•Leading Yoruba Actress and prolific film maker Laide Bakare, made news recently, having being accused of bigamy, an allegation which stemmed from an online report that claimed she did not properly dissolve her marriage with her ex-husband before getting married to her present husband and father of her newborn son. In this interview with our correspondent, FRANCIS OGBONNA, she opens up on her life; relationship; new company and other issues. Excerpt…
Who is Laide Bakare?
Laide Bakare Oriowo is an actress; a film maker and a movie director. I have been in the entertainment industry for so long, since when I was 16 or 17 years and up until now I am still enjoying what I do, so I think it is God’s favour and destiny that has brought me this far, because I never planned to be an actress, but coincidentally, I became not only an actress, but also a producer and a director. So that is who I am basically.
You released two movies lately, “Uncommon Alhaja” and “Iron Lady”…
I have actually released four (4) this year with the fifth due to be released next month.
Can you list them?
The first was “Jejere”; “then “Uncommon Alhaja”; “American Psycho” and “Iron Lady”. We are premiering the 5th one-“Money Bag” by God’s grace on the 29th of December at the Niteshift Coliseum. On that night we will be hosting the likes of KC, the Limpopo master; Pasuma Wonder; Dammy Krane; Praiz; Kofi; Denrele and Lolo of Wazobia fm just to mention a few. It would be an evening with Laide Bakare with the official launch of my latest film.
Releasing five (5) movies in on year, should cost a fortune, how do you fund you productions? More so, why 5 movies?
Anyway, is if I were to answer that question, I would say it is because I just launched my production company, Simline International. It was actually unveiled early this year. Under Simline International, we have both a movie production company and a record label. Actually we have an artist T-Code, he done a couple of songs and on the 14th of December we will be launching his album proper… I think that is just the business part of Laide manifesting.
Do you sing as well?
No! I don’t sing, I am the CEO of Simline’s Record Label…
I asked because, your area of core competence is in the Movies, so why did you co-opt a music label into your business?
It’s a simple question. Though I gained prominence acting and later ventured into production, not just any kind of production, I was trained in the US. I actually did a course on Film making at the New York Film Academy and while studying film making, I suddenly developed the love for the music business, so I said fine, I was going to prepare and get into the music industry as well and I think there is no better time to get into it than now. Simline is basically an entertainment company.
Unlike most artistes, you were born with the proverbial “silver spoon”, what was it like growing up, did you have all you needed?
Yes, it was fun growing up! Sincerely, I still find it so difficult to disengage from my roots i.e. my parents; siblings…it’s just like I am still growing, because till date, like every close-knit family, we still run things together. Growing up for me meant learning new stuffs every day. We travelled abroad frequently; met with people of prominence; even my brother (my Mum’s last born) Akinola Bakare is a renowned music video director with AK1. So I think it runs in the family. My dad actually made us see beyond our comfort zones. He kept urging us to do things differently, even if it meant doping it along side our primary jobs. I am doing that also with my kids. By the way, the name Simline was coined from my daughters “Similoluwa”. I was inspired by her person, so I picked the first three letters in her name and added the word “line”, because we were considering some time latter to add other businesses like clothing and perfume lines.
What was it about “Simi” that inspired you?
She is good natured, kind hearted; lovely and very lovely. She is very large hearted and accommodating as well. She always wants people around her to be happy. At age five, she is also very hard working; in fact you could tell already that she is going to be a great person. I am taking my time to inculcate in her leadership mentality and helping her discover ideas through which she can change her world.
Congratulations on the birth of your baby, how is he doing?
He is doing great…
How old is he now?
Talking about your boy, a lot of stories are making the rounds that you did not properly disengage with your ex-husband before you married the father of your new born baby, is that story true?
There is no truth in those stories; these accusations are all strange to me. Fortunately, I have never been worried or bordered about these stories. In the first place, the stories came out when the news of the birth of my new born baby broke. I was so overwhelmed with the bundle of joy I was holding in my hands that I didn’t pay any attention to those rumours. For me all those stories are fallacies. We got over the issue or disengagement over three years ago, before I gave birth to my boy. They don’t know the true story about what really transpired. These people just write these stories to sell their papers. You know people like to read those things. Having said that, anyone who really knows Laide Bakare should be able to tell that I am someone who keeps my private life private and if anyone has got a problem with that, I am sorry, that is their business. My love life is personal, so I don’t discuss it. I don’t analyze anybodies family, so they should analyze mine.
Don’t you think that if you keep quite with such scandals flying around that people would keep reading other meanings to you silence. You know sometime silence means consent?
They are free to say whatever they like; it’s a free world….
But are you saying that your marriage with your ex-husband was dissolved 3 years ago?
I won’t talk about my marriage or my love life. You can never catch me talking about my private life. So if people come up saying that… I don’t know where all that came from.
So there is no atom of truth in that whole story?
There is no atom of truth in that whole story at all.
What attracted you to your new husband?
I’ve told you that I don’t talk about my marriage. I don’t talk about my home either, so anything that attracted me to him is personal, but all I know is that it’s just God. It’s the mercy of God; it’s the will of God that we are together. We were destined to be together.
So what would be your message to those who peddle rumours about you and your marriage?
They should continue. They should keep enjoying themselves talking about me.
What is the one item in life that you value the most?
That may be difficult to say, but if it is material, then I would say gold.
You strike me like one who has a special liking for fashion, is there any attire that you would not be caught dead wearing?
Hmmm, well, for my kind of person, I like trying uncommon things. I like trying out unique things. I can wear anything. I don’t mind.
How far would you go to get a role?
What do you mean by how far?
Would you for instance act nude?
No! I can never act nude.
Beyond “Money Bag”, do you have any movie coming out for the next quarter of 2014?
We are still working at the moment, we have about 5 films yet to be released and we intend to release them one after the other next year.
Why does it look like you are bringing out films in quick successions?
It is because I now have a proper production company. So like every company, we will always come out with new products as at when due.
As a producer, how do you handle the issue of piracy?
Piracy is not the major problem of the Nigerian movie industry, I am not saying it is not one of the problems, but it’s not the major one. Our main problem is that we lack proper distribution networks. If the stakeholders within the industry realize that we need to restructure and set a proper distribution network for distributing our films, the industry would be better for it. For us as a new company, we are strategizing and putting in place a whole lot of things, that is why when they peddle rumours about me, I don’t get distracted, because I have a lot in my hands. Also I know that whom God has blessed no man can curse. Haters are not my God; God has the final say.
You are pretty, speak good English ,yet we don’t see you in a lot of English speaking movies as we do the Yoruba movies, what is responsible for that?
Well, the film industry in Nigeria, whether we like it or not is Tribalistic! It is just the fact. The Yoruba’s patronize the Yorubas; why the Igbo’s patronize the Igbos. When you watch Nigeria “English” movies, you find out that the Yorubas in it usually are very few. We patronize our own… it’s just the “Nigerian factor”! For instance, just recently they celebrated Nollywood at 20 and their argument was that it was the Igbo people who started making movies that cut across ethnic groups. Other parts of Africa have accepted our movies because of their efforts, but the Yoruba movies were limited to western Nigeria. Well like I said earlier, it is just the Nigerian factor at work. It is only in music that an artist can hide under customized name and nobody will know their tribe until they are up there. For instance Davido, before you know he’s from Ede in Osun State, he has already become a household name. Any way I have done English films way back, when I was much younger. I have done soap operas e.g. “Too young to die” and “Why die now” which both aired on Silverbird TV. I have also done a couple of English movies, but not as much as Yoruba movies.
Would you like to use your production outfit to bridge that gap?
Well I am a film maker, I might make one tomorrow. I might even decide that as against English, I would do a Hausa film, then I would go out of my way and hire Hausa speaking actors and draft the scripts in such a way that it will appeal to them.
How do you handle you male fans?
It very easy. It is okay when you are being loved by both genders, but what I realize is that Nigerians are people who appreciate their artistes.
Do you have any regrets acting?
No regrets at all. I don’t think that I would ever have any regrets. It’s been a long time coming and I am becoming happier by the day. So if I were to come back again I would be an actress.
If you were not acting where would you have been doing?
May be by now, I would have been the Governor of a State, because I can be that ambitious.
So does that mean you are going into politics soon?
For now? No! Maybe in the future, we can’t all just fold our hands and watch things go bad, when we can change them.
How rich is Laide?
Well I would tell you, I have always been a rich girl right from my teenage years. That is why I said that even if fake rumours continue to fly around about me, I just ignore them. I drove my first car when I was 17 years, which of course attracted a lot of beefing, sometimes you hear people, out of jealousy saying is it because she‘s driving a car that she can’t call us Aunty.
Did your dad by you the car or you bought it yourself?
My daddy did. He was his practice to buy cars for us when we get out of secondary school. My dad was a lover of cars; you would always see him discussing with his friends about cars whenever they were together. I have always been reasonably wealthy…
Your Dad’s money or yours?
Both! Do you know that I joined the movie industry not as an actress but as a producer? I was one of the first female producers in Nigeria. The ladies in the industry and even some men have always thought production was for older men like Ogogo; Yinka Quadri; Jide Kosoko etc., but when I made ”Ewe Oju Omi”, all that changed. Before I did the film, people were saying “what does this little girl think she is doing?”, but I ignored them started and completed it, people were too much on location that we had to pay people for doing nothing. I finished and it became an eye opener. So their tune change, they all started saying if “Laide, a novice could do it, I can too”. I was in my year one at the university then. This singular act planted courage in the heart of a lot of filmmakers. I would call myself a pacesetter and also a pioneer in the Yoruba film making, because it was, I think after I had done mine that Bukky Wright did hers and it took another 5 years before another female film maker could do another film.
Your first film, who were the key actors who starred in it?
We had Funsho Adelou; Femi Branch; Olumide Bakare; Mama Rainbow; myself etc.
When was that?
What would be your advice to upcoming artistes?
Be strong; out God first and be skillful in your trade. Learn the craft; upgrade and believe in yourself. Don’t think that someone would help you get there, do things differently.
Thank you very much for your time.
You are welcome.