Popular mild-behaved Nollywood actor Lateef Adedimeji finally talks about his once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing the late legendary Apala music star Ayinla Omowura, noting that it is to date the toughest and most challenging role he’s ever had a to play.
Lateef Adedimeji who’s become a fans favourite over the last couple of years with personality and different acts from his movies, played the music star Ayinla Omowura which he never really knew or listened to his music before taking on the role. He also took the chance to speak about the furore currently going on with the movie industry with the Thearter Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association Of Nigeria suspending actors who have faced off or got engaged in both online and offline shenanigans.
READ ALSO: I Own Up To My Weaknesses As To Become A Better Man – Lateef Adedimeji
Lateef Adedimeji spoke about a range of things in an interview with Punch’s Tofarati Ige, where he spoke about his feelings about getting to work with the legendary movie director Tunde Kehlani;
How would you describe your experience acting as the late apala musician, Ayinla Omowura?
It was a very tough and challenging experience. It was the least of what I was expecting at this stage of my career. I had always prayed to work with Tunde Kelani; even if it was to play a cameo role in any of his movies. So, when the lead role came, I thought it was a dream. I did not believe it until I heard ‘action’ on the first day on set.
It was challenging because I had not been a fan of apala music and I never listened to it. But, when I got the script, I started listening to apala songs. I had to do a lot of research because there wasn’t much documentation or video recording of any kind on Ayinla Omowura. All the characterisation I did was built based on my own research and everything I had heard and read about him. It was quite a stretch for me. The musical part was also taxing because I had to learn his songs. It was tough but at the end, I am glad it came out well.
Did you feel any pressure having to act as a ‘real’ person who had lived before and had a lot of fans?
There was a lot of pressure. At the first premiere of the movie in Ibadan (Oyo State), I actually left the cinema hall because I was scared whether people would love my performance or not. I was so scared that I could not watch it. I had to stay outside until people finished watching it and I started asking them questions. From their comments and reviews, I was a bit encouraged.
So, I sat inside the hall when the film was premiered in Lagos, and for the first time, I felt proud of myself.
How did your experience acting in the movie make you a better actor?
It was a whole new learning experience for me. It was quite different from what I had always expected. Tunde Kelani is one director that takes his time. I never saw him get angry. If an actor was not getting it right, he would tell the person to calm down and relax. There was a day I was too tired and weak and I told him at 4pm that I did not want to work anymore that day. He then told me to go and relax, and continue the next day. He is one director that understands actors. He knows that if one is tired, one wouldn’t be able to give one’s best.
While acting, if he was not satisfied with my performance, he would tell me to improve. And immediately, I gave him what he wanted, he would commend me.
Some people believe that Nollywood should tell more stories of real personalities that are part of the country’s history. What’s your take on that?
After ‘Ayinla’, I acted in another biopic titled, ‘Ige’. It is the story of Fakorede Ige, an oil merchant who is still alive. He saw the movie and was very impressed. I think we need to start telling stories of our own people. I know that a lot of people were not expecting the reception that ‘Ayinla’ got. Now that we know we can tell our own stories that people can relate with, we should embrace it and do a lot of collaborations. About three people collaborated to make ‘Ayinla’ and they all got their praises.
READ ALSO: ‘Social Media Offers You Hatred That Is Garnished With Love’ – Lateef Adedimeji
Do you have any plans to crossover and do more of English films?
It would be a mixture. I don’t believe there are ‘Yoruba’ or ‘English’ actors. As far as I’m concerned, we are all actors, regardless of the language one uses to express oneself. A true actor should be able to fit into any setting.
Some people in the English-speaking side of Nollywood look down on Yoruba actors. Have you ever had that experience?
It is about the individual doing one’s home work. Discrimination happens when people feel one cannot deliver on what one has been asked to do, or that one does not meet up to a particular standard. If one has built one’s craft to a certain extent, things like that would not happen, and one would stand the test of time.
What challenges do you face at this stage of your career?
At every level one gets to, there are certain challenges that one would face. However, if one focuses on the ‘noise’ being made by people, one could lose focus of where one is going to. Criticisms will come but one should always keep one’s sight on one’s goal.
READ ALSO: Movie By Tunde Kelani, “Ayinla Omowura”, A Biopic Of Legendary Apala Singer Premieres June 18th
What are your thoughts on the furore recently generated when the Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria directed their members not to act with certain people?
We need to do a lot of sensitisation and restructuring. I think the elders of TAMPPAN are already doing that, and with that, things would fall into shape. It is one thing to have an association, and it is another thing for the association to have rules and regulations. It is important for members of the association to be aware of the rules and regulations, so they know whenever they commit an offence and the consequences that would follow it. I believe that when people know about the constitution (of the association), they wouldn’t want to go against it. If that is done, actors would be more cautious, Lateef Adedimeji said.
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