September 9, 2017 – Aishat Abimbola: I Was Born Into A Muslim Family But Converted To Christianity Based On My Convictions
Nollywood actress Aisha Abimbola recently spoke to Lanre Odukoya about her journey to stardom, family life and other issues.
See interview excerpts:
Did you set out early in life to be an actor?
I would not really say I had wanted this from my childhood, but from a very young age, I knew I loved to act. Let me just put it this way: from my primary school days, I joined a theatre group, dancing troupe, cultural groups and all that. I did it even before I was an actress. I have done jobs as Master of Ceremony on many occasions which I equally started while in school.
I think I grew up being an entertainer because I was already a pain in the neck in my classroom. I made so much noise, disturbed the whole class, cracked one joke or the other, so some of my friends that I had in school were not actually surprised that I am in the industry
How did you start acting professionally?
Actually, I had nursed the ambition of being an actress while I was growing up. As luck would have it, there was a day the crew of Wale Adenuga came to Isolo campus of our school to shoot a scene.
Then I saw Antar Laniyan who was the director of the film. I told him I wanted to act. He was looking at me as somebody who was not serious, but I told him, I meant what I said. Luckily for me somebody who was supposed to act a role of a philanthropist was not around. I was asked to fill the vacancy, and to the surprise of Laniyan, who was the director, I performed excellently well. Ever since, there has not been looking back.
Looking at your journey in the movie industry; what are some of those positive things acting had brought you?
Acting has taken me to places I never imagined. I have met people. I have gone to places and one of the things that happen is when the whole world is on queue to get something and you get there, people would say “oh, you are welcome, it is nice to have you around” it has brought out the success in me. I have always loved to give back to the society. I have seen people that would come to me and say I like you; I just want to be like you. Such things move me, I love such things.
And what about the things that fame has changed about you?
I am a perfectionist when it comes to picking my things; I want to buy my things myself. I like to go to Mile 12 market, get my fresh fruits. I love shopping myself. I would have loved to go to remote areas, get the things I want. I still go to Idumota because I am from there. I go to Oke -Arin. The noise would be much, hoodlums here and there but I still appreciate my fans. You know I can’t do it the way I want to.
I really love to bargain very well and say to myself, okay I have not wasted money but you really can’t do that much now because they would say ” spend this money, a whole you!” It is good, I still go to the market but not the way I would have loved to. I am not the kind of person who hides her feelings, if you have done something wrong and I want to rebuke you right there, I would tell you this is wrong, but then I would just have to look around to see who’s watching and when I see people around sometimes, I just fake a smile and say it is okay. That kind of thing
If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?
May be I would have been a pastor. I would have also been a good MC, which I am doing with my acting job, or I would have been a cook because I read Hotel Management and Catering. I would have been a hotelier or owned a restaurant. But I would still be acting in those jobs.
You said you would have been a pastor, even with your Islamic background?
That is a testimony. My parents were Muslims and even before my dad died, I had been attending church. It was a bit painful at first but he would just not stop me. Then when you have some convictions within you, not that anybody has told you, nobody would stop you. And that was why I got into Christianity. It wasn’t what anybody told me to do; it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to do it a long time ago and I told my dad, so he was aware before his death.
How did you feel acting alongside professionals for the first time?
My first job had too many professionals. The first one was Omoge Campus and the second one was Eje Adegbenro which was written and produced by Jide Kosoko. It was a bit intimidating, it was very challenging.
There were stars like Racheal Oniga, Saheed Balogun, Opeyemi Aiyeola, Yinka Quadri, everyone was on set. I was wondering how I would cope alongside those people. I remember I was not getting it at that point.
I was rushing my lines and Uncle Jide Kosoko just said,” you are a good actress, this show is all about you, so relax and deliver your lines” and that was all I needed. The next scene that was shot got me a standing ovation and everybody was clapping and then I knew I was going to do something good with this job.
What is the biggest step you’ve ever taken?
It’s actually going to school. Yes, because I was changing schools and then I made up my mind that I was not going to get married until I become a graduate. Do you know what it feels like for all your younger ones to have had children and nobody dares call you by your name? You know it is Yoruba tradition they would call me Big Mummy because they could not call me by name.
Even when Islamic clerics come around during naming ceremonies they would say ” Allah consider this our elder sister too as you have blessed the family with a baby. It was so tough, it was crazy, but I stood my ground that I would graduate, so it was a tough experience but today I can be proud and say I m a graduate and I had a good grades too. When I did my youth service, I said yes, thank God I didn’t t drop out of school. I didn’t know I was going to get married
What are some of those bold steps you have taken in the movie industry?
In the industry, the bold step I would say I have taken is having my own mind and staying decent despite the challenges of wanting to do otherwise, being able to stand my ground that I am not going to do this and I am not going to do that. It was a very bold step for me because challenges would come and men would come, you would go on dates, people that you have never even imagined you would meet in your life would come for you, but taking a bold step that I am not going to fall for this temptation in this kind of industry and this pervasive world of ours is great. I tried.