Not many know that Nigerian-born UK-based actor, Wale Ojo has been in the make-believe industry for 40 years. The awarding-winning actor, who warmed his way into the hearts of Nigerian movie buffs following his role in Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Phone Swap,’ actually started acting as a child prodigy with NTA Ibadan and ever since has featured in countless movies. Known for his role in the Mnet soap, The Adebanjos, Wale is not resting on his oars. Cornered at the private screening of the movie: ‘The CEO’, Wale opened up on working with Afolayan, his forthcoming project, and what makes a good script amongst others. Enjoy…
What was the experience like working on the set of ‘The CEO’, and being with Kunle?
It was very good. I always have fun with Kunle, and you know it was great, it was great fun. He is a nice character and you know, and there were fantastic cast to work with including Angelique Kidjo, Peter King, Aurelie Fatym, Nico, Lala; you know we had a great time.
What was your most challenging scene in that movie?
I think there is a scene which I tried and drown one of the actors; so we actually went into the sea…hmm, I’m a good swimmer. The other actor wasn’t so I had to pretend to drown the actor and at the same time protect the actor and I fnd that very challenging.
Between you and I who killed Peter King in the movie?
If I tell you that information… I had to kill him (laughs).
As a thespian, what do you think makes a good script?
Good stories, you know you have to follow the rules of screen writing- attention, action. I like a lot of action and it just has to connect to your audience.
You have to know your audience. Having to work with other international actors, what was the experience like?
It was great, it was always good working with actors from different parts of the world but I don’t enjoy it because everybody has a different quality. The French actors have a different quality. Peter King from Kenya had a different quality and Nico Panagio from South Africa had a different quality; you know, you work with that and it is always interesting, it is always challenging, so it is good.
What would you say you have learnt from them?
I would say the need to always be a part of an ensemble. I don’t need a solo adventure, you must be good as the actor next to you. So, when you all work together, it creates something that is very beautiful. So what I learnt is the importance of acting as an ensemble.
As an actor who has made impact in the industry both home and abroad, what will you say makes a good actor?
I think to be a great actor, you have to be a great listener, and you really have to be sensitive to what is around you, to what people are saying. Listening, I think is one of the best quality an actor can have. Acting is reacting, you have to be able to really tune in to what somebody is saying to you and react accordingly.
When do we get to see Wale Ojo produce his own movie?
I have a movie that I’m working on now, it is called Kalakuta Express. It is a homage to Fela Anikulapo Kuti and I start back to front promotion for it on the 26th of May and I am doing an afro beat, live afro beat concert. I’ll make sure I reveal to my fans that I am also a musician as well as an actor, so, I’m playing with a 10 piece afro band and it would be at the Hard Rock café.
So is this movie the most challenging than ‘The CEO’ for you?
No, I have done much challenging movies but it was challenging but I won’t say most challenging.
What were the challenges?
I mean to be honest with you, I liked the script on set and I accepted the challenges that were there and I won’t say that there were like huge challenges as such but they were just hard work and you have to be on the character all the time. So, it was intense, it wasn’t comedy, it wasn’t very easy, it was intense. It started comically but it gets more and more intense, more and more tragedy happening.
Most times you infuse a bit comedy in most movies you appear in; are they usually part of the script or it’s a deliberate input?
No, I think I always infuse comedy but comedy tells me that the guy is a very funny guy and if you watch ‘Phone swap’, it is not a funny guy, he is a serious guy from the beginning to the end. It is only at the end that he mellows a bit but this guy acts, joking around and I like that because naturally I’m a funny person in real life, so I try and infuse that.
What prompted the title of your new project ‘Kalakuta Express’?
What prompted it is my love for Fela’s music, my love for afro beat.
What is your take on the supposed disparity between the old and new Nollywood; some people are of the opinion that the old Nollywood deserve some respect?
How can you say there was disparity because there wouldn’t be any cinema unless Nollywood started? Nollywood started their work in the 1990s and they didn’t have any support from government and they only had one video camera and they said ok yes, and I think that was low but they were able to make an industry that makes about three hundred million dollars ($300,000,000) a year. You know that is not an easy feat, so, I always said… like for example, I even have a movement that is even called New Nigeria Cinema and I said to everybody, New Nigeria Cinema is not competing against Nigeria but it is a child of Nollywood. It is Nollywood that is giving birth to New Nigerian Cinema and in New Nigerian Cinema, we would take it further like we are doing with ‘THE CEO’, 35,000 feet up to the sky and beyond.
Do you have phobia for anything?
No, I don’t have a phobia for fights but for planes. I love planes, I’m always traveling but I think it is exciting to have a one of a kind movie premier and I think it is a bullet innovative idea.