Renowned for his talent and skills, Nollywood actor, movie director and producer, Ibrahim Yekini better known as Itele in this interview by ADERONKE ADESANYA, speaks about his skills and his upcoming movie, Kesari, among other issues. Excerpts:
Entertaining people is the most difficult task; how did you become interested in this line of work?
I’ve always been an entertainer. As a boxer (I was an entertainer), and as a fuji singer (I was an entertainer) so, been an actor means I have to entertain more because entertainment has always been a part of me.
Can you tell us about the most exciting thing that has happened to you since you got underway with your entertainment career?
The most exciting thing that happened to me, was when I discovered that my movie, Kesari, was the first movie to hit the 1 million view on YouTube and also the first Nigerian movie to hit 2 million views on YouTube.
You are involved in almost every aspect of a filmmaking, be it film writing, or producing or acting, or directing, which one do you enjoy doing the most?
I love acting, it comes to me naturally. Acting is my talent, the rest are just extra knowledge.
You are the recipient of the emperor awards, director of the year award for the movie, Alani Ogo; how does it feel to receive such a great honour?
I feel so great and accomplished, I put my best in the movie and I’m glad my efforts didn’t go to waste. I am also honoured to have won in my category.
You also received the best actor in leading role award for “Alani Ogo.” What intrigued your interest in the project?
I just wanted to create a character for the whole family. A comic character that teaches moral lessons for all.
Directing and acting a movie at the same time. What was your experience like?
Being the lead actor, the producer and also the director of the movie was super draining and I was literally everywhere monitoring and overseeing every department. But God took control of it all.
What issues or challenges did you face on the set of the movie?
Just few but location was a challenge, because we shot in Ibadan and getting location to film was quite stressful.
Did you ever imagine that you would get awarded for being the Actor in a Leading role and director for the same movie?
Of course, I did get in Kesari… and I will be getting lots more because I won’t stop giving my best.
What was the biggest challenge about taking on your role in the Netflix movie, Jagun Jagun by Femi Adebayo?
The exercise part was a bit stressful, it wasn’t a challenge though but I had to work out for days to fit into my character.
How was the experience of sharing the screen with other Nollywood A-listers?
The experience was great; I got to learn more. Although, I’ve worked with almost all of them before and it has always been great.
What was the most challenging scene to film and why?
I would say the fight. Sincerely, it wasn’t easy, fighting like a real swordsman and acting with it at the same time, but I enjoyed it all.
Outside of acting, do you have any other major interests or passions?
Not at all. Acting is my only interest.
How was it working on a project alongside Femi Adebayo and Lateef Adedimeji?
Femi Adebayo is my brother and also a mentor. I’ve been working with him for more than 15 years and he is a fantastic actor. Lateef Adedimeji on the other hand is also like a brother and a brilliant actor and he has also featured in my movies.
You’re quite admired for your comedic slangs and heroic abilities in the Netflix movie, Jagun Jagun; how do you feel in your role?
It is always good to be creative about your lines and role. Just my movie Kesari, I love to create slags for the movie to be remembered by. And I am happy people always love it.
How do you feel when you hear people appreciate your work?
I feel great. It shows my works are being seen and appreciated. And it encourages me to do more and better.
For your movie “Kesari” that will be in the cinemas from August 25; What do you think the audience will be thinking about in the car as they drive home after watching your movie, Kesari?
I’ve produced Kesari 1&2. The return of Kesari 1&2 and no bad or negative comments have been made about them. This is even way bigger than the previous ones they’ve seen, it’s a project of millions, so I’m confident I will get great reviews on this one also.
How do you feel when you hear people appreciating your work?
I am grateful and honoured at the same time
What are some things that people might be surprised to learn about acting/the industry that they don’t see on screen?
Acting is like a fictional character, as an actor, you have to be in character so to convince the audience at home that the situation is really happening to you, that is why most people cry while watching a movie
Have you ever said “no” to a project because the content or message wasn’t right? If so, can you tell me about that experience and how you made your decision?
A lot, when I listen or read a script and most times I notice that there are not required props or locations or fund for the storyline, I mostly turn it down. Plus if the storyline is not passing any positive message to the audience.
You’re a celebrity, with a massive fan base and fans all over the world. How does it feel to have such a big name?
I will say it’s the grace of God. I worked myself off to get to this point but without God, who is my support system, I won’t be where I am.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Make more movies and be healthy.
Looking back, are you happy with the way things have shaped up for you in the industry?
I am very happy. My beginning in the industry was very rough and not encouraging at all, but I pushed through and that’s why I can give the testimonies today.
What advice do you have for young people who are just starting their careers, specifically in relation to acting theatre?
Make sure you are dedicated, acting requires time and patience. You also need to have the knowledge and you can basically know that by going through the process, learning at an acting academy or school is better. Don’t chase money and fame at the same time.
What would you like to say to your fans?
To my fans all over the globe, thank you all for the love and support at all time. I am humbled and grateful for your follow up. I pledge to always deliver the best to you.
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