Body & Soul

Adunni Ade: I’ve also faced prejudice in Nollywood

Nollywood actress, Adunni Ade, is often referred to as the Oyinbo actress because of her bi-racial features. Just as many believe that her complexion and American accent would be her one way ticket to any movie role, Adunni readily laughs at that perception, stressing that her journey in the Nigerian movie industry has not been all rosy. In this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, she speaks about the discrimination she has faced chasing her dreams as an actress and her new movie, ‘Soole’ which has automatically given her the title Movie Producer

 

 

 

You are an American citizen, an opportunity many Nigerians would kill for. Many would have thought you would start your acting career abroad, is there any reason you decided to start in Nigeria?

 

Yes I was born in New York, Queens to be precise. Many know that I grew up in Nigeria. I went for my primary and secondary school here in Nigeria. I left for America to study in the university. I spent a little bit of my life there and I came back 10 years ago.

 

Even at that, many Nigerians who must have signed up dangerous prayers with several pastors just to get a visa, would feel you made a mistake coming back here?

 

 

It doesn’t matter. I am partly Nigerian. I have a right to be anywhere. Just because I am an American does not mean that I have to stay in America. Our destiny is in our hands but God’s time might be different. Obviously, Gods time was different because I was working there. My normal 9 to 5 job, but an opportunity came for me to come to Nigeria and I took it. I am not God. And I know God always has a plan for me.

 

Was it your dream to be an actress? Did you feel frustrated doing the 9 to 5 job over there?

 

 

No I wasn’t frustrated. I actually miss my 9 to 5 job but I have always wanted to be an entertainer. My Dre to be an actress started as a child.

 

You are a bi-racial lady and we have seen you act roles in local settings, many would think you may not fit into that ‘village girl’ role because you look like a white woman. Is it hard fitting into that role?

 

Well acting is to make believe, regardless of your skin colour. So that is what I do. When I am an actor, I don’t see my skin colour. I just get into character, I get in the role and I deliver.

 

Have you faced any prejudice because of your skin colour in the movie industry?

 

Of course I have faced a lot of prejudice and discrimination but I do not pay attention to negativity. It has happened over the past decade. But if I dwell in that, I cannot move forward. Whatever field you find yourself, you will must have felt at some point that you are not being treated the way you deserve but that doesn’t mean you are going to quit, right?

 

That is the same thing with my job. If I do not have the passion, if I did not like what I do as an entertainer, as an actor, I would have quit. I have a very stubborn head. I don’t quit easily. I believe you only quit when you are dead and gone. For as long as you are alive, you keep pushing.

 

Do you also have the dream of being featured in Hollywood movie?

 

Of course, we all do. Even the actresses over there are all looking forward to be in Hollywood. I moved to Nigeria to follow my dreams of becoming an actress, with eyes for the bigger screen, which is Hollywood. God has a way of doing things and hopefully, sooner or later, what my heart actually desires will come to pass.

 

Is there a juicy story on how you were able to blend into the Yoruba movie roles? Would you say it was easy?

 

Well some producers still have a problem giving me certain roles where I have to speak the Yoruba d i a – lect.

 

Some producers do call me while others are skeptical at times. I have heard an actress say on set that I was on, “why are they calling this half-caste, this oyibo on set when she is available and can deliver. She was asking if is she not pretty for the role? Is she not this, is she not that?

 

This same person didn’t know that I heard everything she said. This same person came and hugged me and gave me a peck on my cheek. And guess what? I never gave her the attitude that I knew what she said. This happened two months ago on a Yoruba movie set, so obviously she know that I understand the language very well.

 

She was just not happy that I was being called for movie roles and she is not getting any. This is why I tell people I don’t have friends. I am very firm and professional when it comes to my work. If I am on your set, I expect the producer, the production manager and every other person to be professional and do their jobs well.

 

That is me. You know, a lot of people do not know how to get what they deserve. They believe because things are done in a certain way for a long time and so they can only make do with what they are given. That’s not me, I am a professional and I deserve what I deserve. If some people cannot just deal with that.

What you just said buttress the point that there are also haters in Nigerian movie industry. People who pretend they love you in your face and behind you, they are bitter..?

 

Is that not how people are in general? It’s not just in Nollywood, these types of people are everywhere. That is why I tell people not to dwell on negativity. It is going to drain you. It is going to weigh you down. It is going to mess with you mentally.

 

People look at your profile on social media and believe you do not have to lift a finger to get what you want because you grew up abroad, or stayed abroad. Some believe, oh she comes from a rich family and so, it won’t be hard to get the career she wants. Did thing like getting movie roles and other things come easy for you?

 

Well in the past when I just started here in Nigeria. I get these questions a lot. People ask me, ‘Oh, do you think you get favours because of your skin colour? and my answer to their question is, I laugh and say, “I wish”. I have made more enemies than I have made friends. Let’s be honest, ‘do black people really love themselves? I really don’t think so. There is a lot of negativity in this country. Let’s just put it that way.

 

Many actresses, actors and movie producers have come out to say there is no such thing as sex-for-roles in the industry, have you witnessed such?

 

Hell no, I have not gone through that. I don’t think anyone can tell me that before they put me in their movie that they would have to ask me for sex. That can’t happen. I mean, we hear these things happening. We have heard stories about producers, movie makers asking for sex before they give out roles.

 

We have heard such stories a lot and we know people who do this. At the end, how you present yourself as an actress matters a lot.

 

If you present yourself as cheap, that is how you will be treated. If you come across as someone that is desperate, that’s how people will treat you. But if you carry yourself with dignity, people will respect you.

 

They won’t treat you that way. They may talk about you but they know that if they need you on their movie set, they must have to be professional. So if you are asking if I have heard things about it. I will say yes I have but if it has happened to me? No it has never happened to me.

You recently said a man on a movie set molested you sexually and you were very vocal about it…

I really don’t want to talk about it anymore because it gets me upset anytime I remember it.

I don’t want to give him unnecessary publicity. I will rather channel my energy to my movie that is coming out later this month. Yes it did happen, though I am yet to get any apology from him, but I don’t want to dwell on it, because If I continue to think about it, I will take legal action like I wanted to do before. People in this side of the world feel like their voices are silenced.

Or they are scared or intimidated of speaking up. Some are afraid of the unknown, that if they speak up, it may affect their chances of being called for roles. No one has your destiny in their hands. If you feel you have been mistreated on set, you have been sexually harassed or molested on set, you need to speak up.

You need to call these people out because they will keep doing it. Speaking up takes that power away from them. I know how I felt when it happened to me. For a few seconds, my voice vanished because I was shocked. I didn’t believe such just happened to me.

But there is one thing I know, it can never happen again. There are a lot of perverts out here. Most people who are molested keep quiet because they may be exposed if they speak up. But I am happy that this generation is not the generation to be silenced.

 

Tell us a little about your audition days. Were there days you felt like giving up?

 

Auditions, you hear a lot of ‘No’ before you hear a ‘Yes’. Those times were challenging. I didn’t really go for many auditions. A lot of the roles I got were by recommendation or from a movie I did that they watched and liked. Auditions are tedious and we thank God for where we are.

 

Did you study anything acting in school?

 

No, all is God gift. I studied accounting in school.

 

Don’t you think that would have given you more money than acting?

 

I don’t know. I guess if I had lived that life, I would have known. Since I have followed my dream, I would never know what or who I would have been as an accountant. We live and we learn. Let us just enjoy the ride.

Tell us about your movie that is coming out soon.

 

My movie titled ‘Soole’ will be out on November 26. By November 26, it will be shown across cinemas in Nigeria. It has a Yoruba title which means ‘One Chance’ the movie is produced by me. It’s a transportation kind of movie because everything h a p – pened on the bus. It is a story that tackles security in Nigeria.

 

Often times, we hear people being kidnapped on the highway. People getting robbed, people getting killed, while some are held for randsom. Everything that could go wrong in a ‘One chance’ bus happened in ‘Soole’. There is comedy, there is drama and there is suspense. I have Lateef Adedimeji, Sola Sobowale (King of Boys), Femi Jacobs, myself and many others. I have both new faces and old faces. They all have me their best. The movie was directed by that Baddest, Kayode Kasum.

 

Was the story inspired by your personal real life experience?

 

No I have not had such experience. But the story was inspired by real life events that happened to people. We picked a few of those stories and made it into a movie.

 

Is this the first movie you are producing?

 

Yes, this is my first movie and am so excited about it.

 

What was the biggest challenge you faced shooting the movie?

 

Area boys showing up on some of the locations to demand money before you can shoot was one of them. Aside that everything went great. We had proper planning before production started.

 

Any future plans? Are we going to see you going into music?

 

No. Let’s finish one thing at a time. But never say never. My motto is one step at a time.

 

Do you still model?

 

Yes, people pay me to influence. People pay me to wear their brands or use their products. So, yes I still model. Looking good is a good business.

 

What words of encouragement can you give to young Nigerians out there?

 

People do things out of desperation and what I will tell them is to give themselves that chance to make it. Don’t quit easily. Don’t give up on life. Challenges will come, but it is how you handle it that matters a lot.

 

Make sure that whatever that you are doing that you love it, that you have passion for it. Once you have passion for it, every other thing comes easy. And never compromise your own standard to suit somebody else lifestyle. Work hard and everything will work out with God’s time

 

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