The Nigerian movie industry breeds a lot of talented actors and actresses both in Yoruba and English movies. Talented actress Lola Alao has made a name for herself as she has featured in a number of movies and soaps both in the English and Yoruba categories. In this interview with Ojo-Chona Onogu and Yetunde Adeeko she tells us about her background and her life as a Nigerian actress. She also gives us an insight into her marriage and life outside acting.
The Kogi State born actress also spoke about the awards she has won in the past and her plan to pick another award next week in Vienna, Austria. Lola also talked about how proud she is to be from Kogi State and being an Igbira lady. Though she was brought up in Lagos, she still finds time to visit her ancestral home.
WHAT’S your background outside movies?
I am Lola Alao from Kogi state and an Igbira by tribe. I come from a family of six comprising four children and my parents. My father was a soldier and I am the first child of the family. I am a graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Lagos and I posses a diploma in Hotel and Catering Management from YWCA. I am an actress and I used to be an air hostess.
What was your experience as an air hostess and why did you leave that for acting?
It was ok. It’s just that I had to stop that job after the military plane crash that took away the lives of some military officers.
Your first soap was Ripples, was it after that you got into the movie industry?
Ripples gave me my first experience on set. After that, I featured in Magnet, Closet, Mistress Revolt and Super Story. I started acting in Yoruba movies before I acted in Mistress Revolt and Super story.
What is that bold step you have taken in your life?
That would be getting married to my husband.
How long have you been married and where is your husband from?
Since 2001 that’s seven years. My husband is from Ijesha.
Where is your husband?
He is in America
Do you have kids?
Yes I have a daughter.
How old is she?
She is going to be six 1st April 2009.
How long has your husband been in America?
He has lived in America over twenty five years. He is based there actually.
How have you coped without your husband?
We talk every day so I don’t have time to miss him. I travel almost every time and I will be travelling next week. I just came back, I am fine and I have my daughter with me here in Nigeria. She is at home right now as we speak.
When you are travelling do you go with your daughter?
I go with her only when she is on holiday.
In terms of stardom, how have you being able to manage yourself as an actress when you drive on the streets of Lagos?
(Laughing) Well, I am always in my car and it is tinted so I don’t actually have problems because, nobody gets to see me as I drive till I get to wherever it is I am going to.
That’s amazing! There was this rumour sometime ago that you were pregnant, what was your reaction to that?
I was not bothered at all. Pregnancy is not a disease neither is it a shameful sickness so why should it bother me? As a matter of fact, I was not pregnant at that time and I am not pregnant now.
If you have to turn back the hands of time, what is that thing you wish you did and what is it you wish you never did?
The thing about me is I don’t have regret for anything. I just learn from my mistakes and make sure I don’t repeat them. I have no regret whatsoever for anything I do; I take full responsibility for my actions.
Aside acting what do you do when you are not on set?
Nothing really (laughs) ok, I just do buying and selling.
What do you buy and sell?
I buy clothes and I sell them.
Where do you buy stuffs from, is it Dubai?
No, funny enough I don’t buy from Dubai, I go to Italy and London to shop you know.
Someone just called you aunty now, are you among those Yoruba actress that place importance on people calling them aunty?
No, the thing is, in the Yoruba tradition they lay emphasis on respect for elders and I grew up in Lagos as I said earlier. I am from Kogi state so, I respect those who are older than me and I expect those I am older than to respect me too. It is really not a big deal anyway.
There is something that I am seeing on your nose and it looks nice, how did you get your nose pierced?
I did it in Europe.
What inspired it; wasn’t it painful?
No, they just fix something on your nose and you won’t even know when they are done.
You also have a tattoo!
Yes, it is all over, my leg, arm you know. The tattoo is painful but I love crazy things actually, I just like it and am not bothered about it anyway.
There was a time that a Yoruba actress was caught carrying drugs, what was your opinion during that incidence and your experience afterwards as an actress?
I have never seen drugs in my life and I don’t think I ever want to see it. That situation was very annoying and degrading. I was not happy at all about it. When I go to the air port and people see me they are like, Lola just pass you know that kind of thing but after an actress was caught with drugs, when one gets to the airport they start checking you all round and it is very embarrassing I must confess.
In the Yoruba movie industry the most respected women are Iya Awero and Mama Rainbow, would you like to be like them later?
No, I don’t want to be like them. I want to make a name for myself. I want people to recognise me with my distinguished attributes as an actress. I don’t want people to say I am acting like this person or that person; I just want to make my own name. This is not to say I don’t admire them, I guess you understand what I mean.
It is a common thing in the Yoruba movie industry to combine acting, producing and directing all at once, do you intend doing the same?
No! I am an actress and a producer. I don’t intend doing anything aside that. What I do is just enough for me.
In your local community where you come from, what is the acceptability rate?
They love and appreciate me, I appreciate them too and they know it. I am proud to be an Igbira lady and they know that so they celebrate me a lot.
Do you speak your language?
Yes I do. Wao, wao means how are you doing? I speak the language very well.
You have featured in a lot of movies, how many awards have you received?
I have received a lot that I can’t even remember. As a matter of fact, I am travelling next week to Vienna in Austria for an award.
What award and what category have you been nominated?
It is the Oduduwa association award or something like that but I don’t know the category. When I get there I would know. They did not tell me. I was just called up that I have been nominated for an award.
What do you have to say to your fans out there that look up to you in the movie industry?
Well I just want them to know I love them and appreciate them a lot because, if they didn’t watch my movies I would not be who I am today so, God bless them all.