Super actress Jumoke Odetola has over the year proved to the world that she’s 100% good at what she does, which is interpreting roles suitable for the producers, directors and her fans. Her script interpretation and delivery are excellent both in English and Yoruba language and she has been a force to reckon with in the industry today.
Her emergence into the movie industry 5 years ago has brought a lot of turn around in the history of the movie industry in Nigeria and she still remains solid as she’s moving and shooting back to back, moving from one location to another.
Just in case you are reading about the indefatigable Jumoke Odetola, let me quickly tell you all you need to know and some of the qualities that I stood her out. Born on October 15th in the late 50s into an Apostolic family.
Odetola had her secondary education at Abeokuta Girls Grammar School. She obtained her first degree from Ajayi Crowther University getting a Bachelor’s degree in Information and Communication Technology/Computer Science, she then proceeded to Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, graduating with a Master degree in Computer Science. She graduated with a CGPA of 4.3 and served in Abia State.
According to Odetola, her decision to venture into acting was contrary to the wishes of her parents. But her fulfillment in the entertainment industry led them to accept her chosen career.
In 2015, she won revelation of the year category at BON awards. Also, at the 2016 Africa Magic viewers choice Awards, Odetola won the award for best indigenous language film for her role in Binta Ofege. She retained the award in the 5th edition of the ceremony through somewhere in the dark. She also won the best actress in a lead role (Yoruba) at 2017 Best of Nollywood Awards in Ogun State, while she also bagged an ambassadorial deal with CYK Garment and Apparel.
Recently this superstar paid us a visit at City People Head office for a Movie roundtable talk and she explained how 5 roles in a movie, Binga Ofege shot her into the limelight. Below are excerpts from the interview.
You have featured in several movies back-to-back. How have you been able to do that?
For me, acting is a career, having trained under the production outfit of Prodigy And Pen Communication. I don’t see acting as a hobby or just something I delved into to while away time. It is a profession. My Dad wanted me to be an Engineer, and I actually studied Computer Science with Information and Communication Technology for my first degree, and for my Masters I did Computer Science, so when I chooses acting as a profession, I just couldn’t disappoint my parent who spent so much and believed so much in me, since I am not in that line of profession. So I choose acting as a career and it is a job for me. It is not just something I do, so I am completely dedicated to it.
What made you deviate from Computer Science into acting?
I would say it is the passion. The drive of wanting to impact my world, share a lot of stories and wanting to portray a lot of pictures to people.
Is that to say there has been a personal experience that drove you into acting?
Well for me I have so many things to share. One is the fact that I grow up watching legends and icons like Liz Benson, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde and several others, watching them change into different characters and play different roles got me interested. It was an interesting part of me and I saw that the job will allow me to be many things in one and I can still get back to my normal self as Jumoke Odetola, I could have the opportunity to be a president, governor, maid, doctor e.t.c. I wanted to be so many things. Growing up I was not sure of what I wanted to be. So when I realized that with this job I can be so many things and more I just fell in love with it and that was the part I really found interesting.
What were your parents’ reaction when you choose to go into acting?
Initially, it was pretty difficult, it was not something my Dad wanted. He didn’t want to hear anything about the entertainment industry. He was not cut out for all that and I knew that and that was the reason I could not tell him and also the reason I went on to study Engineering and Computer Science but then I excelled. I came out beautifully well with good grades, in fact, I was the best student in my department.
I actually escape coming out with a first class by little point, that already gave him satisfaction because he wanted us to be in a field we would be able to impact other, then I told myself that since this is what you want with movie making I can even cover a lot of mileage with that, I can speak to a lot of people in different topics, I can preacher, because my job is like that of a preacher.
How were you able to convince your dad into supporting your dream?
It was a hide & seek game when I started off, luckily for me I’m the last child of the family of 7.
I used to stay with my elder sisters. So I thought he didn’t know, until it got to appoint he was allied and I felt that I should let him know what I’ve been keeping from him, as I was about to say it, he didn’t even let me talk, he said “don’t bother, I know about it. You’ve been acting, just last week I was before the TV and I saw you and during the end credit I saw my name, so I can say I am proud of you” that melted my heat.
How have you been able to manage your real person from the star everybody knows?
The truth of the matter is I don’t see myself as a star, I just see myself as myself. I’m Jumoke Odetola and I’m carrying out a duty, although when I go out and get recognised by people it always makes me happy, I’m happy I’m been able to do that which I had in mind, when people appreciate my work, when people tell me they watch my movie and they learnt from it. That makes me happy. I don’t see myself as a star. I just see myself as someone who is doing her job, the job she chose to do and she’s making an impact, she’s speaking to people, and when I hear feedback from people I always felt that Yes this is what I’m born to do, this is my service, this is what God wants we to do, so I see it as a duty, I don’t see myself as a star though I appreciate it when people applaud my work.
In the last 5 years which one of your roles would you say is very challenging?
Every role is challenging even if it’s a simple scene because you are expected to bring a character to live for the scriptwriter to have created a particular character that means there is a story to tell about that character. I see each character as a challenging character because I need to put in all and try to ask myself questions like what kind of person is this character portraying.
Who am I suppose to be for each character I play? So I always ask myself questions. Meanwhile, there is this role I played in late Amaka Igwe’s production, I played the role of a young mother who battled with the sickle cell son. That role was very challenging for me because I’m not a mother yet but that character put me in the position of a mother, and the boy we are talking about is a very promising young very intelligent boy. So it was very challenging for me putting myself in that character. Another movie is “Alakiti”, that particular movie addresses a lot of issues, it talks about the issue of tribal marks. While we were shooting that movie, playing that character actually got me emotional because I just couldn’t imagine that happening to me in real life and so many other issues he struggles with, it got me thinking even as a single lady that if I get marry would I do this would I do that. So it was challenging for me because it got me emotional playing that role.
Another challenging role is the character of Miss Karagan in “Higi Haga” Movie, I didn’t get the script until 2days to the production day, and I was on another set in Abeokuta and my boss just sent it to me, when I saw it I was reading and was like does this man hands to kill me? In fact at a particular point when I read a particular page and it was just filled with grammars with lengthen words, in fact, I had to report him to all my followers on Instagram, I took the picture of it and wrote she what why director wants me to do, sending me this script less than 48 hours to the short and I’m on another set, how would I even have time to read this? Really I think that has challenging though I enjoy the character so much so that it’s actually challenging.
Which of your movies short you into the limelight?
That should be Binta Ofege, where I got to play different characters. I played the role of a pregnant woman, police officer, street girl because I was a con-artist in that movie.
You got a big one at the AMVCA award, one of the biggest platform.
How did you feel about that award?
The truth of the matter is my feeling was inexplicable because at that point I didn’t set out to win the award. Been nominated with the likes of the A-list stars already made me feel like a winner. “I said I’m in the same category with this kind of people, then I’m a winner” I already felt very good with myself. Winning that award actually humbled me, because it was our first production that got me the award. Most times if one is not careful in life, you just start something on a very fast lane and if you are not careful it could lead to your downfall.
I didn’t let it get into my head and I told myself “Ok, since you are doing this just be calm, God has given you this talent and I know I am on the right lane. So it actually humbled me and made me sit down, spoke to myself not to let it get into my head.
How do you cope with your colleagues in the industry?
Our work is a profession. We are onset, we interact, we make sure we have a good relationship with everybody and anybody I come in contact with. Nationally even when you are at work, there are certain people you will be close with.
You’ve featured in both English and Yoruba, which one would you say is more challenging?
I will say Yoruba because I started off with the English sector. Yoruba is a very deep language, a very deep culture. There are lots of things you can do in English and get away with it but you can’t try it in Yoruba because of our cultures and values. When I’m interpreting my role as an actress I’ll still ask myself if I’m aligned with the culture in order not to deviate.
Where do you see your brand in the nearest future?
God has the plan, but as a human, we try to set goals for ourselves, ultimately God is the over-all. I’m working towards not just being a name but being someone of impacts, be that face that when you see a movie I want to sit down and watch because of this person will have a message to pass across, I want to be that brand that a lot of youths would be associated with, I want to be that girl, that woman, that lots of parents will tell their children that be like this lady. That’s the kind of person I want to be, I want to be a lesson to my generation.