Bimbo Akintola is perhaps one of the most versatile actresses in Nollywood. From her role as Tutsy Adigwe in ‘Out of Bounds’ with Richard Mofe-Damijo to her role in Ego Boyo’s ‘Keeping Faith’, Bimbo always delivers. She won the award of Best Actress/English Actress in Nigeria from the Out of Bounds movie and has gone on to star in several award winning movies.
The Theatre Arts graduate of University of Ibadan started her acting career in the movie ‘Owo Blow’ which launched her into mainstream Nollywood. She has also featured in other movies such as The Mourning After, Diamond Ring, Dangerous Twins, and 90th Day.
Bimbo will be making a come back on the big screen in Dimeji Ajibola’s flick, Hoodrush, Nollywood’s first musical thriller. She speaks to Bellanaija’s Adeola Adeyemo about her life, career, and more in this exclusive interview.
Bimbo Akintola is one actress I greatly admire. However, I don’t get to see her in movies as often as I would love to. So when I heard she was going to be on one of the most anticipated movies of this year, Hoodrush, I was happy to hear she was back on the scene. Bimbo struck me as a very down to earth person and she doesn’t have any excuses for her opinions. Chatting with her was very interesting and revealing.
Hi Bimbo. It’s great to know that you will soon be on the big screen with Hoodrush after a long break. Your fans have missed you. Where have you been?
I’ve been around. My soap, Circle of Three, was on TV for two years. I produced, I directed and acted. And after that, Amazons which is on TV right now.
We don’t get to see you on screen, especially movies, as often as we love to. Why?
It’s not like I don’t like acting or I don’t enjoy acting, there is nothing else I want to do with my life. Acting is my passion. But I think at this point, it will be ridiculous for me to be doing useless films. If I can’t get a script that speaks to me, I won’t work. The industry has been there for over twenty years and I think we’ve gotten to the point where we should be doing great works, not mediocre works. Some scripts come to you, and you can’t read the first page. I will find other things to sort out my bills and take care of me, and wait until I can do something sensible.
But you feature in Yoruba movies from time to time…
The scripts are beautiful, the stories are original. People keep saying, why do you do Yoruba movies? Is it that you don’t get English scripts? I could show you at least fifteen scripts in my house right now, but I can’t read them.
Are you particularly choosy when picking movie roles, looking for high budget movies perhaps?
Not true. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve done a lot of low budget movies that I will never see the money till tomorrow because I believe in helping people grow. But you know why I’ve stopped doing that? Because when you watch the movie after, you’d want to cry. They never turn out right. I don’t know why people think because it’s low budget, they shouldn’t pay attention to the small details.
What are these other things you’ve been doing to sort out your bills? How have you been sustaining yourself financially?
I’m a Zodafone ambassador. Zodafone would be out this year or next, it’s a telecommunications outfit. I do a lot of anchoring for shows. And I do scripts once in a while that I like.
How lucrative is anchoring shows?
Think about it, you anchor a show for four hours and you’re paid more than you’re paid in a movie just for one day’s work. 24 hours and you’re smiling to the bank!
Prior to the release of Hoodrush, a suggestive picture of you and OC Ukeje from the movie set sparked off some rumours that you two are dating. What is your take on this?
I think it was Nigerians being their funniest. You put a picture of two people, in what they see as a compromising position in papers, and the next thing is, it has to be that they are dating. Lord, help us! I hope we get past this and behave like educated people someday and let go off all these things. When they tell you something is from a set, that means it’s a make-believe, not true. OC played my toy boy in the movie so we had some pictures where we were in bed together and all of a sudden we are dating. It’s ridiculous.
How real was the chemistry between you two on set?
When I pick up a role, no matter who it is I’m playing with, if I become that character, then the person will do what he’s supposed to do. In whatever I do, I try to make sure that I become that character which makes chemistry and all other things easier. True, there is a sort of thing like on-screen chemistry where both of you look good together. I hope OC and I have that.
Sometimes I hear actors say that even off the set, they still feel that chemistry…
I have never had that problem before and I’m grateful to God. Once I leave the set, I’m back to me. I haven’t made such connection with any actor.
Tell me about your role in Hoodrush.
I played Alhaja. Alhaja is someone that does all kinds of funny things and she likes younger men.
Speaking of younger men, your rumoured romance with OC is not the first time stories have been written about you dating a younger man. Is it a misconception and what are your thoughts about dating younger men?
I like men generally (laughs), being that I’m not bisexual or lesbian. And I don’t think age is a barrier for anything. I know a lot of people who have married women that are ten years older than they are and they have a beautiful relationship. I think it’s the understanding between two people that counts. I know there could be problems dating a younger man but if you find one that is understanding and you two are happy, then go ahead.
Still talking about Hoodrush, the movie is a musical thriller and I understand you sang in it. Have you ever sang in front of an audience?
When I was in school I used to sing at a place called Divine on Allen Avenue. It was myself, late Jaiye Aboderin and loads of other people. We used to perform there every weekend.
Have you ever thought of doing music professionally?
I believe in something; I wanted to become an actor, I went to school and studied Theatre Arts. So if I want to sing, I have to go back to school and study music, plain and simple. That is how it works for me; because you can never know it all if you don’t go and learn it.
With years of experience in acting, one would have expected to see you producing your movies by now. What is keeping you?
I want to, but I’m such a perfectionist I’m holding myself back. I will shoot a film but my problem is I’m looking for writers to work with. I have stories in my head, but I never find the right people to write it. One if the best writers I know is Femi Kayode, you can’t take it away from him. He wrote Keeping Faith. He’s sensitive and my stories go that way, they are always sensitive. And Femi has moved out of Nigeria. But I think I might have found somebody now so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
We don’t get to see you out at social events mingling with other actresses as much as some of your colleagues. Why is that so?
I do get invites to most of those things, but sometimes I’m not able to make it because I have other things that I do. I anchor shows and sometimes, such programmes clash with my own schedules. And if you say I don’t mix with other actors, I do have actors who are my friends. It’s just that I don’t believe because we are in the same profession, we have to be friends. I pick my friends from the heart.
Do you have any actors who you would call your friends?
I love Tonto Dikeh, I’ve met her once. I think she has a lot of respect and I think she’s absolutely beautiful. I love Omotola, and I would say she is my friend. But we don’t see every day, we don’t talk every day. But when we see, we’re together, gisting. That’s the same thing with Stella Damasus. Keppy Ekpenyong is one of my best friends, his wife, his whole family. They’ve been my friends for about twenty years now. I still saw them today. That’s how friendly we are. So, for me, friendship is not by profession. It’s your heart that decides who your friends are.
Let’s talk a bit more personal. What is your definition of an ideal man?
There is no such thing as an ideal man. What you get is a man that you can laugh with and then you build from there. Any woman that’s looking for Mr. Right will die single, old and wrinkled. There is no perfect man. There is no perfect woman. What you have is a work in progress. Each of us is a work in progress.
There have been various versions of your age published in the media. Can you tell us how old you are?
No I won’t. But my Mummy said I should be telling people my ‘new age’ so I’m 26. You know all actresses have a ‘new age’, so that is mine (smiles sweetly).
But if I’m to guess your actual age and relate it with societal norms, you must be under some pressure to get married…
I don’t care, if I had wanted to marry 15 times over, I would have. But I’m not going to marry for people, I would marry for me. If I ever do, it would be for me, so I don’t think it’s anybody’s business.
How about children? Are you under pressure to have children?
I have loads of children.
I mean your biological children?
Biological will come soon. But I have loads and loads of children. One of my daughters is in the University; she is finishing this year. I even have children who are married and giving me grandchildren (laughs).
Does it bother you that you see people whom you call your children having their weddings and you haven’t had yours?
That’s the bad thing, I never attend weddings. But I attended my sister’s wedding. I’m not a wedding, naming ceremony, burial person. I really don’t understand what I’m doing there. But I’m a birthday person. But no, it doesn’t bother me. I will tell you why. We are all individuals, we are not one clone. We have different paths to take in life. Some of us will marry, some of us won’t. Some of us will have kids, some of us won’t.
So I never judge myself according to other people’s standards. And for me, marriage is such a huge deal and I’m not in a hurry to go there. If you find maybe two of my ex’s, you will find out that I’ve had proposals. But I turned them down because at the end of the day, you are saying “I pick this person above everybody else in the world, till death do us part.” I had better believe that! If I don’t believe it, it’s not going to happen. Look, I will be 70 and single if I don’t believe it.
Does this imply that you never had marriage on your mind with any of the guys you’ve dated?
I never dated anybody and thought to myself, “oh, I want to marry this person and stay with this person for the rest of my life.”
Going by religious standards, people say that when you’re dating someone, you should have marriage in view…
Opon ti sun (times have changed). Let me tell you the truth. It was back then that they say “Oh! At forty-something, you’re not married. You are no longer on the shelf.” There is no such thing again. People are getting married at forty-eight. My friend’s aunty got married at fifty-six, her first marriage. It’s no more a thing of you are old you can’t marry. It’s when you find the right man. And I’m glad parents are beginning to realise that they shouldn’t put so much pressure on their children. That’s why marriages are collapsing everywhere. By the time everybody has frustrated the girl in the house, she jumps into the first thing to come along, and two months later, she’s back at home. Marriage is over. And that is such a big shame.
You have said that you love kids. Is there a possibility that you might have kids out of wedlock?
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having kids out of wedlock. It was before that they will say “bastard”, now it’s normal.
Some people would say having children out of wedlock is a diversion from moral values.
Is it? It says in the Bible that God removed a rib from man, Adam, and created his woman. What if your own rib creator has died? Some people die at infancy, some people die in car accident. Are they not somebody’s husband? So who will marry the wife? And some people become priests that don’t marry. If it is in the Bible that each woman is created for a man and some men have died, that means some women’s husbands have gone. So manage your life and be happy. And does that mean such women should not have children?
Let’s even leave that aside. What if you are unlucky and you keep having relationships over and over and you’ve not found the right man. Or it never works out. Would someone tell you that at 45, you shouldn’t have a child? If husband no come, pikin no go come? That will be unfair. That’s two blows to deal one person. Some women out there really want to settle down, but they can’t find a man. So are you going to tell me that for those women, they shouldn’t have children? It’s not possible. You will be wicked to say that.
So much has been said and written about you, some of them are not really nice. How do you handle such scandals?
I ignore a lot of things. You can never please everybody. I’ve known that since I was a child and I believe in it totally. So you please yourself first and foremost, because at the end of the day, when we all die, you will stand in front of your Maker and face judgment alone. I always please myself first. It’s not like I don’t care about other people, I do, but I don’t care what people say about me, and that’s the difference.
So tell me then, who is the real Bimbo Akintola?
I am a very simple person. I love my Mum to bits, she is the most important person in my life. I have friends who have been my friends for over 20 years. I love cooking, I love singing. I believe in God Almighty. I like being part of younger people’s lives; I like to help because I know that I’m not just here for show, I’m doing something to help somebody else.
It was great chatting with Bimbo Akintola and from Bellanaija, we wish her the very best!