Gbemisola Oseni: ‘No man can force me into a relationship’
Gbemisola Oseni is a burgeoning name in the Yoruba movie industry starring as an actress in movies such as Seunfunmi, Abawon and Omidan Meje, aside producing her own movie, Ibale. Oseni, who is a single mother of a son and Business Administration graduate from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, in the interview with JOE AGBRO JR, talks about her early beginning, the challenges of filmmaking and future endeavours. Excerpts
HOW did acting start for you?
I went into acting in 2007. I was watching a movie, Ejo Apani, so they wrote a phone number on the screen and I decided to call the number. That was how I got into acting. And I graduated in 2011. Ever since then, I’ve been on my own.
Since that time, how many movies have you acted in?
I’ve acted in many movies. Some of them are Seunfunmi where I played the lead role, Abawon Mi,Abawon, Omidan Meje,Tegbon Taburo, and so on. I can’t remember all. And I produced one by myself.
It’s about nine years you’ve been an actor. Is it only Yoruba films you act in and how has the industry been for you?
Yes, I act only Yoruba films. The film industry is not really easy like that, you know, especially when I just started. You have to work for somebody, join with crowds, no hotels, and there is no provision for you. So, when you hear there is a location here, you want to go. I’ll be there, we sleep at the bar, in the mornings, we beg for them to allow us to bath in their bathrooms before we go home. But, now I thank God that things are getting better.
You’ve also gone into producing your own movie. Why did you decide to do that?
The movie is Ibale (virginity) and that was in 2011. I decided to produce then because that was when I did my graduation. And I had the money then, so I decided to make use of that money since I wanted to be a movie producer. And I thank God the movie really boomed.
What was the message you wanted to convey with the movie?
The story was about a lady brought up in the village, then later went to the town. When she was in the village, they were looking for a lady who was still a virgin. So, when the lady went for the sacrifice, the sacrifice was not completed for her. So, later on, she was admitted to the university in Lagos and she started misbehaving. She had to go back to the village and the parents took her to the traditional doctor who told her what to do.
A lot of people have said Nigerian movies dwell on occultism often and your movie too is like that. Do you think that is a good way to portray our culture?
You are right. You see, everybody has his or her own style. But what really happened is then, that was what came to me, what I thought I should do and later on, the thought came that, ‘let me still do something different, I don’t want to be involved in them.’ But still, that projects our culture. It tells us these things happen and it is real. So, it’s all about our culture.
Apart from filmmaking, do you do other things to make income?
I am into fashion. I sell clothes and jewelleries and all that.
So, if you were to choose between acting and fashion, what would it be?
I will choose filmmaking ooo (Laughs). I can’t leave it for any reason. I can’t.
When you look at the Nigerian movie industry, what do you see as the basic challenges?
Piracy… It has affected me that I can’t produce for now. Until they (government) find solution to it, piracy is a major problem for us.
So, if piracy is not fought, you’re not going to do movies?
I won’t because the movie I did, I didn’t see all my money back. But yet, I still went further because I have interest in it.
Who are some of your role models?
My role models are Funke Akindele, Mercy Aigbe and Toyin Aimakhu. I like the way they act. They make it real. I want to be like them.
Can you remember the first time you starred in a movie? How was it like?
You see, I told you earlier that I saw Ejo Apanirun. That was the movie I watched that moved me into acting. That movie then was part one. So, when I later joined, they said they wanted to go for the part two. So that was the first movie I featured then. And then, they put me in the crowd, so I was like “I don’t want to show I don’t people to see me.” I was still afraid. I didn’t know how I would look. I didn’t know what will happen. I didn’t know what to do.
Since then, which role has been the most challenging to you?
That was in Tegbon Taburo when they said I should act as a saucy girl – drinking, smoking, talking to people anyhow. I was like, “how would I do it? How would I go about it?”
You seem to be shy. Are you?
Yes. I am.
So, how do you combine your shyness with acting?
You see, I don’t have any problem with my shyness. But since I’ve taken acting as my profession, anytime they tell me, “Gbemi, this is what you’re going to do,” as far as I see that the camera is rolling, I get serious. The spirit comes into me and I do whatever they ask me to do perfectly. And that’s it.
What are some of the things you can’t do?
What I can’t do is when they ask me to go nude. That is the only thing I can’t do.
How about if it’s related to the story?
I don’t know. I can’t do it. But asides from that, I’m free to go.
Would you say you’ve been fulfilled as an actress?
Yes, let me say I’ve been because when you set up a company, it doesn’t grow in a day. Thank God I see changes. People call me here and there to come and work for them. So, I’m happy for that.
Now, as a female actress, you’ll have many male admirers. How do you handle their advances?
You see, this thing is not a do-or-die affair. It’s easy. Anybody can come to you. It now depends on you to refuse or accept the person. I do handle it very well. If I’m interested, I’ll tell you ‘no problem.’ If I’m not interested, I’m not interested. You can’t force me to do it. Even if you have job to give me, if you know you can’t give me this job without having something with me, just get out. You can go away with your job.
But have you suffered sexual harassment in the course of your acting career?
What do you mean by ‘not really’?
It has not gone that far.
So, what has happened to you before?
Somebody called me one day and said, ‘Hello Gbemi, I want you to do something for me but I need to see you first.’ You need to see me but you’ve been seeing my movies before o, you don’t need to see me. You should know what I can do and what I cannot do. So, he insisted that he still wanted to see me. So, when I got there, he said, ‘you can come in.’ He showed me scripts and I asked where was ‘the job I want to do for you?’ He said you have to do it this way, you have to do it that way. I can’t mention the person. So, I lashed the man. And ever since then, I’ve not experienced such thing.
It’s 2016, what plans are in the offing for the year?
This 2016, I’m going to produce a movie. And I pray to God that all things go well.