Veteran actress, Salome Eketunde, who is popularly known as “Fijabi” started her journey into the movie industry over 3 decades ago as a dancer, musician and costumier. Later she discovered her talents in acting and joined the movie industry. Her role in the movie “Fijabi” shot her to the limelight.
She featured both in English and Yoruba movies and soap operas. In this interview with City People BIODUN ALAO, she talked about her journey into the industry, her marriage to veteran actor, Femi Bright and what has kept her 25 years marriage intact plus what many actresses and young couples need to do to keep their homes and career.
Below are the excerpts.
How have you been able to remain relevant in the industry for over 3 decades?
I will give Almighty God all the glory and adoration. It’s God’s doing. Acting is something I have a strong passion for. When you love what you do, the delivery will always come smoothly. Change is a constant thing in life, so you always have to be at the top of your game to get things done, else you will lose track of time, and you will just find yourself doing nothing.
Do you go through extra training to always interpret roles?
Once I collect a script, I go through it, meditate on it, then I will now decide on how best I want to interpret the role. Take, for example, if I am given the role of a doctor, I will sit down and think about how doctors attend to their patients, what do they do in different situations, before you know it, I already know how to interpret my role. Like the role I played in “Fijabi”, all I needed to do is to look for at somebody that exhibits such character, then I will add my own swag to get the exact thing I want, then I will take it up from there.
Can you take us through your career, how did acting start for you?
Acting for me is an inbuilt thing because I never knew I could act. I started up as a singer and a dancer, but along the line, people started noticing the fact that I could do well as an actress too. I started with stage performance. So, most times, when I go for stage performance I also acted on stage and my talent was discovered.
What year was that, ma?
It is been really long. I am talking about the late ’70s and early ’80s till date.
What project are you currently working on?
I am working on a magazine show. It is not yet concluded, so I wouldn’t want to mention the name yet. Though it is something very big and interesting and people will like it. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag. I am equally working on some movie projects such as “Shattered Emotions” it is a soap opera. That is almost ready as well.
You are among the few veterans that feature both in English and Yoruba movies, how do you manage it?
First and foremost, I started with English all the orientation I got from acting, was in the English industry. Then I am a Yoruba woman though mixed Yoruba blood. So it is easy for me to interpret in Yoruba but I started acting with the English movies. I had all my training and orientation from the English industry.
What is your advice to younger stars who want to have a successful career and a happy home as well?
I will like to let them know, we were all brought up from different homes and environments. And anybody that decides to marry an actress should endeavour to respect the profession first. Most men, after getting married to us, will now want us to stop acting which is not right. I am not referring to myself here, because my husband is equally an actor and he knows what the work entails.
Take for example a man getting married to a doctor, then after marriage, you want your wife to stop practicing. I strongly believe misunderstanding comes from there. Most people take what they see on screen for serious, forgetting it is make-belief, once they see another man hug their wives on screen, they get angry and take it personally, if the husband is a jealous type, there will always be a problem, but thank God for my husband and God Almighty.
I also thank God for my parents and the upbringing I had. Though some people even have a better upbringing but still they were not able to cope and remain in their marriages. That does not mean that these women are bad, but it is the circumstances and situations they found themselves.
Honestly, it is just the grace of God that has helped me. It is not easy combing marriage and acting career together. At times, I stay on location for 10 to 15 days at times, if I am costuming, I have to stay through till the production ends. I sometimes stay for 3 months. Sometimes if I feel I am overstaying and I run back home, my husband usually complains that I should have stayed till the end of the production.
Instead of burning fuel to and fro all the time. So that is understanding. I am equally grateful to God for blessing me with very understanding children.
How old is your marriage ma?
I got married in 1995, and we are grateful to God, for keeping us this far.
What was the attraction, when you first saw your husband?
Honestly, I don’t even know. I just realised we were dating, then the next thing we got married. God has been our foundation till date, he has been so faithful and I will forever remain grateful to him.
One thing I have noticed about my marriage is the fact that we both tolerate each other a lot. When he is angry, I am calm, when I am angry, he is calm, then we understand each other a lot. I and my husband fight a lot but trust me, we don’t let anger get the better part of us. You need to see us on location especially if he is directing the job I am acting in, he treats me like every other person, and gets really mad when I don’t get my lines. He throws things at me.
Some people will even be like, that is your wife you are throwing things at, and he will be like, what is your business. At the end of the scene, you will see us playing and laughing at each other. That is understanding. It is not possible for couples to stay without having issues.
If teeth and tongue can fight, then why can’t husband and wife quarrel too. It is normal if you ask me. The thing is that we just need to study and tolerate each other, that is the major thing.
You still look so beautiful and ageless, what is the secret behind your look?
Honestly, I don’t know, I just thank God for his grace and mercy upon my life. Also, I don’t stress myself unnecessarily, that has helped me a lot too.
What should we be expecting from you in the next few years?
I can’t say, because one can’t predict what will happen in the next moment. Let’s just be hopeful. I just keep everything in God’s hands. He is my director. I don’t stress myself and neither can I kill myself just to attain something. I do my best and leave the rest for God Almighty to take control. I don’t push things to happen. I am a very patient person.
You are one actress married to an actor, yet people don’t get to hear about your marriage or scandal all the time on papers. How did you manage to do that?
I am a party person and always happy even if something is bothering me. You won’t see it in me. I learnt to endure things a lot, also I open up on basically everything to my husband. Take for example, when I got here for this programme, I was the first person. I called my husband that people are not here yet so I just decided to sit at the entrance of the hotel, while other guests arrive and he said okay. Let’s assume someone else sees me now and decided to tell my husband, he or she saw me at the entrance of a hotel my husband will not be surprised because I already told him about it. I also told him, where I will be going from here, so he knows everything. People says don’t tell your husband everything. In my own case, I tell my husband everything.
So understanding matters a lot. I studied my husband very well, I know what he wants and what he does not want and that has helped my marriage to work. I hate stress, quarrels and lies, that is why I am always open to my husband.