Why my marriages failed - Yemi Solade

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Simisola

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#1
by Bayo Adeoye

Articulate, analytical and artistic best describes the personality of Yemi Solade, the thespian, whose acting skills have become a force to reckon with in Nigerian home videos. The handsome face of the fair-complexioned actor, coupled with his amazing style of character interpretation in movies, are some of the reasons he’s adored by many. The movie sex symbol who was one of the students of Nobel Prize winner, Wole Soyinka, spoke with Bayo Adeoye as he opened up on his radicalism, career, failed marriages and other interesting issues. Excerpts…

You actually dumped your course in Law for Theatre Arts in university. How difficult was this decision then?

I was just a teenager. I didn’t think much of it then. I just wanted to follow a dream; it was because of Wole Soyinka who is now an icon. I wanted knowledge from him. I was a year one Law student. I accosted him and told him that I wanted to be his student and the only way was to abandoned Law, which I did. He was head of department. For me, I didn’t think much about it, but any parent will think it is youthful exuberance. I did what I have to do and no regret about it whatsoever.
What was the reaction of your parents. Didn’t they frown at your decision?

I was ostracized from the family. They said since I could decide that on my own, I should fend for myself. So that was a corporal punishment I got.

So, you sponsored yourself through the university?


Not too much. In reaction to what I did, a lot happened. It was stormy but I survived it.

It is strange that back then, somebody would abandoned a supposedly noble job, Law, for acting that was seen as a job for never do-wells. What exactly did you love about Wole Soyinka that much that made you take this ‘crazy’ decision?

Wole Soyinka was just an ordinary writer and lecturer back then in University of Ife. He had not become what he is today. He had not won a Nobel Prize. He was just HOD Drama, but I loved his writing and there was this thing about him that I got fascinated about. I just wanted to tap from his pool of knowledge. This is a man that just got a Bachelor’s Degree and became a professor as far back as 1965. He is a genius. I like to associate with people like that. Not only Wole Soyinka, but he was the closest I could associate with then being a student. And we all know what he has become today. Probably I saw ahead of time back then. I enjoy it now when people ask me who taught me drama and I mention, ‘Wole Soyink. I feel happy about this.

Today, you are popular actor no doubt about that. But if it is possible for you to turn back hand of the clock, would you still want to become a lawyer or an actor?

I wanted to become an actor. If I have a second chance, I would still want to remain an actor. But what I would like done differently are better take home packages.

I love what I do. I am a consummate actor; I am very passionate about what I do. Otherwise, I have options. I have degrees in other field, apart from drama. I studied other courses. I have three Masters in three courses. I have Masters in International Relations, Public Administration and Sociology. So, I could just stay in the corporate world, but I am not somebody that like regimented kind of work. I just love to do my thing in my own way. I want to sleep when I want to, wake when I want to, just do my thing without anybody harassing me and I don’t want to be subservient to anybody, no. I don’t want anybody giving me query, I don’t want to attend meetings when I am not suppose to, and you know that’s what you find in corporate world. I will love to do acting all over again. It gives me pleasure; I like what it does to my soul. For the fact that I am talented with what I do makes it easier. It is second nature and that is the beauty of what one does especially when someone is as dynamic as I am. As an actor, you imitate, you impersonate other people in acting. This makes acting very interesting. But like I said earlier, the issue of take home pay is worrisome but despite this I would to do it all over again.

Apart from take home packages, what are the other challenges you face as an actor?

Well, I will say one’s privacy is been infringed upon. By the time a person reaches a certain stage in his career and becomes famous, one’s privacy becomes mortgaged. But I still manage in my own way to be myself; I still go into the buka to eat and if I feel like peeing by the roadside, I come out of my car and pee. This is the social context you find in Nigeria. I am not one those actors that will tell you they can’t buy roasted plantain again. No, for me I don’t suffer such. I am just myself. The challenges of people here who sing your praises saying they admire you and turn around to want to siphoned from one is another challenge. The area boys and the touts who will tell you that they buy all your movies and therefore you need to settle them every time they see you around. That alone pisses me off because I am not a producer. I buy these movies too. But there is nothing we can do about this. We would co-exist.

In Nollywood today, the in-thing is to produce your own movie, especially in the Yoruba sector, because this is where you actually make real money. But, you are yet to produce your own. Are you not thinking in this direction?

Well, I do kind of, but I am not in this profession for the money. I am around what I do to make a statement. By God’s grace, I have been able to make little of this statement, by the little I have done so far. I have worked with the very best in the land. And without producing a film, I am still very relevant. You see what people do is, acting is what attracts everybody and when they come, they later discover that they can’t hold their own in acting. They run to producing because they are not getting it right acting-wise. Fine, producing is the business angle to the field though, because they are bringing in money; they are investing, they are providing employment.

But the primary focus for me is to do my acting well, but I am not shying away from producing. My mind is ready to produce now. I have my story in this home. But I want to come out and get it right. I don’t what to produce the way lots of people produce, for instance where I major, Yoruba-English sector. I call it that because I don’t really do the core Yoruba movies like the one they do in the village, the core Yoruba traditional movies. What I do, I tell people I do the amulumala kind of (mixture of Yoruba and English languages). This is because in most our movies we put on Western clothes, so that’s cosmopolitan drama. And the language is high tech.

I look at it that I am doing well in acting, but in producing, it’s highly proliferated. There are no rules, no regulations. It has became an all-comers affair. It makes people like me endanger species. People say that I am too expensive. I can’t imagine, I can’t fathom that. Let’s relate it to music to. You want hire the service of Sunny Ade. You know why you are calling him to your event. You know he will give you the best; so don’t say he is too expensive. If you want the best, you must be ready to pay for the best. How do you want me to be considerate with you that you don’t have much money when you are expecting the best from me? But that’s the thing about Yoruba cosmology. We are very liberal people. It is ‘rub my back, I rub your back’ kind of, but this works for people that produce all the time. I don’t produce. If I do that for everybody all the time, if it is my turn to produce, am I going to bring everybody to my picture? I don’t think this is an ideal thing, but this is what is obtained. We can’t contest that for now. I tried to raise my voice so many times that I ended up running into trouble with my colleagues. They said I was hard-handed, but I would continue to speak up because I am a consummate artiste who knows what he is doing - a trained dramatist - and this is my field. A lot of people are encroaching probably because they don’t have anything to do or because they want the popularity for the sake of it. But I am doing this because it is my calling. It is what I was trained to do.

If I had ended being a lawyer, maybe, I would have been like Femi Falana, because the radical in me won’t leave any field. Even if had being a doctor, maybe I would have ended been like Beko Ransome-Kuti.

Talking about being radical, Yemi Solade, is seen as arrogant and snobbish. How exactly would you describe yourself?

I will describe myself as somebody who knows what he is doing. Generally, I am very professionally-minded. Anybody that says anything contrary to this does not know me.

Go and ask the producers I have worked with. Any producer that I work with and has problem with me would probably be as a result of not being professional. For instance, on a set where I have to use wine as prop and you are bringing tea cup, I won’t use it. This is where I can be too hard-handed , because they don’t know. I am a trained dramatist. I am not somebody who was taken to location because I am layabout who didn’t have anything to do who does not understand the component of drama. Characterisation I know, this beard ( showing us his bushy beard), a producer ask me to groom it for him, Kunle Afolayan. I will do it for Kunle because he knows this job. I will do it for Tade Ogidan. I will do it for Tunde Kelani. But I won’t do it for some producers because they are not professional. I am a professional actor. I don’t care about what anybody says about me. I am not apologetic about it. I am who I am. But what is instructive about this is how people see my act. If I am known as an actor, don’t I act well? Let them leave the other side and that’s the radical part of me. I don’t think I have received money from a producer without honouring our agreement. I would do your job. If I have problem there, I would complain, but I would do your job as a professional. Anyway, this doesn’t bother me because you can’t just satisfy people.

People don’t just want to study my person and say he is principled because he knows what he is doing. I will speak up until we do it right. Those who are criticising my radicalism, where are they today? They are no where to be found in the industry. My speak-up serves as check and balance in the industry. This is what Wole Soyinka taught us in school.

You see, nobody is an island of knowledge. People correct me when I make mistakes on set and I accept. But many people don’t see it that way. They tell you, ‘is he the only one who went to university’? But I don’t care. Let my work speak for me. I can’t go into oblivion. I am a thoroughbred actor. I have no regret for my outburst. I have my shortcomings though and I am working to improve on all that. But nobody can tell me not to open my mouth because I am an authority in what I do. I am a certified and certificated artiste.

You actually came out last year to contest for the post of the president of Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP) but you later backed out. Can you shed more light on why you took this decision despite the fact that you were among the favourites?

I sat down three years ago and I was wondering ‘this ANTP thing, the way it is being run is bad’. And I also thought I was acting. I didn’t participate in the running of the association and lots of policies coming out of ANTP were affecting me directly and this is one of the problems I was having with those running the association. Also, anytime I complained, they will tell me ‘come over, let’s run it together. Don’t just stay out there and complain to the media’. So when Jide Kosoko replaced Bayo Salami and said ‘well that was an improvement in term of power of articulation’. I thought he would be more articulate than Bayo Salami going by what we celebrate in Nigeria; the art of speaking English. It is the person that speaks English the most that people celebrate in Nigeria. So, I thought when Jide Kosoko was leaving, ‘who would replace this man?’ I told myself that I could be a good replacement and move ANTP forward. I believed I could move it to the corporate world and that was the impetus, the driving force and I told Jide Kosoko himself. He was the first man to opposed it. He told me bluntly that it wasn’t my turn.

I went out talking. I started talking to the Press about my ambition, what I should do, my cardinal programme, my objectives and all of that concerning the election. But before the election came, we have the gladiators who always draw daggers. Every time elections come up, we have Ashaolu, we have Dele Odule, they have became the traditional candidates, year in, year out and I said ‘why should this be?’

But later, some elders like Jimoh Aliu, Lere Paimo called me and appealed to me to step down so it would be narrowed down to Ashaolu and Dele Odule and I looked at them in their 70’s and said ‘okay, if that is what you want’. And they told me that they still wanted me in that administration. Jide Kosoko said a similar thing too, and I said ‘well, I am dynamic’. I wasn’t rigid about it. If people like that talk to me that way, wouldn’t want to have head on-collision with them.

Were you afraid of them?

Me, afraid? The worst that would have happened was to go to the election and lose. Why I should be afraid of anybody?

Maybe you were afraid of their power.


What type of power do they have? They don’t have any power. Do they have more power that I have? I have more power because I can talk better and the whole world would listen.

I later settled for another office which I even discovered that I would enjoy better than the presidency. I taught that what ANTP lacked was proper articulation and representation. ANTP needed an erudite spokesperson. I thought that if any of these old men became the president and I became the spokesperson, people would reckon with me better. So I settled for the post of National publicity secretary and the election up till now, there is no head way. Ashaolu went to Ilorin for election. I was in my sitting room when they called me that I have been voted for as National publicity secretary. So, I should be parading myself as the national publicity secretary of the association.
But because of the crisis that’s still lingering, I decided to chill out. I don’t want to be part of anybody’s crises because I didn’t create it and I should not celebrate it. So that it is.

You are member of ANTP, NANTAP and AGN. My question is this, you actually started in English movies and later dumped it to associate with Yoruba movies. Why did you do this?

I didn’t start in the English movie. ,my first home video was Oju Inu which was a Yoruba movie.

But this is it. I was trained to act on stage with the likes of Wole Soyinka, Osofisan, Ola Rotimi and those plays are written in English language interestingly. You see, the issue of one being a Yoruba actor and another, an English actor, I don’t understand that concept. I knock it off. Regardless of what film you do, an actor is an actor. This one opens his mouth to read his lines, moves his body under the light and camera is an actor. I don’t know why the issue of language becomes a barrier and demarcation. I tell people that we don’t shoot English movies in Nigeria, but either Igbo-English, Niger-Delta English or Yoruba- English or Hausa-English movies, because what you called English movies, you see one section of the region and this is reflective in the drama. So when people tell me they don’t see me in English movies, I tell them, maybe when Sean Connery calls me or Nicholas Cage or Brad Pitt call me, I would appear in English movies. But here, we shoot Nigerian movies. So, let’s stop fooling ourselves. I will not accept when you call RMD an English actor. He is a Delta actor or is he Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean)? Olu Jacobs is a Yoruba actor. KOK is an Ibo actor.

Before you married your current wife, you’d already experienced two failed marriages. What were the experiences like and why did you choose to get married the third time?

You see when, certain things are not meant to be, there are no amount of work you put to it. It won’t work. Because I was finding my bearing, I wasn’t stable. It was a lot difficult to run a home. But at the appointed time, I am speaking spiritually now, when God said, ‘you are looking for a wife and you need a husband? Okay, I give you this person’ and that was what God did for me and that it why it is working.

When I met her, it was her beauty that attracted me. I like every good thing of life. My wife is beautiful. She is half caste, but I was afraid to talk to her because I didn’t have the kind of money she may have wanted, but when I summoned the courage to approach her, she shocked me with her simplicity and humility. We became friends and later got married.

You are a handsome man, even at this age, so I wonder how you would have been when you were still younger. Tell us some of your experiences with girls back then in your school days.

Back then in school, I used to travelled out of school with girls. I remember when I was in part one in university, my father brought police to arrest a lady I was staying with in her house. I started having girlfriends at the age of 13. Older girls have taught me things about sex as young as I was then.

Just now, I received a phone call on your behalf from a girl who is trying to date you. Is this what you encounter all the time and how do you manage it?

I enjoy it. You see, when they call and tell me they like me, I enjoy it, and I try to be civil with them because I know they like what I do and admire me. That is why they call me to tell me this. Because you don’t even know, that person that calls might be somebody who may be useful in other area, apart from sleeping with each other. I try to be calm and be civil.

Why my marriages failed
 

mealone

Well-Known Member
#3
Apart from take home packages, what are the other challenges you face as an actor?

Well, I will say one’s privacy is been infringed upon. By the time a person reaches a certain stage in his career and becomes famous, one’s privacy becomes mortgaged. But I still manage in my own way to be myself; I still go into the buka to eat and if I feel like peeing by the roadside, I come out of my car and pee. This is the social context you find in Nigeria. I am not one those actors that will tell you they can’t buy roasted plantain again. No, for me I don’t suffer such. I am just myself. The challenges of people here who sing your praises saying they admire you and turn around to want to siphoned from one is another challenge. The area boys and the touts who will tell you that they buy all your movies and therefore you need to settle them every time they see you around. That alone pisses me off because I am not a producer. I buy these movies too. But there is nothing we can do about this. We would co-exist.
worraheck!!!! is that supposed to make you kool?
 

Dsampler

Well-Known Member
#5
Sounds like a bush man. Give me a break. Abeg talk less. Don't know who he is though.
E be like say na that same guy wey send im butt-naked picture thru his BB to one woman for America. The woman come vex, carry the naked picture put for the internet.
 
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