Oluyinka Olubusayo Omilani, the son of Chief Moses Omilani popularly known as Eegunleti was born into acting and has been in the movie industry ever since then. Yinka is an artist, a drummer, a singer and a scriptwriter. He has featured in many soap operas and a few home videos. In this interview with TAYO SALAMI, he speaks about the most challenging role he has played, how he was sexually harassed by a male and the challenges in the movie industry among others. Excerpts:
Tell us about your personal and educational background?
I was born April 29, 1980 to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Omilani. I am the second to the last child of mother’s six children. I hail from Abeokuta, Ogun State but grew up in Ibadan where I had my primary, secondary and part of my tertiary education. I started my primary school education in Mapo Primary School, Odinjo, Ibadan but took my common entrance at Ifelodun primary School because I had to do it while in primary five. I went to Ibadan City Academy and finished in the year 1997 then I moved to Lagos to stay with my brother, my mother’s third child. I tried to work before I went for my Higher Institution at The Polytechnic, Ibadan where I had National Diploma in Mass Communication. I am presently in Lagos State University studying History and International Relations.
When did you join the movie industry and for how long have you been there?
I did not join the movie industry, I was born into it like the Yoruba people will say “Ajogunba”. My parents are dramatists. My father is highly respected in the Yoruba film setting. As a matter of fact you can’t list top 10 oldest Yoruba artists both dead and alive without mentioning his name. He is known as Eegunleti, so I can say I’m thirty years and seven months old in theatre (laugh) because I had been used as a baby in drama, used as a school boy, used as a student in higher institution, used as a working class and also used as a family man, what I’m waiting for is to be used as an old man which I’m already doing in stage play.
How has it been ever since you started acting?
I have not really gathered much because I have not fully been involved in acting due to my studies and some other things that are taking my time now but so far, it has paid off because the joy of making film always flows in my heart. Acting gives me joy. Work of act gets me going in life.
I have seen both the pros and the cons of acting as young as I am. Coming from a dramatist home has really exposed me to so many stuff in acting that even if I had gone to study Theatre Art, I couldn’t have been exposed to more than that.
Apart from acting, what other form of entertainment are you into?
I do master of ceremony at parties and I also belong to a music ministry, Fountain of Praise Music led by Pastor Wale Adenuga. I play talking drum, conga and drum set for this ministry and we do have concert every year at Muson Center (Worship for change). I also sing.
Also, what type of job do you do aside acting?
I work as a tutor for a private school on the island. I also work as an administrative officer for a construction company in Surulere .
How do you cope in spite of your busy schedule?
As a man, one must be able to work under pressure or any circumstance. I discover I am always happy even when all my schedules are really tight, guess why? It’s because I do what I find solace in, I can drum from now till eternity and I won’t be tired because I love it. I can sing for hours and never get tired. Hanging out with my fiancée also cools off my tension. Tight and busy schedule is part of me.
In how many films have you featured and which one is the most challenging?
I have featured in a few films but several soap operas and stage dramas. I featured in Oju Oro, Ajike –the sweet mother, and I also took part in Ikunle Abiamo, Iyan Odun meta, Owo ni gbongbo ese, Atinugbade -a television play where I took the lead role, Ajurawalo – the first soap opera on Galaxy television, Ibadan. But the most challenging was Ogun Adubi (Adubi war) where I acted as a soldier and we had to be jumping from one hill to the other. I really felt that role because we had to act as combatant soldiers in war front.
When I could not cope anymore I had to tell my dad that he should let me die quickly in the movie so I volunteered to be the first soldier to be shot because I was tired of crawling in the bush and scorching weather. I write stage dramas among which some have been used at Muson Center. Some of these stage dramas are: Ajulo 2007, Esagien( written in Benin setting) 2008, Aijiri, Court Room, Accuser, amongst others.
Why did you choose to act, has that been what you really want to do?
I have always wanted to do more than my father in acting;, whenever I look at him, I say to myself, “you can do better than him”. He is an actor, I mean a paragon of entertainment, so as I was growing up , I began to embrace his line of profession. I wanted to study Theatre Art if not for JAMB. All my life, I have always wanted to act, I get moved each time I see my father and Uncle Dele Odule on the screen. Any other business I am doing right now will definitely give way for acting and movie production when I fully start.
What were the fond memories you had while growing up?
I had so many while growing up but one of them was seeing my father cutting his meat into three parts for me, my brother, Femi and my sister, Bukky after eating. We always looked out for that moment anytime he’s eating.
One other memorable event I had while growing up was when I was beaten black and blue for fooling my mother. What actually happened was that, I told her I needed to buy a new exercise book for mathematics because the one I was using had finished. She gave me the money that day and I spent it but continued to use the old one which actually had not finished. I did not know how she got to know and she asked me to bring the new book but I gave her the old one with all boldness that I just bought it.
She got to know when she checked the date and my teacher’s signature which was two weeks before that day, I was beaten that day and I really felt sorry for myself .
Another one was the day my father caught me playing football, I almost passed out that day because he beat the hell out of me. Eegunleti never likes any sport and he made sure that everyone of us abide to that rule.
Has the profession been opening doors for you? If yes tell us more about it.
For now, I have received little from acting because I have not put in much due to my studies and work but with the little I have done has really paid off.
How supportive are your parents about your career?
“Omo Ajanaku kan kii yaran , omo tie kun babi ekun ni o jo” (No elephant has ever begets a dwarf). My parents are very interested in my ambition to be the most sought after actor in Nollywood. They are really supporting me and always remind me of my ambition and vision. They know I have got no life apart from acting. You know the joy of parents is to see their children take after them, so I take after my father.
How would you rate the movie industry, has it fared well?
To some extent, I will say the movie industry has really fared well compared to when it first started. At least, people are now reckoning with the profession unlike before where nobody wanted to be associated with them. Career has been made out of it and many mouths are being fed through this industry. The industry has sporadically transformed to better.
Are you married? If no when do you intend to get married?
I am not married, but definitely by God’s grace I will be married next year.
Have you ever been sexually harassed? If yes, what was the experience like?
Yes, I have been sexually harassed and the experience can never leaves my head. On this particular day, I went to buy recharge card and the guy selling the recharge card was just staring at me. At first, I thought he was admiring my outfit and suddenly he said “fine boy, I like your height, can we be friends?” I responded back, saying “You are welcome”, and we exchanged numbers. I didn’t know what I was putting myself into until the evening when I wanted to sleep and my phone just beeped, guess what I saw: Baby, I can’t take my eyes off you since I met you, let’s play the game. I sent back a message asking him what game? And he said sex, romance and kiss.
That was when it dawned on me that he’s a gay. Throughout that night, I could not sleep, I was just asking myself how possible could it be for a man to be harassing a man like him for sex. I received over five messages before the day broke. He tried to send some the following day but the last text I sent to him probably scared him because I pronounced serious curses from the Bible on him and he stopped but with that, I could not pass through his shop till I left the area.
How do you handle your female admirers?
It’s a free world, you are free to admire anybody and vice versa. As touching female admirers, I welcome them but I always set my limits, you can’t do without them even if you are the ugliest person but the question I ask myself is what do I stand to gain in philandering about and that sets me free each time my head wants to go crazy. I have them as friends but I set my limits. If you fall for anything in skirt then your strength is small. My head must always be correct.
What are the challenges of the job?
There are lots of challenges on the job, starting from the making of the film, getting your crew. You can have a good script but if you hire a bad director, then your production becomes flopped, so, one thing is to get a good script another thing is to get a good crew, good interpreters, that is the characters, good location and appropriate props and costumes. All of these post serious challenges to the job because to have a standardized production, they must be put in place. Some producers fall prey of this trap, that is why you will watch some productions and feel like throwing up. Marketing the product is another challenge because getting a God fearing marketer in Nigeria is like looking for horse’s horn, although some still have serious integrity and protect their names while some bother less.
What are the achievements you’ve made so far?
My greatest achievement so far is the fact that I have God’s knowledge which surpasses every other material thing. Driving a fleet of car and living in mansion are not the ultimate achievement. Some artists equate success to what they can see but it goes beyond that. For me, at least to some extent I am comfortable but that is not the zenith of achievement.
Who are your role models in the entertainment industry?
After my father, Moses Kunle Omilani (Eegunleti) who in all ramifications gives me an headstart in the entertainment industry; I also appreciate uncle Dele Odule because he’s a paragon of acting. I used to see him around while I was growing up, honestly that man is indeed an actor unlike some so called “actors” who cannot interpret convincingly a script. These two great artists are my role models.
How did you feel on your first time on stage?
I was nervous, very scared because I was so young then, I think I was about five years old and the production was a serial TV play, on NTA. The title of the play was ATINUGBADE (Crowned from birth) and I was the lead character. I almost passed out on my first take and from nowhere I began to shiver which I dared not tell my father but after that take, I loosened up and finished the whole stuff which took us weeks.
Tell us about your most embarrassing moment?
My most embarrassing moment was during my secondary school days, I was pushed to go and ask a junior out and I wrote her a “love letter” with flower that I plucked from the bush and guess what happened! This lady with her friend sat down and edited all my grammatical errors, put it back in the envelope and forwarded it to me. At first when I saw the letter, I thought it was a good reply not until I perused through it and discovered it was a back to sender stuff with corrections. I was very embarrassed and made sure I never came across the lady for long. We later became good friends after our secondary school days and make jest of this incident, she is married now.
How rewarding is the entertainment industry?
Entertainment industry has been so rewarding. In the past, 90% of overseas scenes were shot here in Lagos and made it look unreal but we can travel to anywhere to shoot our films now. Gone are the days when people see us as “Alagbe” (beggars) but now they see us as serious minded set of people. We can open any door and meet any dignitaries all in this profession. I have been privileged to stand with my father in the midst of movers and shakers of many countries in the course of entertainment. Some people that will ordinarily see you and drive pass will come down and invite you for a chat.
Have you had any regrets so far?
I don’t have any regrets. The footsteps of the righteous are ordered by God. He has always been guiding me and when it almost turned to regret God showed up and now uses it to teach me a lesson.
What words of advice do have for your fans?
Please, keep loving me and I won’t disappoint you.
What should your fans expect from you?
I have just finished working on a script now with a friend, Anayo Chiomesere, Teco Benson’s Manager and the story is professionally analyzed and written, just watch out for me next year with this mind blowing film.