By Damilola Fatunmise
Jide Awobona is popular for her comedic role in Funke Akindele Jenifa’s diary. Now he’s adopted a more “serious” character in his new movie, Alabede, which premiered amid glamor and panache at Viva Cinema, Ikeja, Lagos last Sunday.
In this conversation, Awobona talks about the epic film and gives reasons why culture-loving Nigerians should see it. Here are excerpts.
You were part of the ‘Jenifa’s Diary’ series as an actor, is this your first film as a producer?
It would be the seventh film I’ve produced, but it’s a first of its kind; I’ve never made an epic film before.
How does it feel to get into this genre and take all the risks that come with it?
He feels good. It’s a way of telling people that I am more than what they think I am. It’s a way of letting people see a different side of me… letting them know that I am a deep Yoruba.
What is the movie, Alabede everything on?
The film revolves around a special family whose sole responsibility is to circumcise adult males. I would really stop here because I wouldn’t want to say the same. I want people to come out and experience it spoiler-free. The film explains why people should not joke about the culture, norms and traditions.
What gave birth to the idea for the film?
The story was conceived over 10 years ago and I’m nurturing it. And every year I always put on something new, but then the whole production: pre-production, production and post-production took over a year.
Is this film inspired by lived events or is it pure fiction?
It is fiction, but then based on our culture and our traditions. It’s all about culture and tradition. Your culture, your language are part of your identity; so don’t throw it away.
Who are some of the popular Nigerian actors who have been chosen?
You can’t make a story like this without the legends of the industry. I have Antar Laniyan, Peter Fatomilola and Jumoke Odetola to name a few.
The subject of circumcision on adults or women, especially in the western world is a sensitive subject, where does the film come in to tell a story about circumcision?
This one is centered on male circumcision; it is not about excision. Female circumcision is quite complicated; so I didn’t touch it. It is male circumcision that even the western world still embraces, we only showed viewers how it was done decades ago.
What do you want potential moviegoers to expect in the cinema?
Another Jide Awobona. You come to see the beauty of African culture, Yoruba culture to be precise. You come to see a beautiful story.
Would you say this is your most difficult project so far?
I would say this is my biggest challenge so far because of a lot of things you can see right now, like going all the way to Oyo to film… taking all those unique faces there was very uncomfortable. I’m more of a perfectionist so it hasn’t been easy for me.
You play a comedic role in ‘Jenifa’s Diary’, how does it feel to move on to a more ‘serious’ role that is often demanded of dramatic films? Additionally, what were the unique challenges encountered?
After reading a script, I automatically wear the character. If it’s a comedy, I’ll go for it. If it’s a “serious” character, I wear it; It belongs to me. It’s about understanding what you’re playing; it is a question of understanding the character and of “living” it during this period. Regarding the challenges, there are several.