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I was already fending for myself at five -Abiola Adebayo

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Abike

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by 'NONYE BEN-NWANKWO

I feature mainly in Yoruba movies and participate in English language soap operas, too. Actually I started my career with Wale Adenuga Productions. I have appeared in some editions of Super Story and Papa Ajasco TV drama series. Also, I played a role in Family Affairs. But I have not participated in any TV soap lately. It was actually the Yoruba movie titled Eyin-Oka that brought me to limelight. It was produced by Ademola Adelakun. That is why people still refer me to as Biola 'Eyin-Oka.' It is not my surname. My name is Abiola Adebayo. People don't even know that Adebayo is my surname. I've not been able to detach my name from that title. But it is okay. After the movie, I have played the lead role in many other movies.

What I do at present

Acting is something that doesn't give you the time to do other things. I've not acted for a while because I had to do some other things. If you truly want to do other things, it would certainly affect your acting career. Acting is jealous. Because of many other things that I had to do, I stayed out of the scene for awhile. But I'm back and now, I present a TV programme titled Identical. I used to present one Yoruba programme about seven years ago. Most people think Yoruba actresses cannot speak good English. When the producer of Identical watched me perform in the Super Story drama series, she was genuinely impressed. She said that she didn't know I could speak English fluently. Anyway, she asked me to present the programme. That was how I started.

My acting career

I had always wanted to be an actress. But I knew it would work out at the right time. In 2002, my sister, Liz Idowu, told me that I looked like Genevieve and she asked why I had not thought of starting a career in film acting. I told her that I didn't know how to go about it. Then she said she had a friend who knew somebody in Wale Adenuga Productions. She told me the production outfit was interested in recruiting talented people and that I didn't have to know the chairman or sleep with anybody before I would be considered for a role. With this knowledge, I went for an audition at the place. I was lucky and I got a role. Then I spoke with Bekee Adeoye. He told me that I was good. I started with one scene, then progressed to two scenes, even also acted as an extra and all that. I can say that I rose through the ranks. After I did the Papa Ajasco film and a few scenes in some Yoruba movies, people started noticing me and that was how my career started.

Brief stint as movie producer

I produced a movie in 2008. I should be producing another one later in the year. But there is really no profit in it. If you are not very close to a marketer, you may end up not making profit. The marketers are complaining because we have a glut of movies in the market already and production is very challenging. Let me leave it for a while. Later, I can get back to it.

Life without scandals

I haven't been associated with any scandal. Naturally, I'm not the out-going type. If you don't see me in my office, and I'm not at home, then I'm in the church. I don't go out. So, even if I'm bad, nobody will know what I'm up to. I don't really keep friends. Only your friends can leak your secrets. I'm just being myself. I don't pretend to anybody. I try as much as possible to run away from the things that may ruin my good image. I'm not saying that I'm a saint, but I try as much as possible to own up to my mistakes or faults.

My view of rivalry

I can't compete with anybody. I'm a small girl. There is no need for me to compete with anybody. These are the things that lead many people into trouble. I just want to be myself. I'm Abiola. If you don't like my car, buy another one for me. I'm a very simple person. I'm contented with what I have. I don't want to be like you, even for a day, because I wouldn't know what you have experienced in life. I come from a humble background. I know what life is all about. I don't follow people. I believe in the sweat of my labour and what God has blessed me with. I am not competing with anybody. Everybody is my senior. I am in good terms with everybody. I have been in the movie industry for nine years. I don't think anybody will ever tell you that I have had joined issues with him or her. I have virtually met everybody. I have learnt to be myself and people don't disrespect me either. I don't want to be anybody's friend or enemy.

Parental approval

I lost my dad. My mum is comfortable with my chosen career. She knows who I am. The few friends I have know me, too. My relations know what I can do. So they weren't against me when I chose to be an actress. I didn't have any issue with them.

Aiming high

I can't say that I'm comfortable with the position that I have found myself. I'm not anywhere now. Everybody is praying to move up. I don't want to be like somebody. I want to get to the height that God planned for me. God is responsible for everything I have achieved. I still attend auditions for movie roles. I can't do what I'm not supposed to do for stardom. God has plans for everybody. No matter how much you run, what God has not given you, no man can give you. If you call me for a job, I do it happily. If I'm good enough for you to call me again, you will call me.

Relationship

Soon I shall get married. I'm involved in a relationship and my partner is not an actor. I'm engaged to him. He is comfortable with my job. I'm not perfect, but he knows what I can do. He knows the kind of person that I am. His family appreciates me, too. If he thinks he is going to get married to a star, I don't think we would be this close. The only thing that stardom has taken away from me is the fact that I may not be able to use public transport again. Also, I'm afraid of going to the market and I don't like to stay at the bus stop. Apart from that, I'm still Biola. My relationship with my friends has been the same. My fiancée takes me for who I'm. He doesn't care about the stardom.

Growing up

Growing up was very tough for me. I grew up in an environment where you had to fend for yourself. I grew up with my grandmother. My parents were divorced. My grandmother didn't have anything. So, in order to survive, I had to work. I had been working on the street since I was five years old. I had to hawk food stuff in the street to survive. I'm not saying this to curry sympathy. I just want to encourage other people that you can get to anywhere in life if you are determined. In those days, as soon as you returned from school, there was always something waiting for you to sell. I never liked begging for money. I preferred to work and earn money. I would rather wash your clothes and get paid for it than to beg money from you. I have done different things on the streets of Lagos to survive. I thank God that I'm okay now and I can feed other people. It was tough. But today, God has blessed me. My mum lived in the North. She was having her own issues. We were poor and it got worse when my parents divorced. My mum was just trying to manage and cater for my younger ones. I was so young then, but I believed that I was going to make it in life. I strove hard. I had passed up about five offers before I was able to get admitted into school finally. I didn't have the money to get into school and nobody was there to train me. I told myself that I was going to go to school as a comfortable student. Now, God has made it a reality. I have learnt a lot of lessons. My mum now lives in Lagos. I got her a place.

Why I can't sell my body

There are things I don't believe in. If a man wants to help you, he will. What God doesn't give you, a man cannot give you. It is not my style to beg. It is not a normal thing for every girl to sleep with men to get money. It wasn't a normal thing for me. So, I didn't do it. It wasn't as though I didn't have a relationship, but I didn't do it for money. You don't have to go into prostitution. I tell people that no circumstance can push you to become whatever that is bad. I'm a living witness. You have to choose what you want to be. I chose to be loyal and keep a good name. I'm not bragging, I'm just thanking God for it. It depends on the level of grace that God gives people. But then again, I'm not a saint.

My vision

I want things to be done accordingly. I want to get to the top of my career, but I'm not in a rush. I want to have a good home, at least break the jinx. To keep your home, you can't be running from one location to the other. It can't work. I want to maintain my career, but my home is going to be important. I wouldn't want my children to go through what I did. I'm going to avoid that at all cost. I went through a lot. I don't even want my enemy to go through all that. I want to get closer to God, too. I appreciate my family for standing by me. I love my friends. I don't call them fans because they have been there for me.

Punch
 
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