The name Jide Kosoko doesn’t just ring a bell, it strikes a gong in the Nigerian entertainment industry. His name resonates across Nigeria and beyond its shores. From the moment he made his acting debut in 1964 as a kid actor, the veteran knew that he had found his calling. The versatile actor who stars in both English and Yoruba movies was born in 1954 into the royal family of Prince Lasisi Kosoko and Arawu Adeyanju Alake of Isale Eko, Lagos Island.
In this interview with www.Happenings.com.ng, he speaks about his journey through the years as a renowned and successful actor.
Do you think the present actors in Nollywood are good ambassadors of the movie industry?
Jide Kosoko: That is a nice question; I can categorically tell you that the Nigerian actors can rank among any other actors in the world because we have trained and talented actors. I can boldly confirm that they are good ambassadors of the movie industry.
As a veteran actor what changes have you been able to make or impact in the industry?
Jide Kosoko: That the industry is growing alone is a proof that I and other veterans have worked tirelessly to sustain the industry, to make it as robust as it is today. When we started acting, we didn’t consider the monetary aspect of it then but the passion we had for it.
You seem to appear more in Yoruba movie than in the English movies
Jide Kosoko: I started from the Yoruba movie industry. We are the pioneers, we started the commercial film industry in this country and you can imagine the numbers of years we’ve been doing it before other tribes started coming into professional acting. Some of them have been in existence but started their professional training 20 years ago. So we are happy that other tribes joined us to move the industry forward.
You have daughters in the movie industry, how does that make you feel?
Jide Kosoko: It is part of my fulfillment, I am happy my children are taking after me. The job I am doing is not that of robbery, it’s a job of a noble profession and I am happy they are part of it.
Do you think they are representing the act satisfactorily?
Jide Kosoko: Well that of course might be from their lovers and fans, but from own my view I think developing oneself is a continuous process, you continue to fight whatever challenges you meet on your way up; there is no doubt about it that scripts are different from each other. They might come across some scripts that are challenging, even at 60 years of age I still come across some more challenging roles.
How many times did you try before you made it as an actor?
Jide Kosoko: I wouldn’t know but I started way back in 1964, when I was just 10 years old and that was the year I also had my first television appearance in a production titled Makanjuola, produced by Ifelodun Travelling Theatre. They needed a boy of my age then to play (the lead role of) a character in that production so they invited children of my age, we were auditioned and I won the role. Since then, I’ve always been into acting till date.
At every production you gain at least a fan, so it’s a continuous thing and you won’t know precisely when you hit it big unlike when we switched from stage play for home videos; we just gained fame with every movie release.
What is your worst movie role since you started acting?
Jide Kosoko: There are so many productions I do, when I sit down to watch them I tell myself “Jide this is not good enough” but unfortunately the deed has been done and I can’t ask the producer to go back to location and reshoot. In most cases right from location I know what I am doing is or good enough but with the Nigeria system of shooting you can’t tell a producer you are not in the right frame of mind to shoot because of the cost involved in the delay.
Can you tell us one recent one you were not comfortable with?
Jide Kosoko: I can’t do that because I am not the producer of some of those movies, it will be bad if I condemn their production.
Do you see yourself retiring?
Jide Kosoko: Forget about that. There is nothing like retiring in acting. One of my role models Anta Bashar (70 years old) is still acting; after all they would give you roles that befit your look and if they want you to be younger your makeup artist will do justice to that. There is no going back in acting as far as am concerned.
Were you a producer before an actor or an actor before a producer?
Jide Kosoko: These are part of the problems we have in the Yoruba sector. Some people see themselves as actors, producers and directors, though some people are talented to do the three and still write good scripts but it’s not possible for you to participate in all of these at the same time.
What I’m trying to say is this. We have pre-production; if you want to be involved it means the script must have been done by you earlier to be able to participate in other pre-production arrangement.
But when it comes to production proper it is not possible for you to be the producer, director and the actor at the same time, it is highly unprofessional because it affects the production.
As the past president of ANTP, do you believe that theatre culture is dying in Nigeria?
Jide Kosoko: Point of correction I am still the president of ANTP until a credible election is done or until the case in the court is disclosed. Yes it is dying; I hold myself and other veterans responsible for it because we didn’t promote the theater practice where we started properly.
We forgot about the source where we started from which is what we are battling to correct now, the association of Nigerian theater Art Practitioners being the largest and foremost artist’s organization in this country needs that number of artist within the association to go into cooperatives and ensure they collectively do productions.
Nigerians prefer home videos to stage plays, but I believe we have gotten to stage where our numerous fans would love to come and see their stars act on stage; I promise to stage at least 2 or 3 productions this year.
What should we be expecting from Prince Jide Kosoko for the rest of 2015?
Jide Kosoko: I continue to do my job as a career actor and I also have intentions of producing one or two movies for the cinemas.
Happenings: Any words for the young aspiring actors?
Jide Kosoko: They wouldn’t say we haven’t tried for them. We have provided the enabling environment for them to practice, it is normal for everyone to come across one problem or the other but battling with such problem is what makes you a winner.
Also for you to become a good actor you have to undergo training, a lot of people believe so much in talent, creativity. If you are trained nobody can wave you aside; practical examples are aspiring actresses who claim to be sexually harassed. I want to believe that such people gate crashed into the industry because if they are trained they would be chosen.
Happenings: Thank you for your time sir.
Jide Kosoko: You are most welcome.