interviewBy Ayo Onikoyi
Beautiful Lola Alao is one of the most scandalised women in the movie industry. When she walked out of her marriage a few years back, the movie world shook with revelations from the ex husband who labeled her diabolical, deceitful, to mention few of the adjectives used to describe her.
Recently, another scandal involving her, her colleague and friend, Bisi Ibidapo-Obe and a member of the House of Assembly, Hon. Dino Melaye rocked the movie industry. The gist has it that Lola organised Bisi, her friend for the Honourable who refused to accept a baby born by Bisi. In this interview with Showtime Celebrity, Lola opens up on variety of issues concerning the scandals, her career and a host of other things.
When did you start acting?
I started acting a long time ago. I started with 'Ripples'. Then, my father was a soldier and we were living in the Barracks when one Uncle Taiwo Ibikeme, who was one of Zeb Ejiro's production managers, came to the Barracks to see his brother, Patrick and saw me. When he saw me, he said "wow, Lola, you are a very beautiful girl. You should be an actress". I didn't believe him because I had always wanted to be a newscaster. I had developed an interest in the job by watching Late Tokunbo Ajayi.
I loved watching her so much I once told my mum one day I would be like her. But as fate would have it, it was Uncle Taiwo Ibikeme invited me to attend an audition and I did. The audition was for a role in in the soap,'Ripples' and I won the role. That was well over 20 years ago. The Director at the time was Mathias Obaegbon and I acted as Mahmoud Dara's Secretary, Fidel. Then after 'Ripples', there were 'Closet', 'Fortune', and many others.
So far, would you say acting has been good to you?
Oh, it has been so wonderful. It has taken me around the whole world. I remember the first time I travelled of this country was to receive an award. I think it was the Afro-Dublin Award in 2003. after that I received Afro-Hollywood award in England. Then I received another one in Austria, Spain and other parts of the world. So, acting has been really wonderful.
You started with English-speaking films, why did you veered into the Yoruba sector because by and large your profile now reads Yoruba actress?
Yes, I started with English. I switched to Yoruba because the Yoruba sector tends to be more accommodating. Funny enough, the first film I produced, in 1994, was a Yoruba film, directed by Chico Ejiro and that Yoruba film "Aiye Male" was the very first film Chico Ejiro directed himself as a director. His first directed film can be said to have been produced by me. You can ask him.
Which movie actually gave you the break into the limelight?
Sincerely, it's been so long. I can't really say. But I will say the Yoruba films did that, though "Magnet", a soap I did long ago also comes to mind. If I have to mention, I will say "Eko Wengele" and "Boya Le Mo". "Eko Wengele" came out before "Boya Le Mo" but "Boya Lemo" was the first major Yoruba film I did. There, I acted the lead role but I believe it was "Eko Wengele" that created the buzz about me.
Which role comes to mind as the most challenging of your career?
It would be a "Eko Wengele". There, I acted as a mad woman and it took all the person in me to translate that role perfectly. It wasn't easy and it made a hit.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished a movie "She Ike mi Oluwa" and it's coming out next month. On the 2nd of February we go on location for my next movie. My next movie is "Oko Nene". Nene is a language from my root. You know I am an Igbira woman from Kogi State. Though, I can't remember other movies I have produced in the past. But the very popular ones are "Oru Le" "O Se Mami", "Ase Oluwa", Adura Mi Gba", and so many others.
You don't feature in many movies like most of your colleagues, why?
You know when you have come this far, you get to a point when you decide acting shouldn't be the only thing you do. You need to do other things as well. So, I have other things I am doing. Most times I act in my friends' movies, people that are very close to me and in my own movies.
Between Yoruba and English-speaking movies, which one is more challenging and pays better?
Yoruba is more challenging for me. Why? You think to speak Yoruba is easy? I am not Yoruba for God sake, I am an Igbira woman. At times when I speak Yoruba on set the whole crew burst out laughing,saying "Lola has scattered everything". Like when I did "Oba Asa" with Saheed Balogun. Yes, that is one of my most challenging roles yet. When it came to the part I had to say some incantations, I just couldn't do it. The whole thing was cut and join because Saheed had to say it and I had to repeat after him. Even at that, it was so difficult. It was a cut and join job but people did not know because I am a professional.
...and which pays better?
Well, I think both pay very well. If I have to choose I will choose Yoruba because in Yoruba sector, you can easily produce your own film. And you should know that you make more money when you produce your own film than when you act in somebody's film.
What's your idea of sex generally?
I don't understand o. I believe it is just a necessary thing in a marriage.
So, it should be confined only to marriage?
Most of your colleagues are marrying married men these days, would you?
Let me explain something to you; where are the single guys? They are there and not ready to marry. If the single guys are not ready then the next available option should be taken. I believe one should go for whatever makes one happy. If a married man is the one that will make you happy, please go for it. I know married women would be angry with me but it is the truth of the matter.
Why did you walk out of your first marriage?
Hmm, because it wasn't working. At a point things were not going well
What did that marriage teach you?
Funny enough, that guy was a nice person. Forget that he said many unpleasant things about me. He was a nice person. It was unfortunate the marriage had to end. He said those nasty things about me because he was angry and bitter at that time. I am not saying this because I still want him. Hell no. I am very much in love in another relationship but the truth is that he was nice and I never regretted marrying him. We are still on talking terms because I have a child for him. When he was saying all those nasty things about me in the papers, I didn't reply him because I don't repay evil for evil. If I had replied him everything would have scattered and probably affect my child too. Two wrongs can never make a right.
During that time, your husband alleged that you are deceitful and diabolical...
(cuts in) Let me borrow Asiwaju Bola Tinubu thought on this: "a drowning man will hold on to anything to climb". What do you expect from somebody that was about to lose his wife to another man? Even my Uncle said if he were in his shoes he would say worse things.
So, we can say the man was not happy you walked out on him?
Of course now and I was not happy too
Let me tell you, there are times when you can't beat them you join them. That was what happened but that guy was a nice person but I am in a relationship right now, I am very comfortable with what I have. So, don't think I am praising him because I want to come back. No. I'm not the kind of person who, because my affair with you didn't work out I would go about painting you black. No. When I had problems with my ex husband, I sat down and wrote out all the good and the bad things he did and I found out the good far outweighed the bad. So, he was a good guy.
Before you take up a role what do you first consider?
The script. The impact it is going to make afterward. The message of the movie is also very important to me.
So have you ever had to reject a role because of the script?
A lot. There was one, the producer, a lady, and she is very close to me like a younger sister but when she came to me with a script, with a role for me to act as a lesbian I rejected it. I said God forbid, won't do it. The same person asked me to take another role in another movie of hers and I did because I have no conflict with that role. The first thing that occurred to me was "what am I going to do with lesbianism". I practice what I preach.
Do you know there have been many scandals about you?
Yes of course I know but I am not bothered. It is a price to pay for being a celebrity. Most of the scandals are untrue anyway, so they don't bother me.
What's the relationship between you, Hon. Dino Melaye and your friend, Bisi Ibidapo-Obe?
Dino is like a brother from another mother. We are very, very close until Bisi came into the picture but I don't want to talk about it because it is like opening another closed chapter.
But are you and Bisi still friends?
That question I will not answer. All I know is that I don't have anything against her.
Are you assuring your fans that you no longer have any ax to grind with Bisi?
Of course, there is nothing. Bisi is like a younger sister to me. I don't have anything against her. This is a free world. Anybody can sat what they want but since my conscience is clear I don't care what is said about me. If you have respect for God, leave the rest to God. When they say evil things about you, if your conscience is clear you will conquer. Like my ex husband, he went as far as saying that if anyone has anything to do with me they would not succeed. I don't condemn people even if they say evil things about me.
Are you considering marrying again?
Definitely, I have a man already.
You seem highly excited about this your new man?
Extremely happy. I am one of the happiest ladies on earth.
Can we get to know him?
Hell no, he is my everything. My joy and my world. He is very caring and loves my daughter as his own. If you see them together you would think he is her biological father. Oh, I love him so much.
...But this was exactly how you felt about your ex, are sure this will not go the way of the old?
Didn't I tell you my ex was a very nice person? The thing about me is that I would never condemn anybody. I thought it was going to work out with my ex and since it didn't work, life must go on.
What attracted you to him and what about the other side of him. Is he everything a man should be?
Yes he is. I know what you are insinuating (laughing) and I am telling you he is everything a man should be. He satisfies my every need. A complete man. As for what attracted me to him, he is very caring though can be temperamental at times just like me but that is nothing we can't handle.
So, what does it take to be a good actress?
First, you must be able to interpret your role very well. Get educated. No upcoming actress should make the mistake of sleeping with any director or producer. It will only make you a laughing stock in the industry.
There was a report that you came close to Hon. Dino Melaye because you supply him and other Honourables in the National Assembly with girls for sex?
My God. How many Honourables do I know? Have you guys forgotten Dino is from my State. I'm close to the Governor. I'm close to the Deputy Governor. I'm close to everybody in my State. I was there when we were doing the campaign. I was close to the former Governor before Captain Wada came in. Dino is not the only person I know in Kogi State. So, that should mean I am supplying all these Governors with women too.
I have the picture of me with the Governor, the Deputy Governor, so, does that mean I am dating the two of them? I was in Kogi State a whole month during the campaign for Captain Wada. When they called Nollywood, me and my friends would come out to tell the people why they have to vote for him. Maybe, I am dating Captain Wada too. Do you know I can't date anybody in that State? I am too close to all of them. When you date one person you are finished, gone.
Your image out there is that of a bad girl, don't you know?
It's good nah. When people now come closer to me they will know I am a different person. My man has kept saying he doesn't know how many people he would explain to, what a good girl I am.
So, what does it take to break Lola Alao's heart. Has your heart ever been broken?
Yes. A long time ago when I was in school but it cannot be broken again. Whatever comes my way now I accept it the way it comes. The first time was the boy I fell in love with in school but right now let's just say I am more matured.
Have you ever dated anyone in the industry and can you do it?
Funny enough, I have never thought of it. It never crossed my mind. Besides, it in my principle never to date anyone where I work. Even when I was in Okada Airlines I refused to date anyone in the establishment. It is not good. That is what I have been saying, if I have to date people in Kogi State I would date everybody. You lose respect when you date where you work.
How did you come to blend, as an Igbira girl, doing traditional Yoruba films?
I have never done a traditional Yoruba film. I don't understand Yoruba that much. I can't recite incantations. Count me out of such films. When they bring the script I run. Will only end up being disgraced. My Yoruba is not that sharp even if I had always lived in Lagos.