26 May 2012

Nigeria: I'm Not Living in My Father's Shadow - Kosoko


Sola has been in the make-believe profession since 1999; she became more prominent not because she is the daughter of a popular actor, but because of her role in the movie Omo Olorire, which incidentally was produced by her father. Janet Wasilat Sola Kosoko-Abinna is a thorough actress who despite been the daughter of veteran Nollywood actor, Prince Kosoko, is not ready to live in the shadows of her father. This beautiful A-list actress has been doing justice to her movie roles. In this down-to-earth chat with Ajibade Alabi, she spoke deeply about her childhood and her acting career. Excerpts.

When did you start acting?

I started acting professionally in 2001, if I could still recollect, I started with Omo Olorire, which incidentally was produced by my father, Prince Jide Kosoko. Before then I had starred in Ola Abata, which was my father's movie as well, produced in 1999 and released in 2000. I also featured in Oko Irese, also produced by my father, it was released in 2001.

I acted again in Omo Olorire. Between 1999 and 2002, I featured majority in my father's films. From 2002, other producers started inviting me. Iya Rainbow was the first to call me for a role.

Adamu Seniyan was about the second or third movie I did with her. That same year, Taiwo Hassan (Ogogo), called me up for his movie titled Tolulope. In 2003, Muyiwa Ademola called me up for his film titled Ori, a movie that further increased my popularity.

You have a lot of movies under your kitty, which of them brought you to limelight?

Omo Olorire was the film that brought me to limelight in 2002, followed by Abesekele by Oga Bello and Orire by Muyiwa Ademola both were released in 2003.

What was growing up like?

Growing up was fun. My secondary education was at Aje Comprehensive High School, while my primary school was at Aje Methodist Primary School. Both schools are side by side in Ebute Meta, along Borno Way, which was then known as WEMA Street.

That was where I grew up. My grandmother brought me up together with my elder brother and my younger ones. We all lived with her; though my father was in Lagos, he was always travelling. I lost my mother at a very young age. Whenever my father was around, he was always there for us, taking us on outings to different places, like the amusement park and so on.

Can you recall the day you lost your mother?

It was in September 1993.

Where were you that day when you got the news?

I was with my grandmother, like I told you earlier, I lived with her even before my mother's death. It was my father that broke the news to my grandmother.

How did you react to the news?

The normal reaction when you lose someone you love, but because I was young, you wouldn't compare it with how I would have felt now. Then I just felt, "Oh, my mother died" and I cried.

Looking back now, what impact has her absence meant in your life?

When I was in the University, I really felt the vacuum. Whenever I see mothers coming around with palm oil and other stuffs for their daughters, I get to feel it that I do not have a mother. My daddy couldn't bring palm oil; he would come to see me, but it's not comparable to the impact of a mother.

The other time I felt it so much again, was when I was getting married, I felt that something was missing and that was my mother. Though I hardly cry, I felt the pain deep inside of me. There were a lot of times that I cried in my closet, when I remember her.

Can you tell us some of the advantages of being a celebrity?

For instance, as a student whenever I need to get my clearance and the queue is too long, because of my status the officials usually give me preference by attending to me before other students. Though some of the students usually protest, others would say 'she is a star let's allow her.' That is one of the benefits I get to enjoy.

But it cannot be all positive; being a star must also have some disadvantages?

Yes, you are right. The negative side of it is that we spend a lot of money for the touts. They don't want to understand if you have the money or not. Sometimes you might be going out without much money on you, but they will demand at every juncture. It is the kind of society we are in and we cannot help it.

I have been to Europe a number of times. When you are there, they don't ask you for money, instead they give you gifts. Someone once gave me a phone, he removed his sim card and handed me the phone.

If you were not an actress what would you have been doing?

Initially I wanted to be a broadcaster. I love to be seen on TV reading news, may be that was why it was easy for me to be an actress. But I also yearned to be a lawyer, unfortunately I did Industrial and Labour Relation in my Diploma, so it was difficult to cross from social science to Law.

Then I said if I cannot study law, I would study Mass Communication, which unfortunately again, is an Art course in OOU. So I went for Sociology.

Let's go back to acting. Were the roles you played in your father's movie on merit or otherwise?

He is a professional. There were times when my step mother would exclaim, "That is Sola's role" but my father would not listen, he would say I cannot play such role, that the fact that I am his daughter does not mean I would be given a role I don't deserve. In that aspect my father is very professional about it.

Since you became a professional how have you been choosing your roles?

I scrutinise my scripts very well and ask myself if the film is the kind that I can participate in. For instance now a producer has been calling on me for weeks now to take up a role in a film but when I went through the script, I discovered it was not the kind of film I would like to act. I must know who the director of a film is before accepting a role.

Which would you consider the most trying period of your life?

Staying at home for five years before getting admission into the university. Though I was doing a certificate course but it was not like being in the university. Before my degree progamme, I did a two -year diploma course. That experience was sad.

How much was your first pay as an actress?

My first pay? Hmmmm! I can't remember the title of the movie now but it was produced by Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello), I was paid N3, 000. When I got home, my father shared the money between my stepmother, brothers and sisters and I took the rest.

Tell us in confidence. Before you finally got married, how many men did you date?

I dated like hundred (general laugh). Really I didn't have such experience.

My husband has always been with me since I was in secondary school.

I remembered the first JAMB I wrote, we were together then. As at that time he was already a graduate.

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