Her style is stately – only befitting a superstar. Her smile is comely – the signature of a heart-warming humanitarian. Dakore Akande – better known as Dakore Egbuson – is a paragon of beauty, simplicity and humanity with more than 150 movie credits and awards. With a lit-up face, she tells Funke Olaode about her road to stardom and her staying power
It is a motley crowd. Yet, you can see the sparkle – outshining the blitz and glitz of the night – before she emerges. She is made for a night like this. Shimmering in an elegant dress, she waltzes her way to the podium, with an irresistible smile on her shining face. Momentarily, the world falls to her feet in silence only punctuated by a rapturous applause that follows the announcement of her name. And you can hear her fans scream: ‘Dakore! Dakore! Dakore!’ Smitten by that show of adoration, she curtsies again and again. Delectable and debonair, Dakore Akande’s dazzling career can go understated because of her humility and industry.
Recently nominated among the 100 Most Influential People of African Descent for 2018, and her latest exploits with the movie, Isoken, at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award, Dakore adds to her humility, tenacity.
About beauty, her looks are a marvel. The tip of her custom-made butterfly flowing gown rises above her shoulder as she saunters into the expansive hall of the Eko Hotel and Suites. Her pointed nose, graceful gait and supple skin easily make heads turn – it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female.
Truth is Dakore has been making heads turn since 1998. A prolific actress, studied in approach and ruthless in delivery, she is a darling of movie directors. By 2005, stardom and success had beckoned her as she gave a sterling performance in the movie, ‘Final Game’ – that wouldn’t be her final game though. Twenty years down the line, Dakore has continued to conquer new grounds dazzling in over 150 movies, winning many awards. She is one of Nollywood’s superstars with the highest endorsement deals. Recently, she signed an endorsement deal with a beverage company. Did she set out to be a movie star? Not really. Her walk to limelight follows a path trod by ordinary men and women who moved to be extra-ordinary in their endeavours. “While growing up I have always known that I would be in the entertainment industry. I always knew I would be on stage. I was the best in Music in school – at Corona School. At a stage I wanted to be a journalist. I later enrolled for a degree in Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. I started out as a musician and I am just happy that acting came along the way,” she recalls.
How does she feel about being recognized by AMVCA? “This year has been amazing. I was nominated as best actress in comedy in a movie titled, Isoken. I didn’t get it but the film won the Best Movie in West Africa. I was still happy because I was part of the movie. I am also nominated for best actress in Isoken in AMAA (coming up in Rwanda in Kigali later this month). We put a lot of work, passion, love and energy into what we do as actors. And to get that positive reinforcement and feedback was overwhelming because it is every actor’s dream to get recognition.
“I think it is very amazing. Awards are good for everybody because it is an acknowledgment for a job well done. It is great that we have those platforms where we can appreciate each other’s works. It looks so glamorous on the outside but people don’t know that we put a lot of hard work behind the scene. I commend AMCVA and AMAA because it is helping to push the standards. Everyone wants to do more; everyone wants to excel. When they see other people receiving the awards it motivates and encourages,” she explains.
Beyond her glamour and beauty displayed on the TV, there is something about Dakore that has endeared her to many: respectful, humble and at the same time homely – a good girl one can take home to mama. Has these traits been part of her? “Yes. It’s a reflection of my personality. I was raised in Lagos and my parents ensured that we were brought up very well and be respectful. I am from the South-south where we are not big on outwards show of respect like the Yoruba – prostrating oneself and all that – and because I was brought up here I know the culture and what it obtains. But of course, I still maintain my own sense of self-respect,” says Dakore.
In a couple of weeks – October 14 – the screen goddess will be 40. Has she seen it all? Dakore enthuses: “I am full of gratitude to God for preserving my life for bringing me through many ups and downs. I have been nothing short of success. And for him to have given me this gift and supported me in such a way that I have been so blessed. I have a great family. I have great friends, a great career, and an amazing husband.”
And for her aspirations, she admits: “I am still far away from my aspirations. But I am in a good place because sometimes we are so cut off or concerned about where we want to get to and we don’t enjoy the journey. I am grateful for the journey and I am still expectant. I am still looking up to the Author and Finisher of our faith to make sure that all those aspirations are achieved.”
Just like many celebrities, Dakore has had her ups and downs. But she has been able to conquer them all. Following the brouhaha that followed her marriage to Olumide, the heir of the billionaire Harry Akande in 2011, it was thought she had bidden the movie industry farewell. “I think it is about deciding on how you want to live your own life regardless of what people say. I quietly do what I set out to do in my own way,” Dakore tells THISDAY.
For the intrepid actress, there is more to being a woman, a wife and married to a nouveau rich. “When I got married everybody was like I have gone; maybe I am not coming back. I just smiled and laughed because they didn’t have an idea of my plans. That notion that a woman cannot have it all is an old one. The world has changed as women can have families and successful careers. In my case, I had to leave the limelight for some time, to nurture my family. And God has been faithful,” admits Dakore. “My fans have been there every step of the way. The producers and directors I have worked with since I came back have been phenomenal. I am excited that I have been able to balance it all. I have support systems at home; my family, my staff. I think any woman who wants to have this full life should make sure they have a great team because team world makes a dream work.”
If there is anything that gives the Bayelsa-born actress joy is her two amazing daughters. “Honestly, it has been a wonderful experience to be a mother. Motherhood has taught me patience, patience, and patience. I love them so dearly and I don’t want anything to hurt them. I know they are going to have their own personal things in life. But I just want to be there for them. They keep me on my toes. They are super-smart. They bring so much joy into the family. I am really blessed to have them,” she says with glee.
The roads to the homes of the amazing world of the rich and famous may be paved with gold. Sometimes what lurks beneath their shimmering and towering houses may be dimmer than the inner street of Ajegunle. So THISDAY asks Dakore: Are there times she feels like being famous or fabulous is an albatross? “I have no problem being fabulous. But being famous, you know, is a double-edged sword. It is a by-product of what we do. I never set out to be famous when I started out on this journey. I just wanted to be the best actress that I could be. It is always a struggle trying to deal with it and balance it. It was quite overwhelming at that time when you have a lot of people saying all sorts of negative things. At a point I had to stay humbled and focused on what was in front of me – in a relationship at that time. God’s been awesome. We have been together now for 13 years with two amazing daughters. My story should be: ‘Let them say; elenu lo lenu’. Again, this is what comes with life. Even if you are not famous people will talk about you. For me, I always tell people the best thing is to remain focused and don’t listen to the noise of the market,” she answers.
It appears to be a man’s world but Dakore is of the view that women globally have continued to change the narratives, treading terrains once traversed only by men. She argues: “Women have changed the narrative. It is already happening because we have so many powerful women doing amazing things. And they are not waiting for anybody as they are going out there to get it. Sisters are doing it for themselves and I am very proud of the women we are coming up with. There has been an emphasis on raising a girl child. Now the women are so solid. I feel the next generation should change the way we raise our kids because the roles have changed. Time has changed now that women are now more educated. For me, everyone has a purpose and that purpose should be fulfilled.”
Again, there is a century-old notion – which has refused to fade way – that when a man succeeds they say he works hard. But when a woman attains success they say she uses ‘bottom power’. Dakore waves that notion off, saying: “A woman can continue to be successful by not compromising her integrity because that is the woman’s only winning power. Again, as women do not say you want to be successful at any costs. You can’t do that because if you do you will get in trouble. So, once everybody knows that a woman attains her success without any man she will earn more respect which will extend to the womenfolk. That is how to change the narrative.”
So, what does she have to say about the sex-for-role scandal in Nollywood? “It is real,” Dakore tells THISDAY. “It happens. But it has never happened to me. I can beat my chest because I was lucky to come through female producers: Emem Isong, Lilian Aman. So the first five films that I shot were all female-driven. So I didn’t go through that pressure. The first film I starred in was ‘Silent Tears’ in 1998 written by Emem Isong. It was followed by ‘Play Boy’, also by Emem Isong. There was also ‘She Devil’ by Lilian Aman and Emem Isong. My breakthrough film, ‘Emotional Cry’, was written by Emem Isong. By the time I came in fully, I was already established – that this is a woman that can act. This is a woman that has dreadlocks and she is probably crazy. They were a bit scared. Again, I knew what I was doing and I was never desperate and not to say that people who are not desperate don’t go through such a situation. But if you are desperate it will happen and it will continue to happen.”
Dakore is an ambassador of Action Aid Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation raising funds for Nigerian communities to execute projects in rural areas. She also works with international organisations on education for children and as a volunteer with the UN on gender issues. A goal-getter and a firm believer, Dakore thinks the world will be better if everyone treats others fairly. “I am a big believer in love of Karma that whatever you sow you will reap,” she begins. “I believe in respecting others but at the same time don’t take me for granted.”