Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju has distinguished herself on stage, literally. As one of the very few young women committed to stage acting, Kemi, an insurance graduate, has shown that with passion and talent, it is possible to shine anywhere. We sat her down with after she defeated Mercy Johnson and Omoni Oboli to become The Future Awards Actor of the Year
Were you surprised at awards considering the people you beat to the award?
Yes I was really surprised, I didn’t expect it.
Where did the name ‘Lala’ come from?
From my childhood, my nursery school teacher used to hail me with kemolala and growing up, the lala just stuck, it’s the identity now.
What was your response when you heard you were nominated for the awards?
It was very emotional because my friends, who had heard on the radio, were already screaming and causing a stir, so, when they told me, I almost didn’t know how to react. I think shock is the right word.
You are an insurance graduate and even came out with a Second Class degree in Upper division – why stage?
I’ve always wanted to express myself, even as a child, so, I knew the corporate world was not for me. Frustration would have killed me. When the opportunity to continue expressing myself on stage came, I took it!
After The Future Awards, what next?
More work! I need to complete my master’s programme and continue acting.
Challenges of being an award winner and how are you coping?
I think the only challenge is people wondering how a stage actor won, but when they see a performance, they are not surprised.
Joke Silva, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett and Wole Oguntokun.
Driving force in life
The joy and satisfaction I get from doing that which I love, the desire to make a positive difference in Nigeria and in this industry, and most importantly entertaining people.
To be consistent at whatever you do.
Can you share your happiest moment in life with us?
I think I’m extremely happy at the end of every play. There’s joy every time I take a bow before the audience... and of course winning The Future Award was also a happy moment.
What about your saddest moment?
Quite a few low moments but not enough to be a saddest moment, at least not yet.
What keeps you going in theatre?
Fulfillment, joy, passion trust me the big money will come.
The state of live theatre in Nigeria
At a point, theatre was big in Nigeria; I grew up watching stage plays. I think there is a wrong impression in Nigeria, that theatre is boring or only for a certain kind of people, so most people (especially the young) would rather watch a movie than a play. The poor management of the national theatre (even though there is a revival now) also aided this supposed death of theatre. Money is also a key factor, theatre did not appear to be lucrative business, but all that is changing now.
Does being such a key part of the Theatre @ Terra project stop you from doing other jobs?
No it does not.
What makes your style different?
Versatility. Being able to swiftly switch from one character to another. It’s hard work though.
How would you describe your career at the moment?
Still growing. I haven’t even reached half of where I desire to be. This is just the starting point.
I know that actors in Nollywood have their names linked to scandals. Is it the same with theatre and what has been your experience?
I think this is more about the individual. There are people in other fields who are involved in more scandals than the actors but because actors are in your face, there is more attention on them. I haven’t had any experiences as regards this. But like I said, it’s about the individual.
I’ve heard people say that single people succeed (in terms of getting roles in movies) than those
who are married in the industry, how true is this?
This argument has no basis.... Ability, availability and talent are the factors necessary to get roles. We cannot neglect the actor’s personal life and responsibilities, but it all depends on the actor.
We are aware you are also a pastor. How does that combine with acting – where some parents and even young people think the immoral is inevitable?
People tend to look more critically at me because of this, but because everything I do springs from who I am, there are no issues. I must also say that I have to think carefully before taking certain roles or doing certain things so I’m not misunderstood
Besides acting, what else do you do?
Studying for my master’s degree in media and communication at the Pan African University.
Do you have any intentions of going into TV or the movies? And why haven’t you done that yet?
Yes I do. The right script and director just hasn’t come. When it does, you’ll know.
If you had to change anything about yourself, what would that be?
Do you think your award – and awards in general – have any impact on young Nigerians?
Yes I do. Mine in particular because young people know that if you work hard, you’ll be recognised and celebrated. Awards in general make young people try to pull their weight in their various fields. It also encourages creativity and innovation... the awards must be credible though.
How do you relax?
I watch movies and I hangout with my favorite people, I listen to music.
Not any time soon.
You’re involved in the V monologues this year – again as the youngest actor – can you tell us about it?
I must say, it’s been a beautiful experience so far, especially when you are working with A-class actors and a great director. I can’t wait for the performances to start.
What is the greatest lesson life has taught you?
Life has taught me not to trade my joy for anything.