Femi Adebayo, son of legendary actor, Adebayo Salami popularly known as Oga Bello has gone from living under the shadow of his father to carving a niche for himself in the movie industry, especially in the Yoruba sect. Many see him as a sex symbol and one of the leading hunks of the Yoruba films but Femi would tell you he is just an actor who strives to interpret his roles as best as he could.
The ‘Jelili’ star in an exclusive interview with NET speaks on his father’s influence on his career, his marriage crash, his perceived rivalry with Odunlade Adekola among other issues.
What’s the new thing Femi is working on at the moment?
Presently, I am not doing any other thing than to produce a movie. The movie is at the post production stage and it’s titled ‘Gbewiri Meta’ (Three armed robbers). The movie is an action packed movie and I have no doubt it’s going to be a hit. It’s going to have serious impact on Nigerian society.
What inspired the movie?
I was unfortunate to be a victim of an armed robbery attack, sometime in November 2011. Ever since then, I have been looking for a way to touch the hearts of people who think the best way to make a living is to engage in such practices. So, I thought about passing the message since I was once a victim of armed robbery attack. I felt very bad that they took my belongings and I know that that’s the way many Nigerians who have had the same experience feel. That was the inspiration for the movie.
What is the secret behind your sustained relevance despite the many years spent in the industry?
The secret is not farfetched. It is just Almighty God and hard work. I just do what I enjoy doing and put in my best in order to satisfy my fans. And I feel if the Almighty says yes, we will continue to be relevant, no man can stop us.
Have you dumped your Law practice for acting?
I didn’t dump law for acting. I still practice Law. It’s just that I saw the need to do so well in entertainment, acting to be precise and that is why I am focusing more on acting and at any point in time I can go back to Law. I have not dumped Law for acting. The call to act is divine and I just had to heed that call.
It is believed that there is a rivalry between you and Odunlade Adekola. What do you have to say about that?
We don’t see ourselves as rivals. Outside our profession, we see, we talk, we relate, we rub minds; we even share ideas regarding how to live our private lives. That automatically negates the word rivalry you are talking about. We are not rivals, we are friends, and we are colleagues. We do our things and our fans appreciate us.
What would you say distinguishes you from him?
Odunlade Adekola is a very tall man and I am not tall, I think that’s one of the very obvious differences between us. But we have a lot in common. Odunlade is a very fantastic actor; I am a very fantastic actor as well. We interpret our roles the way we feel it should be interpreted. We share the same date of birth. We are in the same industry. He is friendly, I’m friendly; he is down to earth and I’m equally down to earth.
Have you achieved all you set out to achieve with you career?
I think I am achieving it; I am not there yet. I am still moving up. I have achieved a lot but I think I can do more.
What are the things you are yet to achieve?
They are more personal to me. I know that there is still more for me to achieve.
Many believe that your dad’s success in the movie industry is the reason why you have gotten this far.
Well, there is no doubt about it. I owe my success to him. I can’t rule out the fact that daddy’s name has helped me. I give glory to God and I want to thank my dad about that. I have received several awards locally and international and I have always dedicated the award to my dad, because his success in the profession made me what I am today. If you want to say I rode on daddy’s success, you are perfectly right. And if you think people appreciate me because I am Adebayo Salami’s son, you are perfectly right as well.
What was the experience like for you while growing up?
Growing up was fun. I was a very naughty boy when I was young, very stubborn but trust me very friendly as well. I grew up in the ghetto in Ebute Metta to be precise. My dad was very strict. I am very glad that I lived in a ghetto because I have been able to strike a balance between the people at the grassroots and people at the top and that makes life more sensible to me.
You were seen campaigning for some politicians during the last electioneering; do you have any plan to go into politics like many of your colleagues?
I want to believe that it’s not yet time for me to go into politics because the Almighty has not said yes to it. But I don’t see anything wrong in going into politics because as a politician you have to be a servant to your people, it’s a service to humanity. But I am yet to get a divine call to go into politics. If I get the divine call, I will not hesitate to go into politics.
You are well educated and very eloquent, but you rarely feature in English language movies.
First and foremost, I am a promoter of culture. I share the idea that if some of us believe because we have gone to school and we want to imbibe the foreign culture, there is every possibility that we will drop and bury ours. I love our culture a lot and that is why I love to promote it. It doesn’t mean that I will not like to act in and produce an English language movie, but I will still prefer to do more of Yoruba.
Any plan to produce English language movie soon?
I am working on one at the moment; it will come out very soon. It’s going to be like 70 percent English, 30 percent Yoruba.
Recently, the media was awash with the news that you were planning to remarry soon, how true is that?
Well marriage is a thing of joy, if I want to get married, I won’t hide it but trust me, I am not getting married any time soon. I have no plans of getting married for now. I don’t even have a wife-to-be for now. But If I eventually see a lady that I am comfortable with, I will definitely marry her.
Tell us how acting began for you.
I started as far back as 1987, I was pretty young then. I was a kid actor in one of my father’s movies. But I actually went into it on my own in 1996 that was when I had the opportunity to act in Tade Ogidan’s blockbuster movie, Owo Blow. The movie won me several awards.
Was your decision influenced by dad?
Yes that was actually what inspired me. I saw that my dad was an actor and I wanted to do what he was doing.
Contrary to the belief that there’s no money in the movie industry, you look very comfortable, how do you make your money?
Any job that you do that pays your bill I think it’s worth doing. Acting pays my bill and I am very comfortable with that. Although I still do my Law job, I do property. I still buy and sell property for people. Most of my clients are based abroad. Asides that I must categorically state that Yoruba movies are not doing badly, though it can be better.
You own a film school, tell us more about it.
I saw that there are lots of people who have talents, so I decided to float a school to help bring out these talents in them. The School is named J-15 School of Performing Arts, and is situated in Ibadan. We have graduates of Theatre Arts from Nigerian Universities as lecturers. To the glory of God the school is doing well, we will be seven years this year and we have graduated over 150 students who are now doing well in the industry.
Do you have any regret parting ways with the mother of your three children?
I believe in destiny, and I take things the way they come. Marriage is a contract between two parties and in a contract you can have someone breaching the contract. I believe that is how the marriage is destined to end and I am cool with it….