Q:For some years now, we?ve known Jide Kosoko as an actor. Can you tell us how you started your acting career?
Well, I think the whole world ought to have known how I started because I?ve been granting interviews on that for quite a long time now. However, I will quickly brief you. 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, which had me as a member. It happened that one of our tenants, Dele Toyibo, (he?s still alive) an elderly person and a member of Ifelodun Travelling Theatre wanted to have a production on television- LTV Bar Beach. They needed a boy of my age then to play (the lead role of) a character called Alabi. So they invited children of my age, we were auditioned and I won the role. Since then, I?ve always been into acting. I formed my own group?Jide Kosoko Theatre in 1972.
Q: You rank among the few actors that started acting very early. How will you compare the industry then to what we have now?
When I actually started we didn?t have videos. There were no movies in Nigeria at all. The one we had then was the television thing, in fact, more of stage performance and my orientation is more of stage performance. If you want to compare what happened then and now, you will see there are a lot of changes. When I started, we were only on black and white. A few homes had television. That was the period when you saw people watching a particular production through the window of any home-You?re just going and when it?s time for that production you just go to any house and stay by their window to watch.
Q: We heard you have a problem with the Video Club owners Association of Nigeria (VCOAN) and that the association has placed a ban on you. How true is that?
You should know that it?s an exaggeration that a producer of my calibre is being banned. Banned by who? You see, I must also tell you that the issue is being resolved. I don?t want to say much on that.
Q: What really was the problem?
Well… They were not happy that I initiated the formation of a rival video club association.
Q: Are you contesting for the President of the Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP)?
Insha Allah, I will contest for the position of the President of ANTP and I know that by God?s grace I will win .
Q: What about the strong opposition from people like Dele Odule?
I?ve always told people and I know what I?m saying, Dele Odule is my brother and I know he can?t contest against me.
Q: So what are your plans for the association?
I will tell you just one, and that is, I will work hard to ensure that there is an enabling environment for members of the association to practice their profession, which means I will collaborate with other associations and government agencies, stakeholders and players in the industry.
Q: If voted into office where will you start from?
I will ensure there is unity among members, it?s paramount in my mind. I will abide by all professional ethics, ensure that my members imbibe the ethics of the profession, so that we can jointly move the association forward.
Q: What is your impression about the formation of YMPF?
I don?t see them as factions, I will rather say they have brilliant ideas and they feel there is need for the associations to move faster than what is happening now. Personally, I have discussed with some of them and I know what they are saying. They are members of the association, they don?t need to form a faction and I have advised them that all they need is to bring their ideas before the association for proper scrutiny.
Q: Let me just take you back again, Dele Odule has said that he is very optimistic of winning this ANTP election. Are you scared?
Dele Odule as a member of the association is entitled to express his opinion, his wish to seek people?s votes for any position in the association. He has the education and age on his side, so he?s entitled. But what I?m telling you is this; first and foremost, apart from being an actor and a member, he?s a Yoruba man, and ANTP cherishes quite a lot of things that you cannot run away from. And of course being a Yoruba man, there are some other things we will also take into consideration. It is against the tradition of we the Yoruba for a young man to challenge his brother in public. So I say Dele cannot contest against me.
Q: There is this notion that the English movie industry is doing far better than the Yoruba?s. How far is this true?
Do you also believe that? When you say they are doing better, in what area are you talking about? Do you know that a good film is determined by the quality of the equipment used, the prop, the costume and to crown it all the story line, complemented by the artistes invited to narrate the story line. These are the things that make a good movie. So, I don?t know which of them you?re talking about. If the English movies cherish glamour, the Yoruba film industry cherishes good story line, and all these factors are what you can say contribute to the quality of a movie.
Q: Generally, how will you assess the Nigerian movie industry?
Brilliant future, very bright. We have come to stay, the industry as a whole and that?s why most of the time I hate answering questions that border on division among the English and Yoruba actors and actresses. You are entitled to produce a Yoruba or English film, nobody is restricting anybody from doing this or that. You can appreciate our effort, you can see that Nigeria has been considered as the third largest producer of home videos. We are improving on the quality of our productions on a daily basis and as such, we are happy.
Besides, we have a listening government. Obasanjo?s government is the only one that has ever shown interest in the film industry. With government participation now and little contribution, you will see that we will grow up.
I?m happy that most of the things that have happened took place when I?m still alive. We now have the Motion Pictures Practitioners Council. We have a standing committee already and this body will definitely unite all existing associations in the industry. We will speak with one voice and this will go a long way to stabilise the industry.
Q: What do you think is the main problem facing the movie industry for now?
Lack of funding is the bane of the industry. We have proved to the world that we have the talent. But with investors like banks and other financial institutions funding the industry, it will move forward.
Q: You combine acting with modelling, which of them is more lucrative?
I hate people calling me a model. As a star which people say, I only endorse products. In other words, I?m bigger than that product. I should not be seen as part of the product I am advertising, I only endorse it.
Q: Tell us your most challenging moments.
I have challenging moments all the time. All my productions are challenging, because I will want to make sure that I satisfy my numerous fans. But my most challenging moment is when I fight for my people for a particular reason. I fought with the Censors Board, but I don?t want to go into too much of that now.
Q: What about your most embarrassing moment?
That comes almost all the time. When you see all these area boys, especially when you don?t have any money with you to give them, it could be embarrassing, you know.
Q: A lot of actresses complain about producers demanding for sex before giving them roles. Is it true?
That is very bad. I have never done it before and if there are producers doing it I will say it is very bad. Though some people may not see it as something bad, as they feel it happens in every industry. Personnel managers do it to their staff. Teachers do it to their students, politicians do it among their people, government officials do it, journalists do it. But they are all professional abuse on the ethics of their professions. And as I had said earlier, it is not good. But frankly speaking, as a producer, even if your intention is not to give her a role because you want to have sex with her, you can come across somebody you love, is it not possible? It now depends on who that actress is. If she?s not complaining that she slept in your office to get a role, it?s nothing. But honestly, I find it difficult to believe that producers demand for sex before giving out roles. It?s funny.
Q: What are you working on for now?
You know, for the past two years, I have not released any film. I am currently working on the release of one of my films.
Q: Apart from the ANTP presidential race, what other things are in the pipeline?
Of course, before the year runs out, I intend to launch my foundation-Jide Kosoko Foundation. One of my films will also be launched in London and America by August. I won’t disclose the title for now. The Jide Kosoko Foundation will be an avenue to encourage upcoming artistes and also use the same forum to propagate important programmes, using the work of art to re-echo the existence of HIV/AIDS, child abuse and som that are of national and international interest.