Since her bold arrival in 2006 as an actress cum producer, Biodun Okeowo, has continued to distinguish herself and craft in the saturated make believe industry. With sterling performances in over 50 hit Yoruba movies, the pretty entertainer from Ogere, Ogun State is undoubtedly one of the names to look out for this New Year. Okeowo, a trained journalist also has five Yoruba movies to her credit as a fast emerging producer. And she equally looks forward to increasing the above figure this 2011, with a blockbuster flick. The very busy thespian is currently on locations lensing her first major flick of the year along with several of her colleagues. With her eyes set for the future, still single Okeowo in this riveting chat with AZUH AMATUS bared her mind on so many personal and professional issues. The mother of two also spoke on her plans and prospects for 2011.
Let’s begin this New Year chat with your background?
My name is Biodun Okeowo, an actress and producer; I’m the last in the family of five and also the only girl among four boys. I’m a graduate of Communications Arts from the Lagos State University. I hail from Ogere in Ogun State.
How was your Christmas and how and where did you spend it?
My Christmas was fun and well spent with my immediate family. This past Christmas really afforded me the opportunity to relax and spend quality time with my family. It was fun all the way.
As one of the emerging female producers, how many movies have you churn out?
To the glory of God, I’ve produced five hit movies. I got a sponsor for the first one, but financed the other four personally. I produced my first movie in 2006. It was entitled Tolani Osirin, Rachael Oniga, Bisi Ibidapo Obe and several others were the stars in this movie. Interestingly, the same 2006 that I produced my first movie was also the same year that I started my acting career professionally.
What was the magic?
Aside the grace of God, let me also say that I’m lucky and very fortunate. I met somebody on my way to our rehearsal ground at Ray Eyiwunmi’s place at Ebute Metta. To cut a long story short, the God-sent man sponsored my first movie and that opened the flood gate for me. It was a loan and not a dash. Incidentally, the title of my first movie, Tolani Osirin, is now my stage name. The other four movies from my stable are; Okanjua, Oke Irapada, Edidi Igbeyawo and Asise Nla.
I must confess, my first movie as a producer actually brought me out and made me a household name in the Yoruba movie industry.
Which was your debut movie as a professional actress?
Opinrinajo by Lasun Ray was my first movie, after this movie, I’ve gone ahead to feature in a lot of other movies. Since my arrival in 2006, I’ve featured in over 50 movies. In fact, one of my movies was entitled Okeowo, which you know is my surname. I didn’t plan it, it was just a coincidence.
In less than five years, you’ve gone ahead to star in over 50 hit Yoruba movies and equally produced five sensational works. What would you say is the secret of your success?
I believe it is God and not by my own making. I’m not the best actress or the most beautiful in the industry. I thank God for his love and grace, which have been seeing and will continue to see me through in the industry.
When you first sauntered in, in 2006, did you envisage that you’d go this far in such a short period of time?
Not really, but from day one, I knew I would go places, but never envisaged it will be this soon. I also knew I have a calling in the industry even before I dreamt of ever coming in. Truth is that I was supposed and even trained to be a journalist but that did not work out.
Meanwhile, your sojourn into the make believe world, how did it evolve?
It was during my Industrial Training at the LTV Agidingbi, Ikeja that the whole thing started. During those days, I always see the stars coming and going and that got me fascinated a whole lot. One day, while admiring them, I said to myself, I can do what they are doing. At this period, I had already graduated, searched for jobs and could not get any. I told myself again that I could act; I did it very well in church and other places while growing up. Through providence, I met and discussed with Afolabi Bayowa, whom I had earlier met at LTV, and told him to assist me. He advised and later directed me to ITPAN, where I did an acting course for six months. After graduating from ITPAN, I went for another one year acting tutelage at Ray Eyiwunmi’s Organization.
What would you say were the major challenges when you first came into the industry?
I had several challenges when I first joined the industry, but the one that readily comes to mind was while on the set of Femi Davies’ Mase-Magbe movie. I was thoroughly intimidated on that set by my co stars, who were already big names then. In fact, one of the big names on that set openly intimidated me and it nearly led to my quitting the industry, but with words of encouragement and my passion for acting, I was able to forge ahead. In fact, the words of encouragement from Moji Olaiya on that set, actually kept me going.
Aside Moji Olaiya, who are the other big names you look up to as role models in the industry?
Great minds like: Lasun Ray, Kunle Adegbite and a few others have really influenced my budding career and I look up to them always as role models.
Since your arrival, have you featured in any English movie?
No, I look forward to getting an English movie script this year. I love the prospect of crossing over and fully ready to showcase my immense acting skills to the world.
2011 is still fresh and full of prospects, what are your plans for the year?
To start with, I intend shooting a blockbuster movie this year. I’ve started the ground work for this movie because I want it to be a big one, in fact, bigger than the first five works from my stable. I want to shock the globe with this great work. Again, as the year unfolds, I will also be unveiling my other plans, which I’m still guarding jealously.
How many movies should we expect from you this year as a producer?
I want to do just one massive work before the end of 2011.
Have you gone on set this year?
Have I? Well, my first job as an actress this year began on January 12. I envisage a very busy year. Funny enough, I will be playing the role of a dare-devil armed robber in this my first movie of 2011. That is acting for you, whatever role I’m given, I will gladly play it.
When you first started, did your parents support and encourage your incursion into acting?
Yeah, they did and are very proud of me till date.
Barely five years in the industry, you are everywhere as an actress cum producer, what would you say stands you out among your colleagues?
Whao! First and foremost, I will give all the glory to God, because He alone has helped to stand me out. A lot of people in the industry and even outside also appreciate my mode of dressing, because I’m very fashion conscious.
Five years from now, where do you see yourself in the industry?
If God permits, I want to be at the top of my game, I also want to go abroad and study acting/film making in the best school abroad. In the nearest future, I want to help change the face of the Yoruba movie industry with the experience I will gather while schooling abroad. I leave everything in the hands of God.
With five years already spent in the industry, do you have any personal or professional regret(s)?
Sincerely, I do not have any regret, in fact, I like being happy always.
Are you saying that nothing weighs you down?
Well, the only thing that weighs me down is that I do not have the kind of home I prayed for as a child growing up. Despite this, I’m still a very happy and proud single mother of two, a boy and girl. The kids are my joy and pride, in fact, they are my everything.
So, why didn’t you marry the father of your kids?
That’s a long story and I would not want to delve into that area, with due respect. Their father and I are still good friends.
Any hope of reunion as husband and wife?
No, I do not think so, we were never married, and we only had two kids together in our younger days.
Currently, is there a man in your life?
Yes, there is a man in my life but I won’t say more than this, please, with due respect again.
You’re single and pretty, how do you cope with male admirers, especially the daring ones?
The truth is that one needs to be very tactical and diplomatic in order not to offend them. Generally, Nigerian men usually take offence the moment they toast and you say no, so in dealing with them, I’m always polite.
Right now, are you thinking marriage, is it also on your mind?
Yes, I’m thinking marriage but not now or this year, definitely someday but not soon.
But are their pressures on you to be married from your family?
Not at all, no pressures from any quarter.
By the time you’re ready to walk down the aisle, what are the qualities your ideal man must possess?
First, he must be God fearing, handsome, romantic, caring and trustworthy.
Are you insinuating that those you’ve met in the past do not possess these qualities?
Of course, they do, but if you’re not ready psychologically, emotionally and physically, you can’t just jump into it.
Has love been fair to you?
To some extent yes and no in other cases, but the truth remains, I believe so much in love.
How many times have you cry for love?
I’ve cried severally for love but cannot remember the number of times that I’ve done that. I’m very emotional and cry easily.
Talking about heartbreaks, have you ever experience any before?
I do not want to say yes to this question. It’s somehow dicey, because what happened between the father of my kids and I was heartbreak, but it was not the type that I could not handle. I handled it very well, aside that experience, no man has ever toyed with my heart.
In your own views, do you think filmmakers are doing enough to help groom the careers of rising actresses like you, taking into cognizance the fact that most of them prefer working with the known faces?
Yes, they’re trying for a whole lot for us. These days, there are so many new faces, unlike in the past that you only see recycled faces. I’m a living witness, if not for the shift; people like me won’t be noticed and allowed to be in the industry. The most important thing is not about using stars, but getting the right person that will interpret the role flawlessly. Our directors are doing great.
Who is that director you’ve always dreamt of working with?
I cannot wait to work with Tade Ogidan, Madam Dearest, is one of his films that I love watching. That movie has really inspired me. In the acting world, I look forward to working with Olu Jacobs, Ini Edo and Patience Ozokwo. I will feature Olu Jacobs in one of my movies this 2011.
Have you ever given a thought to the idea of producing an English movie?
Of course, I think about that always, but English production is more expensive than our Yoruba movies. If I must delve into that area, I must be financially strong.
The many men that usually come your way, what do they tell you fascinate them most about your person?
Most of their comments revolve around my hips; they always compliment it alongside my eyes. I do not want to go into details, on the other things they told me usually attract them to me.
With the right amount of money, can you bare-it-all in a movie?
No, I won’t, because when my kids grow up and see it, they won’t be happy with me.
What should your fans expect from you this 2011?
They should expect something very big from me this 2011. It is a year that they’ll be very proud of me as an actress and producer and by God’s grace, I won’t let them down.
FIRST PUBLISHED, JANUARY, 2011