Tayo Amokade is one of the leading Comic actors in the Yoruba movie industry. Everyone calls him Ijebu and his services are in hot demand. That is why he has been featuring in many movies. A few weeks back he spoke to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE about his life and career. Below are excerpts from the interview.
How have you found being a comic actor in the Yoruba movie industry?
Its been God all the way. He has been the one who has made it possible. When I was young people used to tell me, Tayo you are funny. When I was young I used to gather my agemates and I will tell them stories. Then, I anchored one programme. People used to tell me far back then that I was funny.
Where was growing up? Where were you born? Tell us about your parents?
I was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Kolawole Amokade, I am the last born of the family of 5. I have elder sisters and brothers but I am the last born. I am from Ilishan Remo in Ogun State. I started my Primary School there. I did my high school there. Isanbi Comprehensive High School, I furthered my education at Ibadan Polytechnic, at Satellite Campus, Adesun Ogundoyin in Eruwa. I studied Mass Comm.
While studying, did you know you were going to go into acting?
No. Not at all. Under Mass Communication you could be a Journalist or a TV or Radio Presenter. My plan was to go into programme presenting. When I was in school I used to sing. I had a friend who normally led and I did backup. I knew I have this talent, but it was not too exposed to people.
How did you find yourself in acting?
When I was in school in Ibadan, I got Muyiwa Ademola’s telephone number. I called him and he gave me someone’s number, David Otemolu who happens to be from my town but I didn’t know that then. He asked me to come over when I got there he asked me to buy forms with 2 passport photographs. The form is N12,500. I gave him N10,000. The money is from the IT I did with Lagos Television, Tiwa n Tiwa then. After ND, we needed to go for IT, so I came to Lagos to do my IT programme at Radio Lagos, Tiwa N Tiwa. After 3 months, they gave us N10,000 just to appreciate us. It is like allowance. I called my girlfriend then that most of my friends are buying shoes, clothes, but I don’t want to waste the N10,000. I want to do something good with this money. So, she advised me. I wanted to give her N4,000 out of the money and keep the rest. She said No that I should go to Ibadan to pursue my dream. So, I went to meet Muyiwa Ademola, I bought the form and I started coming for rehearsals on Thursday and Saturday. That was in 2003/2004. So, I came to Ibadan from Eruwa Campus. I will come to act. I was with Muyiwa Ademola for 7 years. Any time we have rehearsals he will call me. Anytime we have location his Manager will call me that we are going for location. That is how my career started.
How did you now get the name Ijebu?
We were at one location. It was at Muyiwa Ademola’s location. So, he called me, Then, I used to do like Baba Arugbo in the movie. He now called me. He asked me if I could speak Egba. I told him I am not from Abeokuta but I can try. When my boss asks you to do anything he likes you to say I can try. He knows you can’t do it but he will ask you to say you can at least try. He said I should speak Egba dialect. He asked that apart from Egba can I speak another dialect. I said I am from Ijebu. I can speak Ijebu. That’s my dialect. That’s my mummy’s tongue. He was like ok. Oya speak. That’s how it started. That’s how we started going from one location to the other. When we are going to one location, he will say you have to speak in Ijebu. That’s how the name Ijebu stuck.
Are your parents Ijebu?
Yes. My dad and mum are from Ijebu.
How have you found the movie industry?
Its not that easy. When I got into the industry I tried to learn a lot. In my boss form, there is what we call Item 7 which says acting is compulsory. But you have to look for one major job, so you can join the cast or the crew helping them, maybe Make Up artist or assisting director. I thought of helping the generator man. And I went into it. I will carry generator from one location to the other. I will make sure, I have to give them light inside where they are shooting. From there, they started giving me N300 for 7 days. It wasn’t too easy, but I didn’t see it as a challenge because I knew where I am going. But it’s not easy.
What has helped you a lot professionally?
My education helped me a lot. I am not that good in English, but I appreciate my OND. Now, people from the other side always want to communicate with me in English. Because I communicate well in English, I get offers from the English side, for roles. People call me to anchor programmes, to be the MC. I will go and join the little English I have with my own dialect language which is Yoruba. Apart from acting, I am the Ambassador to one real estate company Wale Agabe Ventures in Ikorodu. They gave me a car. They sell land. They sell properties. People call me that they want to buy land, I will direct them.
You are always on location, moving from one place to another. How do you cope?
It is God. Anytime they call me on set and they give me the script, I am good to go. I read. Then, I hear action. It’s just inspiration. I do what they call improvisation I add to it to make it comical. As a comedian, you have to add your own style so that people can say this Ijebu boy can make people laugh a lot. I listen to music, I listen to different ideas. Sometimes I will sit down with my mum and speak Ijebu and learn from her. I pick from what she says.
You’ve been acting for how long now?
Going to 15 years now. From 2003/2004 I was with Muyiwa Ademola. I spent 7 years there. Then I moved down to Ikorodu when I finished my OND. I went with Sanyeri (Afanja Olaniyi) for 2 years. He gave me some lift. That’s why I have the opportunity to be there today. Anytime he is going to location I normally drive him down there. He will then make a case for me with the producers to give me 2 or 3 scenes. Little by little we started. From there, people started to appreciate me.