I’m not a stereotyped actor – Adedimeji Lateef
by OMONIYI ALLI
Nollywood actor, Adedimeji Lateef Adetona has evolved over time from featuring in home videos and now to the big screen where he said he is currently enjoying and living his dreams as a thespian.
Adedimeji who joined Nigeria’s film industry 15 years ago has featured in over 100 significant films including Ayinla amongst many others. In this chat with OMONIYI ALLI, spoke about his career, his personality amongst other various issues.
Q: Is it good to say Ayinla was your best movie?
A: I think Ayinla is. If you look at it, I’ve featured in a lot of amazing movies but Ayinla was on another level entirely, in a way apart from others.
Q: How has playing the role of the legendary Ayinla Omowura impacted your real life as an individual?
A: The movie Ayinla placed me on another level entirely. The story itself teaches me a whole lot. It shows that when you are famous in life, be rest assured that things that don’t make sense will come to you. So, you must be prepared on how to attend to issues and learn how to react to every situation that comes your way.
If Ayinla had taken caution at a time somebody upset him, he might probably still be alive because when you are somebody every dog can choose to bark at you. So, it teaches me that I need to be calm in every situation. It’s not everything that people say to you that you must react to, just overlook it and move on with your life.
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Q: Do you think you’ve been stereotyped since you’re always given the same type of role?
A: Not at all, I’m not a stereotyped actor. At first, it was me playing only romantic roles and crying (laughs). At a point in time, I realized that it could get me nailed to a particular role. So, I was like, ‘people have never seen me in a comedy role’ until I started the role of an Igbo man in a movie and people were surprised
Q: For you, how did the journey begin?
A: It started so many years ago, in my JSS 2. Basically, I was trained by a Non-Governmental Organisation, ‘Community Life Project (CLP)’ in Isolo, Lagos. In those days, there was limited accessibility to television for grassroots people so there was a need to sensitize people, especially the youth about HIV/AIDs, STDs and other diseases.
So, CLP goes to secondary schools to pick the best students and train them to be peer educators through eighteen topics so that they can impart the knowledge to their fellow youths at the stage of puberty.
I was lucky to be part of the trainees who passed information to people via dance, music and acting. So, that was how my acting career started and I was with them for seven years. After that, instead of me studying Theatre Art at the university, I felt it would be a total waste of another four years so I decided to opt for the Mass Communication department to study Public Relation and Broadcast at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State.
I came out of school and I became a presenter on TV for like five years with Nigezie. So, when my acting became demanding I had to drop my broadcast world for acting.
Q: If not acting, what would have become?
A: I always wanted to be a lawyer but I do a lot of silly things and people laugh. So it was when I joined the NGO I found out that acting is my line.
Q: Like every other filmmaker, have you also rejected scripts?
A: Yes, recently I turned down a lot of scripts because I felt like they do not convey a good or genuine message. Then what is the essence of doing it? I’ve realized we don’t act in movies for the sake of it.
We need to be deliberate and intentional about the message we want to get across to people. Everybody wants to be an actor or a star, but the profession is beyond you just going to be there. You have to merge the talent with the right things so that you can have it well nurtured and well-tuned.
Q: Do you think a better storyline is better than fantastic acting or directing?
A: You can have a good storyline but you don’t have a good person to bring that vision to life. So I think all three go hand in hand.
Q: There is a belief that female actors are more successful than male actors; do you agree with that?
A: I don’t believe in that because it depends on how you plan to live your life. Some people can buy a car today and choose to show it to the world while some may buy four cars and not even post one of them on social media. But a lot of people feel when you post stuff; it gives you a hype that maybe brands will come for you. You know, people with different orientations.
I might post nothing, it doesn’t mean brands will not come for you, you may post something, but it doesn’t mean brands will come for you. So, I believe everybody is successful in one way or the other, so, it depends on how you portray it to people. I’ve been here for quite sometime before my fame finally came. I’ve done movies for ten days for N1, 000, I played lead roles of 98 scenes for N4, 000 and many others but today I can be paid millions for a consistent film.
Q: What’s your opinion of the Nigerian movie industry?
A: Good impression. In every industry, there will be right and wrong. What is important is where do you want to stand? You wanna go with the wrong or stand with the right? You can go with the wrong one and have a lot of crowd following you but what does that teach you? And you can be right and have limited people with you because negativity trends more than positivity, especially on social media.
Many people pick negativity because they want to be noticed by fans, you can be noticed at some point but what happens afterwards? So, always stay on the positive path no matter how long you’ll get to where you are going.