Popular actress and expert producer, Omoni Oboli, is our woman for the day, as she graces our blog.
Ever since I had contact with her through OkadaBooks marketing I could already tell she’s a different breed; easy to get along with or start a conversation with.
Having studied French at the University of Benin, Omoni’s movie career started in 1996 when she acted in the movie, Bitter Encounter. And since then, she’s acted in so many other movies and have also produced hers.
So I was able to catch up with Omoni, and thanks to her kind of person, we had the interview below.
Karo: Hi Omoni, Thanks so much for granting this interview.
Omoni: You’re welcome.
Karo: Let’s first discuss your book, ‘The Stars Are Ageless.’ How was the response?
Omoni: It was awesome!
Karo: Do you think you will one day make it into a movie?
Omoni: I don’t know yet. Haven’t quite thought of that. It’s my life story, and I don’t see too many people making movies about their own life. Maybe I’ll use some aspects of my life to develop into a movie. Who knows.
Karo: In your book, The Stars Are Ageless, you wrote of how you turned down a big job because you wanted to face your passion. Today, your passion pays your bills. How did you convince yourself to stick to your decision?
Omoni: At the time, it was a big issue. I don’t know how I convinced myself, but a great part of it is that my husband always wanted what made me happy, and he often puts his foot down to pursue what makes me happy rather than have his wife looking morose all day in the house, and making him unhappy as well. It was a difficult choice because we needed that second income, but we had to push money aside to make that difficult decision. Thank God it paid off, cos there are those for whom it didn’t work that way and are now living in regret.
Karo: Wow! This is huge. But were you frustrated at some point when things weren’t working out and did you ever consider going back to get the job?
Omoni Oboli: Of course I considered going back to ask for the job, but I knew my heart wasn’t there. Pushing forward was the only option, after much thought, that I allowed myself to have. If not, it would tear at my heart to keep second-guessing myself, and looking back is not something I do very well. I like to push forward and find solutions.
Karo: How do you manage your time to constantly produce movies?
Omoni: This is what I do. I’m a filmmaker, and making films is what I do for business. It isn’t easy, and it’s a lot of work, but is there any work that’s easy to do? I don’t think about it, I just pull myself up and get to work. It helps that I have a great team working with me through all my projects. It makes it a lot easier to delegate work to others who know exactly what you want and how you work.
Karo: If one wants to be in the movies, what first steps can that person take towards accomplishing this dream?
Omoni: Study hard about what filmmaking is all about. Take courses. Pay attention. Listen to good advice. You’ll get them anyway, good and bad, but with time you’ll learn to know the difference. Make sure it’s your passion that’s driving you and not just monetary gain, or else you’d be frustrated out of the industry like many do yearly after their first movie, or after their failed movies. When you have these pegged down, you can go the distance. Then pray that whatever you produce is what people want to see, and learn how to market your products. It’s only in movies that you find many who want to just make films while ignoring how to sell it. Tomato sellers and many other customer based businesses are not that naive and clueless about that reality.
Karo: I value those points you made up there. Solid. In the movie industry, what are the obstacles a newbie would face?
Omoni Oboli: Fear of the unknown. Poor performance when it matters. No funds for the producers. Not understanding your camera look and age. Desperation, and the fact that predators sense your desperation in getting a role, and may exploit it dubiously. So many things stand as obstacles, but I believe the greatest obstacle is yourself and what you’re ready to tolerate. If you tolerate your own poor acting, then it’s on you for your own failure. If you tolerate being used and abused, then that’s what you may get.
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Karo: What are those steps one needs to take to overcome these obstacles?
Omoni: You’re stepping into a world where your work has been done, money has been spent, time has been expended, and then you have someone behind one laptop or on their phone tearing down your livelihood with his/her fingers. You have to rise above the noise and see that no product has ever been universally accepted. If not they would be making trillions and not the amount we see today. So learn to find your audience. Also, the funds to make the movie are a major hindrance, but more than that, the right script and the right crew that works for you to shoot your movie to your taste. It’s tough. This is for the producers.
For the actors, I can say this; they may find fault with the technical aspects of our films, and the quality of our productions, but you have no excuses for your bad acting, so get into the game with the skills that make you stand out, because when you step up for any role, there are so many others waiting to get that same role, and you may have only one chance to make that first impression. So make it count. The biggest obstacle with many is that they have done great acting and have been brilliant in their performances, but all they have are bathroom auditions in their homes and have never faced the intimidating lights and camera and a crew demanding their performance at the drop of a hat. That is a major obstacle that has to be overcome in an increasingly competitive industry.
Also, if it looks like it’s not a good idea, then it’s probably not a good idea. Don’t meet up with people where you’d advise someone else not to meet up with them. Save yourselves from embarrassing and vulnerable situations that you know are not looking good, and then blame the world and her mum for what happens afterward.
Karo: Any words to young/would be actors and actresses out there?
Omoni: We need you! We need more diversity in looks, gender, dynamic acting styles and so much more. Sometimes you don’t have to know how to do everything. It may even pay you more if you learn how to perfect one act so much that you are always the first choice when such roles come up. That guarantees you more jobs than the one who knows how to act in so many genres and with so many styles. If you want to act so many styles, be disciplined, be dedicated, be great. Love what you do more than the reward it brings, and when that catches fire, you’ll be called and offered more than what you dreamed, because your passion paid off.
Karo: Wow! Your words really sank in. Thanks so, so, much Omoni for your time and deep words of wisdom. You’re appreciated.
Omoni Oboli: Thanks for having me.
So, you’ve read it all, people. You just need to really put yourself out there. And for those of you auditioning in the bathroom, you can step out of it and audition in front of your camera, and upload it either to Youtube or Instagram TV. (IGTV).
Now don’t bank on social platforms alone. You need to have your own self-hosted platform and grow your readers, and fan base on it. Why? Because anything could happen and you’ll wake up to find your account has been blocked or suspended. Then what happens to all your followers? How do they find you again? We’ll discuss more of this in subsequent posts.
For now, what you really need to know is that the internet has made exposure very easy, and It’s left for you guys to follow the words of advice from one of Nigeria’s Finest actress and producer. I assure you, her advice is the basis for a solid foundation not just in movie acting/production, but in any other business of your choice.
I’ll list the main points from Omoni down here for you, so you can easily pick them out.
1. My husband always wanted what made me happy – Relationships are important because they are an essential part of our everyday living. Please ensure you’re with a partner who wants your happiness and will do everything to support your dreams. If you want to know just how very supportive Omoni’s husband has been, check it out in her book, “The Stars Are Ageless.”
2. We had to push money aside to make that difficult decision – Clearly, Omoni knows her stuff. My dad always said money is not the major thing you need to start a business. What you need is first, the passion, backed up by determination, and then execution. Along the way, you will get juicy offers that will distract you from your dreams. If such offers don’t in anyway fulfill or lead to the fulfillment of your dreams, then please, don’t take it. But if you believe, deep down, that it is what you want, then by all means, go for it.
3. I don’t think about it, I just pull myself up and get to work – There is no easy job. Nope! If you must be successful, you must put in the work. The good thing with passion is that, when you work, you do so because you love it, not because anyone is breathing down your neck. Sure, there are times you’re exhausted and frustrated, and you just want to rest. You should rest. But remember, you must always get back up to work.
4. It helps that I have a great team working with me through all my projects – There is nothing like a solid team standing behind you, supporting you and covering your lapses. Make efforts to ensure you have only the best hands working with you on any project.
5. Take courses. Pay attention. Listen to good advice – Learning isn’t done only for the sake of having a certificate. And thank goodness, there are a lot of online courses today in acting, movie directing, production, and on so many other businesses you can think of. Take those course, pay attention to what those before you are doing and listen to good advice.
6. Make sure it’s your passion that’s driving you and not just monetary gain, or else you’d be frustrated out of the industry like many do yearly after their first movie, or after their failed movies. – If you’re not passionate about your business, if all you want out of that thing you claim you’re passionate about is money, then forget it. You’re not passionate. You’ll just be wasting your time.
7. Then pray that whatever you produce is what people want to see, and learn how to market your products – The most important thing about turning your passion into a business, is ensuring that whatever you produce is something people want. If you’re producing only what you want, you will hardly get anyone to buy from you.
8. I believe the greatest obstacle is yourself and what you’re ready to tolerate – What are you ready to tolerate to achieve your goal? What are those things you will not tolerate in achieving your goal? These questions are for you, and you alone, to answer.
9. So learn to find your audience – Go out there and find those interested in what you’re offering. You can also make very good use of social media to pull in your audience. You can’t have a product and sit on your bum, waiting for people to magically know about it. You need to talk, network and promote to get the attention of your audience.
10. But you have no excuses for your bad acting, so get into the game with the skills that make you stand out – You can’t have bad acting skills, bad products or bad services, and expect patronage. Never. You need to keep sharpening those skills until you get it right.
So that’s it, people. Go on and succeed! The World is yours to conquer.
PS: This interview was first published on: Jul 16, 2018.