- Top Actress, RONKE OJO On Her 22 Yrs In Acting
Her real name is Ronke Ojo-Anthony. But everybody calls her by her nickname Ronke Oshodi-Oke. That is her stage name. She is a multi-talented actress, who is gifted in many aspects of the Theatre. She is very humble. She is very respectful and she has a robust sense of humour that will leave you in stitches if you sit down with her. Why has Ronke stayed this long in acting? How come she has not been distracted when some of her contemporaries have left to go into other things. These and many more were the questions City People duo of SEYE KEHINDE and SUNDAY ADIGUN asked her a few days back when we interviewed her. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Ronke Oshodi-Oke has been around for so long. What has been your staying power?
It’s God. It’s just God. This is my 22nd year. And I have enjoyed every bit of it.
Have their been frustrating points at which you felt like leaving, quitting?
Of course, yes. There have been times. So many times.
What are the major challenges?
The challenges are so many. Atimes I will want to opt out. Atimes I will just feel like let me go for some other things. But its the passion that has kept me going. The passion has been keeping me. When you love what you are doing no matter what comes you will still be in it.
How did you develop the passion for acting?
I don’t even know. If I say I know, I am just lying. I just noticed some people laughing and playing one day and I walked up to one of them. And ever since it has been wonderful.
What was the thing you saw that made you walk up to them?
I don’t even know. I just saw happy people. They were laughing, laughing, laughing and gisting. And I like to laugh a lot. I took that from my father. My father is a funny man. He is not an actor but he makes people laugh a lot. I will call him a comedian in his own little way before he died. I took after my father. The guy who later became my boss, Mufutau Oladokun, was a comedian, aka Alaran akobata. he is late now. Both of them are funny people.
You are versatile. How did you develop that aspect of you? You can be jovial, yet serious.
That is why I tell people that Ibironke Ojo-Anthony is different from Ronke Oshodi Oke. There are 2 people in the same image. Ronke Ojo is kind of calm. She does not really talk. I don’t really talk. If there is no need to talk. But Ronke Oshodi-Oke can be a stupid woman today, she can be a normal human being tomorrow. She can be a doctor. She can be anything. Whatever job you are doing, she tries to balance it out.
When I was coming into this job I was just playing. I didn’t know it will turn out to be as big as this. I was just playing, just having my fun. I didn’t even know money can come out of it. When money was coming little by little, I was like ok, what can I do? I have tried as much as possible to be like everything that people are like. I watch most of Queen Lateefat movies a lot. I like Queen Lateefats. I like Whoopie Goldberg a lot. I like those 2 people. I love Sola Sobowale too. I like to watch their movies and see how they act and what they do. Its God because I don’t know how I do it. I admire other people a lot.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lagos. But I was born in Ondo State, in Akure. I grew up here in Lagos State. I attended Model Nursery and Primary School. I attended Yemus Nursery and Primary School and Muslim College, Oworonsoki, Lagos. That was all.
When you were still in school, did it ever occur to you that you will end up in movies?
I have never thought about that. No. But when I was in the Secondary School we normally do acting. I was in the drama group. We dance also.
Have you also acted in English movies?
Oh Yes. I have done English movies. I have done over 25 English movies so far.
And how come you still preferred to stay on doing Yoruba?
Yoruba is my language. We need to promote our different languages. Fine, there is money in English movies. No doubt about it. And everybody likes money. But if everybody goes in that direction who else will be left. Nobody. I like our language, our dialect.
How have you sustained yourself in the Yoruba movies because everybody complains that there is no money in the Yoruba movie industry?
It’s just God. How I do it myself I don’t know. It has been God ever since.
Which was the movie that launched you into the limelight?
The movie that launched me into the limelight is Oshodi Oke in 1999/year 2,000 I was at the National Theatre one day. Then, we used to go to the National Theatre a lot. Producers always go there to cast. So on that day we were there having fun. One of my friends just walked up to me and said Ronke, buy me 2 bottles of STAR. I said why should I. I bought one for him and later he said he wants to introduce me to one man, Sunday Soyinka. Uncle Sunday now said I will have 5 scenes with them. I said ok. I negotiated with them. He said he was going to give me N2,000 I said no problem. My boyfriend then was going to Canada. He said Ronke, are you not going to stay with me? This is my last day today and you want to go to the location to act. I said I don’t have a choice. He was shedding tears on that day. I left. When I got there they were doing effects. Effects were not that rampant then, in Yoruba movies. They said I should not take off my clothes, that the clothes have continuity. They then said I should go home after that, I said but we are supposed to do 5 scenes, so why am I going home and coming I went for about 6 times and after that, I said I am not going again, not until when the film came out. We later became friends. I worked with him for about 4 years. When the film now came out, people were coming out of the hall, and everyone saw me and said Ronke Oshodi-Oke niyen People now said Oh I like the way you act. I was now wondering what do they like about it. Not until I got into the hall where it was being shown that I said really, was this what they were doing that day? People were mobbing me. They were crazy, they were saying all sorts. That was how I got the name Oshodi Oke. The name of the film was Oshodi Oke. You know we have so many Ronkes in the industry. They now said ok. Uncle Wale Promo was the one that started it. He said, this person is in that movie, that person is there, Ronke Oshodi Oke is there also.
He was the one that started this name Ronke Oshodi-Oke. Other people now started calling me that name. I didn’t like the name at all. In fact when the film was coming up. I didn’t like it at all. I was at Oshodi one day and some people started shouting Aunty we like your film. They were selling fish. They were pulling my dress. They were using their hands to rub my body. I was irritated and I was shouting leave me, what did I do?
There was this other day I was inside Molue I was going from Oshodi to Iyana Ipaja, some people just started teasing me, auntie we like your movie. They were mobbing me, pulling my dress, I had to drop at the next bus stop. So at a point, I had to stop entering molue. To God be the glory we are still there till today.
How have you been able to cope with stardom?
We are all the same in the eyes of God. I don’t see myself as a celebrity or a star. The moment you start thinking that way you will have problems. I do everything myself. But I don’t go to the market, because the day I last went to the market, I regretted it. The women didn’t let me rest. I don’t see myself as a star. I see myself as a normal human being. I am Ronke Ojo. When I am on set it is Ronke Oshodi-Oke so I don’t see myself as any other thing.