ENTERTAINMENT STARS WITH TOMI ON LA VERONICA MAGAZINE.
Call her one of the best brains in Nollywood and you are absolutely correct, call her small body with AV-12 engine and you are right, call her a genius and you are saying the truth, or what do you call someone that can assist director, direct, edit and produce movies, she is no doubt a super star and this April we went in search of this great woman, whose works are one of the best to have come out of Nollywood. She is a Nollywood encyclopedia, and she is our entertainment star this month.
Lovelies, come along, let’s journey into the world of this mystery Nollywood giant with a small body. Bunmi Ajakaiye shares her passion for Nollywood amidst other things in this highly insightful and engaging interview with Otekunrin Oluwatomi of La Veronica magazine. Don’tblink lovelies. Read and enjoy this ride.
LVM: How did a beautiful young economist with a thriving career lecturing in Australia, Writing for ThisDay, Hello magazine and BellaNaija and now you are one of the trail blazing directors in Nollywood.? How did you get here?
BUNMI: (Smiles) I’m very honored to be here, I normally often avoid interview but I’m happy to answer all your questions. How did I get here? Well, I remember as a banker back in Australia I scribbles stories on my desk. Fortunately, I saw Allibaba’s post about the late Amaka Igwe’s writing workshop inthe 3rd weeks’ time, and I was like “I’m going to attend the conference, will just tell them at work that I have an Africanemergency I had to attend to. I have 3 weeks to prepare. I saved up money to buy ticket, the workshop was on Saturday, by Friday I was in Lagos and Saturday morning by 7am, I was at the venue in Ikeja. I was star struck seeing the great Amaka Igwe of check mate”. That was how my journeystarted.
LVM: Quiet an impressive beginning. how did you navigate your way in a totally strange industry.?
BUNMI: During the workshop everyone introduced themselves and when it was my turn, I said I just got back from Australia, Aunty Amaka was shocked when I was done talking. She taught us until we are tired, she spoke about “editing “and encouraged us to try it alongside the writing. So, after the workshop, I went back to Australia and when we talked, I told her I’ve left,she was surprisedthat I didn’t tell her before leaving.So, I was having this conviction that this what I want to do, I know my family won’t like this idea but since it’s about my NYSC period, so I decided to come for my NYSC in Nigeria. So, by the time I came back to Nigeria the Late Amaka Igwe was preparing for another documentary class and I showed up again. She was surprised to see me again this time at she called me “mystery girl”. Before she passed away, she was preparing to open her TV station and we all have what we were doing and before you know it, she passed away. When she died, I thought that was the end (cut–ins).
LVM: – Wow, what was your next plan, now, that your hero has passed away.
Bunmi: – It wasn’t easy, I remember before she died, I was aware Emem Isong has opened royal Art and after her demise I went to speak to my writing teacher “Anthony Kehinde Joseph” one of the brilliant writers in Nollywood and he opened my mind completely. Hechallenged my thinking a lot. He made me understand so much about storytelling and he became my next mentor, I was learning with him and while I’m waiting after work, I see some guys working on computer and for the first time I saw what editing was and Aunty Amaka use to talk about it a lot.
The guys called me to come to the editing suit. Later they ask me to come and cut “this thing” before I know it, they will give me short video, they later gave me like an hour, they later gave me film to subtitle a movie. My first job was to arrange files with the sounds, I was doing it happily. I bought a clapperboard, and I went to UduaK Isong to show himI just want to try. It wasn’t easy but I pulled through.
I became assistant director because, I love to assist director to achieve the best in a film, and when the opportunity to direct came, it wasn’t much of struggle because of my experience as assistant director for some time. I have come to enjoy directing as well.
LVM: – Let’s talk about one of the most successful web series you directed “Skinnygirl intransit” what was your experience taking up the direction from season 4 to 6.
Bunmi: – Directing is like you want the actor to trust you first, you want them to be vulnerable with you so you can get the best out of them and that was what everyone likes about SGIT the way the character played their roles effortlessly and people taught they were too real. Fortunately, I was a fan first and when Abimbola Craig reach out to me I was like “no I don’t want to” They first want me to write, which I love to do.
It wasn’t easy to make “Tiwa” character vulnerable because she is the producer, it’s role but we achieved that obviously.
Everyone loves the character “Tiwa” I’m always very patient with individual actors. SGIT was a success, everyone brought their A-games.
Dami Elebe is an amazing writer as well.
LVM: – How do you combine directing, editing and script writing? Aren’t you a super woman?
BUNMI-Thanks Tomi, I can’t lie, it’s not easy especially in a male dominated environment.
look at my stature, most of the female directors have a huge physical presence like Kemi Adetiba, Biodun Stephen; I must earn it over the years. Initially some actors didn’t know that I’m the director because of my stature but not anymore by the kinds of worksI have done now, they know I’m the director and they love some of my works.
Screen writing is a huge work as well but if care is not taken you won’t write more than 3 jobs in a year if you are big at writing and you write for Nollywood giants’ producers.
LVM: – Tell us what makes all “Bunmi Ajakaiye” directed movie or web series/ TV series so interesting that people won’t stop talking about it, a case study of Skinny Girl In Transit,Smart money woman, my wife& I and a lot many more.
BUNMI: (Smiles) I’m a product of Nollywood, human connection is very crucial to me when writing a story. I want to connect with the heart of my audience, Iwant to make it real like there is no camera in front of these actors regardless of any character an actor is playing, I want the actor to become and be the character effortlessly in all sense. That’s just what I put up in all my works. I give it my very best shots.
I watch Nigerian film a lot and I’m in the heart of the audience. I can tell you what actors are capable of with regards to any character given to them.
LVM: -Tell us about your recent movie on YouTube “who lived at number 6” that was an exquisite, beautifully written and delivered by awesome cast.
BUNMI – Thanks a lot Tomi, it wasn’t easy, but we pulled through, I was intention about the actors, and postproduction was around Dec22nd -31; while my friends were doing detty December, I was at the editing studiobecause I wanted it to come out during the holiday and I’m happy people are watching it and soonest I pray we have a million views.
LVM: What has been your most challenging project?
BUNMI: – Seriously, I give my all to all the projects I have been on, shooting Skinny Girl in Transit (season4-6) wasn’t easy and many more like that.I give all the project my best shot.
LVM: – As a director, what inspire your choice of cast for a movie.
BUNMI: I’m always truthful to characters, I don’t just go for any actor,I go for actors who will deliver regardless because when I see some actors, I know what they can do even if they haven’t played that role before. You should see a short film “FADE” on YouTube forvalentine’s celebration.You should see Teni Aladeshe in it. she went all the way. I create and go all out to get the best out of my actors, that’s why most of the audience can relate to all my cast and the story line in movies. people should see “Fade” on YouTube,they will love it.
LVM: – What was the reaction of your parent when you choose Nollywood and left Australia with a thriving career over them.
BUNMI: – My parents were worried for my sake, leaving a beautiful job, a decent apartment and even my relationship because of my decision, it wasn’t easy leaving my relationship and he was a foreigner, it was such a huge sacrifice. They were worried because of the sustainability and 10years after I’m here and there is no regret. That why most of the time when I write about relationship, I don’t leave any stone unturned, I’m always deliberatewhen I’m writing about love and relationship. Thankfully, they know now that I chose the right part. I hope I’m making Aunty Amaka proud as well. I miss her a lot.
LVM: – Let me ask the question of Skinny Girl on Transit faithful, will there be season7?
BUNMI: – (Smiles], Tiwa and Mide already hadit badly and everyone lives happily ever after Idon’t think there will be season 7.
LVM: – In all of these, how do you relax?
BUNMI: – When I’m not filming, I take time out to relax once a while.
LVM: – What should we expect from the Nollywood encyclopedia Bunmi Ajakaiye in 2022.
Bunmi: – You all should keep your fingers crossed, you will all know when they are out this year.
LVM- What do you want to tell your fans.
BUNMI: -All I see is love from them, thanks for loving all my movies.Expect more.
keep supporting my works. God bless you guys.
LVM: – Thanks for your time, Bunmi, have a great day.
BUNMI: -It was nice having you come around.