2nd August, 2013
Popularly known for playing the role of Alinco in TV comedy series, Papa Ajasco, Victor Oyebode Ayo, tells DAMILARE OKUNOLA how he copes with his female admirers among other issues
Aside acting, what else do you do?
I know this will surprise many but I am also a singer. I sing in the church and when the time is right, I might just become a gospel artiste. Certainly not anytime soon, though.
You started singing before acting?
Of course, I only started professional acting seven years ago, but I have been a singer all this while. I started acting from the school club back in the days at Apostolic Church Grammar School, Ketu. I’d say the period when I really took to acting was between 1994 and 1999. I was more interested in comic roles then and that was what I was renowned for throughout my stay in the secondary school.
Is that the reason you have simply stuck with that?
Not really, but I guess producers like me more for that role. I also enjoy it personally and that makes it more enjoyable for me. I don’t always have much practice to interpret my roles whenever we are on set because it is like part of me.
Where did you learn those comic displays from?
This might sound strange but it’s the truth. I learnt those roles from cartoons. I watched a whole lot of them while growing up and found them so fascinating. That was the role I played mostly in the school and that made me quite popular then. I enjoyed twisting my tongue to say many things and act strangely. Changing sexes with the voice also amused me a lot and I suddenly got so passionate about that role.
Weren’t your parents averse to the role you were playing when you started?
Not for once. Funny enough, they paid my fees to start the acting school that I attended. I was at OOU (Olabisi Onabanjo University) for a diploma course in Mass Communication, but my stay in the institution was taking like forever due to incessant strikes, so I had to attend Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Gbagada Campus where I finally had the certificate. But all along, I was at PEFTI (Pencil Film and Television Institute) to hone my acting skills since it wasn’t strange to everybody that I was good at acting and my stay there was funded by my parents. Really, they supported my acting dream.
So, you would have become a broadcaster if you were not acting?
I never really conceived that thought. I only did all I did to strengthen my acting career. They all have to do with showbiz. I would have become a chef if I weren’t acting because I love cooking so much. In fact, it’s the second best thing I do apart from acting, and whenever I get married, entering the kitchen will become a taboo, I will have to help her on some occasions though.
What was growing up like?
It’s what I like to call a triangular childhood because it was always school, home and church. There weren’t friends, parties or any social activity. The only places where I could catch fun then were at school and in the church while singing, acting or playing the keyboard. I grew up in Ijeshatedo area of Lagos with my two siblings; an elder sister and a younger brother.
How did you join the Papa Ajasco Family?
I joined PEFTI in 2005 and they had an audition for the role of Alinco in January the next year. I went for it and I was picked. But it wasn’t as easy because there were a lot of sessions before I was finally chosen. Remember, I said I used to get inspired by cartoons that I watched on TV. That was an added advantage for me because I added those silly things I was always watching and that really helped me get the role. Since then, it has been more like a roller-coaster ride.
Since PEFTI is owned by Wale Adenuga Productions, will it be appropriate to say that they train people to use them for their various television series?
I don’t think so, though you would expect that they will use most of their students for their various series as that will save them the cost of looking for actors anytime there’s need to get casts for roles.
Seven years down the line, how will you describe the journey?
It has been a great deal of fun since I came on board. Though, there were series of challenges at the start. Like having to master every mannerism, blocking, script and all other things that come with acting, but seriously, I always get over those challenges. I will say God has really been on my side.
You will be 33 in November. When are you getting married?
Laughs… That’s quite funny because I don’t have any lady at the moment, so, you all have to wait till I find the appropriate missing rib.
Aren’t you under any pressure to get married?
Well, I’m still having issues with ladies not understanding the difference between Victor and Alinco. Alinco is that naughty character they see on their television screens but Victor is that guy who doesn’t joke with God and until they realise that, I’m afraid I will have to remain like this (single). My parents are always asking me when I will get a lady and settle down but my response has always been that God’s time is the best. It’s a lifetime affair, so why should I just jump at it like it is temporary?
Does that mean you never had any girlfriend all along?
Not at all. In fact, I have lost count of all those petty friendships that look like relationship. As an entertainer, it is only normal that one attracts the opposite sex but one has to manage it properly so that girls won’t start knocking one’s door everyday with new babies. It is not particularly as easy as it seems though, but I have been lucky enough to pull through. It’s also about prayer and then, I did not pretend to be who I am not. I won’t stop praying and I’m sure that God will answer my prayers some day because once a man marries a wrong woman, his life will be a total mess; you rush in, you fly out. I am not in a hurry whatsoever and that’s one of the things I’ve kept telling my parents whenever they bring up the topic.
Why do you think celebrity marriages rarely last in Nigeria?
That is exactly what I’ve been trying to run away from. It is an act that has to stop. I mean it’s all uncalled for. I think we should always look before we leap. They must have had a prick in their hearts about their relationships but they just overlook it. It is so disheartening what we see and hear these days. Celebrities should know that they are the cynosure of all eyes and as such, they have to get things right most of the time. It really shatters me to think about the mishaps that some of the entertainers go through.
What are you guys at WAP doing to ensure that Papa Ajasco remains relevant?
For starters, Papa Ajasco is the only comedy series with moral lessons and that puts us ahead of others. Then, we have tried to spice it up with singing and playing of guitar. As time goes on, other flavours will be added. Don’t you ever get tired of acting the same role always?
I don’t really get tired of it because it has become part of me over the years. Like I said earlier, producers prefer me more for those comic roles, though I would really love to act other roles like a lover boy, an accountant, a counsellor, a thief and the like. I’m quite emotional and would really love to play a role that would depict that as much as I can but it all depends on the producers.
We learnt that you have featured in some Nollywood movies?
Yes, just the Yoruba ones. Some of them are Awiigbo, Adelani Olodo, Oba Tio Roro and a couple of others. I am seriously looking forward to featuring in the English movies but I guess I need the right connections and the right hands to launch me into it.
Is there any project you are working on personally?
There’s something I really love to do which is still in the pipeline. I really want to produce a movie with a 3D effect; a mix of human beings and cartoon. At the moment, I am still gathering facts and materials for it. Nigerians should watch out for it.
How soon do you think this movie will be out?
Well, I can’t categorically tell you one date now and my oga at the top says something else…(general laughter). But basically, as soon as the resources required are ready. I pray for God’s speed, you should also pray along with me.
What changes do you think acting has brought to your life?
It has brought me closer to the rich and the less privileged. I’ve been people’s favourite and I have been able to put smiles on many people’s faces. That alone in itself gives me great joy. I go to people’s houses and mingle with them without any fear of being lynched or getting hurt. I want to tell everyone out there to be the laughter on people’s faces and not the other way round.
How rewarding has acting in soaps been?
At least, I’ve been able to buy my boxers and pants and I think that is enough motivation for me to continue.
Do you have any grand ambition apart from your proposed 3D cartoon mix?
Yes, of course I want to act in Hollywood movies. I think that’s where I belong. That is where my lifestyle will thrive and that is where I can realise my full potentials.
It was gathered that you were supposed to act in a Ugandan movie, what actually happened?
What really happened was that the deal wasn’t sealed at the point of entry, so I declined. I was supposed to be the cast for a role in a movie but the guy did not want to pay me up before having me in the country, so I reversed quickly. It was a freedom fighter kind of movie and I was already looking forward to the challenge but it just was not going to work and I did not try to force it whatsoever.
Which actor do you look up to as a source of inspiration?
I must confess that I don’t have any. I try to be unique in my own way and that is the more reason I watch cartoons a lot to get inspiration and innovative ideas.