With over 30 years experience as an actor-cum-producer, Dele Odule is indeed a reputable personality in the Nigerian film industry. He is currently the Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP), an icon, who curiously does not believe in Nollywood, the sobriquet for the film industry. Opening up to Blockbuster, however, Odule gave his reason for rejecting Nollywood. The father of six children also spoke on how he picked interest in acting, his challenges, and the heartbreak he suffered decades ago. Excerpts:

The genesis
The environment I was living then enhanced my acting career, I was brought up in the village, and you know in those days there were many traditional activities like drumming, dancing and what have you going on there, and you know these make up acting. So, when I realized that one can make a living from all these, I decided to go into acting. My coming into acting was not by accident. I actually wanted to be an actor and I became one. When I was in the secondary school, many travelling theatre groups used to come around to perform, so there was this group that I ended up joining when I left school, the Dele Ogunsanya group, I joined him and that was how it all started.

Between Nollywood and the film industry
Well, I don’t know what Nollywood is all about, maybe because I don’t belong to that area. I believe Nollywood does not exist, what is the meaning of Nollywood? Is it those people who are practising theatre that is Nollywood; or where the practice is that is Nollywood; or the practice itself? They have to let us know what Nollywood is all about. I actually don’t believe in all this Nollywood stuff. I don’t know the meaning, I stand to be corrected. If I know what they mean by Nollywood, well fine but I don’t know it now.

Yeah, there is no profession that does not have challenges, I just want to believe that challenges are the peculiarities of a profession but the most important thing is when you can get along, when you can survive it, but because I think am able to survive it because I am genuinely interested,. There were many challenges then especially when one was young in the business but I thank God that I was able to survive all. The beauty of life is when you are relevant to your generation and it is because you believe that Dele Odule exists as an actor that you said okay, you want to have an interview with me, and I said okay I want to grant an interview as well, it’s all about relevance. So, I want to see that as an achievement, I want to see it as an instinct of survival.

On romance
I’m in my late 40s; if I’m not in love by now you should ask me what is wrong with me. I am married and love my wife dearly. But candidly, I have to tell you I started having girlfriends so late, you know I told you I was brought up in the village, I didn’t experience those things until it got to a state I thought I was ripe enough to get involved and that was in the early 80s. Eventually, when I got involved I had many girlfriends. Yes, many of them before I got married. The gist is that before I came into acting I was a very shy person, I didn’t even know how to talk to ladies, I would have married any of the few girls I spoke with, but they couldn’t really determine if I was serious or not, they didn’t see me as one exposed to life, who actually knew what he was doing when it comes to relationships, so, I lost them. But I thank God that at a later date, when I decided to know what love is in rare terms, I ended up getting married to someone who understands me, understands my profession, understands everything about me.

Heartbreak blues
I was hurt once; you know it got to a stage when I knew what love was all about and I fell in love with a particular girl, I wanted to marry her but unfortunately she dropped me and ended up breaking my heart. She just called me one day and said: “ Dele, we are not compatible” and she left. I felt so bad because the girl was somewhat better than I was; she was more exposed than I was. She knew more about life than I did. I felt so bad she left me because of her status and my heart was broken because it happened at a time I decided to appreciate love and treat it the way it should be, but that was when she decided to dump me and that was the first and only time I was hurt because a woman dumped me. Nevertheless, it didn’t take me much time to come out of the heartbreak because I concluded that I didn’t know enough about love just yet, I was just preparing to appreciate it and live by it when this happened. So, I told myself there is more to it than I thought, I didn’t allow it to weigh me down for too long. The truth about life is when you know the origin of a problem, you already have the solution.

The girl loved me
Looking back, however, I believed the girl loved me so much but was influenced by her friends. We met through a friend and we started this relationship. She loved me to an extent that she would do anything for me, no matter how crazy. Imagine; when she was writing her school certificate exams, I think she was to write mathematics or so that day, but you know what? I fell sick and she decided not to go for that exam but stay to take care of me. Well, she didn’t write the paper, which means she failed that particular paper because of me.

She loved me no doubt about that, she loved me so much that though, I was not ready to get married at the time, I made up my mind because of this single act to settle down with her. But she got influenced by her friends being more exposed to life than I was. Her friends discouraged her from marrying me, saying I was not up to her standard. So, one day she came and told me she was no longer interested in the relationship because we were not compatible. Yes, just like that. But afterwards, I met my wife who was much younger, also in Abeokuta, I convinced her that I would be a very good husband, she gave me a trial and it worked out, today we are best friends with good children.