Sometime ago, you were referred to as ‘up and coming’ actress. Are you still an ‘up and coming’ in the real sense?
Not at all! That was almost 10 years ago. Of course, I am no longer ‘up and coming.’ I have come. I am no more coming again (laughs).
What’s your business in Nigeria now or are you back to stay?
No, I came for something, I will soon go back.
Not many people know how you started your acting career. Can you enlighten us?
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, a TV soap. It was actually the Yoruba movie, Eyin-Oka that brought me to the limelight. It was produced by Ademola Adelakun. That is why people still call me Biola ‘Eyin-Oka.’ It is not my surname. My name is Abiola Adebayo. People don’t even know my surname. I’ve not been able to detach myself from that title. But it is okay. After the movie, I have played lead roles in many other movies.
Apart from acting, is there any other thing you do?
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 other things. If you truly want to do other things, it would certainly affect your acting career. Acting is jealous. Because of the other things that I had to do, I stayed out of the scene for a while. But I’m back, and now I present a TV programme called Identical. I presented a Yoruba programme about seven years ago. Most people think Yoruba actresses cannot speak good English, but when the producer of Identical watched me perform in the Super Story drama series, she was impressed. She said she didn’t know I could speak English Language fluently. Anyway, she asked me to present the programme. That was how I started.
How did you come about acting as a profession?
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 movie acting. I told her 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; that I didn’t have to know the chairman or sleep with anybody before I would be considered for a role. With that information, I went for auditioning at the place. I was lucky, and I got a role. When I spoke with Bekee Adeoye, he told me I was good. I started with one scene, and then progressed to two scenes. I even acted as an extra and all that. I can say that I rose through the ranks. Afterwards, I did the Papa Ajasco film and a few scenes in some Yoruba movies, and people started noticing me. That was how my career started.
Have you produced any film of your own?
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. I decided to leave it for a while and get back to it later.
So far, you have been scandal free. What is the secret?
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. It is only your friends that can leak your secrets. I’m just being myself. I don’t pretend. I try as much as possible to run away from the things that may ruin my reputation. I am not saying I’m a saint, but I try as much as possible to own up to my mistakes or faults.
Do you have a competition in the industry?
No, 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 am a very simple person. I am 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 family. I know what life is all about. I believe in my own labour and what God has blessed me with. I am not competing with anybody. Everybody is my senior and I am in good terms with all of them. I have been in the movie industry for over 10 years, and have not had issues with anybody. I have learnt to be myself and people don’t disrespect me either. I don’t want to be anybody’s friend or enemy.
Did your parents approve of your profession?
My dad is late and my mum is comfortable with my chosen career. She knows who I am. The few friends I have know me too. My family knows 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.
How was your growing up like?
Growing up was very tough. I grew up in an environment where you had to fend for yourself. I grew up with my grandmother, who didn’t have anything as my parents were divorced. So in order to survive, I had to work. I had been on the street hawking food stuff since I was five. I’m not saying this to elicit sympathy, but to let people know that they can get to anywhere in life if they are determined. In those days, once 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 you for money. 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. We were poor, and it got worse when my parents divorced. My mum was just trying to manage and cater for my younger ones. Though I was young then, I believed I would be successful in life. I strove hard and missed about five offers before I was finally admitted into school. I didn’t have the money to get into school, and nobody was there to pay my fees. I told myself that I would 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 a place I got for her in Lagos.
While passing through all these, did it ever cross your mind to sell your body for petty cash?
Why would I do such a thing? There are things I don’t believe in. If a man wants to help you, he will. What God doesn’t give to you, a man cannot. It is not my style to beg and it is not normal for any decent girl to sleep with men to get money. It isn’t normal 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.
What are your expectations of the industry and vision as an actress?
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 wouldn’t be running from one location to another; it can’t work. Though I would love to maintain my career, my home is going to be more important because I wouldn’t want my children to go through what I did. 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 who incidentally are my fans, because they have always been there for me.
– Courtesy: Newswatch