OLAJUMOKE LBA: I never had challenges learning lines for audition
Olajumoke LBA is an actress who has participated in a number of series, stage plays and films. In this interview with Yetunde Oladeinde, she opened up on how it all started, challenges, inspiration and also life as on Air personality.
HOW did you get into acting?
I have been acting for about 12 to 13 years, basically since 2008. I have done stage plays, films, and short films. I have also done Television shows and series. At the beginning, it wasn’t easy like most things. I had to go for Auditors and the auditions were not easy to come by. Not like now, that things have greatly improved There are now lots of forays that you can find out about auditions .Also Instagram helps a great deal now. Then it was basically word of mouth. There was a small group of fellow actor friends that I had met at previous auditions that I attended, that will pass across the message about Auditions, coming up in one place or the other. It hasn’t been an easy one but I can’t complain.
What were the initial challenges?
Mobility was a challenge. Yes, I had a car at the time but going from audition to audition really does take a toll. You have to be at the audition locations pretty early. Most times, you get there before the people doing the Auditors. They come late in those days, most of the time. Things have changed now and improved. Whoever gets there first would write a list of the first ten. Sometimes, you get there as early as 4 or 5am, wait for the organisers to get there between 9 and 10am and they would start.. if you come late around 7am, which was considered late at that time because there would be about a hundred people there. And because the people organising are human, they get tired. What they will be is to ask the person calling people in to go and just choose people that have a certain appearance. Then tell him or her to call ten of such people in and then it wouldn’t matter whether you came early or not. So, the organised version of the Audition will just end there. I came across such things , quite a number of times and it was quite upsetting.. So, mobility, lack of Organisation on the part of those organising the audition, the many locations that were across Lagos which was another sign of organisation. If we had a dedicated area where production companies could build and set up their offices, you wouldn’t have to be moving across town to do one audition or the other. Another challenge was not knowing precisely what you were going to audition for, what the playing age was. So, those information when I started up until 5 or 6 years ago was always not available. So, I learnt to go with about three different monologues. The happy one, the sad one and the funny one. Sometimes they just give you a monologue which is the annoying one because if you know what you are looking for, you give me the side to read. I never had a challenge learning lines quickly .It was a difficult time and I wasn’t getting as much work. There are times when you go from one job to another, trying to catch some rest in between. And there are times, when for months, you do a lot of audition but you won’t get any job.
What was the very first movie you did?
The very movie I did was with a production company which MNET had for short movies. They shot a lot of short films and I was privileged to have done a short film which they called stucked and it was directed by James Omokoye and I played the protagonist. The woman who came out of an abusive relationship with her child trying to start over again only to move right next to a psychopath. There was another one that I did before that hasn’t come out. It was for Kitty Institute in 2008 or 2009. I played a small role as a journalist and basically it was supposed to be a short film talking about corruption, politics and all that. Unfortunately, the movie never came out, so that is why I don’t consider it my first.
How has it been?
It has been incredibly beautiful, the last stretch, the last six years. I started in 2006 with WAZOBIA FM, Lagos. I used to be an Assistant Producer, assisting to get content, learning and becoming the person that I became. I discovered my voice as a broadcaster happened at Cool FM, Abuja and then I was brought back to Cool FM, Lagos before I left the umbrella company. Then, I got a job as on Air Personality with Smooth .98.7 FM. It was a dream comes true for me. I started out doing a late night show called the Smooth session which started at 8pm and would end at 12 midnight. But after about 2 years , it was shifted to 9pm to 12 midnight.
Tell us about the memorable experiences and the things that inspire you?
In my acting career, I would say that it is the many people that I have met along the way. People whose works I am familiar with and have deeply respected. Some of whom, I am Meeting for the first time, that are new in the industry. Being able to meet different kinds of people, talented, not so talented, and new and veterans. Having to work with all these kinds of people has basically expanded my ability to work with all kinds of people. To live with all kinds of people, no matter who they are, whether our personalities match or not. And one of my most memorable experience was in a feature film where I played the role of best friend to another lady. In real life I despised the lady, and we were supposed to play a role as believable set of friends, that loved themselves so much and loyal to each other. Being able to play that role excellently is one of the things that I am so proud of. It is one of the experiences that has inspired me .I love every minute that I played that role because I stretched myself, this is what I look out for every time I get a role. I always want a role that is not flat but round. A role that has a lot of meat. That has history, a present and has an unfolding future. A character that even if you don’t have a lot of history to work with, you can create base on what you have. You have a lot to plug in, close all the holes and the loose ends in the story. That has always inspired me and the ability to play those kinds of roles.
You are also into broadcasting. Tell us about this aspect of your life?
Yes, I was. At the moment, I am not into broadcasting. Never say Never. That is one thing that I have learnt in my life. If an opportunity comes up to go back into broadcasting, I would. If it is the right opportunity, I will grab it with both hands, limbs, fingers and tongue. I had been in broadcasting for 6 years. I went into acting and I just couldn’t juggle both, so I continued acting and stayed that way.
What are some of the other things that occupy your time?
Apart from the usual, going on set , shooting and reading. I also like to watch a lot of TV series, watch a lot of films. I like to watch the characters become who they are. I like stories and so when I am not on set, I read about characters, countless stories, just to have an understanding of the human nature.
Tell us about your role models and mentors?
I do not have role models but I have a mentor. She is Taiwo Ajai Lycett ,a living legend that we are lucky to have in Nigeria. I wish the entertainment industry , especially the movie and film part could be much more developed, than it is right now. Then, we will be able to better appreciate people that have gone ahead of us, those that are still alive, that have paved the way for actors like me to become better and to step into the International market effortlessly because they went ahead. Mrs. Taiwo Ajai Lycett is an amazing woman that groomed me, taught me, and encouraged me to give every character I play a chance. Not to be one of those that judges the character but understand why the character does what they do, why the character is the way she is or why the character has made the decisions that she has made and has given everyone the opportunity to point accusing fingers at her. My job as an actor, becoming this character and bringing the character to life is to know what makes her tick and not to judge her. So, this is one of the greatest things that Taiwo Ajai Lycett has taught me, and I deeply respect her for this. I love her so much. She is an amazing mother to me.
If you had to change something in the industry, what would it be?
I would get the government to sign a proper bill that gives Nollywood an area of Lagos, that they can build production companies, casting offices, agencies just like Hollywood. I will also get government to invest money not just throw money at the Actors Guild but doing things that actually makes sense
How do you relax?
I love to watch horror films. Horror is my favourite genre .This includes series, stage plays and whatever I lay my hands, once it is horror. It is the closest representation of human life. I also relax by taking walks in weird environments.
What type of books do you like to read?
I like to read any book that has the mystical in them. Any story that has essentials, magical . I love fiction and I just started liking chic literature but it hasn’t grown on me yet.
Tell us about the principles that you hold onto in life?
I believe that everyone deserves to be respected, no matter the age, creed, and their beliefs. So, I am a strong believer in respect. That is one of my principles. I also believe that as a human being, you should not limit yourself, not judge yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Of course, you will always make your mistakes, fall, get up but your ability to get up even after falling, no matter how many times and to stay again is one of the principles that I hold dear to my heart.
What lessons has life taught you?
As a human being, I have gone through pain, gone through love. I have experienced the gamut of human relationship and emotions. So, one of the lessons that come to mind right now is being patient with yourself. You have to be patient with yourself. You can’t allow the voice in your head to be harsh, judgmental or impatient. You need to be patient with yourself because the world is not going to be patient with you.