Nollywood actress, Lawal Aishat Oladunni, holds an LL.B degree in Law and Master’s in Public Administration from Lead City University, Ibadan, Oyo State. She speaks with TAYO GESINDE on how she has been coping with stardom and what she is doing to step up her game. Excerpts:

Foray into actingaishat-lawal

For me, acting started on stage. I started doing stage performances with Taiwo Ibikunle, Yemi Akintokun and some directors. I did Moremi and the like. Then Taiwo Ibikunle told me that I could actually make a living from this thing you are doing. Then it was actually a hobby. He then told me about J15 owned by Femi Adebayo, I joined the group and that was how acting started professionally in 2010.


The journey so far

It has been bitter-sweet experience. My grandfather would say may your road be rough. The road had been seriously rough. I have had to sleep inside location bus, hotel receptions, I have been harassed, oppressed and I have faced a whole lot of challenges. I thank God things are getting better now.


Challenges faced

The major challenge has to do with individual differences and conflicting interests. The way senior colleagues demand respect from one, it was almost as if one was learning tailoring or hairdressing. I found that amusing when I joined the industry. Another challenge was that you kept on going to locations without getting paid and without food to eat or a place to sleep.


Movies I have featured in

My first appearance was in Adun Madeke. I was asked to act the role of a prostitute. It was during Ramadan and I was fasting, so, I said I can’t play this role. Funke Akindele asked me, are you sure you want to come into this industry? At the end of the day, I had to act the role. I have also featured in Onika Mesan, Irugbin, Fifehanmi and so on. The first movie I produced was Amin Agbara, in 2010, while I did the second one; Irugbin in December, 2012 and that was the movie that gave me my major breakthrough.


Role models

Joke Silva, Fathia Balogun, Bimbo Oshin, Muyiwa Ademola, to mention a few.


My relationship with other colleagues

I have a good relationship with them. Even when we have misunderstanding or we step on one  another’s toes, I believe in apologising and moving on.


On why artistes have disagreements with one another

I think the major reason is the fact that some people lack exposure or education because once you are exposed and you are educated some things won’t really make meanings to you. I don’t know why some people would want to wash their dirty linen in public.


Coping with competition

I am not a competitive person naturally. I don’t know how to compete for things. I told myself years back that I wanted to trend but I don’t want to trend on negative publicity and I don’t want to compete with anybody. There is no race here.  I want to do it in my own pace. It doesn’t matter if my colleagues are ahead of me, I will also get there.


How I intend to step up my game

Somebody told me recently that I needed to get a publicist so I can become an ambassador but I told him that everything has to do with packaging in Nigeria. Ambassadorial deals are not a big deal like we see them in Nigeria. I believe in stepping up my game, taking my career to the next level, I believe in doing a good job. I like the fact that when I go to market, people commend me that I do good movies. I like it when they see my name on a jacket and they say my movies are always very sensible. That is why I am working on another big project. I did one two years ago; Shadow. It was in the cinema but it is not yet on DVD.


Most embarrassing things fans did to me

It was when I went for a movie shoot at Oyo town in Oyo State. I was coming from a popular hotel, which was on the outskirts of the town and I didn’t want to go back into the town so I crossed to the express to board a vehicle. When I boarded the vehicle, two guys were arguing about me. One said I am the actress, the other one said I was not the one. According to one of them, I am more beautiful than the person he used to watch on TV who he said was too skinny. They concluded that I couldn’t be an actress since I didn’t have a car. It was really embarrassing.


Handling advances from male fans

Sincerely, I don’t think there is a better way to handle them. You just keep doing it the way it comes. Some make you so upset and there are some that you can talk to in a matured way. Sometimes, it can be crazy. Some people would say that they went to their pastors and their pastors said I would be their wife. There was a particular pastor who called me from Akure, he has a church there and he said while praying on the mountain, my vision came to him that I would be his wife. I told him I was a Muslim and he said it didn’t matter. I told him to go back to the mountain to pray again.


Definition of style

Looking good and simple.


Beauty regimen

I don’t have one. The only thing I do is to sleep and drink of plenty water. I don’t make-up when I am not going out or on set.


Opinion on toning

I think once you are comfortable in your skin, you should not tone. Initially, the industry made people think they needed to tone but the game has changed. It is no longer about your complexion but about how well you can interpret your role.


On provocative dressing

I can wear provocative dresses when acting. I can also wear it at home for my husband when I am married or when I am driving but when I am not driving, I am on jean and top. I don’t like it when people are on bike and they are pulling their dresses down, I always wonder why they wore such dresses in the first place.


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