Fiery actress Sola Sobowale is back with a bang on the scene with her new TV series titled ‘Nectar’ which is gaining appreciable viewership. The producer and screenwriter who cut her teeth in moviedom when she joined the Awada Kerikeri Group under the leadership of Adebayo Salami more than 20 years ago opens up on a host of issues in this interview with AHMED BOULOR.
Could you tell us about your new TV series titled ‘Nectar’?
‘Nectar’ is a new TV soap which is currently running on TV at the moment and I am praying to God to make us run it on air for more than two years. It is a family oriented TV series and it is a true life story. It is a true life story because I tapped into the happenings of the lives of individuals who I am familiar with. It teaches a whole lot of morals which the family can gain from and the society can learn from and become better in the long run if such morals taught are adhered to. It’s a mix match of morals and I hope it eventually gets the much needed impact that it was set out to achieve in the first place.
Could you relate to a particular experience that led to your venturing into the ‘Nectar’ project?
I travelled to England about 12 years ago and I saw how Nigerians were living their lives. Family values are gone and parents are no longer parents. People are just giving birth to kids without giving them proper home training. Fathers are just donating sperms every now and then and mothers are giving birth without properly taking care of their offspring. We now even have dictators as parents and I don’t subscribe to the fact that one should always dictate to his kids every now and then. Parents should be more like advisers and they should ensure to give their kids the right training.
Talking about parenting; where do you think parents have lost it?
Parents have lost it because they have no time for their kids but they have time for money making. Don’t get me wrong, we all need money to get along but that should not overshadow our responsibility to be caring parents. If you worship money, it can ruin you in the long run and it will vanish when you least expect it. When you don’t inculcate moral values into your kids and give them sound education the centre will not hold and things will eventually fall apart.
Could you tell us the involvement of your daughters in the series titled ‘Nectar’?
They both wrote the TV series because they know this is what their mother loves doing so it is like helping their mum.
Was their involvement in moviedom planned?
One of them is an accountant and the other is working with an advertising agency. It is just that when they were studying for their A levels in England; they chose script writing as an optional course and it turning out to be useful to us at this point in time.
Which is more profitable: producing movies or TV series?
One of the things that made me come back to producing is the fact that I want to contribute my own quota to improving family values which is at its lowest ebb at the moment. As a matter of fact, family values to me are non-existent. I believe ‘Nectar’ will impact on the viewers because TV series are aired daily unlike movies which in most cases are one-off. The impacts of TV series are more effective and that is one of the reasons why ‘Nectar’ was conceived.
Thus far, how are TV viewers reacting to ‘Nectar’?
So far so good, ‘Nectar’ is enjoying appreciable viewership and we have been getting positive responses from viewers around the country. People are gradually identifying with it and they are also keying into the morals that the soap opera has set out to teach. The story line is suspense filled and captivating and even on social media there is acceptance.
How were you able put together a stellar cast for the TV series?
Most of them are my friends and they are actors whom I have worked with in the past; the fact that most of them are my friends saved me a lot of money as regards appearance fee. Most of them did it based on personal recognition and to God be the glory for their support on this project.
Do your fans see you as the iron lady like character that you normally play in movies because you seem like an approachable person?
What you see is what you get, like I say to some people; I am totally opposite from what you see on TV but I love it when people say that woman is bad and aggressive. Do you know why? It shows that I know my onions and I have been able to interpret my roles very well. If I have not been able to do that, it means I do not know my job; Sola is totally different. She is homely, loving, down- to-earth and most of all, an emotional person.
You have a career that has spanned over 20 years; what would you say is your highest point?
My highest point was when I played the role ‘Toyin Tomato’; that role got me widespread recognition within and outside Nigeria. Even up to Jamaica, I was surprised that when I got there, Jamaican’s recognised me as ‘Toyin Tomato’ and they received me with open arms. It was also the same thing in London; people recognised and identified with me when I was in London. At this juncture, I would like to thank uncle Wale Adenuga for giving me the opportunity to play that role.
Let’s talk about time spent in the UK some years back; what was life like taking care of your daughters who were in school at the time?
It was a struggle! It was serious struggle because the UK is not my fatherland and there’s nobody there to assist you. In Nigeria, at least you can run to your close relations for help but there, you are on your own. You have to work really hard for everything but to God be the glory we were able to survive.
As an actress and producer what do you think can be done to improve the fortunes of the movie industry?
The movie industry is not growing because we do not have adequate support from the government. Artistes, actors and producers re-branded the image of Nigeria years back because no one wanted to have anything to do with Nigerians but today Nigerians are seen as creative people. Individually, practitioners in the movie industry and most recently those in the music industry re-branded the image of this country without the support of government or any corporate investor. Industry practitioners have really done well in building the movie industry but it is a pity that the standards set years ago are falling. But because of the effect Nollywood has had on the image of this country over the years Nigerians are respected individually but we need support from the government.
What about the relief fund disbursed by President Jonathan; has it in any way helped the cause of Nollywood?
The industry was not carried along as it concerns the intervention fund; if you ask me, I don’t know anything about the intervention fund because nobody informed or called my attention to it.
What has kept you going as an actress in the past 20 years?
It has been God and goodwill.
How do you combine being a mother, an actress and a producer at the same time?
I can’t be all of that without the help of God because He structures our lives and He is the author and finisher of our fate.
When you left the scene some time ago most people said you left because you couldn’t withstand competition from up and coming actresses. What do you have to say about that assertion?
I am still relevant and will always be; I have been receiving calls concerning my other projects which I have done in the past so I am not running from anybody or any perceived competition. I left the scene when I travelled abroad sometime ago and now I am back and still doing fine. Even now, I chose the movies I take part in because I just don’t want to be seen in any movie. I partake in movies that impact positively on people’s lives not just any movie production.
Is there any specific routine you go through before you go on-set considering the fact that you deliver your lines seamlessly?
Acting is my passion and it is what I am born to do; I put my all into it and the result is what you see in the movie productions that I have featured in. I just try to do my best when I am on-set.
What will make you reject a movie script?
I would reject scripts that are immoral and take scripts that are well written and directed with fantastic actors as part of the cast. I will accept scripts that teach moral lessons and ones that add value to the society.
Present day actresses think going bare will get them instant stardom which was not the case when you started. What do you think has made the industry degenerate to the level it is today?
I’ll not blame the actresses; they don’t know what they are doing. I’ll also like people out there to stop blaming them. Do you know who to blame? The blame should be placed at the doorstep of movie directors. If a director tells an actor that you cannot wear such costumes on-set, then the actor has no choice but to abide by the rule of the director. The director should know the right costume for every scene because if an actor dresses nude once, they’ll continue with that trend the next time they are on-set.
What should your fans expect from you in the coming days?
They should expect the same Sola Sobowale they know and they should continue to look out for ‘Nectar’ which is now on air. There are other projects in the pipeline but I am keeping them close to my chest. I also have an NGO I am working on and it is set-up to enhance family values.
What will you like to be remembered for when eventually you retire from the scene?
I want to be remembered as one who contributed her quota to the improvement of family values because I think we have lost it here and we need urgent change in that direction.