Binta Ayo Mogaji is a big name in the movie industry. She has been acting all her life. And she has remained consistently consistent. Several actresses have linked their individual successes to her encouragement and support. But she does not think much of it, she feels its only normal for her to help her colleagues and those coming behind her.
Everybody likes her because Ayo Mogaji is a happy go lucky woman who is fun to be with. She spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE a few weeks back. Its a no holds barred interview about her intimate life. Below are excerpts.
You have been acting for a very long, long time, how have you found the energy and the strength to continue to move from one location to another, across the country?
Well, it is to the glory of God, its something we have to do because the job won’t come and meet you, whenever you are seated. You have to go and look for the job. The Theatre business is like Alajapa business like the Yoruba people will say. You have to move from place to place. But we glorify God for good health because our health is good that’s why we can move around like that. I always say something. Thank for still being relevant. There are some people who want to move around like that, but nobody is calling them. For as long as you still get the job going, and people still think you are relevant and they are calling you, you got to move. So, God is my strength. I have been acting for 39 years. It was 39 years on October 1st.
Each time you look back at your career, how does it make you feel?
I feel good. I glorify Gods name because my parents didn’t want me to become an actor.
At the time I started you, dear, not say you wanted to be an actor. It was a persona-non-grata job. They wanted me to go and read Law. At a point, they got me a job in a bank. But its something of the heart. So, I glorify God that it is what my mind wants me with a passion and I thank God that it makes me relevant in the business.
Looking back, I am happy, we have come a long way. We remember how we started with NTA jobs, as a kid actor, somebody’s daughter, in a play. From there, I graduated doing stage plays, reviews and previews all over the place and then the era of stage play fizzled out and home videos came, movies came and we are still here. Thank God, the remunerations now are better than when we started. We were passionate about it quite all right, but there was no commercial viability. But now we can say Thank God this is what I earn.
You were a very sweet voice. Each time I listen to it, I get carried away. Did you work on it?
No. Its just my voice. Its God’s gift. That is the way God made my voice. We went to school in those good old days when you went to school to read A.B.D. Olowe. And you have to be able to pronounce your vowels and consonants, syllables the way it should be. We went to school during the time going to school was fun in Nigeria. Not now when the teacher who wants to teach you English cannot even string a sentence together.
What will you say explains why you have been relevant over the years? You have been like a constant star sort of?
I look at myself as a career actor. I don’t see myself as a star. I am not a star. If I became popular doing what I am doing. If I became known and people accrediting me with the title of a star, mega star, it is just the will of God. But I do this my job as if I am a civil servant. I am a technocrat. I am a career actress. This is all I do for a living, so, I believe probably that is why.
Most actresses can’t talk about their successful careers without mentioning your role, how you have touched their lives and careers. How come you have been constant in the lives of many of those coming behind you?
Maybe its because I am just being myself. If I see where I can help out, I normally do. I cannot play the kind of character I was playing 20 years ago. So if I see anybody that has the prospect or the talent to even do more than I did, I would recommend the person. I will say this one is a good actress.
I am one of those people who doesn’t get jealous of other people. There are so many actresses. If you believe in me, if you think this character you want to enact, I can kill it for you, call me. I act. I produce. I direct.
Let us talk about your growing up years. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ibadan. I am an Ibadan person. Omo Ibadan Ni Ile Oluyole. I am an Ibadan woman. I am a son of the soil. My parents are from Ibadan, both of them. I grew up in Ibadan, in my younger years, after I finished my basic school, I wanted to enter the University to read Mass Communications. They gave me Yoruba. So I deferred my admission at that point and then I went deep into the Theatre world. That was when I started moving out from place to place.
When I now get back to school I was already deep into the Theatre, because I started a kid actress, from those days at NTA Ibadan, from Why Worry and Koko Close. So, me and the likes of Akin Lewis, and others. They are older than me but it didn’t matter. At that time, nobody calls anybody brother, in the Theatre we were like at par. That was what my growing up was like.
What sort of a person is Binta Ayo Mogaji? Many people say you are free, down to earth, etc. Is this true?
What I want to say is that your background matters. I am a Muslim. In my home, I grew up knowing my mother cooks for like 40 people, visitors come and go. My father was the first Chief Imam for Ansar-u-deen Society of Nigeria. I grew up feeling quite comfortable in the midst of people. Nobody looks down on anybody where I was brought up. That’s why I don’t look down on people. Probably because of my Islamic background. Mine came with a difference. My mother was a school teacher, my father was a Muslim cleric. If you combine both plus the tenets of Islam, we were taught the way people should understand it.
All that influenced the way I am.
Tell us about your husband?
I am married to Dr Victor Ayo Oduleye. He is British. He is a Psychotherapist. We have been married for almost 12 years. And we are still married, we are still very very much happily married. He was born abroad and he still stays there. He is a Nigerian born British. His practice is abroad. He practices there and he comes home. He comes home from time to time. I also go to see him. We have a way we are managing our matrimony. I am very happily married. Our marriage will be 12 years on December 23rd.
Does that explain why you live an English life?
Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe he is rubbing off on me, I don’t know. But deep down in his heart, he is an African man. He speaks Yoruba. He came here to study when he was about starting his secondary education. His father brought him home. He was here for like 6 to 7 years. He speaks Yoruba fluently. He speaks Yoruba well. He knows about the culture. His parents are from Abeokuta.
None. If I come back again, I will still be in this industry. It is a lovely, wonderful industry. I enjoy what I am doing.