•Tells City People The Story Of His 27 Yrs In Acting
Owolabi Ajasa is a big name in the Yoruba movie industry. He is a damn good actor who has featured in many great Yoruba movies. He has also produced a lot. He is what you will call a well-rounded Theatre Practitioner. He is very good in movie production. The big news is that this Abeokuta veteran Actor/Production Manager recently emerged as the new TAMPAN Governor for Ogun State. He is young and vibrant. And he learnt the art of Theatre from the Masters.
A few weeks back, Owolabi Ajasa spoke to City People Publisher, Seye Kehinde, and Head of Graphics, SHOLA BAMIDELE about his new assignment as Ogun TAMPAN Governor and his life as an actor. Below are excerpts of interview.
How do you feel emerging the new TAMPAN governor in Ogun State?
I feel excited. I feel happy. I was the Chairman of Local Government before of this association and I have never been a member of the executive in the state at all. So, from that local government as the chairman I have now eventually emerged as the Governor of the TAMPAN in Ogun State. So, I am very, very happy. I appreciate God and I also appreciate all my leaders.
Now that you have emerged what your plan for TAMPAN in Ogun State in the next one year?
The first thing is to work on the progress of this association. During my manifesto, I told the members and the delegates that I am going to work on the welfare of the members in this state. I told them that production will continue to flow continuously within the Association in Ogun State here.
Part of what I want to do for the Association here is to create marketing outlets, to pay attention to the marketing and distribution aspect. I told them that I am going to set up a committee. We are going to have no fewer than 5 kiosks or ship within our zone in Ogun State here. Actually we have 3 geographical zones in Ogun State here.
We have Egba Zone, we have Yewa Awori zone and we also have Ijebu-Remo zone in Ogun State here. I have told them that we are going to arrange not less than 5 kiosks.
We would talk to our markets at Oshodi we are going to have a meeting with them. They will supply us all the films. We will distribute all these films to all these kiosks. So that our members would be sales persons. We would have sales representatives from each zone. And we are going to have another person who is going to be the Manager. And the Manager will work directly with the committee members.
Apart from that I also let them know that Artistes Night, different seminars, work shops will continue in this dispensation in Ogun State to allow us have more knowledge in our industry. The improvement will also be there. The welfare of the members of the association will be the priority of my administration.
All those who emerged as Governors of TAMPAN across the states are all young people. They are very creative people with ideas. How does that make you feel?
My colleagues from others states have their own ideas on how to improve their states. I also have my own ideas together with my executives. We have different ideas. Ogun State is very, very large, very big.
So for us we are going to work in different ideas. We are going to have the idea of Question and Answer session. So that all members can gain and will be able to ask questions at meeting and there would be a counter. Anybody that wins will get a gift like DVD, fan, fridge. That is one of what we are planning.
Let’s talk about your movie career. When did you start acting?
I started in 1997. That is 21 years ago. When I finished my school cert. There was no money to further my education. So, I worked with a Total filling station in Abeokuta here in 1996 precisely I met Alhaji Lukman Ebun Oloyede (Igwe of Theatre) and I told him I wanted to be part of acting, that I want to join his group. He gave me the address, I went there and I saw him. We discussed I collected form and filled it. I submitted that is how I started in the industry.
How has the journey been?
I thank God today, anyway. The programme was like a part-time programme at the time I started. I was still a petrol attendant working with that filling station. As an apprentice, I always attend the rehearsals then. When I became Oga, I tried to find some thing to do which is to be part of the crew. I became a Production Manager. I chose production management as my personal work then. We face different things during that time but we thank God today. All that is history. From there I told my parents that I also want to produce movies. From there I produced different movies. I became a producer. So I can say I have played different roles in the industry.
Apart from acting I h ave been involved in the politics of ANTP and TAMPAN. All of us came from ANTP to form TAMPAN. I was in ANTP before I was the Secretary for my boss xxxxx Kadam Lukmon Idowu Adenji. He was my Chairman then. But when TAMPAN came on board, I was also the Secretary for one year. And that say Lukmon Idowu Adeniji was the Coordinator of my Local Government I was the 1st Executive Chairman of that LG called Odeda LG of TAMPAN before I eventually became the Governor of TAMPAN.
What was the movie that brought you to limelight?
I started as Production Manager. From the beginning, I didn’t like to act. I liked production. But even at that if there was any production that had to do with Police Officer than and we have no cast for that particular role, they will now call me Production Manager, Owolabi, go and put on Uniform you are going to act as Police Officer here. That is how I started. The film that I participated in that I believe brought me to limelight is Adanwo Olopa. Its my film as well. I played the role of Police Officer there. People watched it and started calling me. Actually, I have acted different roles in different movies. I have acted King, Thugs, Chiefs, Students. But the Police Officer role is the main role that people noticed about me.
How many movies have you done?
I have produced not less than 25 movies. I have featured in all my movies and other movies I have produced, like in my boss film, Mr. Latin’s movies, Olaiya Igwe Films, and other movies of our Ogas like that.
What has kept you going? What haven’t you given up?
I don’t think there is anything that can take me away from acting. I love this acting. It is in now my blood. It was when I was in Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, that I appreciated what God did in my life.
At that time, when I need anything from our lecturers then, once they see my, they will say, oh, Mr. Owolabi Ajasa come in, (Mr. Police) come, come lets help you, lets assist you. It opened doors for me. Thats why I said I don’t think anything can make me to stop acting. I have diversified to so many other movie related businesses. Like I have an editing studio. I have an Editor there. I also have location Bus. All what I do is related to acting.
After you won the TAMPAN governorship how have you reached out to others who run for the post with you?
When I ran for the position, it wasn’t only me. There was one of my boss, Kayode Akindina (Mr. Paragon) also contested as governorship aspirant, later he dropped his ambition. I don’t know why he did. Because he dropped his ambition, that is what made me emerge as the Governor unopposed. Immediately I emerged as the Governor, the following day, I went to his house, because we are living inthe same area. We are in the same community in our area. So, I went to him to discuss with him. I told him. I begged him. I persuaded him. He told me that day that he is ready to support him. I went to meet other people like him. I have called them.
I have persuaded them. I have begged them. And they all promised to support me. I will still continue to call them to ask for their support.
So, it means you were born, bred and brought up in Abeokuta?
Exactly. I was born in Abeokuta at Kenta Kobiti, in Abeokuta here. I started my primary school from that area. All Saints Anglican Primary School 1, Kentan Kobiti in Abeokuta. After that, I moved to Obantoko area. That is the area that my fathers house is.
I went to Nawarudeen Grammar School, a secondary at Obantoko. From there I worked with the filling station, I spoke about my parents couldn’t afford to send me to higher institution. But I thank God today that in my own capacity I sent myself to school and I am now a graduate from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. I studied Marketing.