By Tony Ogaga
Actress and NDLEA ambassador, Mojisola Oyetayo aka Mama Ajasco is a woman of many parts whose journey to the silver screen is quite interesting.
After dumping her lucrative job in the banking sector, Oyetayo became a photographer, working with Sola Fajobi’s reality show, Next Movie Star. It was here the scales eventually fell off her eyes and she found Nollywood.
In this chat, the divorced mother of one, who is also the Public Relations Officer, Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Lagos State and CEO, Mohips Concepts and Mohips Youth Initiative, talks about growing up, acting and challenges among other issues.
Tell us about your growing up?
Growing up was fun, though it was restricted and strict! I am supposed to be an ajebutter (pampered child) but I have ‘rebirthed’ myself to be ajepako (laughter). My parents aren’t comedians but they do have a lot of humour in them. So, my talents are in-born.
At what point did you discover you were cut out for entertainment and who were your influences?
I have always loved entertainment. While I was in the corporate world, I had this inexplicable yearning to pursue a career in the arts, and I was finding my job boring. But I guess it is all about time and season. So, back to how I came into Nollywood, I was first a photographer. But most people don’t know this. I was covering events and background scenes on movie sets. Then I joined Digital Interactive Media, the producers of Next Movie Star and became an in-house photographer and artiste manager for a couple of housemates like Portia Yamahan, Kelvin Chaupam, Moyo Lawal and Belinda Efia.
It was while doing this that the scales fell off my eyes and I became fully interested in Nollywood. I starred in a series called, Dormitory 8. That was the first time I featured on television, and John Njamah directed the production. Next, there was a movie, DIM Dancehood, directed by Lancelot Imasuen. By this time, I was hooked to Nollywood. And that was when a mind-blowing opportunity came in the form of Twelve Ambassadors of Nollywood, which was created by legendary Paul Obazele, my mentor and ‘dad’. I enrolled and ended up being among the final 12 Ambassadors. I won a Kia Picanto hence my grand entry into Nollywood.
You have stepped seamlessly into the character of Mama Ajasco, what is the secret?
The secret is being myself. I didn’t try to duplicate the mannerisms of the old character. I just created my own style and it worked for me.
What are your challenges as a female operating in an industry dominated by males?
Every industry has its challenges and its ups and downs. Living in Nigeria is quite complicated with all the economic crises, so making Nigerians laugh isn’t easy. But I thank God for His grace, so far so good.
Do you prepare your jokes or you just deliver them spontaneously?
I do mostly spontaneous jokes, but then, preparation is key in our line of work.
Against the backdrop of your divorce, are you still open to marriage?
Yes, I am open to marriage. My ideal man must be honest, down to earth, truthful and hardworking.
Tell us about the greatest decision you’ve ever made?
My greatest decision was leaving the corporate world for entertainment.
Tell us about the guy in your life right now?
Please, I like my personal life to remain private (laughter).
What are your challenges as a plus size actress, and how far would you go to lose weight?
My big size restricts me to certain roles. I wouldn’t go too far o. Maybe, just two dress sizes down, but my size is also my selling point (laughter).
Aside comedy, what else do you do?
In Nigeria today, you have to have multiple streams of income. I am a voice-over artiste. I compere events and I am also into interior decoration and finishing, as well as event decoration.
What is your advice for young girls who want to follow your footsteps?
Whatever you want to do, go ahead and achieve it; the only limitation is you.
What are your dreams?
To have my own talk show and touch lives. I am a humanitarian. I have my foundation and what we do is to nurture the youths and teach them abstinence from drugs, sex and other social vices.