+How Being Married To An Actor Has Helped Her Career
Everyone calls her Madam Saje. But her real name is Fausat Balogun. The popular Yoruba movie veteran joined the entertainment industry 45 years ago. It was her role in the Baba Suwe series titled “Erin Kee Kee” that shot her into the limelight. She has featured in over 150 movies. Through hard work and dedication, she has become one of the best in the industry and a household name. She was our guest at our weekly roundtable interview with City People Reporters. During the interview, she talked about her journey into the entertainment industry and what has kept her over 3 decades marriage intact, despite the fact, that they are both celebrities. Below is the excerpt.
You have remained relevant in the industry for over four decades, what is the secret behind your success story?
I am actually 44 years going to 45 years in the movie industry. The journey has not been easy but I give God Almighty the glory. There are days, that despite all the hard work. There won’t still be anything to eat, there are times, we render free service, I started up as a stage artistes, we tour everywhere to perform on stage, after doing that for so long, I now decided to go into movies proper. I joined the movie industry in 1991, and it is the passion I have for the job that has kept me up till date.
As an individual, if you are doing something you have the passion for and people appreciate you as well, the zeal to always want to do more will always be there.
Can you take us through how you started acting?
Immediately, I finished my primary school. I started acting. I started in Lagos with the group called “Ijamodi”. The name of my boss then was “Mashado”, he is from Idumota in Lagos State. But later, he left where I was staying, so I had to join another theatre group, and that was when I joined my husband’s group called “Balogun Theatre Group”, I always went on tour with the group, though, I never knew I will end up as his wife. We had a programme on LTV 10, then on stage, that was 1975.
There was no LTV 8 and LTV 7, then. My producer then was Mr. “Owala” Segun Bankole. It has been long, I started this journey. I give God all the glory. The stage play took me round different parts of the country, and we went through a lot of ups and downs, but I give Almighty God, all the praise. At a point, lots of people left the group, and I was left alone with our boss. And at a time, it was considered even a privilege and honour, for your boss to even want to date or marry you, and that has helped my career up till date.
What exact year did you marry your boss?
That was 1979 because my first child is now 36 years, that is Afeez Balogun. He is also a movie director. We started the journey a very long time ago, and we are still in it till date.
Can you tell us why you are often used as Odunlade Adekola’s mum in most movies?
What I have discovered in this life is that, whatever you are doing, do it well, put in your best to get the desired result. Take, for example, you will see people travel miles, just to get a particular tailor to make their clothes when they have lots of them around their houses. So as far as acting is concerned. I learnt to do this job perfectly, besides that, I maintain a very cordial relationship with my colleagues in the industry, both young and old, I don’t make enemies, I relate with all of them perfectly. Whatever I have done or achieved in this profession, is due to the glory of Almighty God.
Then as per Odunlade’s issue, yes, I act his mother, often in movies, and that is because, we both understand each other a lot, without even talking, I know his next actions in movies. He is my son, and we understand each other a lot. So with him as my son in movies, be rest assured that the interpretation will be perfectly done.
Can you talk about the projects you are handling now?
I have produced lots of movies, right now, I have 4 movies that I produced but have not been released into the market yet. I have one that I was asked to come and launch in America.
Which movie shot you into the limelight?
It is titled “Abeni Ajagun”. It is my husband’s movie. We did it in the television house in 1979. I was popularly known as “Abeni Ajagun”. People started calling me “Madam Saje” in 1990. Baba Suwe, used to run a programme with LTV 7, and it was titled “Erin Keekee Labule Baba Suwe” and I was known as Madam Saje in that programme, and Baba Suwe often made jest of my headgear in the programme. He always makes reference to any headtie, as that of Madam Saje, so he was the one that gave me that name, which I was still bear till date.
Was there, anytime, you had issues with your husband when you act alongside other men in any movie?
No, we have never had any issue like that, and that is because we are in the industry together, and he knows, that it’s just acting and nothing more. He has never acted my husband in any movie at all, he often takes up the role of an elderly man in movies. At times, if I don’t interprete my roles well, he scolds me and frowns at that.
How were you able to keep your marriage, for over 3 decades, despite both being a celebrity?
We give God Almighty all the praise, even people that are not into the movie industry still experience breakups, but ours is more pronounced, because of the nature of our job. We have heard of marriages that only lasted for a week. Whatever that will happen to one in life has been destined by God.
Why is marriage breakup more common among celebrities?
It pays more for an actress to get married to an actor, because, they tend to understand each other more. But lately, actors and actresses don’t want to get married to each other anymore. If you really look at the industry, very well, you will understand, that our ladies are not to be blamed, because as a man, you see or meet with an actress, you know her profession, and you have decided to marry her, you even go ahead to make all manner of promises to support her career, at the end of the day, they start having issues, the man starts to complain, and that is the reason why you will see a lot of actresses, will just struggle to have probably 2 to 3 kids with such a man, then leave the marriage.
When you know you can not tolerate her with the type of job, she is doing, why accept to marry her in the first place? This our job is time-consuming, and often dictates how we spend our time and life. I ought to have come for this interview since, but the time has not been there. I just lost my uncle, my job will not permit me to do the necessary things, it is my sister, that will be doing everything on my behalf. So the job is very demanding but lots of people don’t understand at all. Most times, I go out of the way to create time for some important things. But no matter how you see it, you still need to keep and maintain a cordial relationship with people. This job is highly demanding, and producers that you have collected money from, will not want to hear the story later. They don’t want to know your present condition. If you are doing a stage play, even if your child is collapsing at the back of the stage, you have to finish up, before you can attend to that child. It is what we have agreed to do, so it has been like that from the beginning. Once you are an actress and you want to settle down, you need to make up your mind and stand by it, because, this job will not let you have time for on any other thing.
It is not all men, that can tolerate being married to an actress, when most times, she won’t be there when you need her. The men initially agree to all the terms later, they change their mind, and tell you they can’t tolerate it. So it’s often better when we marry ourselves. There was even a period in my career, that I went to location a few days, after delivery, so tell me, which men will tolerate me like that. That was in 1982, I and my 3 days old baby went to the location, on my way, there was a riot around Mushin, that period, I practically had to struggle with my baby to escape that scene. I won’t blame the men as well, because, it is not easy, for a married woman to go to the location, for a whole week, leaving her husband to be sleeping and staying alone. But honestly, it is not our actresses wish and desire to have broken homes, or not to get married.
Once you are an actress or actor, the jobs open lots of doors to you, there are lots of advantages in being an artiste. Men of these days make lots of promises to actresses they can’t keep, and that is why they often have problems in their marriages.
It is believed that there is no money in the industry, so how do you cope with that?
Yes, there is no money, but we still survive, with the little we make. Once God blesses, the little you have, then. It is fine.
So, how do you cope with your investing so much, and you hardly get your money back?
That is what they say, there is no money, yet people are not leaving the industry. But this is how it is meant to be. Fine, money is not flowing, the way it is used to be, but it is not just only the movie industry that is suffering, every other sector is equally going through challenges too. But as a business person, when people come to patronise you, they hardly see, everything they want, don’t you think, they will rather go to where they can get all they want? But in all, we give God all the glory, because, when marketers decide to leave the arena and stop selling movies nobody will see us again too. Since this online thing started, I have never visited them, so I don’t even know how they operate. Whatever I have achieved today, is through this movie industry. So I just want to still keep my name and maintain it. There is no other means for us, that is why lots of us are still glued to the industry.
So all we need to do is just to keep maintaining our names. This is the only thing I am good at, so let me keep doing it. Things might be bad now, but it will still get better, it is just a matter of time. At least, it was not like this before. Most movies you watch online, you still need to buy data to watch movies online, so you are still paying back indirectly.
No matter how you see or say it, there is money in the industry, at least, that is where I still feed from, I don’t have to run to anybody before I can feed or take care of my family. There are some of us that we depend on this job, for our entire needs and wants. Remember, help still come from here and there, due to the fame, so it is still part of what the job is giving us. I can’t stay for a month or two, and help will not come my way still from this job.
A job that has enabled you to build a house, send children to universities, buy a car, and still feeding from it, please what else do you desire from such a job again?
What is the relationship between you and your other age groups (female) in the industry?
We all maintain, a very cordial relationship, Fali Werepe, still called me this morning to know, if I have done my interview and I told her, I am already on my way to your office. We the senior ones are close, we also maintain a good relationship with our seniors, such as Iya Awero. The relationship will always be there.
As a veteran, what was happening in the industry in the past, and it is no more happening?
There are lots of them, and I have even mentioned few, like, artistes don’t like too many each other anymore. If you ask me, we the veterans have achieved a lot for ourselves in the industry, it is left for the coming ones to know what they are doing. Almost all the veterans are living in their personal houses. The likes of Oga Bello has achieved so much, and their children too, like Jide Kosoko and lots of others. So it is left to the younger ones. I pity the younger ones, because, it is in their time that things changed, so it is left for them.
I know, the industry will not crash, but things will just keep coming up and it is left for us to handle it.
What state are you from and your growing up?
I am from “Igbona” in Kwara State even though, I was born and bred in Lagos State.
How old are you?
60 years now, I will be 61 years next year.