Wale Ojo has come a long way from a child actor to one of the most recognizable faces on African film and television. He chats with Oliver Enwonwu on his journey so far including his thoughts on the advances in technical standards in the industry and the future of Nollywood.
You have enjoyed a lengthy career in the movie industry, from being on the first television station as a child to acting professionally in the UK, and being featured in many other recent Nigerian films, what has the experience been like and what are the difficulties you have encountered on all sides?
The experience has been great and I am very grateful. Ever since an incredibly young age, I have always stared wide-eyed at the television screen trying to work out how I could get inside the small television set and star with the other actors. There have been challenges along the way, but adversity and obstacles have instilled in me a stronger determination to succeed and more so, they make one never want to rest on his laurels.
You are the founder of the New Nigerian Cinema, please tell us more about it, and is this related to the New Nollywood (NN), an emerging phase in Nigerian cinema that describes the major shift in film production methods—from the video format cinema ones?
New Nigeria Cinema, which I founded in 2009 is a movement dedicated to breaking new frontiers in Nigerian and African cinema. It is very similar to the NN because it is creating new trends and waves to take the Nigerian cinema platform to international levels. It’s definitely aeons away from the video model. Audiences will soon be treated to stunts, special effects and dynamic movie making never before seen in Nigerian cinema.
Today, many of our movies including October 1 and Dazzling Mirage are being nominated and winning international awards. What in your opinion is responsible for this?
It’s hard work and greater attention to detail. Both Tunde Kelani and Kunle Afolayan are thorough and completely obsessed with getting it right. Once you have that approach, it resounds through the material and communicates well to an audience. People will find themselves enjoying the film more because of that simple element of constantly perfecting the craft of filmmaking. With that attitude, the films will easily cross over into the international market. However, if they are sloppy and lack attention to detail, then those kinds of films will be forever consigned to a dusty shelf in Alaba Market.
What new projects are you working on?
I am working on a film titled Kalakuta Express, which is a musical and I am also releasing a short film soon, titled Ghost of Tarkwa Bay, which is about surfers. I am also getting ready to premiere Kunle Afolayan’s new film The CEO, which boasts a Pan African cast that includes Peter King, Angélique Kidjo and Jimmy Jean-Louis. A must-see for fans of both Kunle and I.