It was sweet memories galore Wednesday night when the film makers WhatsApp group called, Filmic celebrated screen diva, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde amid glowing tributes as she marked her 25 years in the film industry.
Indeed, it was a momentous trip into the past, as her colleagues on the platform did not only share their warm experiences working with Omosexy as she’s fondly called by her fans. They relived fond memories of how early Nollywood films were produced and the challenges they faced then to sustain the industry.
Setting the ball rolling was popular film maker and critic, Charles Novia when he recalled how Omotola began her journey into Nollywood about 25 years ago.
According to Charles Novia, Omosexy’s first audition happened in 1995, at Swift Studios in Ikeja, Lagos. The movie was titled, “Venom of Justice” and directed by Reginald Ebere.
Novia recalled that the producer of the movie, Christine Michaels had asked the mother of four to act a scene at the audition alongside himself, as he was later switched for Segun Obe.
“That was in 1995, if I remember correctly. Omotola was bullied by Christine verbally as she went to a corner sobbing. I’m trying to remember what happened that day,” Novia said.
He continued: “I was given the lead character while you were given the female lead. Later, they asked Segun Obe to replace me as the lead role and asked you to kiss him. Probably, Christine was trying to get her kicks or something as she tried forcing you. See as you cry that day.”
With a feeling of nostalgia, Omotola, who’s popularly called the queen of Nollywood embellished the story.
“It was a kissing audition. I burst into tears because I told them I don’t kiss. That my mum would be angry and they started yelling at me! That was how Reginald Ebere.decided to give me a role in the debut movie, Venom of Justice and came soliciting my mum’s permission,” Omosexy recounted.
The actress, also recalled how she turned former president Olusegun Obasanjo away from using her restroom, while they were lodged at Hotel Presidential, in Enugu ahead of their filming in the coal city.
Obasanjo, she recalls had just been released from prison and was vigorously going from state to state campaigning for the position of president. “I hardly forget memorable events. They were trying to force me to use my own toilet… imagine,” the actress further recalled.
Also, sharing his own experience working with the talented actress, who has featured in well over 300 Nollywood movies, popular film maker, Teco Benson described Omosexy as one woman that has dangerous memories. “It’s been a long and successful journey. I remember you never forget your lines. A quality you have maintained throughout your career,” Teco Benson eulogized the screen idol.
He went on to relive the ugly experience they had in 1997, while on the set of one of his movies, “Scores to Settle,” where the snake they were using in the movie suddenly became violent.
Narrating how the incident happened, Teco Benson said “We engaged a snake charmer to provide a King Cobra for the scene, where Omotola would turn to a snake. The charmer was great at controlling the snake. Patrick Doyle was playing the role of a pastor. So during the prayer scene, Doyle became very spiritual and started speaking in tongues. Suddenly, the snake lost the charm and became violent. All of us including RMD, Omotola, Patrick Doyle, DOP, Chico took to our heels alongside the snake charmer. It took the charmer about 20 minutes of invocation to gain control of the snake again,” producer of “The Fake Prophet” and “End of the Wicked” recounted.
Benson, however, urged Omotola to document these experiences in book format. “People need to know the kind of energy and blood invested in the building of this celebrated industry,” he added.
Meanwhile, Omotola said the milestone will be a year-long celebration, stressing that she wants to load her movies for this year with the intention of sharing the proceeds to the people.
In over two decades of her career, Omosexy has itched her name in the sand of time, as a thorough-bred actress, model, singer, reality TV star and a celebrated philanthropist. She’s known for using her fame to speak out about social issues affecting various African countries. An ambassador for the United Nations and an activist with Amnesty International, Omosexy has undoubtedly become an institution in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Playing the lead role in that her debut movie, “Venom of Justice”, paved the way for other captivating roles she played in such movies as “Mortal Inheritance”, “Touching Love” and “All My Life’; drama in “Blood Sisters” and “Games Women Play.” And to many, her performances in these early movies set her apart from her contemporaries as well as defined the unprecedented heights she has attained in the industry.