Veteran Nollywood actress Joke Silva, bares her mind on a number of issues concerning the entertainment industry, in this exciting interview with ORJI ONYEKWERE.
The stage production from the stable of Lufodo Productions,’The King Must Dance Naked’, looks more like a satirical display of the situation in the country?
It had nothing to do with the situation of the country. It was Femi Odugbemi that came to me and said that he has been in conversation with Uncle Fred who wants the play to be performed. He said the octogenarian will be 88 years and that was around July and he wants the play staged to honour him. That’s why we went ahead to do it.
Why has Lufodo Productions done more stage plays than movies?
We have done about three movies: Potato Potahto, The Kingmaker and Subterfuge. We consulted on other films but these are the three major films from the stable of Lufodo Productions .
The emphasis is more on stage productions, is it because of your stage background?
We have done a lot because we like theatre and it’s not as if we don’t like films. We are probably going to do one this year but we like theatre. People trust us in theatre with their work. So, a lot of writers when they write their scripts, like Lufodo Productions to produce it for them.
What does Lufodo Productions stand to gain from your partnership with Netflix?
Well, what Lufodo Productions has always wanted to do and have been doing over the years is to train actors especially for the screen. Though we had a bit of a break from 2015 or before then, we train actors because we believe that actors should be well-trained especially for the screen.
A lot of people who have studied theatre in the university do very little training for film acting, I mean for the camera. Our concentration has always been training people for the camera but it’s a very costly enterprise and we were always looking for a partner with deep pocket. We thought we have found one years ago but it didn’t work out. However, this one with Netflix worked out and the partnership is to train actors and writers for the screen .
What we have just done is our pilot project for Netflix. It’s a nine months course in acting for the screen and three months course in script writing, it’s still on going and Netflix is happy with the standard of work. When I say nine months, they come in every day for the nine months duration.
Your job with Lufodo Productions seems to have taken you away from movies?
Yes. But, if I am invited to do a good part; I will always oblige and the part has to be good. That’s what Bolanle Austin Peters offered me when she did Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. I played Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, the elder because there were three Funmilayo Ransome Kuti’s and I played the oldest of them all.
What do you feel about the way some of our actors interpret their roles. Do you at times feel some should have done better with their character interpretation?
No. Without being specific about any production, I really can’t generalise like you are suggesting because every actor makes choices and the choices you make, if your director is happy with it that’s it. The audience may go and see it and say I don’t agree with this choice, it’s your prerogative. The actor, in studying and embodying the role, believes that this is the way they want to play it. I think actors are doing amazing work.
You said you can’t allow your apartment to be used for movie location. Why?
Let me explain what I meant. It’s because I know what it takes to shoot a movie in a home. It’s not just maybe they want to use three rooms in the house, but they are going to light, and move props around to suit what they want. Maybe the number of people involved in the scene is only three but the people who are going to light are probably about 10, the sound people, props and a lot of other departments. You are also not talking of the actors and the directors. So, it’s a whole barrage of people and so how many toilets do I have in my home that can cope.
At the end of the day because my home is not built to be a movie set, it can’t cope. Another major reasons is that I want us to start using studios specifically built for such things. I live in a block of apartments, so where am I going to put the crew who are not working on set. Am I going to put them in my lounge or waiting room downstairs so that other members of the apartment will start complaining when they see these people? They will not say they are security risk but the inconvenience is something else.
The idea is that we should be making our films in studios or unoccupied building so that we are not inconveniencing the owners of the house or other people in the apartment. A lot of times, after you have done the shooting; you need to repaint because when you use people’s homes do you have anywhere designated for actors or people waiting to be on set to sit and you need to make them comfortable. All those things are important, whereas in a proper studio those places are automatically designated. It’s not just right to use people’s houses.
These apartments don’t have high roof so that you can have good angles for camera and you can get good shots. Most houses have four walls but a studio is likely to have three and it’s likely to have collapsible walls so that I can shoot from any side.
Do we have such facilities now?
We do. People are building such facilities now. In KAP Studio that is what has been done. That’s what Kunle Afolanya has done. That’s what studios are for. One is not enough, we are going to need more of these kinds of studios for the industry we are building.
How does it feel to be a grandmother?
I don’t think there’s anybody who would not be fulfilled and happy to be a grandmother. We thank God for His mercy.
What has it been like managing Uncle Olu Jacobs, the home, Lufodo Production and other businesses?
The grace of God has been amazing for us because one has a very strong support system that is why one has been able to cope.
We have seen marriages go through crises in the industry and they end up breaking up. But you have been with Uncle Olu Jacobs for 38 years which is record breaking for the industry. Can you let us into the secret?
I am not sure it’s record-breaking because we’ve people in the sector who have been married for much longer than we have. We have Sony and Betty Irabor, and Uncle Tunde Oloyode,and Aunty Bimbo, before he passed on whose marriage lasted more than ours. Our marriage is nothing new in the entertainment industry.
My answer to this kind of question is that because we’re in the public glare, that is why you know the number of failed marriages. You have the same number of failed marriages amongst lawyers, doctors and other professionals. A lot of times, there is decision to stay and iron out whatever is the issue, most times we are not prepared and sometimes there are huge wrinkles and volcanic eruption. It’s up to the couple to say this has happened, do we want to weather it out. And I don’t think anybody has the right to say some people must stay together if they don’t want to.
But the rate of divorce is getting higher?
It is like that because there’s medium where everyone gets to know about that. People are airing a lot of their stuff out there for the public to know. Today, it’s more of what they don’t want to live with, but the decision is up to the individuals involved. You can’t force individuals to stay together if they don’t want to, and if that willingness to stay together is not there, then why?
Let’s look at the new trend among entertainers where some of them have had their sex videos leaked on the social media. How do you see this?
The thing is that a lot of these sex videos leaked, rarely came from these entertainers. A lot of times, it’s shown by their partners who are trying to blackmail them.
But, is it necessary to record one’s sexual activity in a video?
Well, some people think it’s good they photograph each other but what two adults do in the four corners of their bedroom is their business. I think people have realised now that though it’s their business, you don’t know what tomorrow may bring. So, don’t let us go that far.
Today, you are all lovey dovey, if tomorrow he cannot stand you; he begins to look for something to post on the social media to hurt you. How would you be able to explain to people that it was a consensual thing that two of you did. I do remember a particular one where someone took her mobile phone for repairs, but she forgot to delete the video from the phone. The technician who repaired the phone was the one who blackmailed her.
At that time, there wasn’t much about social media and I remembered it was the newspapers that carried it. I told some of my friends in the press that this was not right, they ought to have condemned the action of the technician because those were private pictures.
Do you reach out to some of these actresses to advise them?
Why should I? I have a lot of friends and we meet at times to talk and advise one another. It’s never a one way thing. I am not some oracle.
What is the next thing on the table for Lufodo Productions?
We have been working on our calendar for the year. There are some interesting things happening, definitely a film is part of it.
Today, you are all lovey dovey, if tomorrow he cannot stand you; he begins to look for something to post on the social media to hurt you.