‘My cocaine ordeal remains my bitter experience’
ON Sunday, June 7, 2015, veteran actress, Alhaja Taiwo Akinwande, otherwise known as Yetunde Wunmi will be celebrating 35 years of being an actress cum film maker. The event billed to hold at an event hall in Abule Onigbagbo, along Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos, is expected to draw dignitaries from all spheres of life. The highlight of the day is going to be the launch of the biography of the popular thespian. A book that chronicles her life since she started out as a thespian and the challenges.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke to the versatile role interpreter who also turned 55 on February 22, 2015, on this and much more when we had a phone interview with her on Sunday, April 19, 2015.
On February 22, 2015, you clocked 55. How do you feel about that?
I feel very happy about that. I feel good being 55. I give thanks to Almighty Allah, the Most Merciful, the most Beneficent.
At 55, is there anything the new age has slowed down in you?
Nothing at all. I am still the same vibrant person. In terms of my career, there is no role I can’t play. Even I produced a movie in 2014 entitled, Sussy Mama. I dressed like a young girl but a lot of criticisms trailed the role because of my religion. People from my mosque condemned the dresses I wore and the character I interpreted in the movie. Since then, I have vowed not to play that kind of a role again. I don’t want to do anything again that will run contrary to my faith.
Then examining your body system, are you still that strong as before?
Honestly, nothing has changed in me. It’s all the grace of God. I am very strong. Nothing is wrong with my health.
At 55, would you say God has been kind to you?
Of course, yes. Who am I in His sight that He has lifted me up to the status I am today. He has really been wonderful in my life since I started out as an actress.
You have put in 35 years into acting, how would you describe the experience?
The experience has been full of ups and downs but in all, I give thanks to Almighty Allah.
What’s the bitter experience that still lingers in your memory till date?
I believe everybody knows that. I don’t think I should still be discussing that on the pages of newspaper or magazine again. So far it has become history.
You mean the cocaine trafficking palaver?
Yes, but I thank God it’s now a thing of the past.
Can you still recall how you felt then?
It was a shocking and sad experience. But despite that, I still held on to my God and He didn’t disappoint me. He only used the incident as a lesson for me. I believe strongly in God, that’s why I conquered. It’s not an easy experience at all. But one thing is that if God loves you, He would warn you just like an adage that says, Omo ti baba ba feran lo n fa leti. I will forever be grateful to Him.
Would you ever move near such a thing again?
You don’t need to ask that kind of question at all. From all I had explained to you, do you think such a thing can happen again? Besides, I have been in a covenant with God that I will never do such a thing again. Nothing can push me into that kind of a situation again.
How have you been relating with your colleagues since the ugly incident?
I have told you, it has become history, Alhamdulillahi.
You have been acting for the past 35 years, which of your movies actually shot you to limelight?
Actually, I wasn’t shot to limelight via any movie but a TV serial popularly called Feyikogbon. That was where I was given a stage name, Yetunde. Then when the home video of a thing started some years after, I was given another name, Wunmi. So, the combination of the two is what people now call me, and that’s Yetunde Wunmi.
How does it feel clocking 35 on stage?
It feels great. And I am very grateful to Allah who has been with me since day one. It’s not by my power or might. A lot of people started that same time but they’re no more. Some are just there. I am not saying this to sound arrogant or mock anybody, I am just praising Almighty Allah for His love and mercy on me and my family.
We learnt you’re warming up for the celebration of your 35 years in the industry?
Yes o! I pray Allah makes it a successful day for me.
When exactly is that coming up?
It’s Sunday, June 7, 2015.
It’s an event hall at Abule Onigbagbo, along Maryland, Lagos.
What’s the motive behind it and what form is it going to take?
The motive basically is to appreciate God who has been with me all this while. And to launch my biography.
But with that, it means you also want to raise fund just like some of your colleagues have been doing?
Yes, of course. There’s nothing wrong in that.
Can you give us an insight into the book?
It’s about to be completed. It’s a book that chronicles my life since I have been in the industry. It captures all the experiences so far both the good and the ugly ones.
What are the preparations for that day?
A lot of preparations are in progress. And I believe God is with us.
Who are the people you’re expecting that day?
I am expecting many people. And my guests will cut across all spheres. People will come from high society, politics, religion, of course, my industry and more. Alhaji Wasiu Alabi a.k.a Pasuma, is expected to thrill at the occasion. Also, some hip-hop guys will perform.
Would you also launch a movie that day?
No, there is nothing like that. It’s only my biography.
Are you also celebrating your birthday elaborately that day?
No, I have done that in a low key. There’s no need dividing the event into two.
Is Ankara aso ebi in circulation already?
Yes, a piece is N6,000 with headgear or cap to match.
At 55 and 35 years in acting, what special lesson would you say life has taught you?
Life has taught me not to rely on fellow human beings. Don’t think you have friends. Make God your only friend because if anything happens to you, those you think are your friends will be the first to run away. They will just abandon you to your fate.
Can you recount some of the blessings of God in your life and career that you can never forget?
A lot. Almighty Allah has blessed me wonderfully. Even after the cocaine incident, God really showed me He really loved me. Many people started blessing me left, right and centre. It was like a miracle. I would say I was even better blessed than before the incident. Even, it was after the occurrence that I went on pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, courtesy of Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya a.k.a MC Oluomo. That’s in 2011. And since, God has not stopped blessing me.
What else would you say you have also achieved?
Alhamdullilahi, I am in my own small house in Ijede, Ikorodu area of Lagos State.
When exactly did you move into the house?
That’s 2009. It’s quite a while.
Are you still in your marriage?
Yes, I have a husband and we’re blessed with both male and female children. Even, I am a grandmother of male and female children as well. I give thanks to Almighty God about that.
No doubt, God has really blessed you, what more do you want Him to do for you?
I will continue to pray for more blessings and protection of what I have achieved and my family as well.
What’s your advice for the younger ones in the industry?
They should just be hard working and prayerful. They should never be in a haste to make it. They should exercise enough patience and believe God is capable of turning around their career.
What’s your candid assessment of the industry?
My brother, things are really bad at the moment but we will continue to pray that God should intervene. We can’t continue like this, especially on the issue of piracy.
Which of the associations do you belong to?
I belong to Theatre and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPPAN).
That’s my choice and I believe that’s the association that can lead the Yoruba sector to the promised land.