fee running into thousands per script, until when she started reeling in the pool of unnecessary controversies and scandals particularly in her marital life. The highly talented Toyin was accused of been very arrogant at movie locations as she sometimes got paid to appear in a movie which she will eventually turn down or probably leave the location when the filming is yet to be completed.
This really affected her brand. This was when Kemi Afolabi, who left the industry in 2009 after she took a maternity leave to stay with her husband and invariably deliver her daughter in the UK, returned a few years after to displace both Funke, Toyin, as well as other counterparts. Upon her return, she took her rightful place in the industry. But in all of Fathia Balogun a cool headed and talented actress to work with and they placed her above any other actresses in the industry. From the beginning of the year to the end, Faithia was busy juggling from one location to the other and her fans got excited whenever they see her exhibiting her talent in movies.
She hardly grants interviews. When she came visiting last week she turned down our interview request saying she now has a company managing her. But the last major interview she granted was with PUNCH newspaper where she was asked to recall some of her most memorable childhood experiences.
“The only thing I can vividly remember is I went to one of the most popular schools in those days called Maryland Comprehensive High School, Ikeja, Lagos,” was how she put it. “I loved going to school because every morning, my father would drive me to school and I always looked forward to seeing him after school or whenever he returned from the office”.
What kind of family does she come from?
“My family is a very small one.. We were not extremely rich but we were very comfortable. I had everything a kid desired and I really enjoyed my childhood.”
When was the first time she considered acting as a career? she was asked.
“I was a student of the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin and I came home for a brief vacation. One day, my late foster brother, Fatai Teniola, was waiting for one of his casts to show up for a movie production. When the actress didn’t come, he and Kokonsari asked me if I could play the role. I replied that I couldn’t and that I was not even interested in acting. However, after much pleading, I decided to do it. I went back to school after that and I didn’t return for a long time so I forgot all about acting because it wasn’t in my plans. As of then, I was studying for a diploma in Law, with the intention of switching over to accounting because my father really wanted me to become an accountant. But I didn’t get admission to study accounting because I wasn’t good at mathematics. After school, I didn’t have anything to do, so I joined my foster brother’s production outfit and that was how it started. I then realised that it was something I enjoyed and I decided to go with the flow. Because I began to enjoy acting, I didn’t go back to school for my Higher National Diploma. That was when it occurred to me that I could take it up as a sustainable career. I rose fast in the movie industry because as of the time I joined, there weren’t too many actresses in the industry and I was getting ample jobs. However, after few years of acting, I travelled to the United Kingdom.”
Did she eventually complete her studies in the UK?
“Yes, I enrolled for a part-time drama course, though I did not finish because I got pregnant along the line. But I still had the determination that I would go back to school. Last year, I went to the Olabisi Onabanjo University to study Filming and I am happy about it”
Can she recall the first movie she acted in? “It was either T’alo pa Chief or Secretary and that was between 1989 and 1990.”
Which movie made her popular?
Faithia said it was “T’alo pa Chief “It was a very popular movie back then and I played a major role in it. Then I was using the name, Faithia Williams and some people still refer to me by that name. After I got back from UK, I acted in Abule Sowo by Yinka Quadri and that revived my career again.
What were some of the challenges she faced at the beginning of her career?
“I usually tell people that there are challenges in all careers, even for meat sellers in the market. One has to pay his or her dues when coming up. You cannot just get there and think you would rise to the top in no time. If you don’t have endurance and patience, you wouldn’t be able to make it because you will get to hear a lot of messed up things. There is also an incident that happened at the early stage of my career. After returning from London, I was invited to act the sub-lead role in a movie outside Lagos. When we finished shooting the first day, the director said the lead actress, who was reigning at that time though I started acting before her, would sleep in the best hotel in that town, while I would follow him to his one-roomed apartment. I ended up sleeping on a couch for two days and I didn’t complain. But I prayed to God and asked Him to make me grow bigger than even the lady and I’m grateful for where I am today.”
How many movies has she produced?” “I’ve produced about 15 movies.”
What were some of the challenges she faced while producing those movies?
“If you ask me to choose between acting and producing, I will pick acting because it is less stressful. When you’re acting, you’re like the boss because everybody will be fussing over you. But when producing, you will be the one to run after the actors and make sure they’re okay. That makes me mad because some actors can be very difficult to handle, but you must not lose your calm. While producing Asa, which is my biggest movie, it was during the rainy season and I couldn’t shoot for some days. Meanwhile, I was feeding over 500 people on set. It was very tough but I was able to scale through.”
How does she unwind?
“I’m a homely person and I cherish my privacy a lot. If I’m not working, I will either be sleeping or watching movies in my house. But once in a while, I visit cinemas.
Does she watch her own movies? “Not really, because I feel very stupid doing that and I criticise myself a lot.”
What is her official name now? My name is Faithia Williams”.But most people know her as Faithia Balogun. Doesn’t she think it would confuse to her fans?
“I don’t think so. Many of my fans still call me Faithia Balogun and even in movie credits, I am referred to by that name”.
A lot of people don’t know she is not Yoruba?
“Anybody that doesn’t know that is not my true fan. I’m from Delta State, Urhobo to be precise. Notwithstanding, I’m so proud and glad to be in the midst of Yoruba people because they are very wonderful”.