Behind the scene | 11 March 2007 17:08 CET


She was sure cut out for the screen. Pretty, outgoing and intelligent, Opeyemi Ayeola proved that she was indeed destined for the top in only her first outing. For her, it took a stroke of luck and a chance meeting with popular TV producer, Wale Adenuga, to kick-start a career that has been on the ascendancy ever since.

“I was at the right place at the right time. I went to visit my brother at the Ogun State University. Fortunately, Wale Adenuga was there at the time shooting a movie. I was there watching them in action. Somebody just walked up to me and said Mr. Adenuga wanted to see me. That was the beginning of the story”, she recounted.

Her career actually took off on a good note as she starred as the innocent and naïve girl who fell to mischievous machinations of some street-wise guys in Gbenga Adewusi's popular movie, “Ige Adubi”. The happy ending to the story marked the beginning of Opeyemi's rapid rise to the top.
She, however, disclosed that her rise has not been on a platter of gold. “You cannot say things have been easy. Even the English actors who earn bigger money wouldn't tell you that it is easy to get to the top. But the truth is that you have to be determined and dedicated. Those are the two things that have seen me to this level.”

Opeyemi Ayeola, and a few other ladies and guys, are the face of the emerging Yoruba movie industry. For most of this class of young, upwardly mobile and daring ladies, the end justifies the means. Fair enough, they have breathed a new life to the ailing industry. “If you say we are doing well, I think you are right. But it is all about the orientation. The younger generation of actors and actresses are much different from the old people.

We have been able to bring about professionalism to bear on the industry.”
For Opeyemi, success has been at a huge price. Her path to success has been strewn with different negative stories. At a point, the story was her alleged affair with comedian, Babatunde Omidina aka Baba Suwe. At another time, it was said that she has a secret child for an unnamed man. And yet, another had it that she was arrested in England. These are just few of the several stories that she had to cope with.

However, to her credit, Opeyemi has come out stronger each time, she denied most of the rumours, attributing them to enemies. “The funniest of the rumours was the one that claimed I have a child. For heaven's sake, if I have a child, I'll be proud enough to say so. I'll display his pictures everywhere for the world to see. These people are just enemies who don't see anything good in another person.”

While she has done well at managing the rumours surrounding her, same cannot be said of cat calls she gets each time she steps out. Opeyemi said, she has found the antics of the area boys a hard nut to crack. “Most times people I don't know would call my number and start telling me all sorts of stories. I found a solution to the problem by making sure that the phone is always with my personal assistant. However, the one I find difficult to escape is the catcalls on the streets. Most times, it is the agberos who make me nervous. For instance, when they see me and start shouting things that you don't like.”

The perennial cases of sexual harassment in the industry are in no way different from other industries. According to her, the issue of sexual harassment in the movie industry has been blown out of proportion. She equally blamed the ladies for 'selling themselves cheaply'.

“The girls are too desperate to get noticed. They are willing to do anything, even if it means going to bed with the producer. However, there has been too much noise about sexual harassment in the movie industry. Don't the doctors and nurses sleep with each other? It is the same in every other industry around the world. I have friends who are doctors. I also have friends who are bankers, and they tell me all these things happen in their sectors too. It is even more prevalent in the banks.”

In similar vein, Opeyemi said she is not ready to dump disgraced actress, Taiwo Hassanat aka Wunmi over drug problem. “I wouldn't crucify her. It is not how many time you fall that makes you a man, but how many times you are able to rise each time you fall. I'm sure aunty Wunmi would rise again. We all make mistakes every time. It could have been any other person. She is a mother figure to me, and that is what she would remain.”

Opeyemi is almost likely to quit acting anytime from now. She is set to relocate to England to be with her husband. The couple was married in a church in England last December. She is however home to perform the traditional wedding, after which she would leave for England.

Other sites The Nigerian Voice