Out of 10 movies, you will probably see popular Yoruba actor, Lateef Oladimeji in 8. This is because he is one of the most featured young actors in the industry now. He has been acting back to back in movies. Not because he has appeared in many movies but because of his versatility and ability to make his roles real has furthered endeared him to many of his fans. Infact he is one of the hot cakes for movie producers. Lateef Oladimeji was introduced into Yoruba acting by veteran actor, peter Fatomilola before he joined Muyiwa Ademola caucus and ever since then his life has been on a roller coaster. Many people want to always watch him on screen and one of his unique selling point is “crying”, he does this and his emotional roles perfectly well and no wonder his brilliant performance in the popular movie flick, KudiKlepto gave him a big break. Does Lateef have people he looks up to? Yes, It will be shocking to you that one of them is Odunlade Adekola, the gist were all around town that Odun brought him into the industry but let us shock you once more he met Odun 3 years after he first spoke with him. Lateef started acting in community life project before he gained admission into Olabisi Onabanjo University and since then he has been featuring in most blockbusters movies. This amiable and fantastic actor stormed City People office for a roundtable interview and he spoke glowingly on how his path with Odunlade Adekola crossed, his rise to fame and personal life. Enjoy!
How do you cope with the challenges that comes with your job?
It has not been easy though but I think God is merciful because for every profession there must be challenges and what makes you a better person is you not running from them but facing them and looking for a way to go through them and see to the end of it all. For me it is not a challenge because I look for a way to handle myself and go through the challenges and move on to wherever I want to go.
What do you call a challenge apart from the basic challenges beyond the basic challenge that people mention?
Basically everybody feels there is a lot of money in the movie world that you could get to do a movie and get paid like 500 thousand naira or 1 million which is not even visible. Slot of people come to you with so much load of help that you should be able to do it and then when you tell them it is not coming out that way, they begin to think otherwise and even when you are called for a job and you are like at this time,you are very tight but they never want to believe you,because you for real one has line up of jobs already and the thing is if you call me, you will pay me and why will I want to turn down that kind of job, if the job is I will get to be paid a huge sum of money, I will take just a job and relax for a long time but it is not so, really our job is you have to keep featuring in many good movies so that you can merge and merge till you get something meaningful
I have also noticed that there are new set of young guys in the industry acting back to back in movies which you are one of them,how does this make you feel?
Basically I think that is way the job is, soldier go soldier come but the barrack remains, the industry still remains, different people comes in, they go like that. For me the back to back thing that we do is actually a good thing but what will make you stand and assure you of continuity is not you being called back to back but what improvement do you give to yourself despite you are being called back to back because at a stage when people see just one person in 20 movies, you are nothing to write home about, there must be able to see a different you in all the different movies and that is why I take my time even when I get to the location without a script, before I get on that set, you will need you to tell me the script and the character and allow me to plan myself and get into the character so that you don’t see the same person in all of the movies. if an actor does not have the versatility of interpreting characters then he is going to have problems with that person because they will say he does the same thing all the time, so I take my time to understand the character and the story.
No doubt you are one of the hot actors we have now, can you tell us one unique selling point you have,
What I think I have is the fact that whenever I am going to be acting with any actor at all, I am being trained not to see any actor or colleague as a competitor, the moment one actors feel such way, you get into problem. You will get on that set and over act to make people see that you are doing well than that person and people will start noticing your overacting and start complaining so for me, I don’t see any actor as a competitor, I study the character and fit into it. I just allow the acting to just flow naturally and people will see it that way. And another thing that has worked for me is that I know how to cry and people feel that is a very big selling point for me because naturally I am an emotional person, it is easy for me to get into any emotional role and just deliver because most of my emotional roles are 70 percent of my kind of person so it is easy for me to deliver with ease.
There is always a shooting up point for every individual aiming at success, at what point can you say your career shoot up? because we just starting hearing your name everywhere all of a sudden, can you share with us.
I have been around though because I started with stage, I have started acting back home then when I was in the school. i was trained by a non-governmental organization, community life project in Isolo. I joined them in year 2000 and basically what we do to get the information to the grassroot is acting drama and songs and that was how we have been doing it until 2003 when I got admission into the university, Olabisi Onabanjo University to be precise where I studied mass communication.at first i wanted to study theatrearts but from all the ground rules Ihave already ,I decided to go for something that has theatre in it and that is mass communication because they go hand in hand, so I was in school, I have my own troop, I built it up,they are called D’tunes.we acts around OSU,we do stage plays and all of that till 2006 when they came to do audition in my school, the movie title is AFUWAPE, myself, uncle peter fatomilola, and then so many other people on that set. That was where uncle peter mentioned to me that do I know someone called Odunlade Adekola? But then I am not really conversant with Yoruba movie world so I was like NO, and he said we so much look alike and I also wondered that so I actually resemble someone that much,so that day Uncle Peter called Uncle Odun that day,and we discussed about the resemblance and all and then I didn’t meet him until 3 years after. I finished school from 2007 and I produced my first movie, OSE REGI that year and after I went to join Adebayo Tijani, Muyiwa Ademola and Afeez Eniola Caucus and that was where my career started up from but my catapult was the film “KudiKlepto” a movie by Yewande Adekoya. That was my hit and that was how I came into limelight.
Why was that so?
It was because of the role I played in the movie, it is an emotional role and you know, the KudiKlepto steals and after all the stealing, the guy is still the very caring type, pampering her and all.
Now that it has been in the public know that you and OdunAdekola are not brothers, but you guys have a lot of things in common,You look alike, talk alike,act alike sometimes, does all of this rub off on you and how is the relationship so far?
It is a good relationship, at first when I eventually met Uncle Odun, I was a bit scared though because the resemblance strucked me. So I clinched a whole lot to him because once I see somebody who knows the rules of this job, I pick from him, I don’t want to be like anybody. I pick from people and add it to what I have and keep being me because there is nothing as being you. One can have mentors who will mentor you to what you want to be so Uncle Odun is an inspiration I must say, I am glad I met him and he plays the brotherly role very well. I have other people too like Femi Adebayo, Ibrahim Chatta, I studied all this great actors, I watch them and I pick from them and add it to myself. So it has been fun acting on set together with Uncle Odun, at times when I make mistakes, he calls me behind and correct me wisely.
How many movies have you featured in and how many have you produced?
I have lost count though but it should be close to 100 and I have only produced 2 movies, OSE REGI and WALE DANGER, was last year.
What can you say about the ratings of both movies?
There is a whole lot of difference. When I produced OSE REGI, I was still in school, I was not in any group. It was a singlehandedly produced kind of movie that some of my colleagues in school but after then I ought to have been producing but I don’t see myself as a producer because I am just a commercial actor, just call me to do your movie and that’s all but at a stage people said one needs to produce so I sat down and thought that all the movies I have produced are romantic movies, so I have to do something away from that and that was why I have to do Wale Danger which is a crime movie, I had to make the audience see that I am also good on that part, I got a lot of comment from it and I am still improving on that part.
Can you recollect any particular role that gave you a lot of challenge fitting into it?
No roles give me problem because when we were being trained at community life project,they made us understand that anything that passes by you has something for you to pick from,as an actor nothing must pass by you.so for me I don’t throw any part away. I pick a lot of things everywhere.
Has there been any beautiful role that you actually gave yourself thumps up for?
I think that was AAA, when I acted alongside Femi Adebayo. He was the Carpenter while I work as the apprentice and I had to act like a gay kind of apprentice. So when they gave me the script, I called someone that I know that does that just before I went on that set and I spoke to him for about 10mins and picked his voice. It was exactly his voice I used on that set.
You acted like an Igbo guy in one of the recent movies and a whole lot of people accepted the role,how did you discover that part of you?
It still goes down to the fact that I pick from people, I live in Lagos where my neighbour is Igbo. next to my flat is Baba Okala so exactly the way he speaks his Yoruba, he forces it out, and this I have been used to since secondary school and I have studied him a lot, sometimes I go to him to gist and use those times to pick from him. So when I wanted to get into that character, I just picked the voice from him because I think I have ears from language. I pick very quickly.
How do you cope with women?
Basically there is no way you can do without that. When you know fame has arrived, a lot of women will run after you and most especially they are our fans, they keep us in business so one cannot do with women but there is always a curve you don’t bent any longer, you have to be careful, balance yourself well, arrange yourself together because the minute you get famous, everything that is not real seems positive to you because that is what fame brings. You think it is real because you are famous and have money If you lose it, that is the end of it all. My father has always kept me in check with his words. Temptations will come and all other stuffs but one need to hold oneself and call yourself back. For me in my house, we are very deep, Islamically we are deep so I had a good upbringing.so I was that deep before I got into the industry so maybe that was what has been my savior.
Can you share with us growing up and your educational background?
I was born in Oshodi, I went to Central Primary School,Oshodi then we moved to Isolo, then I went to Ire Akari Primary School,then to Ilamoye Grammar School in Okota and when I finished there,that was when community life project started training us then after I went to Olabisi Onabanjo University.
When you were young, what were the ideas of what you wanted to become?
I actually wanted to become a lawyer. that was what has always been in my head but my mum sometimes told me behave like one actor when i was young, but that did not really got me until I joined the community life project, not only that they trained us in the theatre way, because they made us pure educators and counsellors, they take us through 18 topics, instill confidence in us that when we set out,we don’t just be actors, we become much more. acting is mere talent,and when you have the fame,what do you do with the fame? So to be an actor goes a long way. You are passing an information through, how many of us that we call ourselves celebrities, I don’t even know how many people we have led astray and how many people have we got back on track, because the moment you become famous you have face that stamped you as an authority but even you that wants to bean authority,were you prepared for it? so it is just not about being an actor but a good one who will lead a lot of people to the right path so community life project built me and molded me well before I got into the industry. At community life project was when I started writing for African radio drama association, ARDA, Radio drama and all of that
What are your parents’ objectives in you becoming an actor?
My mum is that calm woman. My mum has been the savior. My father has always objected, he didnt want me to go into acting but one day when he saw one of my stage plays, he just allowed me, but it was not so easy, it was tough for me. So that was when he gave me his prayers.