HE is a woman of many parts – singer, model actress and counting. Since her Nollywood debut in 1995, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde has appeared in more than 300 films.
Popularly known as Omosexy, she has over the years made her mark, becoming one of the most watched actresses in Africa. In 2013, Omotola was listed by prestigious Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World alongside Michelle Obama and Beyonce.
In this exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, Omotola opens up on most things you never knew about her.
She spoke to TOSIN AJIRIRE.
Can you recall your first time on stage?
My first time on stage was in a play, Oba Ajangbadi or something like that. I can’t actually recollect now. But I think it was Oba Ajangbadi.
What year was this?
How did it go, did you experience any stage fright?
Hmm, yes. You know, you are already accomplished on screen then you are going on stage, even though I did stage plays while in secondary school, it wasn’t the same audience. So, there was a kind of pressure and it was not the same kind of role that I act in movies. In the play, I acted a village girl, a very naïve girl in love; I was very nervous and we had to sing as well.
Okay, what about your first movie role and which movie was it?
That was in 1995. I felt like I had been doing it for a very long time, it was so natural. I think I had dreamt about it for so long, and when I got there, it was as if I was already a professional in my own mind. In fact, a lot of people said I was already a diva on my first day on set. Someone was like ‘can I get you this, can I get you that?’ And I was like ‘Kilo nse eleyi’ (what’s wrong with him?)
What movie was it?
Venom of Justice and I acted a princess. I actually thought I was a princess in real life because I came on set and was floating on air. I was like ‘where should I stay’, and everybody was just laughing.
How did you feel when you first saw yourself on TV?
It was the (film) poster I first saw. When I saw the poster, I was actually shocked. Somewhere inside of me, I thought the movie will actually come out and people would not notice and it will be something I just experienced. But then, I think they were ready in Nollywood to go big. The first thing that came to mind, whenever I walked pass the poster, was that ‘very soon, I won’t be able to walk around, people will see the poster and say ‘that’s the girl, that’s the girl’, and I would lose my freedom.
How was it the first time you saw yourself in a movie?
It was actually a weird one. I didn’t actually feel anything. Yeah, I am telling you the truth, and that is the weird part. I think I was more of a critic than of being wowed. I was like ‘oh my God, did I do that?’ ‘Did I wear that?’ ‘Did I do it that way?’ ‘Oh my God, I am too skinny, I need to put on some weight’. I was actually interested in what people were saying.
You are also a musician, what was the first song you composed?
I think it was Gba.
I did that album in 2004 or thereabout. I remember driving through Agege along the railway line and they were playing the song, I had to wind down.
How did you come about music?
I have worked hard in music. For me, it was long term. I have always been singing before I started acting. I actually thought I was going to be known for singing, not acting. I never thought I was going to be an actress. But I kept acting and acting and I realized that I was getting better and I noticed that people would not just allow me sing. I saw a lot of actors becoming singers and how people were always booing them. I was afraid. So, for me, it was like ‘finally, I am doing this’.
Many who sing today would tell you they started in church choir. Are you one to say the same?
Yeah, I was in the choir.
I sang alto in the church. There were times when they allowed me lead and there were times I did praise worship on my own; when I had to lead. It was a very vibrant church. We had a lot of singers, if they see that you can sing, they will give you a chance to sing. It was actually a good church.
Who influenced you?
It was actually my pastor. She was very beautiful; she’s still very beautiful. She looks half-caste though she is not half-caste. I used to see her as an angel because she was very beautiful and she was very passionate. She was actually the head of the choir. So when she sings, she sings like she’s ministering. She sang every song like she was talking to you. I just loved her and I caught on unto that.
What about the international scene?
Internationally, it has to be Beyonce. I don’t know about now, with all the Illuminati rumour. I just totally admired her; I admired her hardwork. That is a similarity because people were always talking about she and I, and her story of how she came from nowhere; how she believed in herself and kept going.
How was your first performance on stage as a musician?
That was what I said that I could identify with when Beyonce says she has another character. It’s a total experience for me when I am on stage. For me, it’s like an out-of-the-world experience. Immediately I get on stage, it’s like something gets into me, I no longer care about my reputation. When I get on stage, I am a different person; I will just go crazy.
People who have actually seen me perform on stage say they prefer me on stage. On stage, I am just myself; I can sit down on the floor, I am just someone else, overjoyed. I love it singa different person; I will just go crazy. ing on stage.
The first time you saw yourself on TV, how did you react?
I can’t actually remember because even when I was younger, I was always doing a lot of activities on television. I think I had seen myself on television even before I became an adult. So, I wasn’t blown away.
Do you consider your role in Last Flight to Abuja as the most challenging?
Truthfully no, but it’s one of the most challenging movies. I’ll put it on the same level of The Prostitute because, as at the time it came out, it was like a taboo. Another movie of that time that changed the scene was Mortal Inheritance. So, I’ll put this movie on the same pedestal as Mortal Inheritance and The Prostitute. They are subject-matter movies; they are movies that would stir up a lot of emotions and discussions, and at the end of the day, make the society better.
Can you recall your first day in school?
I can only recall my first day in secondary school.
Which secondary school did you attend?
Command Secondary School, Kaduna. I had to fly to Kaduna with my dad who I was very close to. The parting was the hardest. He wouldn’t want to tell me that he was leaving, so they tricked me, and finally he had to go and I cried for hours. I can remember the seniors that saw me and were like ‘what’s wrong with you? Will you run to the hostel?’ And I heard this loud yell for junior students and I felt like I was going to die.
Where did you spend your first holiday as a secondary school student?
I can’t really remember, but I can remember this scenario: my school was a military school, so flying back to Lagos I was like ‘I will never go back to this school again’ because getting home was like freedom from prison. I remember packing to go back to school after the holiday, even though I was going back to my friends, I was terrified of the seniors, punishments and all that. I was very happy coming for holiday.
How was your first flight experience like?
I can’t remember. We flew for a long time. I used to fly a lot with my father .
Were you terrified?
No, I’m actually not afraid of flying. I actually wanted to be a pilot. I remember four things I wanted to be; I wanted to be a pilot. Bristol was training people and I actually went so I could be a pilot. I wanted to be a lawyer because I can argue. I wanted to be a singer, so badly. I also wanted to be a diplomat. Those were the four careers I had in mind.
Can you remember the first birthday gift you got and from who?
I think my first birthday gift that I can remember was a bra (laughs). It was my aunty that gave me.
What colour was it?
I think it was a black bra. I was in secondary school; I was in JSS 2.
What about the first birthday gift from your husband?
My husband has given me so many gifts. Maybe when we were dating, but I can’t remember anything outrageous. A rose? No, my husband has never bought me a rose. Almost every birthday he gives me a car.
Since when did he start giving you car?
If I can remember very well, it’s since we got married. My husband gives me a car virtually every year.
What do you do to the old ones?
I sell them. I give them out. I have sold some and I have given some out.
Do you have a special way of appreciating him?
I appreciate him any way I want to do it. There is a reason why I am called Omosexy.
Omosexy, can you recall your first date?
I think my first date was after secondary school. There was this guy I had a crush on, we went to the same Command Secondary School in Kaduna. He also had a crush on me and he was always coming to me, but I was like ‘no, we are too young’. I was always giving him a cold shoulder but after a while he was like ‘you know what, I am not going to ask you again’ and I felt very bad. When we left school, I remember he asked me if we can go on a proper date, and I was like ‘yes finally’. We went out to somewhere around Toyin Street (in Lagos), we ate so much, it wasn’t romantic; trust me, we ate so much and I was like ‘you are full, I am full, so let’s get a taxi and go home’.
What about your first kiss, how was it like?
I can’t remember, I can’t remember truly. I don’t think it was anything memorable.
Can you recall the first kiss with your husband?
That one I can remember, we even have a picture of it, a very weird picture. I went to his place for a visit with my friend and he was trying to kiss me and I kept pushing him. His sister was taking the pictures, she kept taking the pictures, and at a point, I wasn’t looking and he just kissed me and she took the picture. He was like ‘you took the picture?’ But afterwards, we had a proper kiss.
Can you recall your first sexual experience?
Haba!!! I won’t answer that o…
Okay, how did your husband propose?
He actually proposed after church one day. We weren’t going to the same church, he was going to Winners Chapel, and I was going to Solid Rock. He came to pick me after church and I remember he drove me home. Then he wasn’t even in the country… I was like ‘you are crazy’. I didn’t even answer him, but that was how he proposed. I actually thought he was joking. How could a man think of marrying someone like me? I was so young. I was too troublesome.
How have you been able to maintain and keep the Omosexy brand fresh over the years?
I think it is being genuinely ready to learn. I don’t claim to have known everything. In fact, I claim to have had problems, and I think I have grown on the job. I think it is very important to be yourself and allow the journey to progress, even in you. So, I have always been open to the journey. I have never tried to go ahead of the journey, so that I don’t bore people. I try not to be in people’s face all the time. I try to just be myself and flow with the journey. Wherever it takes me, just walk with it.
I think people have been able to, over the years, go on in the journey with me. I think I am the only actress, I don’t know if there is any other, who has had four children and in the limelight. I have gone through different changes. I think much of the time, I have grown with it and they feel like they know me, and I have been open with them.
I haven’t portrayed myself as perfect when I wasn’t. I have messed up a couple of times and I have tried to recover from them. I think the most important thing is that people see that you are making an effort to be better and they enjoy the journey with me. To the best of my knowledge, that is what I think. It’s just the journey and being real and I think a lot of people I have spoken with tell me they like me because I am real. They are like ‘we know what it is that brought you here,’ and I think people can relate with that. I am just like everybody else; I go through my ups and downs.
With all the activities, how have you been keeping your home?
Much of the credit will go to my husband. In my opinion, he is the best human being I know. That’s the truth; he is the best human being I know. He is very understanding, extremely mature. You know what they say about people’s lives preaching more than what they say? His life has preached more to me. He doesn’t need to talk more to me, he doesn’t need to tell me ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ but because he’s so good a person, I can’t deny God’s favour in his life. That’s the beauty, the realism I see in his life. So, that has helped in my journey. Even when I was not the best human being, I have learnt patience from him. He has made me a better person, really. So, I will give all the glory to God almighty, then him.
So, he doesn’t get to him when you act all those romantic, sexy roles?
That is why I said he is a very mature person. He has been able to separate his wife from the professional. I know as human, some will get to him. There are times he asks me ‘is this movie really good or really bad so you can tell me and I can keep it?’ He tells me that a lot of times, you know, but he knows that I have to do my job and he knows that this is what makes me happy, and this is what keeps me on top of my game.
He knows that you can’t pretend for so long, people will start to get bored, and they start to look at you like, ‘she won’t do it well’. So, he has tried to separate the actress from his wife and I also try to make them understand that I have to make it real so that when I get to my house, I won’t make them uncomfortable with it. So, it is all about being able to relate with it well and he knows when I am doing my job. I think he has watched, if not all my movies, 90 percent of my movies. He goes out to look for them, he actually goes to Alaba (International Market) to look for them and archives them.
Now, what is the limit to what you can do?
After location, I try not to put myself in a place or in a position where someone will take advantage of me. I think that is the part of me that people in those days used to take as the snobbish part of me. It is because I was learning to relate with people in such a manner that I could respect myself. So, I try not to put myself in a situation of disrespect. I try not to relate with people that will make them free to say unguarded words to me. I try not to be too free with people that they will think there is no limit with me. So, I am very guarded. Though, I can be very playful in some instances, I am still guarded.
There are places I can’t go to with people; there are some places you can’t find me; there are some discussions I won’t have with people. In fact, there were times when people used to say they are always uncomfortable when I am with them on set because there are some things they can’t say, not that I am going to shoot you down or shut up or something, but they feel uncomfortable around me. Naturally they find me too strict or whatever. Generally, it is the way you comport yourself and I feel it is a good thing because people don’t even feel okay to approach you with those kinds of things. Having said that, there are still some people that will go out of their way and say ‘I’m going to try even if she is going to kill me’. Those people, depending on the situation, you handle them, as you should.