Dr. Sola Fosudo is not a stranger in the movie industry. Having featured in different soaps, movies and stage performances, the university lecturer cum actor can best be described as a veteran of stage. In a chat with IBIKUNLE LANIYAN, the former Director of Lagos State University (LASU) Centre for Press, Information and Public Relations, speaks about his life, the film industry and the teaching profession
How has it been combining the teaching and acting?
Everything in life is based on time. I structure my time to fit into my acting schedule. Anytime I am assigned to be on location, I would go play my role and come back to my office. Since I am not directing the film, it won’t be ideal for me to be on location 24 hours. The director, producer and other crew members can remain on location, but an actor can go when his/her scenes are recorded. The scenes can be recorded within a day or two. So, it is all about working out a timetable with the people engaging you to know when to come and when to leave.
Where do you come from?
I am an Ijebu man. I come from Igbo Oye in Epe Local Government Council of Lagos State. I am a Lagosian.
For how long have you taught in LASU?
Let’ s say 19 years
Could you compare the conditions of service in the university when you started and now?
There have been some tremendous improvements in terms of structure, the academic, infrastructure and size. I joined LASU through the English Department and after a few years I recommended the establishment of the Theatre Arts Department and it was approved.
When did you venture into acting?
I cannot remember, but I know I have been acting since primary school days
I am not a Nollywood actor. I have been acting before the coming of Nollywood. Nollywood is a recent development; I have done different soap operas before the initiative, which is why I say I am not a Nollywood actor. I had featured in different soap operas, including Village Headmaster, Sound of Destiny, The Third Eye and Ripples. It was some of the things we were doing then that actually prepared the ground for Nollywood.
Which film actually brought you to limelight?
It was Ripples. But in the real sense, it was Michael Enahoro’s Sound of Destiny that brought me to limelight. It was an NTA programme. So, it was shown across the country.
How would compare the movie industry from when you started to date?
Well, we have to look at it from different aspects. In those days, most of the people, who are involved in the movie industry, were trained. So, their presentations were both qualitative in terms of acting and production. All that has changed, as most of the people currently involved are not trained. Secondly, most of them are commercial people; they are not concerned with creativity, but the financial gains. However, having said that, one can also say that the activities of the marketers and the Igbo producers have further opened up the industry. There is a lot of money circulating now in the industry because these marketers and producers pumped in some money into it. So economically, the industry brings huge income for many people, including those not trained.
The summary of it all is that the industry needs regulation; it has become an industry that has made Nigeria popular.
How many movies and soaps have you done so far?
They are between 30 and 40, and in English and Yoruba languages.
Why, with your many years experience in the industry?
As I said earlier on, I am not a Nollywood person. I studied theatre arts and not films. So, if you ask me now how many plays I have featured I would say over a 100.
Between soap operas and home videos, which is more profitable?
Well, I have not done soaps before as a producer; I have only acted in it and I can tell you that soap opera is more profitable for an actor because one gets his/her money as it runs, while in films one gets his/her money once. Though soap operas do not pay much, one will surely get paid.
Who are your mentors in this business?
I have many of them. Some of them even taught me in school, while some are distant. I have read their works and have been influenced by what they did or are still doing. Wole Soyinka, Dapo Adelugba, Bode Osanyin and Kole Omotosho all taught me. Another of my mentors is Amitab Bashir, an Indian actor. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was also my distant mentor, though I didn’t meet him one-on-one. But having read about him and having learnt about him I think he is a great man.
Can you remember the most powerful book you ever read?
There are so many of them. They are The Spirit Of Apollo by NewMan, The Seven Habits of Highly Influential People by Stephen Covey and others. These are very powerful books I have read, but the most important of them all is the Bible.