Multiple awards- winning Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele-Bello was the latest guest on CNN African Voices and there she talked about her rise to stardom in the movie industry.
According to her, acting was her passion but she had to study law on the insistence of her father, however, after graduation, she pursued her first love.
Looking back at when she started in the industry as a young adult, the actress has many things to show for her hard work.
Getting her big break from the sitcom,“I Need to Know,” *the actress has become well-known from her comedy series,“Jenifas Diary,” while she just-released a music-oriented drama,“Industreet.”
Funke Akindele-Bello takes us into her world of scripts, cameras, and awards and how she created her popular ‘Jenifa’ character.
Read some excerpts below.
On her entry into the industry through the sitcom, “I Need to Know”
I attended the audition, I didn’t know I was going to be picked but I got the role and that was a major break for me. It was sponsored by UNFPA, you know, trying to reach out to young people to know about sex education, educate them on HIV/Aids, telling them abstinence was the best thing.
When I started, I never thought I will be this celebrated. I was 20-years old then when I shot the pilot and I learned a lot on the set of “I need to know”. Even behind the cameras, the director then will tell us a lot about the camera, the sound equipment, and the editing equipment.
After ‘I need to know,’ I went back to casting and auditions of other movies but I didn’t get the break. So, one of my friends reached out to me on a Yoruba movie that was to be casted, I went there and I was given the role. So, I started out from there, acting and featuring from minor roles to major roles. I started out producing Yoruba movies.
On her parents
My dad wanted me to be a lawyer. I told him, I said, “Dad, I want to go for acting now. To study theater arts” and dad said, “no, I don’t want you to study theater arts, I want you to be a lawyer.” I told him I don’t want to but he said I have to, “I want you to be a lawyer.” Ok, fine, “I’ll go to school but once I graduate, I’ll give you the certificate and I’ll go and pursue my passion” and he said, “fine, anything you want to do.”
On her foundation
We reach out to young people. You know their talents in acting and music and dance. I also have my school of drama, where I also train young people in acting.
The only advice I usually give is, stay focused. When you know what you want for yourself. You get a lot of nos, stay focused, you’ll get there.
On Jenifas Diary
Jenifa was created 2008. I was in Lagos State University then and I heard different stories of girls attending parties, going to meet older men for money, doing prostitution. We heard a lot of funny stories, girls used for money rituals, HIV/Aids, STDs and my mom will tell you, you have to wait. She’ll check on you always.
I got that from her and I was like how I’m I going to reach out to young people that abstinence is the best, that if you must do it, protect yourself. So I created Jenifa.
Jenifa is funny. She’s gonna add humor to it. They are tired of hearing “HIV/Aids is real, protect yourself,” why don’t you just make them laugh? Pass the message in a subtle way, so that was how I created Jenifa, the movie with a strong message.
Seeing my plaques every day, I’m like “hmmm girl, you got this with hard work, you’re working hard” and anytime I feel low when I see plaques again, I’m like, “you got this you’ll get more.”
I’m just getting started, I have a movie coming up soon, I have a new TV series, I’m still working on Jenifa’s Diary.
On her husband
My husband is my biggest cheerleader. All other projects too, we are working on. We have a new one, it’s a music-oriented TV drama, it’s called Industreet and it’s all about the ups and downs in the music industry. How you try to climb the ladder of success in the Nigeria music industry. So, industreet is the new one, big one, so everything is moving on fine.