What my grandmother did for me to get fame – Nollywood veteran

Oga Bello recounts early challenges in Nollywood, role his grandmother played in making him a star

 

– Season Nigerian actor Adebayo Salami explains journey into Nollywood as well struggles to become prominent
– Recounts falling in love with acting at an early age and the support from his grandmother in ensuring he achieved acting dream
Veteran Nollywood actor Adebayo Salami recently spoke exclusively to Vanguard on his acting career, his struggle to make a name for himself in the movie industry as well as the role that changed the game for him.
With a career spanning decades, the Yoruba movie actor said he first started out with acting for a concert group led by Ojo Ladipo in 1964.
He explained that passion led him into becoming an actor and entertainer.
Following this, he went on to acquire some needed skills which helped launch his career properly in the industry.

He said of his journey into Nollywood and his other skills as a writer and movie director: “From the outset, acting has been part of me. I had to embrace acting because of  the passion I have for it. Moreover, I have the talent. Along the line, I acquired the needful skills and this helped me to break into the industry. The other side of me, which my fans are not aware of, is the fact that I write scripts, direct and produce movies. I have directed a couple of good which I also produced.”
On who discovered him, Bayo Salami also known as Oga Bello said he discovered himself.
He revealed that while as a little boy, he would watch one of the popular drama stars of the time onstage and get inspired.
Oga Bello recounts falling in love with with the business of acting so much he would try to recreate images of being an actor in his head.
He said: “I discovered myself. While I was growing up, I used to watch one popular Yoruba actor, Ayinla Olumegbon on stage. I must confess that he really inspired me to go into acting. I was so much in love with his acting prowess that I try to recreate his image each time I’m in my bathroom . But unfortunately, I was living in a public yard. So, there was usually a long queue mat our bath room. despite this challenge, I  still managed to re-enact Ayinla’s roles in movies, while taking my bath. And each time, I was in the bathroom, my neighbours would scream and knock ceaselessly on the door until I open it.”
Speaking on the challenges he faced in the early stages, he said his parents initially kicked against his decision to to become an actor.
He also talked about the fact of the movie industry not being as profitable as it is today. But he carried on unfazed till establishing himself as a household name.
He said: “talking of the period between 1964 and 969.  I can remember vividly that in the beginning, the industry was not rewarding financially, but I was not disturbed. To me, I was just acting for the fun of it. It was more of a hobby than anything else. During that period, I was spending my personal money to actualize my dream.  I was passionate about the world of acting. And I didn’t consider spending my personal money to mean anything to me.
“The most disheartening one was that of my parents refusal to encourage me to go into acting. Back in time, those in show business were treated as beggars, drop-outs and never-do-well in the society. So my parents saw my going into acting as something that would drag the family’s name in the mud. They did all they could do to frustrate my efforts.”
But the actor said he found solace in his grandmother who stood by him when everyone else was not there.
Eventually, his parents agreed for him to carry on with acting which eventually led him to becoming a figure of respect for the family.
He said: “Fortunately, while my parents were against my decision to go into acting, my grandmother  supported me. She did not stop there. The old woman did everything  to convince my parents to allow me follow my dreams.  However, at last , my parents gave me the go-ahead.  My uncle too, supported me.  I thank God that before my father passed on,  he realized his mistake because I made the family proud as an actor of great repute.”
On the role that gave eventually confirmed his status as a star, the 62-year-old actor recounts a 1970 competition titled the Lagos state Festival of Arts and Culture and his participation in it by appearing in a drama.
He added that he became prominent just after winning the competition.

He said: “I remember in 1970, there was a competition organized by the Lagos State government. It was known as Lagos State festival of the Arts. I took part in the drama competition and came tops. From that moment, I became a star. The play which launched me into the industry was titled “Ogbogbenuga”meaning “Wisdom uplifted Me”. I was actually overwhelmed by this great  feast.  For the first time, Nigeria leading newspaper then, Daily Times did a story on me. It was incredible! I consolidated this with my appearance on the television show; “Bar Beach Show” produced by Oladele Bank Olemoh and presented by Art Alade, the father of Dare Art Alade.”
He also harped on the importance of hard work, tolerance, honesty and discipline, saying these were the factors that helped shape him to become who he is today.

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