Late actress, Aisha Abimbola, was one of the pretty actresses in the Yoruba movie industry. She was one popular actress, who over the years, had earned a lot of respect and admiration from movie lovers because of her roles in many movies. She has also acted in many Soaps. A few years back, this lady who is hardly seen at social gatherings opened up to City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE on how she got into the movie industry by chance through the veteran actor, Antar Laniyan and why she was away for a few years. Below is what she told City People. This interview was conducted 6 years ago at a popular Chinese restaurant in Surulere, Lagos
You’ve been into acting for quite a while now. What was the attraction at the time you did?
Acting has been my first love since primary school days. I just loved seeing people on screen from the days of Mirror In The Sun. It influenced me and made me like acting. I also found myself joining one group or the other at school,so it grew from there.
Where did you school?
I had my primary school education at Ansar-Udeen Primary School, Oke-Arin and I proceeded to Ebute Elegun High School, Sura, Lagos Island. I then attended Lagos State Polytechnic.
By the time you left school were you already into acting or it was after you left that you went into it?
I have been acting right from my primary school days. I was a member of cultural troupe, literary and debating group, Drama group. Interestingly, I didn’t study Theatre Arts. I read Hotel Management and Catering. I used to disturb my classmates a lot in class then. I had one thing or the other to make them laugh. Most of them now say they are not surprised that I became an actress.
So, how did professional acting start for you?
It was when I went for my HND and I was having my final exams in HND 2 at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu. Papa Ajasco Group, owned by Wale Adenuga came to the campus to record. Antar Laniyan then was a director. I saw a lot of actors/actresses from the Wale Adenuga group. I summoned the courage to go meet them. It was my love for acting that made me walk
up to Antar Laniyan and I said, ‘Sir, I want to act’. He gave me a stern look and asked,”Have you been acting before?” I said, “yes, in Church, in School”. There was a vacant role,they liked my physique and height. They wanted someone to act the role of a philanthropist so Antar just said,’ give her costume let’s see what she can do’. He was shocked. That was in 2001. I was part of the Papa Ajasco series.
After that I got a contact person I was always calling to know if there were auditions. And there was one for No Pain, No Gain by Wale Adenuga. That was when Ireti emerged. I mean Moji Olaiya. There was another one for a Yoruba movie titled Awerijaye by Deji Etiwe and Ayo Ewebiyi then. They were together and I played the lead. That was my first lead role in any movie.
There was anther one that was Arabic-based and I did it well. I acted alongside Olofa Ina , Yetunde Wummi and other big actors. That was how it started. From that job, Toyosi Adesanya called me. I was in Gongo Aso. I continued until after my Youth Service when I got involved with Kunle Jide. I served in Yola, Adamawa State with the Nigerian Army. I acted on and off. I will come from camp if there was any job and I will go for it. I did that until I was totally out of camp.
Henrietta Kosoko called me one day for her husband’s job. Many people think it was Uncle Jide I was first close to. No,it was Henrietta I knew first. We met in Ikorodu months before she called me. I played the lead role in that Uncle Jide’s job, Ejire Adegbenro.
After that came Omoge Campus, which actually gave me my breakthrough. It was by Olatunde Film Production. It was directed by Jide Kosoko. He had seen my performance in Ejire Adegbenro. So I have been acting in Wale Adenuga Production and in English soaps. I didn’t act in English home videos. I acted in Kamson & Neighbours, I played the role of Mrs Kamson for some time. In So Wrong, So Right, I also featured in it. I do more in the Yoruba movie industry.
What has kept you going? Why have you not left?
Nothing but love for the job. I love acting. It is the only thing aside cooking that I find joy in doing. When I am acting, I forget every other thing. I forget I have not eaten. I only think of the character that I am going to play.
But people complain that there is no money in it…
Yes,but everything that you do just for the love of money is dangerous. When you don’t get the money you desire to make from it, you get frustrated. But if you like your job and what you are doing, the money becomes a compensation. The love of this job has kept me going.
Which one will you call the most challenging role so far?
Having to act in the midst of old-time actors and actresses. When I started, imagine little me being on set with the likes of Antar Laniyan, Jide Kosoko and I had to face them. There was one role I had to face my mentor, Antar Laniyan and the character had to insult him on set. It was quite intimidating at first. At the end of the day I got a standing ovation when I acted in Ejire Adegbenro. After that I started liking challenging jobs. I am a cool-headed person but most of my jobs are harsh, arrogant, and are opposite of my person,but I enjoy doing them. The fact that I also have an intimidating physique, so to speak does not help. Many people are unable to separate my person from my movie roles. Because of my physique, people find it difficult to approach me. Some people see me as a snob. I am not.
Is Aisha married?
Aisha is married. Yes.
How come we don’t get to hear about your husband?
I have said too much about my marriage over the years. This time around I am not going to say anything about my marriage, please pardon me.
How have you been able to keep your marriage going with all the challenges of being a star?
God has kept me going. I have been able to separate my home from the job.
What does an actress need to do to keep a marriage going?
God. And I repeat God. The foundation of any marriage should be God. If it’s not, it will crumble.
You were away for a while, now you are back. What has the response been?
Ah! Fantastic. For years, I didn’t act. I just came back about 7 months. The first movie I did when I came back was Omosigbin. It was released a few weeks back by Epsalum. For over 4 years I did not stand in front of the camera at all.
How did that make you feel?
(laughs) I was like a fish out of water. I was away from that thing that gave me so much joy, that thing that makes me happy. It was awful. But I am happy to be back. I am happy God has lavished a lot of grace on me. When I went off the scene,my fans kept asking me on my Facebook,’where have you been, come back, we miss you’.
The times you were away, what were you doing?
Childbearing, taking care of the family and now my kids can talk.