Monday, 22 December 2014

Interview: I’m not dating anyone – Wole Ojo

Wole Ojo is an actor and winner of the fourth Amstel Malta Box Office 2008/2009, a TV reality show. He talks about his love life

What does it take to be an actor?

"Talent is key. It takes you to certain levels and you have to get some training as well. Also, you have to be daring, patient, consistent and persistent. It is not as easy as people think, especially if you want to make something out of it."

How did you start acting?

"I started acting in ‘KidiVision 101’ on Nigerian Television Authority at the age of nine. I made a couple of appearances as a minor cast in my first year and I was given a major character in my second year. I played Ochalla Ani, a child producer. I played that character for about five years. It might be difficult to place my face because I changed over the years; I was slimmer and my head was bigger."

What were your experiences at AMBO?

"It was fun and tasking at the same time. AMBO, for me, was looking for a platform to fast track my career. I tried making a comeback because I took a break after ‘Kidivision 101,’ ‘One Big Family’ and a couple of stage productions. I featured in other soap operas too, but I did not get the break I wanted. AMBO came up and I did it and won."

What were you doing after KidiVision 101?

"I did not stop acting; I continued a bit, but I went underground because I wanted to be a film maker. I underwent apprenticeship with Charles Novia. I was an editor for a while too and did a bit of writing. November Productions was packaging the content for Dove Media and I worked with them too. It was more of a learning process because I wanted to understand how it was to be behind the scene before I become a director or producer, which I am still working towards. I was also struggling with my admission into the university. I wanted to study at the University of Lagos because of what I practised."

Did your parents support you from childhood?

"I got their support right from childhood. I always watched ‘Kidivision 101’ with my mother and I critiqued the kids. I did some little plays in church and school too. She would tell me that NTA was close to us and that I should go and try it out. My dad is liberal and would support whatever you want to do. Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. When I started acting he saw it as a hobby but he wanted me to be a lawyer. He thought that I would outgrow my love for acting and tried to talk me out of it but eventually, he started supporting me. I will still go back to school to get a degree in law, even if I don’t practise."

What was your first audition like?

"It was tense and fun, maybe because I was a kid. I still get tensed sometimes when I go for auditions. Sometime last year, I attended an audition by Mildred Okwo and I was like a jelly. The judges were surprised because I had been acting for a while."

What were your initial challenges?

"There was one of age. In this part of the country, there were hardly stories for young actors. Sometimes, you had to wait to grow up and really look like an adult, not just facially but in stature and lines delivery. Majority of the characters being cast for jobs were between the ages of 28 and 45. Apart from that, you had to to sell yourself, make your style cut across, win your audience over, try to become a household name and the financial challenges too."

How do you handle competition?

"There is positive and healthy competition. I and my friends recommend one another for roles even when we vie for the same role. I do not see a reason why I should be in an unhealthy competition with someone."

What determines who gets a role?

"Skill is important, but it depends on what the director looks out for. There is also working compatibility with the director, availability of the actor or who the casting director favours. One may perform well, but would still not get the job. Looks, shape, height, countenance or past jobs done matter too."

Are you part of the new Nollywood group?

"A lot of people just come up with things; there is no such thing as new Nollywood. Nollywood is the same. Every sector undergoes an evolution and Nollywood is getting better. Every sector in life strives to improve. We are just getting better at what we do."

What are the embarrassing moments you have encountered?

"They come with the job. Some people walked up to me and said good things; others said nasty or bad things depending on a particular character I played in a movie. It is the job I chose and I am dealing with it. Females are the strongest set of fans and one has to be careful when handling them. The fans I have are cool. I would say I have been lucky; but some aggressive ones would insist on taking pictures and I cannot say no."

How do you unwind?

"I am crazy in my own way, but I do not really do the regular crazy things. I am not much of a party person and would not be found hanging around parties and clubs. I do not stay so long at red carpet events. When I have to hang, I do that with my team. Seven out of ten times, you can predict the people you will see me with. We are a team, but not a clique. Indoors, I like to watch television, write scripts or play video games."

What influences your dressing?

"I go with the flow. Earlier in my career, I used to dress formally. I like to try safe things and not be daring. I like to be comfortable in what I wear."

What do you look out for in a lady?

"That is personal. I believe whatever one looks out for in a woman should be unique and personal to one. I am not dating anyone at the moment. There is no reason going about with a torchlight looking for a partner. It has to happen naturally."

What roles would you not play?

"I would not play full frontal nude roles."

And the sides?

"If it has a significant symbol or meaning to the story, I can. Some actors get certain scripts and after reading them, the story gets intense and meaningful and the things they claimed they could not do, they find out it makes meaning to the story. When they do them, people would hold nothing against them."

What if you are misinterpreted?

"It is natural for people to misinterpret you. There are many things to consider as well—you, family, finance and how it would project your image. Those are the things I consider when I accept a role."