Femi Adebayo is one of Nigeria’s leading actors. He is a star actor who has featured in many movies. He has also produced many movies. Not many people know that Femi is quite close to his legendary actor dad, Oga Bello.
Though Oga Bello loves all his children and he has taken good care of them, he has a soft spot for Femi, who many nicknamed Jelili. Femi also loves his dad so much, as he reveals in this City People TV Instagram Live Chat. He talks about his life and why his dad is so fond of him. Below are excerpts of his interesting interview with City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE.
Below, Femi speaks on how Covid-19 forced him to cancel shows in the US, ran into isolation in Nigeria and how J15, his drama school, is performing. Exerpts.
How have you been coping with the COVID-19 Lockdown in the last 2 months?
Well, we’ve been trying. It’s not easy actually, but then, what do we do. It’s better to stay safe than to go out and put one’s life at risk.
Have you ever gone through this kind of experience before?
Obviously not. Not even for 5 days not to talk of 2 months. I don’t think I have slept in my house for 5 consecutive days not to talk of 2 months except I travel abroad. This is a totally different experience, but like I said, it’s for the safety of all of us. It’s making me see myself in another way and it has taught me a lot.
Tell us some of the lessons you’ve learnt?
The first thing I learnt is not to be too desperate about anything. If things were normal, I would have said, by this time, I have to be here and there. Now, everything stands still and there is nothing happening to anybody. Life still remains the same. It has really taught me to take things easy.
Everybody globally has been forced to take things easy. It has really taught me to be calm with almost everything. And it also gives me opportunity to bond so much with my family. It’s a very bonding time.
When I was a Bachellor, I prefer to watch bathroom myself, but because of my busy schedule I’ve not been able to do that for years. Now, I do it myself. I assist my woman in the kitchen even when I’m doing anything with her in the kitchen, I will stay with her and start gisting.
I also have time to really sit down and plan again, on projects I want to do and how I want to make an impact on people’s lives. I have enough time to call my family, my friend who I’ve not seen for so long. Thank God for technology too. I can do many video call with my people.
Though, we are all shouting the it has really affected everybody, we are not making money.
We are only spending the one that we have; we just pray it ends very soon. The Government is not to be blamed in anyway. The government is trying all its best to make sure that we don’t have so many loss of lives, but unfortunately, so many of us are getting it wrong.
We understand the fact that we need to eat, that is why lots of people too are doing parliatives, helping people in the area of feeding. I think Government should just do more. Then we need to take it easy. I saw the way people trooped out after the ease. It was alarming. So many people still do not understand this Covid-19. If you understand it, you would know that if you don’t have any serious things to do outside, you should stay indoor. But all the same we pray for the end of this Pandemic, so that, everybody, businesses can get back full time.
Are we likely to have a movie on Covid-19 after?
Definitely. As a matter of fact, we are putting the script together. It’s worth talking about because it has never happened. I’ve never experienced this. I was in the US for survival of Jelili’s tour when it all started. We’ve paid for several halls, advertisements. People were already showing interest. Some people have even bought their tickets Online, and all of a sudden, we have to stop and I have to rush back to Nigeria.
I got back to Nigeria on 21st March, isolated myself for 14 days, I did all protection possible when I was coming home. I ensured that I didn’t have any any contact, on when I got back I still isolated myself, thank God, I’m all right, I’m safe.
I must be sincere, the NCDC people are really working, they make calls to everyone of us who came back everyday to ensure that we are safe. They told us if we feel any symptoms we should come for test.
How did you feel at that time you isolated yourself?
Don’t let me lie to you, I was scared. I was more conscious of myself. If I have a little headache, I will be thinking otherwise. I read about all the signs and symptoms and I discovered that I didn’t have any, or show any. After 14 days, I was excited, I must be sincere.
I know you as a very busy man, how do you cope with all the projects you have at hand?
I find so much passion doing them, so I don’t see them as work or job really. It’s just like doing what you enjoying. If you like to eat, you won’t see eating as a job. Just like you, enjoy Journalism that you’ve been doing since I was a baby. Journalism is no more work for you, it’s fun for you. And because God has been with us, it’s been so easy.
You are an actor who can deliver any role. How did you develop yourself to that point where you can play any role?
This brings me to appreciate you sir, the City People for the last award I got from you. The most Innovative Actor. It was really touching, compared to the ones I’ve won before.
What I do is to always ensure that my next project must be able to beat the last project I did. I realised that the only way I can make it happen is for people to see me in what they’ve not seen me before. So, many people have seen Femi Adebayo doing fine boy in movies, yes, he can do it. So many people have seen him playing the role of a rich guy, yes he can do it. So the next thing I will think of is what have they not seen me done before?
And some will take me keeping my hair for months, keeping my beard for months because I want to look like that way I want to look. The versatility in me is what I always try to prove in every project I do.
That is the challenge for me and I’ve been doing that. That is why you see most of my jobs are not the same, not following the same trend.
When you were studying Law, did you ever think of becoming an actor?
All my life, I wanted to be a lawyer, and I followed that. Because my father too wanted to be a Lawyer, but for financial restriction from his family, he could not be a Lawyer.
When he saw that I have interest in Law he supported it greatly. When he notice that this is the person who is going to be a Lawyer and also have interest in acting, he said “Why are you interested in the two profession I’m in love with? I said to him, acting is my hobby, while Law is my profession. I pursued it when I’m in school, studying, anytime, I’m on break I went for rehearsals, I enroled under my father.
When I was called into Nigerian Bar in 2003, I left acting for 2 years, I was going to court everyday. I was looking for something that will tie me to that profession because I love it, but acting was always pulling me. I must sincerely say that, then, in Law I wasn’t making money. I remember my salary then was 15k/month, but when they call me for job then.
If I spend 3 days, they would pay me 45k. I realised that my hobby was giving me more money than the profession. I just wanted to stick to it all my life which is Law. But because of the love I have for Law I went back for my Master. So, I got my Master in Law from the University of Ibadan in 2008, and I applied as a Lecturer just because I wanted something that would tie me down to that profession. When I applied as a lecturer at the Polytechnic of Ibadan, the salary was not up to what I could get within 4 days in acting.
So, I was forced to leave Law for acting because of what I get. So, my hobby became my profession and I was making money. For the love I have for Law, I still went back 2 years ago to enrol as a Phd student that I am as I speak.
How do you still juggle acting, studying and all that?
I must be sincere. The aspect of being a doctorate student is the most challenging now. It’s extremely challenging. But it is my dream to achieve and I will achieve it by God’s grace. I want to be a doctor in Law.
How does it feel to have someone like Oga Bello as your father?
Honestly, it is a privilege. He’s a father, he’s a friend. He’s my confidant. Nothing is a big problem to daddy, with the way he addresses issues. And not only to his children, but to all, to everybody. It is an opportunity to have him as a father. If I want to come to this world again, I want to come through him, because he’s an extremely understanding father.
He makes everything that looks difficult to me so simple. I can speak with him like 5 times in a day. So, it’s a rare privilege.
What would you call the similarity and differences between you and daddy?
Facially, we don’t look alike but I’ve got so many of his attributes.
Let’s talk about your theatre school, J15, how is it doing?
J15 is 11 yrs now and it has graduated over 500 students. Quite a number of them work behind the camera. They are doing so well. Some are working as Permanent Staff to M-Net. Some work permanently in the English genre industry. Very few of them appear before the camera.
As an upcoming students they make more money as crew members than actors. A very prominent face that people can relate with is probably Aisha Lawal. So, J15 school is there and we are so proud that we’ve produced fantastic crew members. We have directors among us, we have continuity person.
One of the best wardrobe managers in our industry now both in English sector and Yoruba sector is Lola Awe. She graduated from J15 school. We have one of the best Property Manager, Wonuola, he’s from J15 school. The likes of Desmond Elliot, Kunle Afolayan have been reckoning with J15 products and we are extremely proud of that.
We make them believe that coming into the theatre industry, don’t always be I want to be a star, Stardom is from the Almighty. Whoever will be a star would be determine by the Almighty. Just do what you know how to do best and continue to pray about it.
If you are to address a room fill with young actors who want to be like you? What would be your message to them?
I’m going to tell them that they should be consistent, because consistency is the key. You can easily get distracted when you keep trying and trying. So, they should be consistent and, off course, they should be honest.
When you are honest and you are talented people get to love you more, and you must also be hardworking. To be an actor takes days in night. As I speak I still do rehearsal within my room. I won’t say because I’m famous and relax, No. So, they should be extremely hardworking. Finally, is prayer.
You can be talented and people would still not see you, but when you combine your talent with prayer everything works out. Those are my own password as well.