Fast rising actress and film maker, Kudirat Morenikeji Ogunro started her career in 2007 from pretty actress and CEO of Fespris Academy, Iyabo Ojo. Since, she has not looked back. She even graduated from the academy in December 2015. An occasion the beautiful actress described as memorable.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with the Abeokuta, Ogun State born thespian in Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, and she spoke on many issues including her journey into acting, the role of Iyabo Ojo in her career, her debut movie, love life and much more…
How and when did the journey start as an actress?
I joined the industry in 2007 through Iyabo Ojo. But acing has always been my first love, especially when I was in secondary school. Then, I belonged to the school theatre group which actually brightened my interest in acting. However, along the line, I was also learning hair dressing. I was in school while I was also on the job. And I finished secondary school at the same time with my apprenticeship. It’s then I was informed that Iyabo Ojo had a hair dressing salon in Ilupeju, Lagos and I went there to apply as a hairstylist.
Although, I knew my intention, I just used that opportunity to penetrate first. I knew quite alright that what I really wanted was to learn acting. So, I started as a stylist with Iyabo Ojo. But one day, I just opened to her that I wanted to be an actress and that I really loved it, especially when seeing her on the screen. She now said okay. But she asked if I was a graduate then and I told her no. I told her I just finished from secondary school. But I would proceed to higher institution after saving more money, because my father is late and my mom is just a petty trader. She now said I should not worry, that she would help me. That’s how the journey began. And in 2008, she featured me in Agogo Ide, that was first core experience. I did only one scene in the movie. Even, without any rehearsal. Everybody clapped for me on that location. They’re all surprised to see the way I interpreted the role. I went to that location from the salon. And since then, I was always invited to location by Iyabo Ojo, if not more than one or two scenes, she would make sure I was featured. I see her as someone that loves progress for the people around her and every other person that she comes across.
What actually informed acting? Is there anything special about being an actress?
I can’t just say this is exactly what informed my decision to veer into acting. But the truth is that I just fell in love with the profession. Any time I saw actresses on the screen, I felt like waoh! I just have to be one of these people one day. And the way movies are used to tell real life stories also motivated me into acting. At times, when you watch some movies, you will be carried away. You won’t have any other choice than to just fall in love with the trade so far you have the talent. Also, I saw a lot of role models among them. So, those are the reasons I concluded going into acting fully. And I thank God, I have not regretted my decision, and I won’t by the special grace of God.
How has the experience been like in the last nine years you have been in industry?
It has been a fantastic experience so far. I have enjoyed my being in the industry. If I have to start counting the movies I have featured in, I don’t think I can even remember all. I have even played lead roles in some movies. Also, I would say I have achieved a lot via my acting career. So, I thank God, the experience has been wonderful. The journey has been good. Although, there might be a little ups and downs, it’s not unusual in any business, not only acting. Above all, I give God the glory for where I am today.
Let’s know some of the movies you have taken part in so far?
I had featured in Agogo ide. Of course, that’s my first movie. Then, I also featured in some other movies, including Iyan Ogun Odun, Wole Akudaaya, Arinze, Eru Orofo, Tembelu, Bella, Iyanda Igbonna and others.
But all these movies were produced by your boss, Iyabo Ojo?
(Cuts in) No, I have featured in other movies not produced by Iyabo Ojo. I featured in Orogun Meji produced by Nwachukwu, Bella by Shotayo and others.
What’s the challenge confronting you as an actress?
There’s no profession without it’s challenges. So, in this profession also, there are lots of challenges. But what’s important is knowing what you want and how you want to pursue it. If you’re focused and committed, you will definitely overcome every challenge on your way. And above all, God. Always remember to put God first in everything you do. In the industry, just obey the rules and regulations. Then, respect the elders. If there is any issue, always resolve it politely. You don’t need to be rude to those you met in the industry.
What level do you intend taking acting to in the next five years?
I intend taking my acting career to Hollywood level and beyond if possible. If I have the opportunity to do that, I will be the happiest person in the industry.
Who are your role models in the industry?
Let me just say Iyabo Ojo and others, including Doris Simeon, Bukky Wright, Fathia Balogun.
As your boss, how would you describe Iyabo Ojo?
Words can’t be enough to describe my boss, Iyabo Ojo. She’s just too nice to me. If we can have four people who have the kind of heart Iyabo Ojo has in this country, I am sure the country will be better than this. I am not even talking of our industry but Nigeria as a whole. I have never met her kind. She is a boss that wants progress for her apprentices. Unlike some bosses who will nurture you to stardom and still be the one that will bring you down, Iyabo Ojo will take you from the scratch, carry you along and make sure you get there and will even help you sustain your being there. Her support is not lip service. She will support you with all she has to ensure you achieve your goal. She’s the type that doesn’t eat alone, she loves sharing. She doesn’t like you going hungry when you are around her. I don’t know what to say again about her. But I know God will continue to bless her. She is just a wonderful boss. I pray she lives long to reap the fruits of her labour. I have never regretted meeting her. Iyabo Ojo is not only a boss to me, she is also my sister, mother and mentor.
We learnt you have completed your first movie, what’s the title?
Yes, I have just completed my first movie since I joined acting nine years ago. The title is ‘She Boy’. It’s really going to be a talk of the town movie. Also, movie lovers stand to learn a lot from the story. It’s surely a must watch movie because it makes a lot of sense. It will be out by next month by the special grace of God. It’s just a story of a girl that always dresses like a boy. Although, she’s a garage girl, she doesn’t do anything bad, she’s not wayward. Let me just leave the rest. You can’t really understand it unless you watch it.
What’s the budget for the movie?
It cost millions. Initially we thought it was going to be something small, it was later we discovered it’s going to gulp a huge amount. But I thank God, we have achieved our goal.
We learnt Iyabo Ojo is the one bankrolling the flick?
Yes, she is the executive producer. And everything is being powered by Fespris Academy owned by Iyabo Ojo.
We learnt you just graduated from the Academy as an actress. How would you describe the experience?
It has been wonderful passing through the Academy. I graduated in December 2015. I was the only graduate that year. And it was a special day in my life. I was really celebrated like a queen. I say a big thank you once more to my boss, Iyabo Ojo. A lot of other people had graduated before me. I was alone and it was a memorable experience for me.
Do you still operate as a hair dresser?
Yes, I juggle the two without one affecting the other. I have hairstylists working for me. Any time I am on location, they will be in the shop. But if I am not on location, I will be in the shop supervising and attending to customers as well.
Tell us about your love life. Are you single or married?
I am single.
Are you searching or not?
Yes, single and searching (Laughs)
What are the qualities you will like to see in a man you want to spend the rest of your life with?
He just have to be caring and God fearing. In terms of physical attributes, I don’t like a fair-skinned and pot-belly man.
Have you experienced sexual harassment in the industry?
Not at all. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening. But as a lady, you know what you want and how to go about it. No one forces anybody to do anything except what comes from your mind.
You’re a member of the Pinkies Foundation, what is your defence against the public impression that the group is lesbian one?
No, that’s not true. We’re not lesbians. Initially, when the group was formed, it’s called Pink ladies. So, a lot of people now started insinuating that we are lesbians. SO, it’s later changed to Pinkies Foundation just to correct the erroneous impression. As a matter of fact, most of the members of the foundation are married women and they’re well to do individuals that have good hearts. They like helping the less privilege, they always support the orphanages with food, clothes and cash and a lot more. We have some of us who are single in the foundation. It’s not for lesbianism.