When Nollywood star Dakore Akande decided to take a break off acting a few years ago, many people thought she had left the movie industry for good. We were sad to see one of our favourite stars off the scene but were happy to hear of her beautiful romance story, exquisite wedding and the birth of her daughter. Being the sweetheart that she is, she made a comeback to acting last year in the movie ‘Journey To Self’ dispelling the rumours of her supposed exit from acting.
Dakore actually began her journey to entertainment as an undergraduate student of University of Lagos in a TV drama called ‘Inheritance’. She also cultivated her music talents through writing and performing in London while she worked with BEN Television as a Presenter and Producer. The former Amstel Malta Ambassador is a multiple award winning actor and has featured in over 60 movies.
It can be quite a task scheduling interviews with some of our favourite celebs, but with Dakore, it took only one Tweet, which led to one email, and then one phone call. And that was it! We met within the week at a Spa somewhere in Ikoyi, Lagos and I had the most amazing afternoon chatting with Mrs Akande.
The New Look
I really like this look and what I see you doing with your hair recently. But I just have to ask, what happened to your signature dreadlocks?
Honestly I didn’t set out to make it my signature hairstyle. I don’t call it dreads because there is nothing dreadful about it. I call it locs without a ‘K’. I had it for 12 years and from the 11th year I started getting bored. In the mirror, I’d see the same old look so I started telling myself that I would soon take it off. I cut them off last year after I had my baby. There was no pressure from anybody or from any corner, it was all me. I wanted to be more versatile with my looks.
12 years is a long time. What inspired you to get it done in the first place?
I got it in 2000 and before then, I was such a diva with my hair. I would do braids or weaves, but my hair wasn’t doing well with all the relaxing. I had always admired people who do locks from when I was very young. I kept telling my Mum that “Mum, one day you’d come back and see that I’ve loced my hair” and truly one day she travelled and saw it on me when she came back. But she said “Oh, you’ll get tired” because I get bored very quickly. But somehow, one year turned into two years, five years and then twelve years. It was just very comfortable, very convenient, I didn’t have to sit in a salon all day. I could just get up and go which is very much a part of my personality. Now it’s more acceptable but when I started doing it, people would look at me like I was crazy. But I’m glad that it caught on and a lot of people are going natural now.
I notice you still have your hair natural when you wore an Afro recently. Do you have any plans to get it relaxed?
At this moment in time, I don’t think so because I’ve been wearing my hair natural for so long and it’s growing beautifully.
How has the feeling been since you cut it off? Don’t you miss it?
I’m really enjoying doing different things with my hair now. I didn’t throw them away, I kept them in a nice little chest in my house just for sentimental reasons. The locs were my natural hair that grew that long. So, African hair does grow long, believe it or not.
Her Return to Acting
Around the time you got married, rumours were rife that you were going to stop acting and it came as a surprise to many when you returned back to the scene. What do you think prompted those rumours?
I never at any time gave any interview to say that I was stopping my career but people just assumed that was what I was going to do. Maybe I had a little bit to do with it in the sense that I didn’t address it, but I felt why address it when it’s a lie. I felt that if I addressed it, people might not believe me so I had to just do the work and let that speak for me. I am in a movie now so people can see that for real, I’m back.
Some media sources were adamant that your father-in-law extracted a promise from you to stop acting.
Were they in the room with me at the time? Were they there when my father in-law supposedly said if I want to marry his son, I have to stop acting. That is the downside of being in the public eye, people just create all sorts of stories. I am not doing anything without the approval of my family or my husband’s family. Nobody ever told me to stop acting.
So, why the long break then? You were off the scene for almost five years and took a break from acting even before you got married.
It just happened that way, I didn’t plan it. Life just sometimes takes over. Up until that time, I was all about my career but then I met someone who I fell in love with and that changed my whole life. I had to give more time to my relationship to make sure I nurtured it away from the public eye as much as I could. I took an inadvertent break to focus on my relationship. Being a career woman is great and I was lucky to have some success at it. But at the end of the day, family and having a stable, happy home is more important to me and I knew that something would have to give. At that time, it was my career that had to give.
Aside from the fact that you weren’t acting, you were also not making many public appearances. We didn’t see you at social events for a long time. What happened?
Even though I’m an actor, I am a bit of a recluse. I keep to myself, I don’t socialize a lot. But I’m coming out of my shell now. Sometimes it’s difficult trying to find that balance between being in the public eye and having a private life as well.
What else has been taking up your time professionally for the past few years?
I actually shot a pilot for my talk show in Los Angeles. It’s called “The Dakore Show” but unfortunately, it didn’t catch on the way we thought it would. I had already started performing as a musician before I started acting so I’ve been wanting to come back into that. But I believe it’s all about timing. Sometimes, when you do more than one thing, it can be difficult to know what to put all of your energy in.
We are going to talk about your music career in a bit but before then, what were you able to do during the long break that you couldn’t do before?
To be honest, all those years I was shooting in Nollywood, travelling, I had no time for my friends and family. I wouldn’t see my Mum in months, I was just disconnected. But these few years I’ve just been chilling, and I’ve been able to reconnect with my old friends. There is a lot more to life than just work, work, work. I’ve just been having fun, travelling.
It must be easy to just have fun and travel when you’re a “Mrs Akande” ?
Not really. Even before I got married, I had one leg in Nollywood and one leg out. I was living in London and I would come back, shoot a movie and then go back. I have a ‘Gypsy’ side of me, I love to travel, I love to explore different things and luckily for me, I’m with someone who also loves the same thing. So we travel for months on end. We’d be in America, UK or wherever, just having fun or living life. This is just me, the best of me I can be.
You’re back on the big screen in ‘Journey To Self’. Why did you decide to make a comeback in that particular movie?
All the time I was away, I was looking at scripts. But I wanted a script that spoke to me, that I really felt challenged by. I was in Nigeria when I got the script from Ashionye and I knew it was it but for some reason, we couldn’t shoot it at the time. So I went back to America and shortly after, she called me and said they were ready to shoot. I had to fly back to Nigeria with my baby but it was because I believed in the story and now that I’m a Mom, women’s issues are even more at the forefront of my consciousness.
Is the movie now showing in the Cinemas? It’s been a long time since the premiere.
We premiered the movie in November, expecting to start showing in the Cinema in December but it had to be postponed due to some production issues. We opened nationwide in all Silverbird Cinemas on May 10th so please go out and support it.
What changes have you noticed in the movie industry since the time you got back?
We weren’t doing that many movies for cinemas but now, it’s amazing, we have lots of Nigerian movies in the Cinemas. There are also a lot of new faces, many of them I admire. People like OC Ukeje, Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju and KC Ejelonu. I keep in touch with what is going on and I read a lot of BellaNaija. The industry has changed and I can see it just getting better.
Family, Growing Up, Music & More
Your marriage was well celebrated in the media and with those magazine interviews and pictures, it was obvious to see that you two were in love. How have you been able to keep the spark in your marriage since then?
Honestly, it’s been by the special grace of God. It sounds like a cliché but truly, that is what it takes. You can’t be in a marriage without God. We are both Christians, we went for counseling in Church, we did the ground work so we know the areas where we have to work harder like our communication for instance. Also, we have a great support network in the family. It’s been the grace of God and the love that we have between us and now, the love has become even more expanded because we have a daughter who is just awesome.
You’ve managed to keep your daughter away from the limelight. Why?
Regarding my daughter at the heart of it it’s because I want to protect her as much as possible and make sure she is ready. I don’t mind really, but what if she minds? Then what? Now she is a baby, she can barely speak. I want her to get to the age when she can say “Mom, I’d like to do this photoshoot with you”. I want to respect her as an individual and make sure it’s something she is comfortable with because once you’re out there, you’re out there. I know what I do but I don’t want to affect her life if that is not what she wants to do as well.
Tell me about your background and your growing up years.
My parents are from Bayelsa state but I was born in Lagos. I went to Corona Primary School in Gbagada, Federal Government College in Bauchi and I studied Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. I am the first born, the first of five children and I also have half brothers and sisters so together, we’re all ten. Being a senior made me become very independent because I had to look after my younger ones.
When and how did you get into acting?
After my University, I wanted to explore my Gypsy spirit and I moved to London. At the time, they had just started the Actor’s strike in Nigeria. This was a long time ago around 1999 but before then, I shot two movies. When I got to London, I was fortunate to find a big promoter and I started performing at some big halls like the prestigious Royal Festival Hall. I was also writing Poetry. Then the strike ended back in Nigeria and those two movies I had shot were released and everybody was looking for me. People asked me to come back home to shoot more movies so that was bringing me back and forth.
Back to your music now. I remember you put out a single a while back on YouTube. Who did you work with on that song and how was it received?
I worked with Sandra Isadore, the woman who inspired Fela to become political in his music. I met her in Los Angeles and she just became my Godmother. It turns out that her husband, Byron McNeish is a sound engineer who does work for Akon and Snoop Lion. We were just messing around in the studio where I recorded the song and we shot the video as well around the time I was shooting the Pilot for my talk show. The reviews were mixed, some people liked it, some didn’t but its better if more people like it than not. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and I’m working with a voice coach now. With the way Nigerian music has exploded, I want to see how I can maintain my own artistry and mix it with the sounds of now.
Your style has evolved so much that BellaNaija had to do a feature on your revamped style recently. What really happened to your style?
Thanks for noticing! I just wanted to kick the game up a notch. I have always dressed myself and I can say I have a fairly good sense of style. But I wanted to work with someone who was very up to date and who was in the know. I’ve been working with a great stylist, her name is Zara. She has been doing a great job. You featured in a stage production, the V Monologues early this month. What was the experience like?
That was my first foray on stage. It was so exciting, a play talking about women’s issues and how they suffer different atrocities. I live half the time in Chicago and back there, it’s a big theater town where I watch lots of plays and I kept saying I’d like to act on stage. Luckily for me, the opportunity came with a stellar cast. I’d like to appeal to people that we should talk about women’s issues more especially now that we are hearing of women being bathed with acid, women being killed and so on.
You talk often about living in Chicago. Where are you planning to raise your daughter, here in Nigeria or the U.S.A?
Anywhere. She is in school now in Lagos, she was also in school in Chicago. I think it’s nice because it opens her to a lot more opportunities and cultures. She is just going to go wherever we go but for now we’re here at least until the summer.
When you were photographed at the Nollywood Presidential Dinner, some bloggers insinuated that your nose looked different and you must have gotten a nose job. How true is this?
It’s the miracle of makeup! For the event, I got my amazing makeup artist Bimpe Onakoya to make me up. She just contoured the sides of my nose and before I knew it, I had done a nose job! So thank you for asking me, I didn’t do any nose job. And so what if I did? But I didn’t. If I did a nose job, I would be the first person to tell everybody.
A lot of women don’t feel too good about certain parts of their body. Do you wish you could change any part of your body with cosmetic surgery?
No. And jokingly she added Oh, maybe my boobs, I’d like to have a little more. It’s all wishful thinking because I don’t think I can actually go and do that. I’m happy with the way I am.
What are your views on cosmetic surgery and women who do it to enhance their body parts?
Do what makes you happy. I am not an advocate, neither am I a naysayer. I just believe people should do what makes them happy. I’m not going to judge anybody.
Before you go, tell me one romantic thing your husband did recently.
On the set of the stage play, he bought me a big bouquet of flowers and single roses for all the other ladies in the cast. He knows I love flowers so he spoils me sometimes.
What plans do you have for your acting career this year?
I have a few projects that I’m discussing with people right now. But I think what is important is just to let people know that I’m back and I’m working. Hopefully ‘Journey To Self’ would open more opportunities. I also shot a movie recently in Cameroon where I play an inadvertently diabolical doctor. I’m looking to come out more and get back to what I do. I must say I’ve missed it, I really have and it’s good to be back.
It was great chatting with Dakore and from BellaNaija, we say its great to have you back!
Dakore – ‘Don’t Make Me’
‘Journey To Self’ Teaser