Strikingly beautiful Oluwasola Dorcas Popoola is one of the actresses that have gained prominence over the past few years. Of course she has paid her dues in the industry, having produced six films, Ayo Wa Mi Ri, Fagbajale, Ramoni, Toyobo, Egba Orun and Obe (Knife).
Sola is the Public Relations Officer of the Theater Arts and Motion Pictures Association of Nigeria.
In this piece, she spoke about her journey into acting, Nollywood politics, sexual harassment in the industry as well as why she can never act nude. WOLE ADEJUMO brings excerpts:
Who is Sola Popoola?
I am Oluwasola Dorcas Popoola, I am from Ogun State, Ijebu Igbo to be precise and I am based in Ibadan. I finished from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye in 2006.
How did you get into acting?
I have always loved acting, even from my childhood. I have a passion for it. I started when I was in school; that was around 2004. I was registered in 2006, then with ANTP. I can however say people that motivated me include Opeyemi Orimolade, you know she is a newscaster and I used to see her then on BCOS. Back then we had a black and white television and I loved the way she dressed anytime I saw her on screen. So I used to tell my dad and my siblings then that someday, they would be seeing me on TV.
I also love dancing, I sing, I am in the choir in church, and also a dramatist. Anything they wanted to do in drama; Sola must be there. And because I am the type that talks and mixes freely, so people would always want you around.
When I was looking for admission, I wanted to go to The Polytechnic, Ibadan for Mass Communication, I don’t know what happened, I was swindled so I had to write another JAMB exam. So I was admitted to Olabisi Onabanjo University to study Mass Communication.
Why not Theatre Arts?
Then, I didn’t know Theatre Arts was available as a course in OOU, though it is called Performing Arts there. I found out after I was admitted so whenever they were doing their practical, I would go there because that was what I actually wanted.
ANTP, TAMPAN, why is politics dividing actors?
It is not politics. It is like if you were doing something before and you want to upgrade. We needed to upgrade and rebrand.
But there are parallel bodies
I don’t know. Then it was ANTP but I am not sure there is ANTP again. TAMPAN is a repackaged organization in which we think we; the youths can follow our Jagaban. And I will tell you that TAMPAN is set to make impact, just wait and see.
So what then happens to the older members?
I don’t know. I am a bona fide TAMPAN member and I can’t put my mouth into what does not concern me.
There is a story that TAMPAN was formed to relegate old actors
We have NANTAP, we have a lot of associations around us. You can join any one you want to.
Let’s talk about sexual harassment in the movie industry, is it true that actresses have to yield to such before they can become successful?
Are you saying it doesn’t happen in Nollywood?
It has never happened to me. No one has ever harassed me. Even outside the industry, a lot of men would come around, if you like them, you follow. If you don’t, you go your way.
So you are saying it doesn’t happen?
My name is Sola Popoola, something that has never happened to me, how will I say it has happened somewhere? It has never happened to me or to anyone close to me, so how will I say it happens?
What was it like growing up?
We lost our mother when I was very young so there was no mother to say oh, don’t go there. My dad had four daughters and one son, so whatever you wanted to do, just do it. Our brother, Mr. Sesan Popoola was with a bank then, so he was the one that did virtually everything for us. He provided everything we needed, being the first born.
Do you reject scripts? And if you do, what kind of script would you reject?
Why would I reject scripts? It is my job. Even if I am not interested in working with you, I will do it in a polite way that you will not suspect me. I would have gone through the script and seen that it is not what I would want to do, I can just say I have a job on that date. You do that so that the producer or the person that linked you with the person won’t be offended. You have to apply wisdom.
Which film would you say brought you into limelight?
‘Ayo Wa Mi Ri’, produced by Sola Popoola in 2011. It is a comedy. It was directed by Odunlade Adekola.
Can you act nude?
What if the pay is good?
Don’t you want me to get married? I am a Yoruba person. I can do any role but I can’t go nude. Go nude? Because of what? Forget about the pay. The film is going to be forever. When my children now see, they will say “ah mummy, eyin le si ara sile” (you went nude).
Are you condemning people that act nude?
No o, but me Oluwasola Popoola, I can’t act nude.
Can you marry an actor?
Why not? In fact I would prefer people in the industry marrying themselves, though it depends on the individual. You know the way our audience thinks about actors is somehow. They like you but they are the same people that will go round and say unprintable things about you. But if actors and actresses marry, we will know what we are doing is our job.
But they usually end up breaking up
Do you want to tell me that outside the film industry they don’t divorce? It is a general thing. Do you know how many couples that are divorcing themselves today? You have simply tagged actors; that is exactly what I am saying about the audience. They will tag celebrities with something not knowing that it is happening everywhere.
What is the most embarrassing thing a fan has ever done to you?
I went to Abeokuta one day to see a friend. I didn’t take my car. I called her to come and pick me and when I got to the park and alighted, a girl just ran towards me and grabbed me as if I owed her. She screamed ‘yee’ and people asked her what happened; she said “don’t you know her? She is an actress”. And I was wearing white, before I knew it, the white had turned brown. She didn’t even mind, she was just rubbing me and grabbing me everywhere. She said ‘ah, you are beautiful. I never knew you were this beautiful in real life; I thought it was only in movies”.
When my friend came and asked what happened, I told her she was the cause because she didn’t come to pick me early enough.
Who would you say is your mentor in the industry?
Her name is Toyin Adegbola.
What is the connection?
There was a day my boss and I had to resolve an issue with the Governor of ANTP then, Feso Oyewole. I knelt and was begging the Governor and when she came in she asked what happened. She said ‘it’s like I know you’, I said no ma. She asked where I stay and where I come from and said she felt she knew me. So I said ‘but I like you ma’. So my boss said well, kuku follow her since she is a woman because when people see you and your boss who is a man often, they will assume you are dating or something like that. That was how I started following Aunty Toyin. That was how they started calling me “Sola Asewo”I, you know her nickname is “Asewo To Re Mecca”.
She really helped my career. She led me from one location to another.