Omotunde Adebowale-David, Nigerian actress and broadcaster, popularly known as Lolo, speaks to MOBOLA SADIQ about body positivity, the future of the entertainment industry and other issues…
Many on air personalities seem to have become actors. Why is it so?
On-air personalities are expressions of art, so it’s quite easy for them to become actors. There’s no way you would be a radio presenter that acting wouldn’t become a part of you. There are OAPs that can do voice-overs in three different accents.
Asides from Jenifa’s Diary, what other movies/TV series have you acted in?
I have done a lot of movies but maybe I have not played a lead role. I have even acted on stage. The only thing that made Jenifa’s Diary stand out was the frequency of the series. TV series make it easier to relate with the characters.
How would you describe your relationship with Funke Akindele-Bello?
Funke is my friend, producer and mentor. We have different kinds of relationships. Most times, I learn from her. I watch how she does her thing because she’s very hard-working. Funke is multifaceted when it comes to movie productions. Shouldn’t that kind of person be emulated? On set, she’s my boss and executive producer. And after filming, we return to our friendship and gists. But that doesn’t mean our friendship doesn’t respect our individual crafts.
What’s your assessment of how entertainers are faring during the lockdown?
I can tell you that the entertainment industry is one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Everybody that is engaged in the media stratosphere is affected. But I know that Nigerians are resilient and our creative industry is very creative. Nobody is going to lay on their back for long; we are still going to keep looking for ways to get ahead. Brands are still giving entertainers jobs because everyone is online. I’ve seen some entertainers starting new brands, so when challenges happen, we adapt to the times so we don’t get swallowed up.
What is the fate of entertainers who are not social media savvy?
One has to move with the times or else one would become a dinosaur. I can assure you that if one does not keep up with social media, in the next couple of year s, one would not have a brand. The youth have migrated online. They can watch all our shows on their phones, so if one is not represented in that space, how is one going to cope? If the likes of Ali Baba, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sola Sobowale still make themselves relevant on social media, why shouldn’t one be in that space?
Do you think that entertainers undergo cosmetic surgery due to the pressures of social media and the entertainment industry?
How one sees the perfection of oneself has nothing to do with social media. It just has to do with how one mentally sees oneself. If one has low self-esteem and does not deal with it, one would suffer a form of mental breakdown, with or without social media. Social media only aggravates the issues and make one focus on things that kill one’s self-esteem. People put themselves under unnecessary pressure and actors have learnt to take photos with the best light and angles. For example, I can tuck my stomach in for one minute to take a picture and a young person out there would look at it (photo) and feel pressured. I may be wearing waist trainers that are as hard as iron and another person out there would be wishing she had my figure.
However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that social media contributes to the thirst for cosmetic surgery because what one sees every day can form a pattern of behaviour.
In the entertainment industry, if there’s a specification of the kind of figure and complexion for a certain role, some ladies would start to bleach to meet up. I was once on a movie set and an uneducated person told me my dark complexion was not good for the camera.
Have you ever felt the need for cosmetic surgery?
I am the worst person to answer such a question because I have attained a level in life where I know what matters. Our body is just a case that houses the spirit and soul. So, how much value can one put on something that is fleeting? When I was 15, I knew how my face looked. Now that I’m in my forties, it is natural that face would look different?
If I ever do cosmetic surgery, then, there must be other reasons beyond beauty, though I don’t judge people that do it.
At 43, are you still open to love?
Firstly, I don’t feel pressured to marry. If one has made a mistake once, the best thing is to settle down and choose better. It’s not like I have never had offers; I just think that I’ve not seen the ideal person. When the right person comes along, why not? However, I may not go public about my marriage.
Do you think it would be easy to find a partner that wouldn’t be intimidated by your success?
If a man is intimidated by my success, that’s the easiest form of elimination and that means he’s not the one for me. If at this stage, I have to explain my success to a man, then I’m not the woman he should be asking for marriage. I believe that whoever marries a woman like me must see it as a blessing. I want to marry someone that has time for a relationship.
Do you think that ladies should woo men they like?
I’m very old school when it comes to that but a woman can make herself available or visible. I don’t think that I‘ll want to ask a man out. But there is a way one can be around the person that even if he is shy, he would summon the courage to talk. If you tell a man that you like him and he doesn’t like you; that’s worse for women. A woman would take it more personal.
What’s your take on body shaming plus-sized people?
I’m sorry about what the world is turning to because wonderful things are made to look bad. People are born with different body structures. I wonder why people shame others if the person in question is comfortable in their own skin. Why should you detest someone because they don’t look like you? I tell plus-sized people that their health should be a priority for them above any other thing. I’m on the plus size and I have maintained a particular weight to the best of my ability. I had to choose being healthy and that’s not because I don’t like my body. I don’t even want to be skinny; I just want to be fit enough. There are different types of breasts. Some people are naturally busty and that is not a function of their diet. I have been wearing brassieres since I was in elementary school. As of that time, my breasts had developed to the point that I needed to wear a bra. Society’s standard of beauty is always changing, so I tell women not to be pressured. As long as you’re beautiful, just do what is good for your health. Women are not like balloons that should be increased and reduced at will.