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Actors should be picked on merit, not for sexual favours — Femi Adekanye

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I have always loved acting, even as a child; and the church had a big influence on my decision about going into acting. Whenever I climbed the stage, I got a lot of positive responses, so that was a ‘green light’ for me.

Studying Performing Arts in school also paved the way for my theatre experience in movie and stage plays, which eventually brought me into the movie industry.

The first movie I ever featured in was titled, Okon Goes to School, and it was produced by Royal Arts Academy in 2011.

My first television commercial was a Globacom advert tagged, G-Bam High Five, and it was directed by the popular cinematographer, DJ Tee.

The challenge I faced then was the fact that I was skinny. Also, because I was playing basketball, it was difficult to combine both things, due to the stress that came with both crafts.

In a space of two years, I have been able to feature in a lot of television commercials and movies (including short films, YouTube movies, cinemas productions, and Netflix projects.

I have a couple of stage and movie productions lined up for this year already. They include Kurunmi for World Theatre Day; Moremi, and other stage plays.

Also, there is a YouTube series we shot in 2022 titled, School Flatmate, and it will be continued this year. Right now, I have my fingers crossed, because I know there are still many more to come.

There is something they called ‘emotional recall’. For any role I want to play, I make sure I dwell deeply on it, and because I have experienced a lot of things in life, I also reach into my own experiences to bring the character to life, and make it stronger.

Sometimes, one gets nervous before one gets on stage, so I usually tell myself that it’s ‘show time’, and I go there to give the audience the show they paid for.

I have featured in a lot of commercials by brands such as Fair Money, Wow Lotto, G Kala by Glo, MTN, Bet Bonanza, Clearline HMO, Dreadlock Real Estate, La Casera, Portell, Rocket ginger drink, PJ Connect and many more.

Playing an old hunter, who was also a seer, in a play titled, Ladi Kwali, is the toughest role I have ever had to bring to life. Though it was challenging, I think I was able to do justice to it.

I still play basketball professionally. And, I am a civil servant as well. I work with the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture as a cultural officer.

I believe that one must have three Ds. The first is determination. One must be determined to make sure that every role given to one is well interpreted.

The second is dedication. One must be dedicated to make sure that the character one is portraying and all the scenes one is featured in are well executed.

Lastly, one must be disciplined, which is the vital quality an actor needs to have. Without this, one cannot even get referrals or be successful at one’s craft.

I will like to see a situation when an actor is engaged based on his skills and how talented he is; not because he knows the executive producer or the director.

Actors should be picked on merit; not on man-know-man basis. There shouldn’t be conditions attached to any role given to any gender. Also, healthy competition between producers and directors should be encouraged. We should help one another grow; not pull others down.

I believe that sex in exchange for jobs happens in different industries. However, I think it is more of an individual thing. If a lady is not desperate for success, and she has what it takes to be a good actress, she does not have to sleep with anybody in order to get roles. Anyone who is disciplined will clearly not fall into that category. One’s talent and discipline will get one gigs.

Also, producers and directors should do better by employing female artists based on their talents, and not just because they want to sleep with them. However, I know many directors and producers that only employ actors, irrespective of their genders, based on their talents.

For me, the most interesting part of being an actor is being able to be any character I want to be. One can switch from playing the role of a doctor, to a tout, hunter and the likes. One can be anything one wants to be when interpreting any roles given to one.

I take my style seriously, because it is important for actors to be fashion oriented. Sometimes, I don’t have to introduce myself as an actor, before people ask me if I am one. That is because of the aura around me, and the way I dress.

I started playing basketball at a tender age, and was influenced by my elder brothers, who played it professionally. My mum then encouraged me to also play the sport when I was in school. I started playing in secondary school competitions, such as Pa Makojuola competition and Milo championships back in Ilorin, Kwara State. I was so skillful that I started getting offers to play for other schools in competitions outside the state.

When I gained admission into the university, I started playing at the Nigerian University Games Associations events, and West African Universities Games; and, I did well. I won so many awards, such as the ‘most valuable player’ in various competitions. I later started playing in Nigerian premier leagues, and even travelled outside the country to further my professional skills. When I got back to Nigeria, I decided to pursue my career in acting, because aside from the fact that I studied performing arts in school, age was not on my side again to play basketball. Once, one is above 30 years old, one is already getting to a position where it’s hard to play, especially if one has an injury.

Meanwhile, I had always loved to be on the big screen, so I saw an avenue and I took it, and it has been fun ever since.

My projections for 2024 are to get more opportunities, appear on more films on Netflix and cinemas, and make a lot of money.

I want to see an industry that can compete with Hollywood in terms of cinematography, aesthetics, costumes and special effects.

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