WALE OJO: My Sex Scenes with Omotola Highly Erotic

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SUPER SATURDAY

The sky was cloudy, rain was imminent. There was gridlock with horns blaring as petulant drivers wanted to have their way. Unknown to many people, somewhere around that vicinity, seated calmly in a white Xterra SUV was an international superstar. He had parked outside This Present House, a popular church on Lagos Island. Then the sky opened up. Looking at his face, Wale Ojo appears younger than his image on camera. Sporty, in a T-shirt, jogger’s pants wih trainers and a fez cap to match, the British-trained actor had stayed off a location owing to some changes. Ferdinand Ekechukwu caught up with the much sought-after actor whose craft has graced both local and international movies
• Advocate of New Nigerian Cinema Culture

In 2013, at the Fire of Zamani album launch by Ice Prince at Eko Hotel and Suites, Wale Ojo’s Smartphone was picked-off as he made his way to the VIP section through a surge of people.
All efforts made to retrieve the phone were futile. It was not the cost but the contents of the phone that made him feel bad about the loss. Aside the large number of contacts, the device had notes, videos and audio materials for a family book he was writing.
Many of his fans are oblivious of the talented thespian’s gift of scriptwriting. Ojo’s writings are mainly short stories and poems. He has written and produced a short film called, Ghost of Tarkwa Bay, which he says, will be released this year.
The movie, according to him, has the elements of Francophone cinema. But it is essentially also, a Nigerian story, which projects Ojo’s advocacy for good cinematic movies. He writes out of inspiration and passion for the arts. He also loves singing.

To his musical feat recently is a 16-piece Afro-beat band called, Wale Ojo and the Milagros. To catch Ojo display his musical side, he will be ‘LIVE AND UNPLUGGED’ at the Nine Zero Degrees on 707 Sanusi Fafunwa Victoria Island on Saturday, July 29.
Before returning to Nigeria, he played with several bands across the years while acting. Faced with the difficulties of breaking through in the UK film industry, he stayed true to his craft. To that, whenever he writes a script there’s always an element of music involved. Those years of challenges did attract the compassion of his parents. But he would not want to lean on them for support. He wanted to prove a point that he could make it on his own.
Once, at the age of eight, Ojo was involved in acting, doing different dramas with NTA Ibadan, courtesy of his uncle. There, he had the opportunity to meet the likes of Tunji Fatilewa, Sam Loco Efe, Akin Lewis, and Olumide Bakare.
“They were all budding actors then. I used to spend time backstage watching a lot of them. Now, they’re Nollywood legends mentored by great luminaries like the late Zulu Sofola (first published Nigerian female playwright and dramatist and first female professor of Theatre Arts in Africa),” he recalled.

Back in England, he had enrolled at Mayfield College at age 12 and through to the University with a Bachelor’s degree in drama. Upon graduation at 21, and having discovered his immense love for the stage, following a chance representation at the theatre in Edinburgh festival, he was cast for a role in Shakespeare’s play staged by Tower London Company as a young Othello in 1986.
Playing the role of Othello left him with a whole new experience. He confessed that a deep knowledge of the play, by years of understanding, is required to enable delivery on the role and that the works of Shakespeare impacted a great deal on him because in English acting one is trained in drama with the works of Shakespeare. To be sure, Ojo relishes those Shakespearean flavours that depict timeless understanding befitting of any student of Shakespeare as he displays his vast knowledge of the works. Such knowledge and love for Shakespeare at a time inspired him and other group of actors to embark on an experimental workshop with Hamlet, adapted as ‘Jagun Prince of Oyo.’
Packed with years of mixed experiences, Ojo likes doing stage and film acting, but prefers the former.
“Stage acting is the one that defines you most as an actor. That’s where you truly owned your craft. In film acting, you have a cushion to lean on as there are always stops. There is always assistance. But on stage, it’s like a race till the end.
“And I discovered I have done most of the stages back then in the United Kingdom. I really owned my craft acting on stage. I will always take to stage work,” he noted.
Artistically diverse, challenging characters drive him.
“Characters that are as far away from me as possible – if you look at my body of work you will see that the characters I played were very different from one to the other. I fly between the walls of comedy and serious drama,” Ojo stated.
From playing the mercurial buffoon, ‘Bayo’ in the sitcom ‘Meet The Adebanjos,’ an M-Net TV comedy series, to playing a psychologically adept and highly manipulative character ‘Kola’ in the movie ‘CEO’; to a corporate executive character ‘Akin’ in Phone Swap; then playing an Igbo trader ‘Ken’ in Elvis Chuks’ award-winning movie, ‘For The Wrong Reasons’, Ojo loves playing roles that depict and stretch his creative dexterity.
In 2004, the versatile actor debuted in Nollywood acting alongside Justice Esiri in the movie, ‘Six Demons’, by Teco Benson.

Since the beginning of 2017, Ojo has moved from Lagos to Cairo; from Addis Ababa to India; and from Dubai to London; exhibiting his craft and promoting Nigerian and African movies at international festivals.
Recently, he was in Johannesburg as part of a Nigerian team that witnessed the hugely successful Nigerian theatre production, Kakadu, a musical drama.
Following ‘Fifty’s’ success, a romantic drama – now turned into a TV series – he starred in with some sterling cast of actresses, he also played a lead role in ‘Alter Ego’, acting alongside Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde.
“We worked in a very sensitive manner and it was quite a very difficult role. It deals with sexual impropriety. And to her credit I think she pulled it off. And I hope that I pulled it off too.
“The sex scenes are erotically charged. We are actors doing our best to interpret a part and I believe we did it to the best of our respective abilities,” the actor said.
What could be responsible for Ojo’s high demand in the movie industry?
His response was not far-fetched; timing and the works that’s been made available. He added that most of his works were international and that secured him an international acting agency in California, which represents him worldwide.
Ojo has done a good number of works on the stage, on TV and in films with Hollywood stars in movies like ‘Johnny English’ with Rowan Atkinson; ‘The Guard’ with Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson; ‘The Philanthropist’ with James Purefoy; ‘The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ with Gill Scott; and ‘Hard Case’ by renowned Hollywood director, Guy Ritchie.

His ‘New Nigeria Cinema’ interest in Nigeria’s film industry would see him redefine the contract. “I then told the agency that I have commitment to improve Nigerian film industry. That I have been spending a lot of time in Nigeria.”
That sounds more like an appendage to the concept of Nollywood? “It’s not an appendage to Nollywood,” he said. “It is a development; it’s an evolution in the Nigerian film production. It is a movement from Nollywood video production genre back to the cinema production culture.”
Adding, in perspective, that “Video is video and film is film. But there’s some film you can still shoot and it goes straight to video.”
“But you have to be aware of the language of cinema. And if we are to compete on the world stage, we have to realise that there are some certain festivals that may only accept cinema standard Nollywood films because of the way in which it is made.”
That, he explains is the vision of his ‘New Nigeria Cinema’ movement, to chart a new course in moving Nollywood forward to international level.
“I’ve never castigated Nollywood,” he said. “The early Nollywood was like the movement of those early American filmmakers where they had no support, took a video camera, then went ahead to develop an entire movie industry; an industry that feeds millions of families. So it would be highly disrespectful and dishonourable to disparage Nollywood.
“I am a product of Nollywood. I am only taking it forward with New Nigeria Cinema. I grew up watching a lot of Nollywood actors as a child and I enjoyed that immensely. And a lot of my heroes like Sam Loco (the late Sam Loco Efe) entered Nollywood when it started in the 90’s. Don’t forget that the Nigerian film industry started with films like ‘Bisi Daughter of The River’, and ‘Kongi’s Harvest’, which were shown at cinemas. That’s another separate thing entirely. Here, I’m talking about Nollywood which started in the 90s, of which of course Sam Loco was part of.”

The quality of films he wants to make and see comes from many different influences as diverse as Hubert Ogunde, Tunde Kelani, Wole Soyinka, and Ola Balogun.
“I’m advocating for a wave that was there before Nollywood. To the very beginning when we had cinema. If you look at these early works, blinding! I’m rolling back to that. I’m going right to the very beginning with the New Nigeria Cinema,” he added.
“I grew up watching Sam Loco. I grew up watching ‘Baba Sala’. And if I had to go into Yoruba film genre that’s another thing entirely. But when talking Nollywood, you are talking about the video industry, not the film industry. I look at these things especially our cinematic cast, both in film and video, and that’s why I developed the concept of the New Nigerian Cinema because I realised that what attracted people, especially in the Diaspora were the stories.
“They were tired of Hollywood’s regurgitated storylines of the white hero. They wanted something they could identify with and it didn’t matter to them that the boom was in short. To them it’s like a window into the African culture that they weren’t always having access to.”
From ancestral family homes in Edo and Oyo, his mother and father’s homestead, Ojo is a firm believer of ancient tradition and culture. His Virgo Foundation promotes heritage and conservation of the environment. And he is on the board of the British Film Institute (BFI London), which hosts a programme, African Odysseys, showcasing the best of African cinema on a monthly basis, delivering a platform for a ‘New Nigeria Cinema’ day in which the best of Nollywood films are screened.