Award-winning actor, Bolanle Ninolowo is one actor you can’t help but celebrate all the time because of the remarkable talents he dominates both the Yoruba and English movie industries. When you ask him how he feels with this he will boldly tell you it is God’s grace that has singled him out.
He has remained a source of inspiration to lots of upcoming actors in the industry. Despite the many obstacles he encountered in life, he never gave up on his dreams. No wonder, within 6 years in the movie industry, he has remained one of the most sought-after in both industries, featuring in blockbuster movies back-to-back. This every lady’s dream man will never forget the God factor all through his journey. In this exclusive interview with City People Publisher, DR. SEYE KEHINDE, he revealed a lot that many don’t know about him and the many obstacles he encountered in his journey to fame.
How did you celebrate your birthday?
Thank you so much Uncle Seye. I really appreciate this and I thank all my fans for my 40th birthday. I didn’t really do much. It was a great day for me and I spent time with my family. There was nothing more I wanted and God made that happen for me, so I had the best 40th birthday I could have ever dreamt off.
What went through your mind on that day?
To be honest, I remembered when I did my 30th birthday, I saw myself as a failure. I remembered how I cried on my 30th birthday because I had moved to Nigeria back then with things not working for me. I was like, I have made the greatest mistake of my life at 30.
So, looking back now, my 40th birthday gave me the opportunity to reflect a lot and I am very thankful and grateful to God. I am a living testimony. I put myself through a lot of tests and I conquered, but in all, I am thankful to God.
Do you feel fulfilled at 40 already?
Yes. Absolutely. Totally fulfilled.
Looking at your career, how does it make you feel today?
Well, I am highly grateful to God. The most important thing is for people to see me and believe there is God. Let people see me and say oh, there is nothing God can not do. I want people to see me and believe there’s hope because I have been through a lot and to come out this way and have all I have now. I believe in God and He is good all the time.
What role has ‘God factor’ played in your life?
Everything. I see myself like someone who has a one-on-one relationship with God. I have been through some dark moment in life. It got to a point that the mistakes I created for myself in life was bigger than anything you can actually think of, so it got to a point that it was just me alone in life so I turned to God. I pick up the Bible, read the Bible, I got strengthened through reading the Bible. I was also able to reconnect my life while reading about the life of people in the Bible, like reading the story of David, Saul, Paul. So I connected strongly to the Bible when I was down. I had a very strong faith in God that even me I was surprised I could have a very strong faith in God.
It is actually worth dancing around the whole world for that success. It’s not all about money anymore, it is like putting yourself in a jungle and believing strongly in God that He will see you through it. God listens and he is magnificent. I have reached a stage in my life that I can take a bullet for God. I couldn’t take a bullet for my wife or my daughter but I could do that for God because He is worth dying for. You need to have been through some certain things in life to understand all I am saying. Pastors can’t tell you that, it is self-test, self-determination, that is just it.
How do you cope with the fact that you are in high demand?
It is very overwhelming but at the same time, this is what I asked from God and to whom much is given, much is expected and one thing in life is that you can’t please everybody. If you are not okay, you can’t help anybody and success makes you selfish. You need to have some level of selfishness. Though the selfishness is not in a negative manner but in a strict way of living. People call me in both English and Yoruba industry. Most times. I don’t even know how to balance it. But once I am free and your work comes next, I would accept it. When I started my career, I wasn’t allowed to choose or select jobs. Acting was a profession God said I would do and if I learn and do the work, I can use it to get to the stage I am in life.
At what point in your life did you get so philosophical: you are always deep with what you say about life?
Honestly, I am a product of lots of failures. I owe everything that I have achieved to everybody that has been against me. I knew what I wanted to become in life, but the criticism and negativity, the hate, the adversity of life got me serious. My strength to fight it has made me who I have become, so it is not like I am a superman, but me fighting adversities and making sure I am not defeated by what people say made me got to where I am today, so my strength lies in being criticised and since I don’t have duration to my success, I would make sure I change that mindset till I die.
How do you prepare for every script that comes your way?
At the beginning of my career, I didn’t know how to do it at all and that is why I will remain grateful for grace. I know the significant role grace played in my life; it helps you out and cover your weaknesses, so, I took advantage of favour and gave it my all. I was a lost soul who just used God’s favour, so I learnt how to work alone. I also made sure I was transparent in my career from the beginning, because I understand my transparency can lead to someone else’s transformation.
How come you weren’t carried away by the successes you have achieved in the industry?
Because they are not my success but my fans. Uncle Seye forget it! It is not only me that producers feature in movies but I am being liked and supported by grace and favour. I have nothing to do with that, but the grace and the only way I do that is through the fear of God. I have not taken ownership of it, so I can’t get carried away, so that is how I am able to do that.
How do you manage your big fan base, especially the ladies?
I do the best I can. One thing I am sure of is the fact that I am not confused. I honestly still carry my pain every day. My pain reminds me of what not to do. I am not a saint. I have made mistakes that God didn’t allow to pull me down. Every day I wake up, I wake up knowing I am privileged.
Is there any difference between Bolanle Ninolowo the actor and the one real life?
The truth is that the man that I am now is the guy that is conscious of everything. Being responsible is a choice, it is an option. In life, you need to understand that you are not a victim of your circumstance but a victim of your choice. Once you understand that you are responsible for these things and you know where you want to be in life, He will guide you to do the right things.
What would you attribute as the success of your marriage?
I honestly don’t like talking about my marriage but all due respect to you. I have messed up a lot honestly. I would tell every woman out there; the worst thing that can happen to any woman out there is dating a dreamer. A dreamer is a lost person especially when the other person doesn’t even know that much. I took advantage in any way I could. I just thank God I came out in flying colours. I made mistakes, but I am not defined by those mistakes. I can’t change the beginning but I can change the ending. For my marriage: loving my wife and kids is not a favour to them but to me. You are not doing anybody favours when you are doing the right thing.
But I used to think otherwise when I was young. I used to think I was doing my wife a favour by loving her but I understand better now. A life of peace is a choice. Nobody is smarter than any other person. Everybody is capable of doing what you are doing, so it’s all a choice. I grew up to that level. I also can’t judge the next person because our journey is different, so the moment you know it is all about you and your choice, you will be fine.
Where did you grow up and where were you born?
I was born in Nigeria but grew up in Chicago, America. I had my degree in Accounting and Masters in Chicago, before coming back to Nigeria. I came back in 2010.
What is the secret of your handsome look?
(Laughs!!!) Please just thank God for me. I may sound like I talk too much, but honestly, if you ask me what God has done for me, I could talk from today till tomorrow. I have seen God answer prayers. Let me talk about the good looks you said. In 2007, when I was still hustling, before people knew me, I was doing a film for Wale Adenuga Productions and because I was trying to make it in the industry, I was ready to take any kind of risk, so I was supposed to jump from a 2 storey building down where we needed some experts to get it done, and I jumped and broke my leg totally. Fine, I knew I would walk again. I never gave up. I kept shooting with my legs like that. The Nino Nino Nino, you hear people screaming about today. If I was unable to walk again, I will know God wanted to shut my career down, so for me to get up and keep walking, it simply means I will keep defeating my enemies, so imagine I was unable to walk again. I won’t even be here today granting this interview, except if I was extremely talented and there was a role for someone on a wheelchair. Majid Micheal can testify to this. I flew to Ghana to still work in that condition. I would cry from morning till night because of how bad my leg was, but I never gave up, so God kept telling me if I stop you from walking now that fame and love will die. I kept all the pain to myself and kept working because I don’t like to share my pains on social media because that is mine to deal with. So I can now answer that this is what I do to look good, so how I look and what I do is just by the grace of God and because I am so loyal to God I can just give an answer, aside from the fact that I take my bath daily, go to the gym when I can. That is all. It is all by the grace of God we are having this interview.
If you look at the industry today, how doesn’t it make you feel, how far have we gone?
Nollywood has grown immensely. Nollywood did this for me. If I am so admired by many people today. Nollywood did that, Nollywood is creating talents; it gave me this opportunity and made people know I have been in Nollywood now for 6 and a half years. If you come into the game, focused, and you work hard, it will pay off.