Joke Silva: God Empowered Me with Passion, I Do Whatever was Possible within the Stage


Joke Silva is an actress, director, and businesswoman. A graduate of the University of Lagos and Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, she began a career in film in the early 1990s. In 1998, she had a major role, starring opposite Colin Firth and Nia Long in the British-Canadian film The Secret Laughter of Women. In 2006, she won “Best Actress in a Leading Role” at the 2nd Africa Movie Academy Awards for her performance in Women’s Cot, and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” at the 4th Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2008 for her performance as a grandmother in White Waters. Silva is married to actor, Olu Jacobs . The couple founded and operates the Lufodo Group covering film production and distribution assets. In this interview with Tosin Clegg, she talks about her new movie, Potato Potahto, her career so far and a lot more

I read the script and I knew it was something I wanted to be part of

Many times, mother-in-laws are portrayed as difficult women who never relate well with their child’s spouse. Potato Potahto shows another side to this; it shows a woman who takes her son-in-law as her son. It portrays a woman who allows her daughter make her choices, while gently nudging her on the right path. It is a truly wonderful movie. Shirley Frimpong–Manso is one brilliant director I have always wanted to work with, so when the opportunity came, I was ecstatic. I absolutely enjoyed every second on the set of ‘Potato Potahto’ 

 ‘Potato Potahto’ simply means we might have different approaches to doing things ultimately

We all want the same results. It teaches important lessons about life and relationships that most of us ignore. It is important to know that we all have different perspectives to life, so understanding others is important. Tolerance, trust, friendship are also ingredients. Couples should never let their marriage become routine; a little friskiness never hurts anyone.

So much grace has made me relevant.

I believe God empowered me with passion, respect. I did whatever was possible within the stage of performance. Stage transited into television, television to film then what we now call Nollywood. I am grateful to God that I am where I am because it is only Him that could have allowed all the hardwork to pay off. Talent is great but it doesn’t guarantee success; a man can run out of luck, but Grace? You keep blossoming and that’s what my story is.


The future for the Movie industry is very bright

But we can’t rest on our oars; there is so much work to do. We have got to get all the guilds functioning properly, build more cinemas, up our game in story telling for the screen, position ourselves as the go-to Industry in Africa and totally de-teeth Piracy.

Managing fame, family, money and all the excesses that come with celebrity

Beyond glamor or fame is the huge responsibility that comes with being a celebrity. Some people see your world/life style as law, and will jump if you tell them that’s the right thing to do. Always try to make sure your actions or inactions will not send the wrong message to your audience. Never get too big to learn, remain hardworking and remember that life is ephemeral; make the most of it.  

What I have on-going aside from movies

Olu Jacobs and I are cofounders of Lufodo Group of Companies, which comprises Lufodo Productions, Lufodo Academy of Performing Arts and Lufodo Enterprises.  Under Lufodo Productions, apart from movies, we also produce drama content for theatre that is stage productions. Holy Child is the musical written by Olu Jacobs on the Christmas story.  He wrote the script, the songs and the music.  We played for three seasons at the National Theatre, Iganmu between the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Digging for Gold, I wrote and directed a couple of times. It is a Nigerianisation of Oscar Wilds’ Ideal Husband. It first played in 1995 and has since played a couple of times in Lagos and Bonny, the last being in 2014 for Rand Merchant Bank. All our plays we have done several times over the years. Sisters written by Prof. Ahmed Yerima also played at the New Hackney Empire. We have toured Port Harcourt, Abuja, Benin, Calabar and Lagos with another of Prof Yerima’s Play, Little Drops.

The Lion and the Jewel by Prof. Wole Soyinka, The Naming Ceremony by Seffi Atta and The King Must Dance Naked by Fred Agbeyegbe were all performed at the theatre Royal Stratford East and fully commissioned by BOI.  We’ve produced the other two plays from Seffi Atta’s trilogy, namely the Engagement and The Wake. 

I look forward to producing the entire trilogy in one stretch sometime soon. I have been a major actor in all of them and it was incredibly refreshing to just be an executive producer in Heartbeat The Musical… A New Beginning written by Tosin Otudeko.

Working with an actor abroad

It would be Viola Davies of How to Get Away with Murder and we would work on a project produced by Tyler Perry and Lufodo Productions.

 The down side of my career as an actress is that I haven’t archived properly

So, a lot of my work is in people’s memories; same for the production company. I have promised myself to do better. 

The actors’ guild has got to improve. A lot of work has been done but there needs to be, I believe, a merging of the bodies that represent screen, theatre and voice actors. The good part of my career is that it’s not lonely anymore. More and more people are coming into the space, the respectability quotient is increasing and even though the challenges are myriad they are also opportunities. 

Acting with my husband over the years

It has been interesting. If we have to be on set of a play or movie together, we stop being husband and wife and completely take on whatever character we are given. Working with him was never an issue. 

 Looking forward with my career

Like I always say, I will keep doing this job that I love till atrophy sets in. That been said, in my short years on earth and even shorter years in the industry, I have learnt that persistence, self-development and hardwork are key factors for success. Achieving success is a path laden with many challenges, however staying successful is an even harder path to tread. 

My biggest success so far as an actor

Is staying relevant through the years. It is humbling to know that I have been around for a long time, yet I haven’t become irrelevant. That success is more than every award or recognition I have ever received.