THE THINGS I WANT IN A MAN – Star Actress, Funke Akindele
With just a movie, Funke Akindele lost her privacy completely. But rather than complain, the non-practicing journalist and lawyer is lapping it all up, thanking the Almighty God for re-writing the story of her life with Jenifa, that roaringly successful flick and blessing her left, right and centre. 2009 AMAA Best Actress, the 37- year-old, from Ikorodu, Lagos State confessed to YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor in Chief, AZUH ARINZE, in this interview, during their trip to London for Crack Ya Ribs, that frustration drove her into the Yoruba movie sector, where surprisingly, she has become one of its best and brightest…
The fact that a lot of doors are open to you. Then, as a celebrity, you are given a VIP treatment. And a lot of people know you. You can walk up to any important personality and he would listen to you.
So, what don’t you like about stardom?
The fact that you don’t have a private life. Everybody wants to know everything about you. That scares me.
Your movie, Jenifa, exploded your career. How soon do you think there would be another Jenifa or a movie that can equate the success you have recorded with that?
The Return of Jenifa. I believe it will be bigger than Jenifa.
Why was Jenifa a big success?
First, I give God the glory. It is the grace of God. May be the little I can explain.
You started out as an English actress, but you later moved to Yoruba. And from the look of things, you’ve made more success as a Yoruba actress. Why are you concentrating more here?
Because I got fame through Yoruba movies. The Yoruba movie industry gave me the break. And I feel more comfortable producing Yoruba movies because I understand the market very well.
As one of the few people who have done both English and Yoruba, can you do a comparison of the two sectors?
I would say we have a movie industry in Nigeria delivered in different languages. I started with English movies. Yes, I didn’t get the fame. I got frustrated. I felt that this is not my place. Fortunately, I was introduced to the Yoruba movie industry and I got the big break. The difference is the English movies pay more than Yoruba. Producing however helps us to make more money in Yoruba movies.
You said while you were on the other side, they tried to frustrate you, in what way did it happen?
Nobody frustrated me. I was getting frustrated because I was attending auditions, I didn’t get any lead role. I got a few supporting roles from friends like Don Pedro Obaseki, Charles Novia, Andy Amenechi, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting something bigger and better. Fortunately, I met one actress that invited me over to Yoruba, and that was it.
Which was your first English movie?
Naked Wire. It was produced by Opa Williams. I Need to Know came after this.
So, what fond memories do you still have about those early days when you did Naked Wire and I Need to Know?
Naked Wire was funny. It was my first time in front of the camera. I was jittery. I didn’t know camera position. But Opa Williams was so sweet. He is really a man. I give that to him. He really encouraged me. He didn’t know me from anywhere. I just attended his audition and that was it. Then, I Need to Know was more like a family affair. We worked with an American, Llyod Weaver. He taught us a lot, not just about acting. It was fun.
Who is the best producer/director you have worked with?
Lots of them. I enjoyed working with Llyod Waver. He is very, very deep. Abbey Lanre, a Yoruba movie director, Andy Amenechi, a lot of them.
Who are the actresses that are very close to you?
There is this Bimbo Thomas, she’s new. I have a good rapport with Eniola Badmus, Ireti Osayemi and a whole lot of others.
Who are the ones you don’t like working with?
I can work with anybody. They are my colleagues (Laughs). Even if I don’t like your face, we have to work. We are professionals.
There is this impression that the industry is facing hard times and that movies are not selling?
We are selling, but piracy is killing us. If you release your movie on Monday, you see them pirated by Wednesday. I think that is what is killing us. You know we have good stories. Piracy is our bane.
So, what do you think is the way out?
We should try and do something about piracy. We keep saying that government should bring them to book. We hear a lot of stories, they were arrested and they let them go. It is painful, because you work so hard to earn a living. They are treating us so bad.
Don’t you feel bad that after studying Law for years, you abandoned it for something else?
I don’t feel bad about it because this is my first love. I love acting and entertainment generally. I have been doing it right from the time I was very small. I thank God my mum encouraged me. My dad wanted me to be a lawyer. I did that because of him. I have an OND in Mass Communication, Ogun State Polytechnic, now Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. I enjoy law. Law is interesting and beautiful. It reflects in my stories, in my movies.
So, you won’t practice Law?
No way. This is what I want to do. It is a gift from God.
Besides watching movies, what else do you do for relaxation?
I play a lot of games on my computer. I also love music. I love R & B, hip hop. I love R Kelly so much. In Nigeria, I love D’Banj, Eldee, 9ice, 2Face.
Do you have any phobia?
I used to have one, but I conquered it when I went for the Gulder Ultimate Celebrity Showdown. And that is water.
How did it feel to be the first evictee?
To be truthful, it was hell on that camp. Everything there was real. I felt bad and also happy. I thank God I am back to the comfort of my house and my bed. It was strenuous and difficult, but I enjoyed every bit of it. It was a different experience of life.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My weakness, I think, is my temper. And I am still working on it. It is not something good. I give a lot out. I am a cheerful giver. I love making people happy. My strength is that I am very pushy. I can withstand anything. I am focused. I am a go-getter. You can’t stop me getting to the top.
Let’s talk about your favourite things, which food is your favourite?
I like plantain and fish. Then, any soft drink.
When is Funke Akindele getting married?
I keep asking myself that. I think it’s left to God. At first, I wanted to get married quickly. I was in a relationship. I thought oh, this relationship is altar-bound. But something happened along the way and we are not together again. But I believe God will do it.
Would you like to tell us what exactly happened?
No, let me keep that. But there is someone I am seeing now. I pray it will work out.
What do you want in a man?
You can’t get a perfect man. What I need is a good looking, humble, God fearing and hard working man.
Has it been difficult to find one?
We meet a lot of them. Don’t forget I am a celebrity. Some will come because of the name, the fame; you have to be careful. I am seeing one, and I believe it’s real.
When was the first time you fell in love?
I cannot remember. I am not too good with love.
When do you envisage you will get married?
Hopefully, towards the end of this year, next year. Keep praying for me. God will do it.
In the event that you get married and your man insists you quit acting, what will you do?
Before I get married, I am sure the man would know I am an actress and we would talk about it. When you get married, you need to give a little space and time to plan your family because no man would want to keep sleeping alone for about two, three months; you are on location, it won’t work out. So, I am going to have time to plan for my family, but my man can’t tell me to quit acting. No, no, I love my job.
People say that most actresses hardly make good wife materials. Do you agree with that?
It depends on your person. I’m from a very good home. I don’t agree. I pray I make a good home, for my marriage to stay long. God, I will make a good home.
Why do the marriages of most actresses fail?
Other people’s marriages also fail. So, it is not all about actresses. All I can say is just try your best to enjoy your marriage; your happiness matters. Don’t get married because everybody is getting married. When God says it’s time, you will surely get married, and when you meet the right person you love. Anybody can have a failed marriage.
NB: This interview was first published in our debut edition
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