Bukky Ogunnote is a veteran actress and show host. She has featured in many notable stage and screen productions. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, she talks about how she started as a drummer, later became an actress and challenges she had to overcome. She also talks about her experience growing up in a polygamous family, among other issues
In a few days from today, the year 2021 will roll to an end, and a new year begins. Looking back, how has it been in the last one year?
All I can say is that in the last one year it has been God, because this year has been better, a lot better than 2020, I give God the glory. It has been up and down, somehow, from one artiste to the other, I have every cause to glory the Almighty God. God has been so faithful. All in all, I have every cause to glory God Almighty.
For the entertainment industry, would you say it has been a fruitful year?
For the entertainment industry, it has been a fruitful year, I must say. With the activities going on here and there, it has been wonderful. If nobody will return the glory to God, personally, I would say God thank you, because 2020 is enough for us to be using as yardstick, it was terrible, although, it affected all sectors, but it affected the entertainment industry the most because we deal with crowd. So, it really affected us, but this year we give God the glory. Some people might not be satisfied; we might not be where we want to be, but this year is far better than what we had last year, and it is going to be better. We are getting there by God’s grace.
Tell us your experience growing up in a polygamous family?
My experience growing up in a polygamous family, thank God you said my experience, because it is very relative and it depends on the individual. My mother never thought us to grow with hatred. When we were very young, just three of us from my mother – my brothers and I. She never thought us to hate anybody. We all grew together, so hardly will people really know that these children belong to this particular woman or those ones belong to the other woman, especially me, being the only girl in the entire family.
I was very active, very lively; I was always shuttling in-between daddy’s house, mummy’s house like that. And amongst my brothers, there was never any gap at a certain point. But when we started knowing right from wrong, when we started attaining adulthood, then we started listening to my mother concerning some certain things.
At times I respectfully tried to make her not to say such things or feel that way. Because my mummy was not a Yoruba woman, she really didn’t talk much; she was a woman of few words. The moment we, her children, were not siding her, she will just keep quiet, and she will just be praying for us. So, really, I must say that it was a great experience for me. Both parents, in fact, three of them – my daddy, my step-mother and my mother, are no more. A lot had happened, but I don’t want to go into it because some of them are personal.
But, I will say that if you find yourself in a polygamous family, let your mind be free towards people, even if they are thinking evil towards you, it will never come to you. One way or the other, it will always boomerang. Let them plot that evil; it will never come near you. At times such evil might delay your achievement; it might slow down some things that you are supposed to achieve in life, but definitely, whatever God has written concerning you will come to pass. I must say that it was a great experience growing up in a polygamous house, even now that my parents are dead… It is well.
You studied Physical and Health Education at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), despite your interest in the performing arts. Why did you not study Dramatic Arts?
Yes, I did Physical and Health Education at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). Alongside, as I was doing Physical and Health Education programme, I was also doing my A’ Levels as well, because Physical and Health Education programme was a Diploma programme. So, I was doing my A’ Levels at Oyo State College of Arts and Science (OSCAS) as well. With the two results, I went into direct entry for my first degree which was in English Language. I had BA (Hons) English Language at University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). While I was doing that, I did some drama courses at Unifersity of Ife then. So, I really had background on dramatic art. So, aside the fact that it is inborn I still went ahead to study some rudiments of theatre arts. Then, I transfered to the University of Lagos, where I completed my English.
Why have you not gone into music?
Many people have been saying that I should go into music. I don’t believe that all of us must cross from theatre into music or from music into theatre. My level in music didn’t go beyond Church. The voice that I have, that the Lord has given me, I am using it to praise Him. I have been invited to some few places, some of our sister parishes in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), to minister. I am a member of the national mass choir of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). So, the voice that I have, for now, I am use it to praise God. I have not really gone into professionally.
How has the COVID-19 affected you as an artiste?
As an Artiste, Covid-19 affected me so much by taking away my job from me. I am not a salary earner, it is when we have jobs that we get money. Moreover, as you know, this job of ours involve crowd and Covid-19 spread more where there are people, especially when social distancing is not observed. So, it affected me financially the most. In fact, COVID-19 affected everybody. As I said earlier on, our job has to do with people; and with COVID-19, we could not do it. So, it really affected us. It dragged down the business that time, and we could not do much beacuse that time, all the social distancing, face mask wearing and so many other things that we should observe. So, it really affected the industry. And of course, with COVID-19, people learnt new things; so many things came into being. For instance, the use of the Zoom, that people had not been using before, many people later realised that it is an important tool. Even till now, people are still using it. People discovered that they could even seat down at home and do their jobs from home, except in few cases where they need hold physical meetings. So, it has opened our eyes to so many things.
So, how did your career as professional artiste began?
I will say that my career as a professional artiste began when I started featuring in NTA programmes, such as ‘Telemovies’, ‘The Third Eye’, which was when I started earining money as an artiste. Then, it used to be N150 per episode, they will still remove tax o. Gradually, we graduated to getting paid N250 per episode. I worked with Uncle Olu Jacobs, Last Eguavoen, the late Lai Arasanmi. Later, I started featuring in ‘After The Storm’, produced by Nkemka Nkemka and Oynedibie of NTA. So, it started over two decades ago at NTA, since in the early 90s. Before then I was doing some acting and dance performances; but those ones were done in schools. I was not paid for them. So, after that, I started featuring in home videos.
You were also a drummer at some point. Why did you stop?
Actually, I did not stop as a drummer. It is just that the attention I give to drumming now is not as I used to give it then, because I started my acting career as a drummer. I could play different types of drums then – conga, gungun, akuba and others. But as time went on we started discovering other talents, and we were concentrating more on some than the other. That’s just what happened. It is true that whatever you do, with constant practice, you keep improving. But the moment you drop it for long it will not be like sombody that is doing it regularly. So, if I get drums now I can still play some of them but it will not be as professional as it would have been if I were to be doing it regularly.
Tell us about your most memorable experience on stage and screen?
I can’t say there is a most memorable experience for me, because I see every script, every opportunity to either go on stage or on screen as a new challenge. So, I give it all that it takes. I see each job as a new experience and I work towards making every job a memotable one. So, I can’t really say thisis my best, best in this case is relative. For every job, you meet different people; every job gives different challenges. The job I did 15 years ago could be as memorable as the one I will still do tomorrow.