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ByCitizen NewsNG

Jul 25, 2020

In the motion picture industry, plus size actress, Mojisola Oyetayo popularly known as Mama Ajasco is a force to reckon with and a professional to the core. Oyetayo who is the first female chairperson Lagos chapter of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) speaks with SAM ANOKAM about her life, relationship, coping with harsh effects of COVID-19, the future of Nollywood post COVID-19 among other issues.
WHICH of your movies would you say is the most challenging since you began?
Originally, Mama Ajasco was challenging because it has been done over and over by different generations. Overtime I didn’t try to duplicate what the previous Mama Ajasco was doing, I just created my own style and it was just a matter of time.
But one of the most challenging movies I have ever done was ‘Daughters of Eve.’ I had three characters in the movie.
In season 1, I was the victim of a kidnap and then I became a matron when I was kidnapping children and selling to people – politicians and all of those that needed children.
Eventually in season three, I became an old woman who was regretting her actions. I had aged and needed to tell my stories from the beginning and acting that elderly part with so much emotion, pain and regrets was really tasking. But I really enjoyed it. I can’t seem to forget that storyline.
Was the story related to you in any way?
No, it was not but I was passionate about it because I know one or two people that are family friends that got missing and they never saw them again. I just feel like they could be somewhere in a baby factory. It was kind of emotional for me.
You are big and beautiful, how do you cope with attention from males?
Let us not be deceived, the African man likes plus size women. They like their women with a little bit of flesh, the curves.
The white man sells a lot of things to us, just like they sell the fact that you have to be fair to be beautiful and slim.
I disagree, an African woman is curvy and I am beautifully curvy. I love it and do I have men all over me? All the time! But of course, I am one among the few disciplined ones.
I know what I want and I stick to it. The fact that people come around me does not mean I have to be available for them.
So far so good I have been able to keep my head under water and restrict myself to the line that I belong to so that one man will not put me in superstory.
What is the best compliment you have gotten based on your shape?
Hello, hi, you are so pretty, you speak so well and I would say thank you. I like your charisma and the way you carry yourself.
My people will say in Yoruba, person no go big pass e no fit carry himself. And then some people think that when you are big you don’t have sense and I’m thinking, is fat working the brains?
You hear stuff like, you are so intelligent and I’m like excuse you, where is the brain located and where is the fat located? It doesn’t work. Seriously, people think that way.
So, what is your ideal man like?
When you are younger, you would form an ideal man that is supposed to be tall, slim, have biceps, have beards and all that but when you get to the stage one is in now, just look for who fears God and has a lot of respect for women.
Once you see those two, you are good. I am a respect sucker because I give respect to my men and those around me.
If you have respect for me, I prefer you respect me than to love me because when you respect someone, you cannot bullshit the person.
But you can lie on that love and bullshit somebody. If you have a lot of respect for me and fear of God with a steady means of legal income, I’m yours. I don’t want a liability because I am not a liability.
So far, what have you benefited from fame?
It opens some doors but I need it to open bigger doors, branded doors. I need endorsements. Not the one you see me on the road and begin to sing after me or want to take pictures with me.
How have you been coping with COVID-19 and the new normal?
It has been extremely trying, no jobs, no means of income, our social life has been clamped down. Most importantly, our source of income has been clamped down because there is really no way you can social-distance in what we do and then the backup jobs which we have which is MC for events have also been shut down because there are no events.
We have been living by the grace of God. Ironically God has been extremely faithful because if you say how have I been living? I don’t even know. I’m alive, safe and healthy and of course we are eating but nothing is coming in.
How has COVID-19 disrupted your plans for 2020?
It changed the whole narrative for me. We have so many projects we wanted to do. We have many series we wanted to shoot. In my mind, I am done with 2020.
I’m just waiting for us to say happy new year 2021. When do we want to pick up? Even the schools are still shut down.
The kids are at home which automatically restricts you from so many things. You have seminars and all of that to give members but you cannot start seminars nor shoot in this season.
The last thing you want to do is to camp people together. Everything is basically on a pause.
Before COVID-19, how far have you gone with activities in Lagos state chapter of the AGN as chairperson?
We were doing extremely good. We had done some cultural activities, seminars already and we were planning to start our series shooting.
We wanted to celebrate the world theatre day but we couldn’t do that because the theatres were shut and from there even the children’s day was cancelled for May 29.
Our subsequent seminars too had to be cancelled including our general meetings and that had reflected in every other thing but we are hoping that maybe in another one month or two things might pick up a little bit and if they do, we will start shooting immediately.
Post COVID-19, what are your projections for Nollywood?
I think that when we pick up, we will count our losses and then sit down to restructure. Anything we want to do in Nollywood is 2021 except you are deceiving yourself.
We only have five months to go. We would have to switch our game up. We are going to make use of this new technology now.
The modern day technology is everything. 98 percent of activities are going online, so we might have to start plotting how we are going to be doing more online and of course, zoom has come to stay.
Some people are even attempting to shoot online, it is like a joke but we would keep trying till we get there. See all these ‘tik tok’ activities, you do your bit to pass to the next person, they do theirs and the whole thing would be edited.
Is that not a movie in the making? What I am doing now is familiarise myself with technology, computers, and all that because that is the direction we would be tilting to.
You can ask somebody to shoot his part in Nigeria, the other person based in the UK would do the same and so on then you edit all of them together because the shuttling back and forth is not going to be as it used to be.
Post covid, every artiste should upgrade his or her intellects as regards technology. We have to put all our preservative measures to make sure we are staying alive and healthy.
Before you go for any location, they have to fumigate the place, come with your Dettol, come with your mask, there shouldn’t be more than four or five artistes on set at the same time and the other cast and crew that are not needed should stay outside.
By 2021 we have to do loads of jobs to try to catch up from where we are right now. We are losing so much money and it is heartbreaking.
And unfortunately, people do not understand that the entertainment industry was hit the most. Nobody sent us palliatives, the government did not send us palliatives, we are just on our own. And the average artiste knows how to suffer and smile in silence.
As the Lagos state chairperson, what is your comment on the visitation of AGN’s executive to Regina Daniels’ family after she gave birth?
Lack of information is what plays out in things like this. The individuals that are talking are not members of the guild. The person that they said they went to visit is a patron of the guild.
The mother of the woman who gave birth is the vice president for the east, then the young woman herself is a member.
So, it is ridiculous that on all axis that you want to take it from that she is not entitled to the visit.
The president is based in Abuja and happened to be in Abuja when Regina had her baby and her husband is not just a patron by mouth, he regularly contributes to the welfare of members in need.


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