IT is not difficult to tell who the raves of the moment are, in the Nigerian acting skies. But in the Yoruba language genre of Nollywood, Odunlade Adekola is without a doubt, the current rave of the moment. Red-hot actor with good looks and height, Adekola is the one who is grabbing all the male lead roles, once the exclusive preserve of some old hands in the industry. The married actor is the one who is the toast of most producers and the darling of the Yoruba movie audience.

A devout Christian of the Apostolic faith and star of critically acclaimed flicks like Farapamo, Asiri Gomina Wa, Alase Aye, Aralamo and Dapada, Adekola who came into acting limelight in 1999, never trained formally as an actor. In fact, it was at the Apostolic Faith church were he merely entertained the congregation during special church programmes that he was encouraged to try out acting because he exhibited strong traits.

“They said I was funny, even funnier that the veteran comic actor Baba Suwe and they also told me that I had the talents, the height and the looks and that I would go very far if I considered a career in acting,” he recalls.

Even though the accolades sounded pleasant to his ears, the comments were not enough to sway him off his earlier career interest, which was to either be a lawyer or a business administrator. He was to enroll to study business administration at a polytechnic after his secondary education in Abeokuta. But midway, Adekola, who says he was inspired by today’s acting heavies like Taiwo Hassan aka Ogogo and Yinka Quadri, among many others, left the polytechnic after he found a place in the acing firmament. “It was difficult to combine acting, production work with schooling and because it instantly began to put food on my table, I embraced it full time but I have plans to return to complete my education because I know the value of education,” he says.

It all began for the always-smartly-dressed Adekola in 1996 when he attended an audition exercise with a referral he got from a residential block mate and church member who was familiar with his acting abilities. He attended the audition, impressed the panelists and was given a chance to prove himself. He did, was paid about N200 and from that moment, it was as if it was sunset for the Ogun State-born actor who is described as a ‘ladies’ man’.

But it was in 1999 that Adekola hit the right note as an actor. Nigeria was on the march again politically. Top producers feasted on that situation to produce what they considered political thrillers. Asiri Gomina Wa (Governor’s secret) was one of the films and Adekola played the lead role. Not only was the film roundly received, it was Adekola, in the estimation of critics and moviegoers, that gave the movie its acting credits.

“I would say it was Asiri Gomina Wa that launched me to limelight. People appreciated the movie and appreciated my work in the movie.
Everywhere I passed then and even till date, people refer to me as our governor because of the role I played in the movie.”

“And to think that I was almost not going to be cast in the movie because I was new and so many people didn’t believe that I would be able to carry the role,” he remonstrates. “In fact, they went behind and told the producer, a man that I have tremendous respect for, Ishola Durojaiye aka Alasari, that I could not deliver. But he, Alasari called me aside and insisted that he was going to allow me play the role as part of his job was also to discover new talents. He gave me the script and gave me an opportunity to study the character. I knew a little about characterization because I have done a couple of films in the past and have worked with great actors and directors like Yinka Quadri, Ogogo and Abbey Lanre and so they had put me through. So, I worked very well on the role I was given and I am grateful to God that it came out well.

The movie was well appreciated and it made waves. I thank God for everything.”

Though just over a decade in the industry, Adekola has done even more quality jobs than some old hands and his contemporaries. As at the last count, Adekola, a snickers and jeans freak, has appeared in over 100 movies with a dozen others still at various stages of production. Those who are close to him say there is no week that you wont find the youthful actor on a movie set or two.

“That is how it has been. It is the Lord’s doing,” he says with a smile, when asked how he copes with work demands. “When I get a good script and it meets my expectation, I accept it and prepare to hit location and I will not finish working on the role until the director signals that it is a wrap. So, that has been my secret and it is not something that I want to stop doing; I mean studying my character so well that it becomes a part of me.”

Not particularly one of those actors who have to combine acting with producing so they can augment their earnings, Adekola reveals that he ventured into producing his own movies out of a desire to tell his own stories.

“I have a number of stories that I wrote in the past that I wanted to bring to people’s attention, that was why I ventured into productions. But I do a bit of that now because it is more time consuming than when you simply act for others. But, whenever I get a small chance I usually put my stories out for people to see’.

Currently a Glo Ambassador and one of the very few Yoruba actors who have been so appointed by the telecommunication giant, Adekola admits that he has found his involvement in the thespian trade fulfilling even though he wishes actors work less and earn more.

“I really have no complain. I am fine and comfortable. At least, I now have complete rest of mind. I mean, my earnings can put food on my table and make my family and me live comfortably. That is the gain of acting even though I pray for a situation where one just has to do four or five jobs a year and just live on that earning until another year.”

A busy actor with his eyes on the summit, Adekola’s career wish is to be the best in the industry. He considers his present status as just the starting point. “This is just the beginning for me. It just happened that I shot up. But I know that I will get to the level I desire both as an actor and a producer.”