Interview: The languages used in a movie is determined by the storyline- Akano, Segbowe

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On the set of AWON ALADUN DE, a popular Yoruba Television Family Drama Series on DSTV, Akinola Akano, played the role of Segbowe. The graduate of English and Literature from the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State, Nigeria  spoke exclusively to our team, Gbenga Irantiola and Kayode Awojobi, about his life as an actor, a scriptwriter, a movie producer amongst others, excerpts below-

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News Wings: How did you come about acting?

Segbowe: Acting has always being what I always wanted to do. As a child, I wanted to be a lot of things when I grow up, this include; an actor, a TV and radio presenter, a scriptwriter, a producer and a footballer amongst others. I actually started with singing and scriptwriting, so at a time, I tried to itemize all of these things I think I can do and I asked myself which one do I excel in much more. Then I realized I can easily develop a story and I am very good and fast at writing and I have also the gift of oratory.

So, I think acting, scriptwriting were my priorities and I looked forward to producing as well, because producing will give you the chance to make some cash. So, acting is always what I want to do from my childhood. So, it all started from my childhood. In 2013, during my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year in Benue State, I started acting and scriptwriting officially. Although, I have been writing since 2005.

News Wings: When was the first time you started acting officially?

Segbowe: That was during my service year that a friend told me he would like me to be in his TV series, so I took a two weeks break from Benue and I traveled to Ijebu-Ode. That was when I officially launched out in the movie industry. Then we were using camcorder, because we had the hope that one day the series will be shown on Africa Magic and other channels, but unfortunately, the series didn’t see the light of the day and I didn’t even collect a dime for participating in it. This risky trip showed that Akinola really meant business of becoming renowned in the creative industry.

In the same year, I played a role in a movie called Hotel Majestic, then I was paid for the role. I also had a cameo in Tinsel before being a part of the “Awon Aladun De” in 2015. My first role in “Awon Aladun De” was not Segbowe, I started as a day actor too but along the line, the script of the movie was rewritten and there was a need for a character that will breeze  in and out of the house and they named that character called Segbowe and I played that role in 2016. So, that was how Segbowe came to be and I became a full-fledged actor.

News Wings: In “Awon Aladun De”, you acted as someone from another dialect, how were you able to do this effectively?

Segbowe: I love challenges, so when I was told I would be acting as Segbowe, I checked through the script and I discovered the character, Segbowe is an Eegun boy who hailed from Badagry, he is the friend of Junior, the son of the Aduns. So I posted on Facebook to know who was a proper Eegun person and one of my juniors while I was in Tai Solarin University of Education signified that she is an Eegun, her name is Feranmi Padonu and I asked her to give me some of her dialect and she did that for me. So, I mixed the Eegun dialect and Yoruba that was how I was able to effectively play the role.

News Wings: In Yoruba movies now, we have many characters speaking more in English, do you think we are still promoting our culture as much as we should through our movies?

Segbowe: When we want to talk about promoting the Yoruba heritage, I think all hand must be on deck. On this now, I am not going to speak as an actor, but from the angle of a movie producer. Because the producer is the one that would determine the kind of movie he or she wishes to produce. In 2018, I produced a movie titled ‘The Witness’ where both English and Yoruba were used, due to the urban setting of the movie. Last year, I produced another movie titled “Omorisa” and I used this to really promote our cultural heritage, the setting of the movie is shortly after the colonial era. So it all depends on the story being told, but in all the movies I have produced, one way or the other, I do promote the Yoruba heritage, because Yoruba is my source. Although the likes of Tade Ogidan, Tunde Kelani amongst others promote Yoruba cultural heritage, but when you watch most of Uncle Tade Ogidan’s movie, they speak English even while portraying the culture because technology has taken over. But whichever way we evolve, we must always promote our culture even if it is minute.

News Wings: What do you think are the challenges of being an actor in Nigeria?

Segbowe: There are a lot of challenges in being an actor in Nigeria, one of them is; the problem of acceptance if you are just coming into the industry, so an upcoming, they would always ask you what you have done earlier before they would bank on you and every film maker in Nollywood wants to make money. So they want to use commercial actor and if you cannot sell their movie, they wouldn’t use you and if they would use you, they will just use you as filler.

Another thing is funding because we don’t get paid as expected unlike our counterpart in Hollywood. Another one is the expectation of people, once they see you on TV; you must have made a lot of money. Once you become a renowned actor, there are some things you would not be doing as you used to do as before.

News Wings: Who are those that you are looking up to in Nigeria movie industry?

Segbowe: I gave respect to all the elders in the industry, so I can’t say this is the person I am looking up to. But I’ve always admired Gabriel Afolayan and I wish I could work with him. I love Gabriel Afolayan, Ibraheem Chatta, Odunlade Adekola, Antar Laniyan and many others. But anytime anyway, Tyler Perry is my role model, if you watch “Awon Aladun De”, you would discover there was a part of him in me.

News Wings: In Nigeria, we don’t have a movie village, how is this causing a setback to the industry?

Segbowe: It is indeed great a setback for us in the industry and economically, it has affected us because I think Nigeria’s Nollywood is the second in producing movies after Hollywood  in the world as of today, however, Bollywood has film villages and film studio. Tyler Perry has a personal film studio and I think that is applicable to Bollywood too. But it is indeed a great setback on us. Economically, and it has reduced the pace of filmmakers most especially the upcoming ones.

News Wings: The revamping of the National Theatre, do you think this would make a significant impact on the creative industry in Nigeria?

Segbowe: I tell you, it would add a lot of beauty to the creative industry. Even the cultural centre here in Ibadan, if resuscitated would add a lot of beauty to the industry. Talking about National Theatre, it is indeed a great place and if renovated would be of huge benefit to filmmakers, film lovers and critics. I would also urged the Oyo State Government to look into the revamp of the Cultural Centre, Cinema De Baba Sala amongst others to support the Creative Industry in the state.

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