Entertainment, Interviews

‘Piracy is responsible for the poverty in the industry’ – YEMI MY LOVER


On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Combo Hall, LTV 8, Lateef Jakande Road, Ikeja, Lagos, will be agog as famous actor cum film maker, Yemi Ayebo popularly addressed as Yemi My Lover, will be premiering his new movie, Iskilu. The event is expected to draw dignitaries from all walks of life.

ENCOMIUM Weekly had a phone interview with the Ondo born role interpreter on this and much more on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.


What’s going on now from the stable of Yemi My Lover?

Right now, I am preparing for the premiere of my new movie, Iskilu scheduled to hold on Sunday, May 3, 2015, at Combo Hall, LTV 8, Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos. It was shot both in Nigeria and Germany, and dedicated to Lagos first lady, Dame Abimbola Fashola. It took almost a year before it was completed.

That means you might have spent a lot for it to have taken that long?

Yes, of course. It gulped above N3 million, excluding the support from different individuals, home and abroad.

Who are the stars paraded in the movie?

Iskilu is a kind of movie loaded with notable faces in the industry, including myself, Yinka Quadri, Akin Lewis, Baba T, Wale Korede, Regina Chukwu, Jaye Kuti, Tubosun Odunsi and many others. The movie promises to set the record straight in the industry.

What informed the title, Iskilu?

It’s just a name of a person and a character I played in the movie. It’s a very interesting flick and full of messages.

Can you tell us a little about the movie?

Iskilu is a local musician that’s well accepted in his village. He performs round the village, receiving praises and accolades from all over the place. But suddenly, some people just developed a kind of envy, especially when they discovered that the king’s daughter was deeply interested in him.

They started hate campaign against him, openly displaying their jealousy. And in the process, king’s daughter was murdered by unknown men. Angrily, the king sentenced Iskilu to death after he had been reported to the king by his enemies as the person responsible for princess death. Not knowing they only lied against him. But Iskilu escaped to Germany.

What later happened to Iskilu and the true killers of king’s daughter will be known when the movie is out. I don’t want to narrate everything on the pages of newspapers or magazines. Let’s leave everything till the time the movie will be released. And that’s going to be out very soon.

Who are the dignitaries expected at the premiere?

We’re expecting first lady of Lagos State, Dame Abimbola Fashola, MC Oluomo, Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwan Akiolu and many others. Pasuma and his band members will be on the music stand. Saint Janet, Buga, Olamide and other famous musicians are also expected to perform at the event. Of course, my colleagues from both genres will also be in attendance.

What’s your view about the industry?

I think things are moving fine in terms of pictures, story lines and all that. But poor supply of electricity and piracy are really killing the business. But in all we’re coping. We give God the glory.

What’s your candid comment on the many associations springing up in the industry?

There is nothing wrong in that. It happens everywhere. It’s a natural thing. We don’t need to worry ourselves about that. Very soon, I believe everything will be alright.

Which of the associations do you belong and why?

I belong to the Theatre and Motion Pictures Practitioners of Nigeria (TAMPPAN). And this is because I believe in its principles. I am just a member but I support whatever the executive members of the association do to ensure we rebrand the profession.

How many years have you been in the industry?

I have been in the industry for about 25 years. And that’s not a joke. It’s a long journey.

How does it feel clocking 25 in the industry and still being relevant?

It feels good. I am very happy about that. My Lord has been wonderful to me. For me, to have been in the system since then and still waxing stronger, it’s by His grace. It’s not easy for one to still maintaining fame of over 20 years.

In fact, I am very grateful to God on that because not everyone that started at the same time with me is still relevant till date.

What have been the specific challenges so far?

Challenges come and go. There is no easy road to success. No fruit without sweat. Even piracy itself is a challenge. Finance at times is also a challenge and much more. But the most important thing is that despite whatever challenge you might have faced, you still have every reason to glorify God.

How would you describe the experience so far?

It has been quite wonderful and also challenging at times. But just like I said, I give thanks to Almighty God for keeping me alive till date and allowing me live my dream. In all, I have had a wonderful moment being an actor cum film maker.

Would you say you’re fulfilled as an actor and film maker?

Yes, I am much fulfilled. I thank God for everything.

What do you think the industry needs to make it better than it’s at the moment?

To be honest, there are still many things to be done that perhaps will make the industry better off. Nigeria is a developing country, that’s why we’re yet to get so many things right, especially concerning entertainment. For instance, the law against piracy is so flexible and weak.

The law only recommends cheap punishment for those pirating our intellectual property, which is unfair. It attracts just a little fine for pirating jobs of millions of naira. But if the law recommends a jail term or heavy fine to the tune of N20 million or more, no one will want to pirate other people’s jobs again.

We know it can’t be totally eradicated but must be reduced drastically so that we all can enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Can you mention some or few of your movies that have been pirated and perhaps almost sent you out of the industry?

Honestly, all my movies from my second movie, Yemi My Lover to the last one, Oko Eja. In fact, Oko Eja was pirated the next day it was released. So painful.

How much would you say you have lost to piracy since you started releasing movies?

I can’t deceive you, I have lost millions of naira to piracy. But since I don’t have any other thing I am doing, I still need to continue doing what I know how to do best. Pirates can’t send me out of the industry. That’s why we’re begging the Federal Government to do something serious about piracy because it’s beyond the power of any state government.

So, whoever emerges as the next president should help us look into the issue and make sure a stiff penalty is recommended for anybody engaging in such a nefarious activities.


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