Story: Babatunde Martins Photo: Sumisola Olorunishola
Dayo Amusa is one of the actresses breaking barriers in the movie industry. The thespian carved a niche for herself playing lead roles in action packed Yoruba movies. Recently, she had been involved in new initiatives which include incorporating actors from the English speaking genre of the movie industry into her Yoruba flicks. In this exclusive chat, the actress-turned-producer spoke of her new project, her journey from grass to grace and her experience working with other artistes among others. Excerpts:
Has acting really been lucrative to you
It has, and like you know, every profession and business have their own dos and don’ts. They also have orders in which things need to be done. So, if is well done, it will definitely be lucrative.
As a graduate, one expects you to be doing a white collar job. Why acting
Well, I actually thought I was going to be a Food Technologist, because that is my field of study. But I have this passion for acting, and I know that even if I end up doing a white collar job, I will still find myself in the entertainment industry. So, I just felt that rather than gambling or gallivanting about like someone that doesn’t know what she wants, I to go for what I think I have deep passion for which is entertainment, and here we are today.
Lead us into your journey into acting
I started professionally in 2002. After watching a movie produced by Wemimololu Paul, I called him, and made my intention of passion for acting known to him. He said I have to register under his association which I did, and that was how it all started in 2002.
What was it like the first you faced the camera
For me, it was fun because I was so comfortable taking up a character. I took the character of a House Help, and I had like seven to eight scenes. At that first time, everybody was asking if I have been acting before, because I was so natural in delivering my lines, and I was meant to speak an Ijebu Language as a local house help that was brought from the village. The title of the movie is “Aye Jobele” produced by Wemimolu Paul. I just see myself doing my thing, and I realized everybody was just laughing because they were impressed with the way I was delivering my lines, and the way I was interpreting my role.
Which movie brought you to limelight
That was the first movie I produced myself “Ajebodo”, and it was produced in 2006.
Dewunmi Iberu was produced in what year
It was produced in 2009, and it came out in 2011.
How many movies have you produced before Dewunmi Iberu
Before Dewunmi Iberu, there were Ajebodo, Oju Awo, Ekan Shoso, Orogumi and Dewunmi Iberu is the fifth movie I produced. People really emphasize Ajebodo and Dewunmi Iberu before Unforgivable. Dewunmi Iberu gave me a platform in the industry, and it was the first movie I featured English artistes like Uche Jumbo and Justice Esiri as part of my major casts.
What are the things you put together to achieve the success of Dewunmi Iberu
For me, any good movie starts with the pre-production, which involves getting your location cast, crew, equipment, props and sets right. It is just like the elders say ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. So if your pre-production plan is well ordered, you will have little or no problem during producing and post-production.
How much did you spent on Dewunmi Iberu
I spent about N3.8 million shooting ‘Dewunmi Iberu’. I am a realist, and it reflects in my stories. I always try to picture the reality of what I am doing. I do my movie in a way that one will understand in order to avoid unnecessary criticism. Nobody is perfect though; there can still be little mistakes. For ‘Dewunmi Iberu’, I put in more efforts on pre-production as regards locations. I try as much as possible to meet all that is written on the script.
Why do you use English genre artistes for your movies as a Yoruba producer
Well, there shouldn’t be any reason. As long as you are in the entertainment industry, you are an entertainer, and you can be called upon to take up any role so long as you can interpret the role. For me, there is no reason basically, I just see myself as an artistes, and producer. As a producer, if you want to work, you kind of ‘shadow’things, put into consideration people that can give you what you want, and that can help the production itself. Also, you put sales into consideration as well because aside the fact that I am a film maker, I am also a business woman.
How many movies have you produced so far
So far, I have produced eleven movies; Ajebodo, Ojuawo, Ekanshoso, Ogunmi, Ida, Dewunmi Iberu, Inu, Itosorun, Aroba, Pathetic and Unforgivable.
Pathetic and Unforgivable are titled in English, who were the cast you used
I just used the title, Unforgivable because I want to simplify it, and make it easy for people to understand. This is because ‘Iyanidariji’ is strong Yoruba, more so, it’s a 70% Yoruba movie.
What was the experience like working with the likes of Desmond Eliot
It was a beautiful experience, and it makes me value film making the more. I know that there are lots of good hands out there that I have not work with, but among the ones I have worked with so far, Desmond was just the right person for me to worked with on Unforgivable script. I needed somebody that can help me and help everybody on that set to interpret their roles, individually and perfectly. I never regretted working with Desmond, and he gave me beyond what I expected in terms of contribution and intelligence. So, it was a beautiful experience for me, and I am also looking forward to working with him again to continue the relationship.
What inspired the story
I am a kind of person that questions things and situations a lot though I might not throw it out as a debate. But basically, my environment inspires me more just like things I see and read. Sometimes when I hear stories about people, I kind of ask myself why, just like the issue we treated in Unforgivable – domestic violence. I am like why do people resort to it? How come? And if it gets out of hand, is there a way you could come out of it, whether it has disadvantages and advantages.
What were the challenges you faced at the beginning of you career
I had some challenges, part of it was the fact that producers see me as a tom boy and majorly, scripts that came my way had to do with crime or ruggedness. At some point, I realised that I was been stereotyped on crime, and I started turning down crime roles. I realised that in the year that I turn down crime roles, I get like say three scripts as against say 20. But I didn’t back out, I rather chose to lay more emphasis on my production company from ‘Dewunmi Iberu’ which I think made all producers feel I can do more than crime roles. After ‘Dewunmi Iberu’, my next four to five movies had nothing to do with crime. The major challenge was trying to make producers see me differently, so since they have refused to see it, I discovered it myself and I exhibited myself.
How do you combine the roles of producer, actress and now musician
I am an entertainer; you will find me in anything that entertains people.
What inspired you to go into music
For me, I like to get to people and inspire them somehow, and also encourage them even in my stories. I love music, and I want to believe I have the voice. I have been doing music before I started acting, but I was given the opportunity in acting industry first, and as at then, 2002, music was not what it is now. Maybe that was why films took the upper hand.
What makes you stand out among your peers
I don’t see myself like I am better than any other person or that I am superior. I just see myself as Dayo Amusa doing her own thing, so if there is anything special about me, I cannot see it; you can see it.
How do you sustain the standard of your production
I do my things when I am ready to do it. I don’t do things because people are doing it, and I don’t do it because I want people to applaud me. Basically, I sustained my standard by employing able hands because I can’t do it all alone.
Share with us your achievements as an actress
I am a good actress; a good movie maker; a good singer; a good entrepreneur and also the fact that I still exist. From zero fans to millions of fans all over the word, is an achievement.
How many awards to your credit
Sure, I have close to like hundred nominations. Unforgivable has close to sixty nominations, and it has close to fifteen winning awards.
Who are your role models
Every good woman out there does. I see them as mentors because you get to learn different things from different people. I can’t be mentioning names here because there are too many people that inspire me. You inspire me as long as you are doing something positive to yourself or the society. In the industry, I have a lot of people like Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, who is a fantastic actress, among many others.
Do you ever imagine that you will become a superstar
No, but one thing that I know very well is that whatever I choose to do, I will do good in it. I have always pictured myself in my own fantasy world while growing up.
How do you react to scandals
For scandals, I have come to understand that everybody has different opinions. We think differently, and all fingers are not equal. What is applicable to me might not be applicable to others. Whatever I hear doesn’t get to me, and if I feel the media are out to make life miserable for me, I will go off media.
When are you going to change your name to Mrs…
I don’t need to wear a wedding band or announce officially to the public before you know am married.
Message for your fans
I say to my fans out there that I love them very much. I appreciate them, and they are everything I stand for in the entertainment industry.