Mrs. Shade Adenike Kazeem, a.k.a. Lepa Shandy, is a popular actress in the Yoruba home video genre. She tells LANRE FEHINTOLA about her latest movie and her passion for the Nigerian film industry.

WHY did you choose an elaborate occasion for your latest film, Ifihan?

Did you say elaborate? Was it elaborate?

Of course, it was.

Glory be to God Almighty.

Why did you choose to?

I felt that I have come a long way in the theatre industry. If you are sure of what you are doing, you will want to let people know. You want to create that awareness. It is only when you are not sure that you will not want to launch your product. If you launch your product, there is a way in which people will know if it is good or bad. If you know it is not good, you don‘t dare to do such. If I know the film is not good or I am not sure of what I did, I wouldn‘t have launched it the way I did. So, it is just to let people know what good thing is coming from my stable.

What is the film all about?

It centres on a lady that goes through hell after the death of her parents and she now has the responsibility to take good care of her ailing brother. She has to take care of him and has to go through so much to the extent that she has to go into something she does not bargain for. While going through this hell, she gets entangled in a kind of love. Not everybody will like to have that kind of love she has at the end of the day. Even before the love comes up, she goes through hell. I want something that if you watch it, you will be able to get something out of it.

How much did you spend in shooting the film?

It cost me millions of naira, but I won‘t disclose the exact amount.

So, who funded the film?

Ever since I started making my own films, I have always been the executive producer.

I mean how did you get the money?

That is what we call executive producer. The person that funds a film is the executive producer. So, I have been the executive producer of my films. I funded it.

So, you are a millionaire…

(Cuts in) I am not a millionaire o. I am comfortable (laughs).

When is it coming out?

Maybe before the end of the year

Can you mention some of its cast?

There are the likes of Femi Branch, Moji Olaiya, Kanran, Eniola and others.

How will you compare the present film industry with the past?

Any way, I think we have been moving, though at a slow speed, but I think we are moving. You can‘t compare the film industry of today with the one we had in the past. It is getting better and I believe we are moving and progressing.

Will you say that Nollywood has actually made a headway compared to Hollywood?

You cannot compare Nollywood with Hollywood. It is incomparable. If we are talking of a well developed country and a well established industry, you cannot compare the two. You know Rome was not built in a day. We have to set our priority right and I know by God‘s grace, we will get there. I think we are progressing.

You were once into the banking sector, why did you go into acting?

I think it is by interest. You know whatever you want to do in life, you must have that interest, because if you don‘t have that interest and you want to come in because everybody is doing it, then you will be nowhere. That is why. I have always had the interest even before I went to study in the university. It has always been in me. So, when I had the opportunity, I just went into it.

What was the reaction of your friends and parents about your decision to go into acting?

I don‘t want to mention my friends; I think I have to say the side of my immediate family: my father and mother. When I told them I was going into acting, my mother was shouting. She said, ‘You this girl, you don‘t want to marry. You want to go and corrupt yourself.‘ My father took it gently. All he did was to ask me to call my husband (then, he was my boyfriend). When he came into our house, my father said, ‘Do you support the idea that your friend is going into film industry? Because you must not come to me to say that you don‘t want her again’. My husband said, ‘Yes,‘ that he wished that I went. He was the same man I got married to. Since we got married, he has been supporting me.

Your fans call you Lepa Shandy. Are you okay with that?

I am happy, because it is second nature to me. Most people don‘t even know my real name. Most people know me as Lepa Shandy and whenever they call me by that name, I answer them happily, because it is what God created for me, irrespective of what I am called in the film industry. So many people in the industry are not known for a particular nick name. I give glory to God, because I have been known with the name and many other people will want to be known by that as well. You can see, everybody wants to be Lepa, everybody wants to slim down.

Do you wish to still maintain this stature?

Yes. I think I will try my best to maintain it, even when babies start coming (laughs). I can only try. I will try my best.

How do you cope with your male admirers?

Have you forgotten that I am a married woman?

I know, but you are a star in the film industry.

Any way, I take them gently. Once you are a celebrity, you are a known person. Everybody will want to be your friend and you can only handle them by being careful and being happy with them, because if you are not there, you will not be anywhere. Male admirers come everyday, but I tell them, ‘Sorry, I have my husband,‘ and I politely tell them, ‘No.‘

Now that your husband is not in the country, how do you feel his absence?

I miss him. In fact, I am missing him terribly. I just have to go and meet him quickly.

Will you quit the film industry in the future for another profession?

If I have the intention of quitting, I don‘t think I will go into production. It took me 10 years before I started producing my own films and I want to remain in the theatre industry for life. It has never crossed my mind to quit.

Even when you are no more getting younger?

You know what, at times, you can only try your best in doing something. You should leave everything to God because He is the director of your life. For most of us, a time will come when you will just sit down and say I never knew I could find myself in this kind of situation. But if God says yes, nobody can say no. Let me just say I know of today, I don‘t know tomorrow. It is only God that can direct my life. To speak for myself, I think I love the industry and I wouldn‘t want to quit not even now.

Apart from acting, what other things are you involved in?

I have a beauty salon and I also a few shops where I trade.