Delectable actress Habibat Jinad is one of the rising stars in the Yoruba section of Nollywood. In this interview with YUSUFF ADEBAYO, she discusses her acting career so far, the extent of her influence on her 14-year old son’s decision to become an actor and her brief stint in the central Englishspeaking film industry.
Asides that you were born in Kano in 1984, not so much is known about your background. Who is Habibat Jinad?
Yes, I was born in Kano in 1984. Later on, we moved down to Abeokuta in 1990 because something happened over time and there was no way we could survive there. So, we had to move to Abeokuta. Growing up was stressful but I thank God that I passed through all the stress because na him make my brain sharp well well now. If I hadn’t passed through those things, I would have turned out to be a dullard.
Are you in any way related to veteran actor, Jinadu Ewele?
I am not related to Baba Jinadu Ewele. I am not at all. My surname is just Jinadu. I am from Abeokuta; Iberekodo, that’s where I am from. In fact, Jinadu is just a nickname to him which he used in one of his movies. It’s not his real name.
You’ve been acting for 12 years now. How has that experience been so far?
For 12 years now, I’ll say the experience is not bad. It’s good. I have faced so many things up till now. So, it isn’t bad. At least I’m still alive. Anything you’re doing and you didn’t die, you have to thank God and believe say you go still make am. And thank goodness, I’m still in it and my son is in it now. So, it’s been good.
You decided to concentrate on acting in 2007. How convinced were you at that point that acting is truly your calling?
Well, I loved watching movies right from my childhood. I loved watching Indian movies. I never knew I was going to be an actor. I just loved watching them and their characters. I don’t even have favourites. I just wanted to watch any movie that came my way. Later on, I was like, what can I do after I left my husband’s house. I wanted to do something. I wanted to prove to the world that I can do this. So, I joined Afeez Owo in 2008, although I had started acting since 2007 with English; that’s AGN (Actors Guild of Nigeria). But their stress was too much. Later on, I joined my boss Afeez Owo in 2008 and I graduated in 2010. So, I’m still here and thank God for everything.
The first film you featured in was Alaborun in 2008 and you went on to produce your movie, Omokomo, in 2010. That was just a space of two years, so would you consider that you ventured into production pretty early or that time frame was just enough for you to consider producing your own movies?
I had money and I decided to produce a movie in 2010. There’s no big deal. Producing a movie at that time, you had to have at least N1million before you can produce a movie. So, that’s it.
How tough is it to be a movie producer in Nollywood?
It’s very tough. If you want to produce a good movie, you have to spend so much money. After spending the money, you have to take it to the marketers. The marketers will still owe you money. So, it’s very tough. It’s only the grace of God that we are enjoying. We can’t leave it. If we leave it and go find another job, who will do this? Na we start am and na we go make the money.
Why did you stop hosting your Television show?
I mean you were pretty good at it and even got an award for it. What happened? What happened was I was acting before Mr. Bimbo Ogunsanya saw me. I was actually a guest on Miliki Express on Orisun TV back then. So, Mr. Bimbo was like, Habibat, can you present for me? I told him I’m not a presenter, although, while growing up, I used to watch Seun Olagunju on AIT. Well, the reason why I stopped was because the CEO said we should always bring money to the company and I didn’t have time for that. I’ll go to locations, come back to the studio to record and the CEO was not giving me anything for like three years and a half. I’ll be the one to costume myself and generally take care of myself. No salary! At the end of the day, you still expect us to collect money from the guests. So, I told him, I don’t think I could continue doing it. I’d rather face my acting career squarely. And thank goodness, ever since I left, my acting career has really grown bigger and better. So that was the reason I left.
You were meant to feature in an English movie, ‘Married but Living Single,’ a movie also starring Funke Akindele, Joseph Benjamin and Joke Silva but the project didn’t work out. That would have been your entry into the more centralised English-speaking movie sector. How do you feel about missing that opportunity?
We actually shot the movie. We shot ‘Married but Living Single’. That was in 2012/13. We shot it. I acted with Funke Akindele and Joseph Benjamin in a restaurant. No be only Yoruba I dey do. I don feature in so many English movies. I’ve worked with ROK2 on Sounds of Times, Malomo is an English movie produced by Yvonne Jegede. It’s not out yet. City of Bastards, that’s for cinema, it’s not out yet too. Shelf was showed on Africa Magic Showcase. I’ve featured in eight to nine English movies but it’s just that acting in English movies is stressful compared to Yoruba films. Before you can enter, na wahaala.
Your son, Joshua has started acting. He’s just 14. How much influence did you have on his decision to venture into acting?
My son didn’t like acting from the outset but with the grace of God, I was able to persuade him to be an actor because we don’t really have kid actors in Yoruba movies and opportunity comes but once. So, I told him, Joshua, you need to take this opportunity. He rejected it in the first place but I was able to convince him to be an actor. And he’s doing well at it. He has won two awards in Nigeria and abroad.
I saw a 2018 interview of yours where you mentioned that you were planning to further your education beyond SSCE certification. Has there been any development in that regard?
I’m still planning to further my education. I can go back to school perhaps when I turn 50 years. Nobody can stop me. The main thing is if you don’t move closer to me, you won’t know. At least, I am not an illiterate. I will still go back to school. Nobody can push me to go to school by force. There’s time for everything so I’ll go but not now.
Are there projects coming from you which fans should be excited about?
Yes. By the grace of God, my son’s production is coming out very soon. We are planning to work on his first production. So, watch out and I want you to support him and us. Please buy and watch his movies. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag. So, watch out.