When pretty and dark skinned Yoruba actress, Adekemi Taofeek stormed City People Magazine office last week, all heads turned in her direction. This is on account of her raw beauty. She is one Yoruba actress who has retained her natural colour. She is jet black. And her skin glows. She is one of the hottest babes rocking Yoruba movies right now. She joined the movie industry 10years ago. Her movies “Silifa Alamala” and “Farayola” has increased her rating in the movie industry, as she has been shuttling from one location to another. She has featured in over 50 movies and produced over 10 movies. She talked about her journey into the entertainment industry 10yrs ago, her challenges in the industry, and what has kept her going, despite the state of the industry. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Lately, you have been so busy. Shuttling from one location to another, how did you achieve all that?
Okay, when it comes to my personality, I know how to manage, especially when it comes to time, though it has not been easy. Immediately my movies were released “Silifia Alamala” and “Farayola”, seemed every producer wanted me on their movie set. I think it is God. It is not by my power but God’s grace and faithfulness in my life and I give him, all the glory.
Besides featuring in other people’s movies, you have also been producing a lot of movies lately, where do you get your inspiration from?
I have never bought stories, most times, I always have ideas. I write them down, then afterward, I get a scriptwriter, to help me develop it, but I am always the owner of my stories. Once I do a rough work of what I want, the scriptwriter goes through everything and does justice to the story. That is all.
So, the scriptwriter brings it to life. It has not been easy though, and I get my stories through the day to day activities, through friends. I might decide to go clubbing with my friends, and get to hear things, that I feel, they are not real. So I will decide to make a movie out of it.
What really inspired you to go into acting?
First and foremost, I am a very shy person and I never knew, I will be here today. I never knew I was going to become an actress. I started acting in my secondary school. There’s a place close to my dad’s place of work, where they do rehearsals. And my friend often drags me down. One fateful day, the director just noticed me, and was like, who is that black girl, sitting down there, and I was like, oh “Am not part of you ooo” and he was like. I need a black girl for this particular role. So just come and try it. Fortunately, I did, and he was really impressed. At the end of it, that day, I was like, is this all you people do? It’s actually fun, and considering the fact that I was still waiting for my admission into University, I decided to join them, though I started my acting career in the English industry.
Which of the English movies have you featured in?
I did Super Story, with Uncle Jibola Dabo. I did, “Bloody Tussle” with Francis Duru, Chike Ike and lots of others.
Would you say that the colour of your skin has helped you, in getting roles?
Yes, we are not many that are dark in the industry, and I am very sure, in the next 5yrs, I will be the only dark-skinned actress in the industry, because I am a very lazy cream person, I don’t apply cream on my body always, and very soon, all of them might want to tone their skin. So I will be left alone.
In an industry where the light-skinned actresses have upper hand, due to the light and camera thing, why did you still decide to keep your natural colour?
The truth is that my skin has bought me this far. It is often said, that the fair skinned people are camera friendly, but I use to tell them, that you need to put light on my face, and I will be fine.
What would you say has been your challenges in the industry?
Those challenges are pretty much, but I don’t want to be specific.
Can you mention few out of the challenges, may be in the financial aspect or any other thing?
Actually, I am not working because of the money. I’m here because I have lots of passion for this job. The money we are being paid is nothing to write home about. But you have love and passion for something, I think you need to do more, and that is why I produce more. I would not wait for a marketer to give me money before I produce. As I’m seated now, I can decide to go on location next month and produce a movie. I also have other stuff. I do besides acting, that most people don’t know about, am not really a social media person, so you don’t need to see all I do on social media. Most often producer deny me of some roles because they feel, am very gentle and won’t be able to interpret some roles, but lately, they have started seeing the real me, after “Silifa Amala” and Farayola”.
So who really is Kemi Taofeek?
Am just me, am down to earth, I want to be free, make new friends, am just like any other person. I don’t even want to be recognized in a place, because I want to be free and comfortable, because once I am being noticed, it reduces my chance of communicating with people and being free. So this is Kemi, I just want to be me.
Most producers in your industry complain about not getting their invested capital back when they produce a movie. But in your own case, you have been shooting back to back. Has it been rewarding to you?
Yes. You do business, to make a profit but my kind of person, I studied Business Administration in the University and I was taught in school, that sometimes, you need to spend more to get something. So right now, am just investing. So most people coming into the industry now are not here for business but for fame. Yes, I produce back to back, it is just something I have a passion for. It is going to pay someday. It’s not like our marketers are making all the money. No. The film industry is not like, every other business, where you will be thinking and calculating your profit. If you spend one naira, there is the possibility, you might even make you one naira back, I don’t know how my other colleagues do theirs, but for me, I produce because. It’s my calling, and I love it and it’s paying me.
When you invest a million naira in a project, you can hardly make 600 thousand naira back, how do you cope with running at a loss in that particular business?
Like I said earlier, love and passion have kept me going film business is not a business, you invest a million, and wants to make 2 million in return. It requires lots of patience and calculation to succeed in the film business. Even most people that shoot Cinema movies. It is not like, they make all the money too. Am just doing it for the love, because, at the end of the day, it pays, people are seeing your movies, and people are compensating us. If I want to travel today, I might not use my money to buy the ticket, gifts from people, go out with friends and lots of others.
What can you make out of all changes in the industry today?
I work with Olasco film, there’s the saying that jack of all trades, master of none, if you are in this industry, and you are not focused, I don’t know how you will succeed. If I have a story idea, I will just call Olasco films, Popsy. I have an idea, he will be like Kemi I trust you. You always have a good story idea. If even if I don’t have money, I can tell him, I have one million and he will add more money and with that, I am okay. But as a producer, it’s not good to work with different marketers today, another one tomorrow. It will definitely kill you as a producer. It’s not all my movies that goes online, but because I am working with a particular person that believes sometimes you gain, sometimes you lose, and that is today, you work with Olasco, tomorrow Epsalum.
Moreover, they also use to have their meetings too, once one particular marketer talks about you, that the movie you gave to him didn’t sell, if anyone else had interest on you amongst them, will definitely lose interest, and at that particular time, they don’t even want to consider any other factor at that particular time, they will just conclude, you don’t make good movies. So I don’t know how others do theirs but I will prefer working with one particular marketer.
Did you join any caucus before becoming an actress?
Yes, I started with “Igi Alaoye” Segun Ogungbe in Abeokuta. My main boss is Bose Aregbesola.
What was your growing up like?
It was hell, because, English doesn’t have caucus, you go for an audition, when they pick you, then, they will tell you, this is the amount, we are going to offer you. I have stopped English for a while now, after a particular encounter with my dad. He called me on the phone and I told him, I was not at home at that particular time. He got really upset, that I was on location again. So I had to leave the location without completing my scenes and that was the end of my career in the English industry. Then, he said he wanted me to concentrate on my studies. My father was never in support of my acting career but my mum gave me all the necessary support I needed from the beginning. My mum often sneaked me out of the house for my rehearsals. Even when I gained Admission into Unilag to study Creative Arts, he objected to it. He didn’t allow, but to God be the Glory, today, my dad is one of my biggest fans. He helps me sell my movies most times. He buys from me and gives out to his friends for free most times. I was really determined that even after my degree in the University, I will still go for acting. So after my degree, I joined the Yoruba industry since am a Yoruba girl. So I joined Segun Ogungbe Caucus, after 4 to 5years with them. I decided to be independent and I started producing movies.
What state are you from, and your family background?
Am from Ogun State. Abeokuta to be precise. My parents are Muslims, but I am a Christian. My mum used to be a Christian. My father doesn’t discriminate. His major interest is that we should serve God irrespective of religion. Am a redeemer.
What would you say fans have robbed you?
My person. Because I really like to be free and do whatever I want, especially trekking, I love trekking. I love going to the local market to go and bargain for things, I can’t do all that anymore. So fame has robbed me of my person.
That is the negative aspect. What about the positive aspect?
It’s been really cool, too, at least, I went to the embassy for the first time and I was given a visa. That alone is something, and it is really paying off.
So how do you cope with advances from the opposite sex?
Yes, we cope and we turn them down politely. They are still our fans.
Recently you were quoted as saying you don’t date boys but men? What does that mean?
Actually, what I said, was that I don’t do boys but real man and that statement was changed. When you say men, they are much, and probably even making reference to Sugar Daddies, but man is just one person. Yes, I don’t do Boy. A boy in my own opinion is someone, I am older than, and can cater for me, or take responsibility.
And what led to that question was because I shot a movie titled “ Baby Mama” and a reporter asked me, why don’t I have a kid, or why don’t I want to become a Baby Mama, and I said No, that is not what I desire in life and if I had wanted to do that, I would have done that a long time ago but I really want to settle down, have my husband, my kids, a complete marriage. That was why I said I don’t do boys. If I get pregnant today, a Boy cannot take care of my responsibilities.
It is not possible, but a real man will stand by me, and that was what I meant by that statement. At my age, I can’t be dating a guy in his 30’s or even 40’s because if am doing late 30’s, then am equally going for my age range. So that was what I meant, then bloggers changed everything for me.
So where do we hope to see Kemi Taofeek in the next 10years?
By then, by the special grace of God I should have settled down, with my kids, and my career at the very top as well. I am really working hard now, it’s mainly because of my future, and I sincerely hope, by now, I will be celebrated by the upcoming actresses, by then too. So in the next 10 years. I should be a legend.
Do you still have plans of going back into the English industry?
Yes, Insha Allah, I am already working on an English movie so I will be going back to the English movies fully.
Between the Yoruba and the English movie industry, which is more challenge for you?
I am not really a Yoruba speaking person, so I find it difficult to speak the very deep Yoruba language, and if you notice, in all the movies, I have produced so far, I have never produced the deep Yoruba speaking movie. And that was the reason. I produced “Silifa Alamala” I am from Egba, so I had to sit my mum down for months, to learn more of the language, to be able to interpret my role perfectly, but I want to go back into the English industry because I feel I want to excel in the two industry perfectly.
You sound very focused like you already have an idea of what you want before you joined the industry. Is that true?
Yes, that is true, I took after my father in that aspect. My father is my mentor, and I grew up with them. So he is always like don’t ever get confused about anything in life. Just set out your mind on what you want, and your mind on what you want, and work towards it. Lots of my colleagues are running away from movie production. It is even worse when you are shooting abroad, you spend lots of money. I already got into it, before I realized it, and up till date, most of my colleagues still wonder how I keep shooting movies back to back with the state of the industry. But honestly it is the passion, that is keeping me and I wish to change lots of things in the industry. If I can I will like to change movie storylines, the editing, and lots of other things. Honestly, the English movie industry doesn’t have good stories lines like us, even we have better artistes compared to them. We are good, but we lack focus. Most of us, just want to act and upload pictures on Instagram.
I didn’t get to see my boss for a long time, until last week, when I traveled to Abeokuta. We saw, and she was like Kemi. I am really proud of you, and she was also like, I have always seen you from day one, that you are really focused. I just don’t want to produce movies, but produce movies that viewers can learn, and get possible solutions to a problem from. I also don’t’ want to shoot a movie, anybody can predict.
Who is your role model in the industry?
I will go for Joke Silver. She is an actress and has been able to keep her marriage. Marriage is one thing, most people feel, actresses cannot keep or stay in it for long. She has been able to prove people wrong. So I love Joke Silver and Olu Jacobs. Once people just see you, the next thing they say, actresses cannot get settled in a home for long, they prefer to be single parents. So if both of them, can still stick together for so long, then I believe I can do it too. Then acting wise, Ini Edo, and Genevieve Nanji. I love the way they act.