By Yemisi Suleiman
Over the past few years, Damilola Adegbite has become one of the most recognizable actresses in Africa. She plays the role of ‘Thelma Duke’, the gorgeous actress in the day time soap, Tinsel on Africa Magic; a role which has seen her become a favourite of soap lovers. Damilola, who recently left the set of Tinsel to explore the film industry, during a courtesy visit to Vanguard, spoke on why she left the soap, life outside Tinsel, her relationship and more. Enjoy!
You left Tinsel. Why?
Well, it was… as much as people don’t believe me, it was a personal decision. I just wanted to experience more of the movie world. It really wasn’t an easy decision to make because Tinsel has been part of my life for a while and we are family. But the only thing constant is change; basically every human being should re-evaluate their lives more often and make decisions.
I wanted to experience film. I wanted to experience movie-making and that is what I am doing now. And, I am pleased with it.
Can you describe your experience on Tinsel? You were one of the first on Tinsel?
I will say I am one of the few that had it luckily. Tinsel is a very pretty platform. I didn’t have to deal with the exploitation that other actors go through for getting script and all that. I had a proper platform and it was a worthwhile experience and one I will always be grateful for. I enjoyed it while it lasted.
What is your relationship with Gbenro Ajibade?
Laughs. We are ex-colleagues. We are just friends.
For four years, you played Thelma in Tinsel. How did that role influence your life?
Definitely not negatively! Well, do you mean affecting my personal life or my career?
I mean both.
Well, personally, no. I learnt to detach myself from the characters of the roles that I play. Career wise, it gave me a beautiful platform that I am building on today.
What other movies are you doing now?
Beside the movie I just finished with Michelle, which is premiering on 13th – and I am excited about that, I will be going into production with two Nollywood big names in February. I will rather not expose who they are now so as not to spoil the surprise. But, there other productions lined up as well.
Are you hoping for endorsements from companies?
Well, it depends on the plan that you have for yourself. Like I said, I am not really concentrating on endorsements now. I would like my acting to speak for me and then, from there, if anything else comes up, that’s fine. But I am just breaking off the platforms now and want to continue building something. So, endorsements are welcome, of course. But they are not really my focus right now but they are welcome.
Now that you are in another phase of your career, would you say Tinsel sort of limited you to an extent?
I will say ‘yes’ to a certain extent because of the time. It’s very time consuming working on soaps. Tinsel, I would say is a pretty peculiar production as well, because they emphasise a lot on quality and, you know, all of that is pretty time consuming. No producer would like to work with someone they cannot guaranty would be there. It would give their production as much time and you know effort. So, I would say that it did limit me to a certain extent; which is why I had to come to a decision.
Tell us a bit about your background?
Well, Damilola Adegbite was born into a family of four. I was born and raised in Lagos. In Surulere, to be precise, so I grew up in Surulere. I have a degree in Business Administration from Bowen University.
What childhood memories do you have of Surulere?
Wow! I had a fun childhood in Surulere; those street carnivals and all that. It was fun. And, the friends I had in that area, which would be exclusive to me. I had a lot of friends in the area, so you could basically just get up and walk into anybody’s house, eat with them and sleep there if you wanted to. Everybody’s door was open to you all the time in my neighbourhood, anyway.
How did you get into acting?
It’s always been a passion for me. Some people, along the course of life, decide to choose certain careers based on wherever life leads them. I am pretty focused and I know what I want and I always try to stick to that. I have always wanted to be in the arts. Even while growing up, everyone around me saw that that was what I wanted to do. I was always in some music or theatre-related issue. I was always doing something that had to do with the arts.
So what’s your style like? How will you describe your style?
My style will be: simple, classy, and comfortable. I don’t like discomfort, even if it means looking good. No. I like to be comfortable and relaxed wherever I am; free to move around without being afraid that my skirt is too short or whatever. So, I am just simple but classy.
You are always well put together on the red carpet. Do you have a special designer for your clothes?
Well, I try to patronize as many people as I can in the fashion industry. Especially, if your item or your piece flatters me or something I could rock. I basically source for most of the clothes you see. They could be something I pick off a designer’s rack or something I put together myself.
So, do you have a role model in the industry when it comes to acting? Is there anybody you look up to?
Of course, there are a lot of people I admire in the industry. I learn a lot from them; I probably just watch their movies. A few of my personal favourites: I like Mercy Johnson. I like her acting. I think she is good. I like Mr. Ibu; he makes me laugh. There is something very unique about him. His talent is quite unique. I like Mojid Micheal as well. He is not a Nigerian but I think he is a very good actor. Everybody has something I like.
What would be your greatest fantasy?
I remember that yesterday I was reading a newspaper and it was talking about Mr. Aliko Dangote. He was referred to as the richest man in Africa and there was a picture of him sitting down, eating a bowl of food. I remember thinking to myself, to wake up in the morning knowing that you are the richest man in Africa and yet you are dressed in shorts and a tee-shirt! You are just chilling. There must be a huge amount of self fulfillment in that.
Regardless of what it is, where I am, what I achieved, whenever, wherever, I want to be able to wake up in the morning, look at myself in the mirror and say: “You are not doing badly Damilola”. So, basically, I would want to, at all times, be happy with where I am.
What won’t you wear in the name of fashion?
I wouldn’t wear a loud wig in the name of fashion; a coloured wig.
You have a boyfriend?
How did you meet?
I saw him. I liked him and we started talking; from there till today.
Tell us what you don’t like about men.
I don’t like men who over-indulge in alcohol. I like men that have regard for themselves and for the people around them. You would have to come across to me as a very serious minded person to be with me. That’s the honest truth.