Pretty, charming, witty, tough are some of the adjectives that describe ace thespian, Sola Sobowale. In this interview, she talks about her career, family and other things
As a kid, did you entertain thoughts of becoming an actress?
Growing up, I remember that I represented Ondo State at many sporting events. I was also fortunate to have a brother-in-law, Tunji Oyelana, aka Sura the Tailor, who was a lecturer at the University of Ibadan. He was also a singer and an actor who made me love the arts. It was with his help that I became an actress.
What was the reaction of your parents when you made it known to them that you wanted to become an actress?
I was the apple of their eyes, but they weren’t in support. My father was a retired principal, while my mother was a former headmistress. My dad actually wanted me to become a teacher, while my mum wanted me to become a nurse. In a way, I’m still doing those things they wanted, albeit in a different way. When you watch my movies and smile, that’s a form of therapy because you’re relaxed watching me. I also teach through my movies, highlighting the difference between right and wrong. In all, I give God the glory that before they passed on, they accepted me and my profession. There was a time I was to receive awards for acting at three different places, and my parents went to represent me at those events as well as receive the awards on my behalf.
How long did it take for your parents to support for your career?
With Tunji Oyelana’s help, it was quite easy to get their support. If my brother-in-law hadn’t stepped in, I wouldn’t have been able to convince them because in my house, when daddy says no, mummy says no too. Mr. Oyelana made my parents understand that acting is a profession and not all actresses are wayward. Besides, there are wayward people in every profession; it depends on the individual. I thank God that I made something fantastic and fabulous out of my career.
As of the time you got into the movie industry, how was the structure in comparison to what obtains now?
I started with Sura the Tailor and then moved to Village Headmaster, and from there to Mirror in the Sun. At the time home video came in, I joined, and worked as a freelancer with any producer that needed my service. Then, I was lucky to work with Adebayo Salami, and we shot Asewo To Re Mecca. It was quite tough in those days, but because of the passion we had for the job, we kept going on. Before home video though, I shot a celluloid movie titled Eri Okan with Adebayo Salami. Eventually, marketers came in, and some of them were very good; they were the only medium through which we could sell our movies. I’m happy for where we are now. We have modern cinemas, and we’re known all over the world. There was a time I went to Jamaica, and the people there recognised me from TV. Some months ago when we went for a film festival in Toronto, we were recognised. We are indeed growing bigger, and I’m glad I’m still part of the system.
Did you undergo any form of training when you first joined the industry?
I did train in acting but it was more of a grassroots kind of training and that’s why I act more in Yoruba movies. But I’m a typical Nigerian lady, and I like to be seen and heard all over. I do everything, provided the script has content, substance, and people can learn from it.
Which of your movies would you say brought you into the limelight?
All my movies have been wonderful and people love them. It is not by my power though, but the grace of God. However, it was Toyin Tomato that took me outside the shores of Nigeria, and I’m thankful to Wale Adenuga for giving me the opportunity. I’ve been invited to many countries on the strength of that job.
Does the character Toyin Tomato have any semblance to your actual personality?
I give God all the glory and that’s the paramount thing. Whenever I want to do anything, I give it my best. I don’t have a shop, and I’m not a good businesswoman; acting is what I know how to do best. I love making people happy through acting, and I put in my all. I usually ask God for direction whenever I’m given a job to do because you can’t do anything without God. Whenever you see me on screen, just know that God is in control.
What’s your personality like off camera?
I’m a very principled person. I am not diplomatic, and I call a spade a spade. With me, what you see is what you get. I’m also down-to-earth, easy and homely. I’m a mother and I don’t joke with my family. I also don’t joke with my God.
Has your being down-to-earth caused friction between you and colleagues?
Never! They know me and what I’m capable of.
What price have you had to pay for fame?
It made me know people and have more friends. I’m so happy because I’m well-loved.
But has fame robbed you of anything?
Nothing! Some celebs say they can’t go to the market but I can go to any market to buy whatever I want. I just have to be ready to greet people and chat with them and I do that. I’m not a prisoner!
How have you been able to stay relevant in the movie industry after all these years?
It’s not possible to do it by oneself. It is my father in heaven that is keeping me.
What would you regard as the most memorable moment of your career?
I’m just starting; I’ve not even done anything as far as I’m concerned.
But there must be some moments you look back to with nostalgia?
There are many of them. Toyin Tomato, Asewo to re Mecca, Wedding Party, and so many others. You haven’t seen anything yet from me, and in 2017, I’m stepping up.
The entertainment industry is known for its endless partying and frolicking. How have you been able to hold tight to your faith through it all?
I don’t know! It’s not by my power and that’s the truth. It is God behind it all.
Which of the younger generation of actors reminds you of yourself?
Genevieve Nnaji is like a daughter to me and I don’t joke with her; I also like Bimbo Akintola, Shan George, Faithia Balogun, Funke Akindele, Bimbo Oshin, and Ronke Oshodi-Oke. Honestly, they are so many of them. It’s very important to know how to handle fame.
Apart from acting, what are your other interests?
I love being a mother and seeing my children. In a year, I can count the number of parties I attend, but when it comes to my children and elderly ones, I don’t joke with them. I also design my clothes myself.
Have you ever thought of launching your own clothing line?
I did that years back and Eucharia Anunobi used to model my clothes. It’s still in me though, and my daughter also designs clothes too.
Has any of your children taken after you?
One of my daughters acted in a TV series, Everyday People, some years back. My children also write the scripts for all the movies I produce. However, I don’t choose careers for my children, rather I ask God to guide them.
Have you ever wished to act in a Hollywood movie?
Of course, who wouldn’t want to do that? I know I’m still going to get there.
What does style mean to you?
Wearing something that makes you comfortable and beautiful, that’s all.
What fashion items do you like the most?
They’re several of them;bags, shoes, dresses, jewellery, perfumes, and my hair.
What can you never be caught wearing?
I can never walk naked.
What about miniskirts?
I love them so much, and I still wear them.
It was once reported that you work as a support staff for elderly people in England, is that true?
There are a lot of things people don’t know about Sola Sobowale that will be made known soon. I know that people are anxious to know what I’ve been up to. Some people said I was jailed, some said my head was cut off. Some even said I was washing corpses. Don’t be in a hurry for the truth will be revealed soon.
Are you planning to write a book?
Don’t be too anxious; I assure you that very soon, you will know what I’m talking about.
Do you think there’s tribal discrimination in Nollywood?
I don’t know because I’ve not experienced it. Before travelling to the United Kingdom, I spent a lot of time in Enugu shooting movies, and the producers were Igbo people. They love me, and I was well taken care of.
People believe you’re a no-nonsense person…
I’m a principled person and I don’t take rubbish.
But you must have soft spot for something?
Yes, I love children.I also love helping people who are in need, especially disabled persons.
Did you move to UK because of your children?
Considering that they’re all grown, will you be moving back to Nigeria soon?
Yes, I stay more in Nigeria now. I only go to the UK for holidays now.