•Tells City People
He is one of the talented movie stars in Nollywood. His acting prowess is excellent and a lot of people respect him for this.
His ability to interpret roles is magnificent. Lateef Adedimeji started acting not quite long but has created a niche for himself. A lot of people refer to him as Odunlade Adekola’s brother when he started his acting a few years back, but he’s not Odunlade’s brother. Maybe this is one of the reasons he has been doing things in a different way.
Let me congratulate you on what you’ve been able to achieve over the years and also ask you what project you are working on now?
Basically, it’s been a whole lot of work back to back. I’m taking time to work on my own project; I’m planning my own cinema project and it’s going to take a whole lot of time, but basically, I’m trying to trend on the Yoruba genre and see how far we can actually push to the cinema because there’s a belief that Yoruba genre doesn’t trend or make an impact in cinema. But I think with a movie like ‘Ayinla’ we’ve been able to prove a lot of people wrong and right now we need to do lots of movies with good content that could push us way ahead, and that’s what I’m working on now. If I’m not filming this year it would be early next year.
Career-wise: what would you say Ayinla did to your career?
It places me on another level entirely. It wasn’t what I was expecting; I wasn’t expecting that so soon! I wasn’t expecting this level so soon. I thought I would have to do more jobs but when I got the script it was a shock for me because I had always prayed to do a “waka pass” on the Tunde Kelani set. Even if it’s just a scene, let me just appear there and let be in my resume that I once appeared on Tunde Kelani set but I did that with a major role. And when I got that script I said wow! this is way beyond my comfort zone.
It wasn’t easy playing the Ayinla role. I knew from the set that it was going to be a big job. It was for me learning all the way despite what I think I know. When you are working with a perfectionist, when you aren’t getting it right, you just have to get it right. That’s the biopic and this is one man I never met. I’m not a fan of Apala music. I didn’t listen to Apala music and I don’t even know who Ayinla Omowura is until I got the script. There wasn’t any documentation. Nothing. He didn’t do a single interview when he was alive. So it was basically me trying to do some research. Go to where he lived and walked around the place for like a week just to invoke his spirit and imbibe his mannerism and characters and also speak to people about him. Everything that I did was me imagining it from what I have heard from people and put that into play. So when it came out I told uncle Tunde Kelani that I was proud of myself. That’s the first time I would be saying that. On the night of the premiere, I told him I’m proud of myself.
How was it working with other people on the set?
They helped me out because at some point I got tired and said this music is not sinking. I don’t know what Apala music is all about and this is one musician whose style is away from other musicians. This is one man that backups would carry the chorus and he would come and join them at the middle of the chorus. So it was too much of a work. There was a time I rapped at 4 am and I just told uncle Tunde Kelani that I was going to relax and come back the following morning.
Why did you pray for a Waka pass in the movie?
This is the man I grew up watching all of his movies like Toluwa Nile, Shaworo’de etc and those movies are still very much relevant today if you still play them. Shaworo’de is still relevant to the typical story of Nigeria today. This is a man that has told the Yoruba story in a way that people would love and appreciate. So, when you align with such a person it’s hype for your career, in this industry. So, if I play a waka pass on the Tunde Kelani movie it’s hype for me. But I didn’t just play a waka pass, I played a major role and not just a major role of a legend that died when he was about to hit his peak. This is more like there’s no Ayinla again but there’s one Ayinla that’s going to tell the story of Ayinla that we do not know. A lot of people of my generation don’t know him. Some of us didn’t meet him, we just heard about him, this is me now telling the story of a legend.
Your role on the set with TK, is that going to influence your own content development henceforth?
Yes. Actually, the person that was supposed to play that role didn’t come on time and we were going to get somebody else to play that role. Then, Baba just said, is like you are going to be the person to act the role. So it was a plus for me acting along with TK. So, it places me on another level entirely. This is one man that would tell you a story and you won’t stop getting facts about the story before he pushes it out. All I have learnt from TK is that you just have to do it right. The Ayinla script was changed up till the fifth draft, till the day of the location they still sent me a new draft. This is the man that would never stop working. And that alone has made me realise that whatever you want to do, you have to take your time and give it the best. It may take you time to shoot a major movie but if you shoot it well, you can place yourself on another level. It’s not about the number of works that you have done but the one that makes a lot of sense to people.
For quite a while a lot of people have likened your character with that of Odunlade. How does that affect you?
It was great for me at the start of my career because when people tell you that you look like someone that’s already great, you will be happy. But at some point, I realised that it’s not even good for my career because Odun built his name and career to that level. And he was able to stand out. What’s next for me is also to build my name and career so that I would be able to stand out and when you don’t see me you don’t have to refer to someone else before you can mention my name. For sometimes it was like that until I had to sit myself down and do research on myself, on Odun and other people. Like what’s it that I can do or what I shouldn’t do to make my name stand among others and when you see me you will refer to me with something before you refer to me with Odun’s name. So, I mapped out my strategy. There were times I broke down in tears. I came out with a lot of English speaking characters and when people want to refer to me, they would say that guy that speaks a lot of English in the movie. To the point where people would say that guy that act like an imbecile in the movie and that’s how I have created a niche for myself. So it’s a lot of work to be able to make your name register in the mind of people.
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