Tolulope Oke, a prominent face in Nollywood, in this interview with Festus Akanbi observes that the second wave of Covid-19 has altered the course of acting profession, no thanks to the safety protocols put in place by the authorities. She also speaks on her latest film, Cookie Spot, which parades A-list of actors including Adejumo Lewis, Funso Adeolu, Sola Sobowale, Ayo Adesanya and Bolanle Ninalowo
How will you describe the effects of COVID-19 on the Nigerian film industry?
Covid-19 has slowed everything down. Life, I believe, has been altered by the pandemic. People have been looking at how to cope with the post-coved era. Digital channels have come to stay to promote products and services. For movies, people are health conscious on what they do. Now you see standby doctors on film set to ensure the environment is safe for everyone. The benefit of this is that everyone focuses on their health status more. It is a good development for the industry which shows we are more conscious of our environment. It means anyone who is not physically fit should not participate in movie production. It shows the producer will take responsibility. It means we pay attention to everything that matters. It puts Nollywood in good light. There is more to bringing people on set. We should be conscious of or health as it is important. We should be concerned about the health status of the crew. COVID has made it mandatory to focus on basic things that are often overlooked.
What is the storyline of your latest film, Cookie Spot, and what do you want to achieve with it?
Cookie Spot is a reflection of life. I believe in hope and I tried to project life and its possibilities. Cookie Spot is a story of survival wherever you find yourself. There is always a means of survival. The inspiration of Cookie Spot began from a carwash which turned into a big business. The lady gets help from a woman where she is working to establish her own business. She wants a good life for her mother and herself. Her mother rejects the offer due to a reason which she refuses to reveal to her daughter. It’s about her father. Some notable Nollywood stars who feature in Cookie Pot are Adejumo Lewis, Funso Adeolu, Sola Sobowale, Ayo Adesanya, Bolanle Ninalowo, Omowunmi Dada and a host of others.
What are the key messages you want the viewers to take away?
I want to showcase myself as a very detailed producer and actor. I also want to let the audience, especially the younger ones, know that there are opportunities around them. They need to identify such opportunities and deploy creativity to promote themselves. They should also promote entrepreneurship. It also tells the youth audience that success takes perseverance. It also teaches hope. I want members of the younger generation to believe in their potentials and have their potentials.
Success is a destination not a journey. I also want to add value to the society and at the end of the day, it is win-win situation for all. Cookie Spot is also a story that promotes family values.
Cookie Spot also focuses on women helping one another. Women should identify potentials in others and help them. Women should see themselves as pillar of support for one another. A support for a woman is a support other generation.
I want to tell them not to be overwhelmed with challenges. They should believe they can make it despite all odds. I believe every woman has a staying power that will help her confront every challenge and overcome them. I want every woman out there to have positive spirit which will definitely make them overcome in life.
There is the need for women to support one another. The young women should see the bigger picture of whatever they are doing. Possibilities are endless in life. Whatever you are doing, you should not give up. You can always be a better person wherever you are. You should learn to survive in a way that will add value to others.
I believe Cookie Pot will challenge every young lady out there to be strong. When they are determined, they will to succeed against all the odds in life.
What are channels you are using to promote the movie?
It has become imperative to project the values of Cookies Spot. The movie will be showing on TV, online, cables and cinema. To reach all and sundry, there is a strategic focus to adopt the cinema as there is the cinema culture in Nigerians. This will facilitate making the movie a must watch by all.
When did you join Nollywood and what are the films you featured?
I joined the industry in 2005/2006 but started fully 2011/2012 when I featured in Awure Eni produced by Muhideen Oladapo. Ibrahim Chatta and Moji Olaiya were also part of the movie too. I have featured in over 20 movies including Dazling Mirage by Tunde Kelani, Jennifer Diary.
Can you mention some of the films you produced since you joined the industry?
My first personal production work was Bi Ala (Like a dream) which featured Peju Ogunmola, Akin Lewis, Dele Odule and others in 2012. I also did Alebu Mi (My weakness) in 2015. I produced Omiran in 2016(Giant) which featured Femi Adebayo, Rose Odita, Funso Adeolu, Dupe Jayesinmi and others. I later produced Homesick in London in 2016.The movie focused on Nigerians living in Diaspora and coming back home for them remained the best option.
What should the industry do to retain its focus?
The focus of the industry is to release good and quality contents. There are digital channels for readymade market. When quality movies are provided, it showcases our professional expertise and projects the nation’s image. It is important to focus on professional expertise and develop techniques in movie production.
The technical part of our movie is also getting better, in terms of sub editing, music background and post-production.