Biodun Okeowo, popularly known as Tolani Osirin in the Yoruba movie industry, got into Nollywood 7 years ago. Born in Lagos, the Communication Arts graduate of the Lagos State University, Ojo Campus, in this interview, talked about her journey into the make believe world, why men keep chasing her, her beauty routine and more.
You started not so long ago; how come you have achieved this much?
I am still a baby when it comes to acting. I don’t see myself as an established actress yet. I see myself as an actress who wants to get there. So, it is when you get to the height that you can start saying you want to be consistent. I am barely a decade old in the industry. If you base my popularity on my achievements, then I would agree with you that I have done well for myself.
A lot of people have forgotten that your real name is Biodun Okeowo, and would rather call you Tolani Osirin, a name from a not – too– positive character in a movie. How does this make you feel? I don’t have any reservation about people calling me Tolani Osirin or Biodun Okeowo. The name, Tolani Osirin, came from my very first movie, and it brought me fame, recognition, money and what I am today. The name stayed with me because of the success of the movie. There is this trend in the Yoruba movie industry that when you shoot a movie that has to do with a name, there is a tendency that they sideline your real name for that stage name. I think most people in the movie industry respect stage names. I agree that Tolani Osirin is more popular than my real name, but I am trying to correct that impression by telling people that my real name is Biodun. At a point, it got so funny that when I call my colleagues and tell them it is me, Biodun, they often ask which Biodun? And until I say Biodun Okeowo, they won’t recognise who I am. At times, people even tell me that they prefer if I introduce myself as Tolani Osirin because they don’t know me as Biodun. Now, I am determined to change that and I have started telling producers to write Biodun Okeowo when they want to caption me in the movies, rather than use my stage name. This is necessary so that people don’t forget my real name.
What motivated the movie, Tolani Osirin?
The motivation came from a friend’s experience, when I was living in Ikoyi, Lagos State. It is actually a real life story. The society we find ourselves in today has made some women victims of circumstance. Most of them have had to do the unthinkable, like prostitution, to be able to cater for their kids. But as the child grows up, it rubs off on them. That was the story of Tolani Osirin.
What else do you do besides acting?
I am a producer and I also have a wine shop.
You are an actress, a producer and also a businesswoman. Don’t you think all these are too much for you?
I am not a jack of all trades. I am not into music and I am not a dancer. I just deviated into another business and I think it is quite wise.
People say you flaunt your sexuality, most especially your hot legs. How true is this?
I don’t really know what you mean, but one thing I know is that I wear clothes that make me comfortable. My dressing depends on my mood because I might not want to feel too dressed. My dressing also depends on where I am going to. If I am going for a movie launch and they say dress glamorous, I dress to that tune and if the party has Aso-Ebi, I make sure it looks good, and let me add that there is nothing sexy about my legs. But I do know that I like to wear dresses that make statements.
How do your kids feel when they see their mum acting a sexy role or do you turn down such roles?
I have never turned down a role in my career because it is a make-believe industry and to be professional, you cannot afford to be limited. But our culture restricts us a lot, and that is where I go with the instruction of my director. The fact, however, is that I have my way of interpreting my roles and my children have come to know that everything they watch is make-believe.
Do you agree that actresses can be very promiscuous?
I will tell you that we are in the end-time because if you take a look at other industries, you will find that they are also raw. The undergraduate looking for a job is also not left out too. So, we are in the end-time. Corruption in the industry is an individual thing. If you want it the other way, it is your decision to make because if you say the ladies in the industry are all loose, then it means there are no decent ladies in the industry, which is not true. The problem with the movie industry is that because we have born-again people watching the movies, when they see an actress interpreting her role very well, they say she is a flirt, and when a home breaks up, the next thing you hear is that it is as a result of her promiscuous nature. If you call yourself an entertainer, you need to exhibit the life style and because of that people say we are loose.
Have you been described as promiscuous at any point before?
Yes. This is because there is an untrue assumption that actresses are generally irresponsible, but if you say I am a flirt, I will prove to you that I am not and I’ve been able to prove that I’m not many times.
Many men have come to me with money and have said I like you and I want to sleep with you, and I have turned them down. I have evidences. I told the last person who tried it with me that if he had succeeded with other actresses in the movie industry, he should not try it with me because, even if I am hungry, I know what to do to put food on my table. I won’t resort to prostitution or doing runs. I am not bragging, but I have proved it severally. Do you know that other ladies outside the industry are also promiscuous? Or how do you single out a lady who is not an actress? Because they want to be known through the make- believe world, they start acting. But there are bad eggs coming into the movie industry. Someone who has a name to protect won’t think of hustling. Besides, I won’t want some men to watch me on television and start saying, oh! I slept with her last month and all it cost me was N100, 000.
Why is it that female actresses are more successful than their male counterparts?
If you go to any part of the world, you will realize that women are more favoured than men. The truth is that a woman can leave her house without money and come back with cash and it doesn’t mean she has rubbished herself. The fact is that if you have the favour of God, things will work out well for you. The man who wants to sleep with you, but has not succeeded will still continue to do things for you, despite the fact that you have refused to date him. The opportunity I just described is not often available to men. What is your fashion statement?
I am fashion conscious in my own little way. I don’t follow trends and that is why my friends often tell me they don’t wear a particular dress the way I adorn it. But I believe that as an entertainer, you should be able to set your own trend. After all, the trends people follow are set by someone.
NB: First published December 2013