My dream is to be featured in a Hollywood movie – Layo Awolo
This week on TheOlojaBlog Spotlight, DAPO OPAYINKA, our Europe Correspondent interviewed one of the most hardworking females in the UK Nollywood industry, Layo Awolo, an actress and film maker.
Who is Layo Awolo?
I am U.K. Nollywood producer, actor, legal executive, ex beauty queen, model and activist.
Why go into acting?
It’s always been my aspiration to be an actor from school days. Back then, I was in stage plays, drama and poetry. Acting, to me, is a way of sending messages across.
Did you start professional acting in UK?
I was an actor in Nigeria before migrating to U.K. I partook in TV series called Twilight with Theoseg Production.
Has it been easy being a migrant actor in the UK?
No, it hasn’t been easy at all, especially when you have to combine 9-5 jobs with filming. But it has been exciting and a very way to network.
Who should claim the responsibility for the booming UK Nollywood industry, UK based or Nigerian Nollywood actors?
Here in UK, we are still growing but good productions and collaborating with actors from all over the world help us gain recognition. So I would credit that to actors in general.
Does any relationship exist between the UK Nollywood industry and the local industry?
Hmmmn this is a topic on its own. The general view is that UK Nollywood productions are not as good as other movies shot outside U.K. I would agree with this to some extent because some productions are below standard. Having said that, not all movies shot elsewhere are good too. We need to stop the mentally that because there are no famous actors in a production, therefore it is substandard. Not to forget that these famous actors started from somewhere.
Greatest accomplishment as an actor.
My greatest accomplishment is co-producing a movie called “Love Triangle” which was directed by Nelson Spyk. The cast was fantastic.
What would you rather not have in industry?
Directors and producers need to ensure that cast roles are distributed equally in order to gain recognition. I have seen movies where casts were flown in to the U.K. to play major roles and U.K. based actors were given as we would say “waka pass” with little or nothing paid. In my opinion, this is a slap on our faces.
Have you ever worked with a demanding director before? How did you successfully interact with such person?
I wouldn’t use the word “demanding” reason being that directors want the best out of actors. They may come across as that. But the way I deal with it is to stay calm and professional. Sometimes pressure comes with the job you know.
What role would you refer to as exalting the most pressure so far?
My most challenging role was in “My Journey So Far” which was directed by Francis Uwadi where I suffered emotional and physical abuse. To get into the character, I had to do a lot of research.
What would you list as challenges being faced by the UK Nollywood industry?
The challenges we are facing in the industry are funds, investors and post productions. In addition, we need to have good scripts and casts.
Does Nigeria government align with the industry?
I am yet to see Nigerian government align and sponsor films produced in U.K.
So far, how would you grade your progress in the industry?
I will say good. I am recognized in the industry as one of the best. I can confidentially say I have featured in over 19 movies which I played major character and auditioned for only one of them.
Which is your favourite role yet?
My favorite role is in the movie “My Journey So Far”, a true life story, which was based on hidden secrets. It was very emotional and used to raise awareness for people to be vigilant where they lay their heads.
Who is your favourite actor, and why?
My favorite actor is uncle Olu Jacobs. Raw talent. He delivers any role he is given. He is an inspiration. I remember when we met during the Olympics held in UK, he said to me,”I see you going places. Follow your dream”. That is one of the things that kept me going.
What project are you working on now?
I am currently working on three TV series ‘Diva Diva” “Secrets Untold ” by Tolu Yusuf and “Oga Detective” Francis Uwadi. We also just finished filming “Compatible” directed by Nelson Spyk and produced by Yemisi Banjoko. I have also been casted for a stage play by Tony Hyland, a British director. It is a busy year for me.
How do you separate your personal failures from your roles?
When I am in my character, I blank my personal life. That is the only way I deliver my character.
What is your biggest aspiration?
My bigger aspiration is to break into the Hollywood industry. And I am certain that there will be a break through if Nollywood is growing at this pace. I mean look at the music industry, if they can break through I see no reason why it is not achievable.
Your take on 2019 elections in Nigeria as regard your industry?
I would like to hope that it will have a positive effect. Nollywood is being recognized worldwide. We are the ambassadors of Nigeria and as such, in terms of investment, we will be generating profits.
At rate the industry is growing, do you think a Nollywood film can get an Oscar nomination and go on to win it?
Of course, I am positive that Nollywood will one day win an Oscar. You don’t have to break a bank to produce movie that will attract international recognition. An epic film for example will get the job done.
How can you compare stage acting with film?
Stage acting as compared to movie is very technical. Remember it is a live performance and cannot afford to make mistake. This makes paying attention to detail and focus is the key word. I am so looking forward to performing on stage. It is vibrant, breath taking and you are connecting with the audience directly.
If you are giving £1Million today what will you do with it?
With £1m I will reinvest to maximize profit and assist aspiring actors, film makers and directors to achieve their goal.
Can you do nude acting?
No. I think I’m too old for that. I may consider down to underwear or even swim wear but not complete nudity.
Do you think there should be more collaborations between Nollywood Nigeria and UK?
Oh most definitely. Like I mentioned, cast the roles evenly. Let’s all grow together.
What else do we need to know about you that is not yet covered in the questions above?
I am a health and fitness freak. My main exercise is dancing. I love traveling, networking and eat healthy.
I was 1st runner up Miss Unilag 1992, won Miss Amity category in Siverbird MBGIN 1991. I also modeled for famous Yemi Fawaz, Tokunbo Ilupeju, Dakova and late Remi Lagos, I am also a presenter with Nolly Rocking TV.