- Veteran Actress, JOKE MUYIWA Tells City People
Joke Muyiwa is a popular veteran actress who knows how to interpret her roles very well. She has been acting for 38years. She is one of the most preferred faces in movies and many producers love to use her to play major motherly roles. She is very intelligent. And she is very good at what she does. This is evident in her roles.
Not many know that Joke Muyiwa is a teacher of Theatre Arts at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. Her career spans close to 4 decades. From her days at N.T.A Ibadan, to the University of Ibadan performing arts theatre in 1980 to the Obafemi Awolowo University Theatre Company, she has cut her teeth in various qualitative engagements at home in Nigeria, Europe and America, with various professional troupes, notable among them; the National troupes of Nigeria in 1984, The Kakaaki troupe with Ben Tomoloju and Mathias Gert under the aegis of Goethe Institute.
Joke is a current face in notable soap operas on T.V. among which are Kamsons and Neighbours, Superstory, Tendencies, Edge of Paradise, Faces among others. She is also currently a popular face in the Nollywood Yoruba industry. The guru has attended many conferences with contributions to at least 12 journal publications, and 6 just concluded ongoing research works to her credit. She was a former head of department at the Department of Performing Arts at the Olabisi Onabanjo University where she is currently a lecturer. Last week, this great thespian opened up to City People’s SEYE KEHINDE and SUNDAY ADIGUN on her career which has spanned over 37 years.
How has it been so far?
It’s by the Grace of God and what he has endowed me with. Whatever you found yourself doing is by the Grace of God. Being in the film industry has always been my passion. I love to meet new people, I love to make impact, I love to be different, if I am not an actor I would have been a photographer. So what has kept me and still keeping me going is my passion.
How did the journey start?
I started acting 38years ago, while I started lecturing 14 years ago.
When I was in the lower secondary class, I wanted to be a Nurse but when I was in Form 4, I watched the LION and THE JEWEL and I fell in love with they way late Olumide Bakare acted his role in that movie, I love his expression and diction so, I decided to become an actress.
Later on, I wanted to be a broadcaster but eventually, it didn’t turn out to be, as acting beckoned on me. That was how I went into acting, first at Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and later I went to school. I went to UNIBADAN Performing Arts Theatre. From there, I joined a production company and I was there for about two years and later, I did my Diploma. I was in the production company with Yomi Farounbi in 1986. From there, I went to the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University for my degree, and then I was working and studying. I spent 10years there. All along, I was doing shows in Nigeria and abroad.
Later, I left Ife for my Masters at the University of Ibadan, while doing my masters, I was working with so many groups then, I got a job at Olabisi Onabanjo University where I am still lecturing till date.
I had to start lecturing when I discovered that acting alone can not put food on my table, and that was because there was no money in the profession. But the interest we had in it kept us moving. When I was at the UNIBADAN performing company, we were being given salary every month. My first salary then with the performing company was N120. I was with Sam Loco, Clarion Chukwura, Jumoke Fashola, Aunty Taiwo Oni (late), Ayo Oluwasanmi (late) and so many other people. These were the people we started together. We were trained to act on stage, unlike now.
During that time if you are not good, you are not a professional, you will be disgraced on the stage right there. So there were not too many people in the movie industry.
We have a lot of people now. At that time, if you don’t have interest, you will not stay because there was no money or fame. Then we were not doing it because we wanted to acquire fame but we were doing it because we loved doing it. But nowadays, so many people want the fame and money without the training and the talent.
How have you been able to juggle acting and lecturing?
Well, you know in the academics, I teach theory. In the acting world, I practicalize. So, in the academic community, I am an art fellow. An art fellow is a lecturer, a scholarly person who is practical-oriented. So, asking me how I continue the two is like asking lawyers how they go to court or doctors why they go to the hospital, so, my own laboratory is both in the school and at locations or on stage but I’m always in school during the week while the weekend is for locations.
What were the challenges you faced and which of your roles is very challenging?
All the time, I take all my acting as a challenge. There is no small role, only small actors, there is no bad actors.
There are so many plays that I have done that were so challenging but I didn’t count them as problems but challenges. I count them as a challenge and I overcome them but using my inner strength. When I did Basorun Gaa, I played the role of Iya Oloori. God, I was thinking of how I would be able to speak indigenous Yoruba language, not the modern ones we speak now but I sat down and I did it wonderfully well. So many roles like that because they don’t always give me my age role, they always give me an elderly woman or stack illiterate, it is challenging, but by God’s Grace, we overcome.
Why do you always act motherly roles?
It’s just because I’m elderly. Let me tell you that, even when I was young as 25/26, years old they’ve always been giving me elderly roles. I don’t know why. Maybe I look elderly and as I grew older they gave me elderly roles, and naturally, now I’m above 55yrs.
So its normal to give me mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and others, sometimes I am an old wife, it depends. Even when I was young I could transpose and people would be like this girl is a good actress. She can play old. She can play young. Because of the versatility, they used to give me elderly roles even when there are elders to play them.