Why I decided not to have a mentor in the movie industry —Actress Damilola Oni spill

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Damilola Oni is an actress with a good grasp of role interpretation in both English and Yoruba movies. The graduate of Linguistics and African Language from the University of Ibadan, in this interview by SEGUN ADEBAYO, speaks about her growth as a thespian.

How the acting journey started.

The journey started back in my childhood days when I was a member of the drama society at the church in the Coker area of Lagos State where I was very active. Also, I started doing Yoruba poetry known as Ewi  and Esa in Yoruba when I was at the Federal Government Girls’ College in Oyo. Furthermore, while studying at the University of Ibadan, I started with stage acting with the Wole Soyinka arts theatre at the Department of Theatre Arts where I did auditions and rehearsals and engaged in stage plays. During my NYSC programme, which I did in Enugu State, I headed the drama team for SECF Nsukka where I was the drama coordinator. All of these experiences prepared me for being a proper actor.

How I got into the real picture.

When I finished serving, I returned to Lagos where I started working with a telecommunications company and worked as a marketer selling CUGs to companies of small and big enterprises. Furthermore, I attended the audition of the popular Ajiirebi show on Africa Magic Yoruba and I was chosen out of over 100 people that auditioned and I got selected to become the co-presenter of the programme. My journey started at REG Films and Arts Academy (REFA Ibadan) where I did little training and the opportunity to start showing on screen. My first movie where I featured in was named Lovage alongside Lateef Adedimeji and Jaiye Kuti. After that, I moved on to Borokini which shows on Africa Magic Yoruba. Later on, I became a freelance actor where I started working with other actors. Currently, I have two productions to my name.

Challenges encountered when I started

I think I had problems because I was not used to the industry proper. And, being under a boss and learning made it difficult and strange for me at the beginning, but eventually, I got along and became used to the system and the pace. It was highly challenging and strange shooting about 15 scenes, but I got used to it and adapted. The second challenge was my father who wanted me to become a lawyer and believed that I would do well as one. Initially, he objected to my being an actress but later accepted when neighbours and friends told him they saw his daughter on the TV. However, my mother and brothers were in support of my acting career from the onset.

Movies I have featured.

I have lost count, especially from 2020 to 2022. Between these years, I have featured in many movies and I have produced three movies myself.

Sex for roles in the movie industry.

Everyone has different stories, so I would not say it’s not true, but in my own case, it is not true because it didn’t happen to me. As I said earlier, I attended the REG Academy where I got trained, and from Ajiirebi, I went to school and that was where I started. So, for me, it was a different story and I did not witness any of such.

Damiola Oni’s worth.

I am glad that we are making ends meet and blessing God that He provides for us. That’s how rich I am. Which of God’s blessings shall I deny? Actually none and with this job, I’m eating and able to do some things for myself and at least look good. I’m not rich, please give me money.

My mentor in the industry.

I don’t particularly have a mentor in the industry but I’ve got people that I look up to by liking the way they portray their brands and I aspire to emulate their strength. These are people like Funke Akindele, because she is doing excellently well when it comes to hard work and smart work.When it comes to acting, Bimbo Akintola is someone I look up to because I watch her movies; I love her acting and gesticulations, Ikpe Etim is also someone I look up to when it comes to acting.

How the government can make an impact on the creative industry.

The government should assist us by addressing the issue of the hoodlums that attack artistes while shooting movies on the streets. There have been occurrences of attacks by them (hoodlums) on movie locations where they harass us by demanding huge amounts of money from us. So the government may help by creating a more conducive environment for us to do our job. Although the government is trying; they should do more for us by creating a structured community of film villages where we can make our movies without the stress of agberos disturbing us and destroying our cameras in the name of demanding money from us.