Dr. Sola Fosudo is a veteran of some sorts in the Nigerian film industry. In this scintillating interview with our correspondent, the Director of LASU Centre for Press , Information and Public Relation bares it all about his life ,the film industry and many more.
It is really a privilege to be talking to my greatest icon in the movie Industry, at least being the only actor-scholar I know makes you my icon … (Cuts in)
No, I am not the only actor-scholar in the Industry. There are many others. Kola Oyewo is one, at least, he has a PhD and he’s teaching at Redeemer University (laughing). Another one is Prof. Ayo Akinwale, he teaches at the University of Ilorin and he acts too. There is also Tunji Sotimirin. I can keep on counting. So, don’t say I am the only one. There are many of us.
How do you people cope with the rigour of lecturing and acting?
There is no rigour, everything in life is based on time. I may be in the office from Monday to Friday then take myself to locations on Saturday and Sunday and be back again in the office on Monday. Since I am not the person directing or producing the film I don’t have to be on location 24 hours of the day. As an actor you can wrap up your own scenes within a day or two and be back to your normal routines. So, it is all about working out a timetable with the people who are engaging you and I want to believe it is the same system that works for other actor-scholars.
Who is Dr. Sola Fosudo?
I am an Ijebu man from Ejinrin in Lagos State. My village is Igbo Oye in Epe local government area of Lagos State. So, I am a Lagosian.
When exactly did you venture into acting?
I can’t remember. I have been acting since I was in primary school and secondary school
No, I am talking about Nollywood?
(Exasperatedly) I am not a Nollywood actor. We, started acting long before the development called Nollywood came. Before Nollywood, I have acted in several soaps. Was Village Headmaster part of Nollywood? I did Sound of Destiny in 1980 and it was never part of Nollywood. There were films I did like ‘The Third Eye for NTA; Ripples and others long before Nollywood came to being. So, that is why I said I am not a Nollywood actor. Many people thought it was Ripples that brought me to limelight but I would say it is Michael Enahoro’s Sound of Destiny that did it for me. It was a network programme of NTA. Many journalists have interviewed me in the early 80s and 90s. So, don’t be asking me about Nollywood. I am not a Nollywood person.
So, how do you compare movie industry of then to Nollywood of today?
Well,we have to look at it from different aspects. In those days ,most of the people ,who were involved in the biz were trained and so when you see any production ,it would be qualitative; both in term of acting and in term of production quality. And then you also see great attempt at creating something that is artistic and you would see creativity. But these days, most of the people in the industry are untrained .Secondly, most of them are commercial people ,they are not concerned with creativity. They are just interested in financial gains.
However, having said that ,one can also say that the activity of the marketers and the Igbo producers have actually opened up the space for the industry. There is a lot of money circulating now because they came in and pumped money.
So economically, the industry has become an income-earning avenue for many people .So many people are making a living out of the profession even though most of the people making a living are the roadside people, people who are not trained.The summary is that what the industry needs is regulation. It has become an industry that has made Nigeria popular .Nigerian films are known everywhere in the world .So , in other words it has become a foreign exchange earner for the country but it needs to be regulated
How many movies and soaps have you done so far?
The problem with you is that you insist on seeing me as Nollywood person. You’ll be surprised if I tell you that the total films I’ve done, both Yoruba and English, are not more than 30-40 films.
Was it because of the problem of poor quality you were talking about or what?
Stop referring to me as a Nollywood person ( he insisted fiercely). When we started, we just started because we were interested in establishing a viable profession, a profession of serious minded people founded on arts. I studied theatre arts .I didn’t study films. If you ask me now how many plays I have acted, I can tell you over a hundred
So, you did more plays than films?
Yes. But because you see
somebody on television ,you think that the person is Nollywood this or that. I didn’t study films I studied theater arts and we performed plays on stage.
Okay, who is the pioneer of the indigenous film industry?
But some people say it is a man called Alade Aromire ?
You asked me about the film industry not home video. For cinema or films, it is Hubert Ogunde while Aromire was instrumental to the starting of home videos in Nigeria.
You must have had mentors during your early days in the business .Who were your mentors or those who actually motivated you?
I have many mentors .I have those who taught me directly and the external ones. My teachers include Wole Soyinka, Dapo Adelugba in Ibadan, Bode Osanyin and Kole Omotosho. Among the external ones is the Indian actor called Amitabh Bachan, he was a man after my heart .I love the way he acts and I wanted to be like him. I believe there are some of his mannerisms in the way I act. Chief Obafemi Awolowo is also my distant mentor, though I didn’t actually meet him one on one .Having read about him and having learnt about him I think he was a great man .I also like to model my life after that kind of person .