- Handsome YORUBA Actor, DAMOLA OLATUNJI
Damola Olatunji is a popular Yoruba actor. He is multi talented. He has over the year’s distinguished himself among his peers. And what differentiates him from the rest is his natural ability to interpret correctly every role given to him.
He is one of the few Yoruba actors who knows his Onions. Damola is not only a good actor, he is a producer and a director. He has produced, directed and acted in so many movies since year 2005/2006 when he acted in his first major movie, Ojo (Rain).
He is well read. Aside acting, Damola is an Engineer. He studied Electrical Electronics at the National Open University of Nigeria. Before that, he had studied Engineering at Yaba College of Technology.
One of his role models or mentors in the Yoruba movie sector is Yomi Fash-Lanso. Two weeks back, Damola spoke to City People Senior Reporter, ISAAC ABIMBADE, about his life and career in the industry. He also told us many things people don’t know about him.
You are one of the most sought-after actors in the Yoruba movie industry today. How have you been able to achieve that?
Yes. I can say it has been God. It has been hardwork, consistency and it has been the love and passion for what I love to do.
We also noticed that most of your roles in the movies you have featured have been more of a ‘lover boy’, are you a specialty in that?
It will be wrong to say I do more of lover boy. I have actually been through all characters. If I feature more in a particular character, I think that has to do with the director or producer because I had to do what they ask me to do.
How did acting start for you?
I started acting long time ago while I was still much younger. It started from church. I was in a group and I was in the drama unit at the departmental fellowship and school drama unit. It has always been like that and this was around 1996. Later, I went to ITPAN to study Theatre and I attended some seminars and workshops on acting and I was also under Yomi Fash-Lanso for some years but today I am on my own.
Can you tell us where you are from?
I am from Edunabon, Osun State.
Tell us more about your educational background?
I started from Sijuade Nursery & Primary School in Ile-Ife. From there to Seven-Day Adventist, to Vetland Grammar School and from there to Yaba College of Technology and from there I proceeded to National Open University of Nigeria for my degree.
What course did you study in school?
I studied Electrical Electronic. I am an Engineer.
What led you into acting?
Two things: Credentially, I am an Engineer. Potentially, I see myself as an actor. There is a different between your credential and your potential but both are very, very much important. Education is not negotiable, you just have to go school. Credentially, I am an Engineer (Electrical Electronic) but I see myself as an actor. I just thought to myself after my graduation that I don’t want to be like every other graduate on the street who will be looking for job after school and I asked myself what I could do within me and I said since I have been into acting while I was in school, so I settled for acting. You know it sounds funny at times when I think of what happened. There is one of my friends Niyi Akinmolayan, we happened to be in the same University, he was a year ahead of me at the Electrical Electronic Department Fellowship Drama Group. Today, I see him doing wonderfully well in the industry.
How do you rate your acting years in the industry?
Yes, it has been good. It has been wonderful and it has been encouraging. Though, it is not what it used to be and everything is improving by the day; the new technology and all that. People are getting to understand why they are in the industry; it is meant to be showbiz. When I came in, it was few people that were in the business aspect of it; a lot of people were just focusing on the show. So you just realise we have people with name, popularity but have nothing to show for it. But nowadays, you see people trying to face the business aspect of it and the show; they are trying to match the two.
What we hear these days is that actors/actresses especially in the Yorubas movie industry are not well paid but yet some of you are still doing fine. What is the secret?
The secret is God. Then, you must be contented; you must be able to live within what you earn. When you want to live above what you earn you will have problems but when you are contented with what you are earning you will be able to plan yourself with the little you are earning. It is true when people say actors are not making much money compared to their contemporaries in other parts of the world but the little we are making here, if you are wise enough to make certain savings and you are smart enough to know when to spend and not to spend. there will be a time when people hail you to give them something, you have to be smart with how you give out.
Some of the complaint of your colleagues have always been that, marketers don’t pay after selling their movies. How true is this assertion?
I have worked with a couple of Idumota Marketers and nobody is owing me. So it depends on your agreement. Education comes in, in a lot of things. If I want to do business with you it will come in black and white, even if you are owing me I can still say ‘bro’ you are owing me. But when you do business on verbal agreement there is a limit to how you can prove it to be genuine.
How can you compare the conventional way of selling your ‘job’ and taking it online?
Every end product of every movie goes online these days. Every movie is online. So, whether you take your movie online or you take your movie straight to the hardware marketing or you take it to cinema it will still come online because the world is going global and everything is going software.
What impact has it contributed to the Yoruba movie sector?
When the world is moving around, you have to move with the world. The world is turning into a global village where you can access information from your phone; you can watch movies from your phone. It will be so awkward to say Yoruba movie sector will not move towards that angle. It has really helped a lot. A lot of people from diaspora can actually watch by just clicking on their phones. And if you look at movies online, you will realise that the number of viewers outside Nigeria is much more than the number we have here. It has really helped the movies to cut across.
Someone who lives in Australia might find it so difficult to watch your movie but if it is online he can watch it with a click on his/her phone. So, for every movie that you produce, the end product is to go online. Even after the release of the movie, for it to cut-across it has to come online where the world is moving.
At what point in time did you have your big breakthrough?
I can’t really say. It has been a cumulative effort of jobs have done: the 2 scenes here, the 3 scenes there. I think the film titled ‘Ojo’ was actually my first lead character. That was my first lead role I played in a movie. ‘Ojo’ was released around 2005/2006.
You are married to one of the Yoruba movie actresses, popularly called Arugba but at a point, we heard you guys had your misunderstanding. How true was this?
There is nothing more about it. She is my wife. You should know there would always be rumours. We are happily married. We are okay. We are fine and we thank God for one family.