Jaiye Kuti is not a new name to many people in the Nigerian society especially in the film industry known as Nollywood. She is one woman who has paid her dues as far as film industry is concerned in this part of this world. Durojaiyeola Oluwakemi Alake Kuti (Not a relation to popular Kutis) joined the profession of make-believe over a decade ago and she has made a name out of it. She started her early education at Sunshine Nursery and Primary School in Kano. She later continued her early education at Temidire Primary School when her father was transferred at his place of work (NITEL).
Jaiye Kuti chose her career in acting because she has passion for it since childhood and today Jaiye is a successful Nollywood actress, producer and businesswoman.
She started her career officially in 2002 with a comedy soap opera, ‘Laff Patterns’ and from there, she featured in ‘Everyday People’, ‘One Love’, ‘Face To Face’, ‘Spiders’ and so many other blockbuster movies. The beautiful, light skinned mother and wife said that when she left the paid job for full time acting, it was very easy for her because she started it as a career. She said coming into the industry is like coming to a familiar terrain because she knew she has the talent for acting.
She spoke on her husband, Lanre Kuti.
“There was a time I just decided to celebrate him. He is one person who doesn’t like paparazzi but I just feel I should celebrate him for his wonderful love and care. My husband encouraged me to go into entertainment but he is a very quiet man.
The first time I met my husband, I never loved him because I thought he was much older than me but gradually the love came in and with my father’s encouragement, things worked out between us”.
I worked for him a little bit. He was able to convince that he loves me and encouraged me to further my education after my ND programme.” She told RAHMAN IS’MAIL more. Excerpts…
Without doubt, the name Jaiyeola Kuti is popular in the Nigerian film industry. Tell us more about yourself.
My name is Jaiye Oluwakemi Kuti. I am an actress, a producer and Chief Executive Officer of Jaylex Production. We are into film production, music and entertainment in general. Jaylex Production, basically, aims to expose people that are talented, those who want to make a career and give their lives a meaning in acting and the entertainment world in general. It is all about creating jobs for creative minds. I attended Ikorodu Grammar School and from there I went to Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State where I studied Secretarial Administration. Later, I went to University of Lagos to read English Language. I also did Computer Science. After that, I started work in a company as Personal Assistant to the Managing Director/Chairman. Later, I discovered what I really wanted to be or do.
While you were working as PA, did you have it in mind to pursue acting?
While I was working in a company, I still had my eyes on acting. It was not an accident that I found myself in the profession of acting. So far so good, I have no regret. It is part of life; if you don’t take a risk in life, you might not make it because life itself is a risk.
When did you join the make-believe profession?
That was many years ago. When I left paid employment, I started acting gradually and before I left the job, I had always been in it as a part-time staff. I started with Laffpatern and Everyday People. When I left my job; it was easy for me to continue with acting. I took it up as a career. Coming into the industry is like entering a familiar terrain. I knew I have the acting talent. That was how I started gradually and to God be the glory, I started growing in it. From the soap opera, I have been doing home videos. At a time, I was the Assistant Coordinator of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) in Ogun State and later, I joined the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP). I started with Oga Bello, and then Jide Kosoko. I learnt from many people. After that, I came out with my own film -“EewonLafin-Itan Kokoro ede.” Shortly after, it was taken to Italy and I was happy about it. I have done many others like “Eni Agbelebu.” “Oro Mi” and “Olori Amulegbe” the last two ones were premiered in the UK. I have another one coming up.
You celebrated your birthday recently and a lot of celebrities attended, how did you feel?
I was short of words when I saw the volume of messages that started pouring in from different quarters from my family, my friends and professional colleagues and fans. I don’t want to start mentioning names but I have to state here that Bimbo Oshin surprised me with a special gift on that day and so many people out there.
Do you have any regret for dumping paid employment and how has the journey been so far?
I can say that the journey has not been all that smooth. I have encountered challenges. But if you are ready to grow in the industry, you have to stick to it, which is what I am doing. I am still working and the journey has been wonderfully great. I have a good story to tell about it and I am enjoying it. I thank God.
What makes you unique as an actress?
I think God made me special and everything about me started from God. Every day, I ask God for wisdom, knowledge and understanding. With those qualities, you can stand with any other person. I think God created in me that uniqueness and I try to be unique in my own little way.
What can you say about the Nigerian movie industry?
It is growing fast. These days, our people are producing good movies because the days of inferior movies are gone. Now, the cinemas will not take inferior film. Everybody is now sitting up to think of a good story that can be sold within and outside Nigeria. I won’t do a movie that I can’t take out of Nigeria. I want to take it anywhere in the world. But if you don’t do a good movie, you can’t take it anywhere.
In some quarters, it is believed that a lady has to submit herself to sex before she can be famous or successful; what is your comment?
It is a 50-50 thing. From my own experience in the industry, I have never been asked out by any producer or director or even co-artistes. As co-artistes, we may just admire ourselves. I have never been told specifically that because of this role I have to go out with you. I don’t think anybody has reported it to me. I know that once in a while it might happen. When you are focused and you know what you want to do in the industry, nobody will say that ‘if I don t sleep with you, I wouldn’t give you that role’. If you are good, they will beg to use you. You have to ask yourself whether you are really an actress because some people just think that money is in the industry and they want to join the industry. ‘I am a beautiful girl. I want to be there’. But no! It doesn’t work like that. You may be beautiful; you may not be good at it. If you are not good at it and you want to be there by force, then you have invited trouble. The producer will want to sleep with you because he knows that at the end of the day you are still not usable. Some of these people create problems for themselves. When you are good, I think the director will not let you go. You have to be focused; you have to face what you want to do and you have to know why you are there. You have to start gradually. Rome was not built in a day; that is the system in this industry. As you grow with it, people get to know and like you, and before you know it your phone number will be flying around.
Has acting uplifted your status?
I am happy being an actress. In fact, do you know that every day, I thank God that I am in this industry. I couldn’t have done anything better. This is the industry that has taken me to France, Italy and the United Kingdom. In December, I would be in the United States of America.
Have you been embarrassed before as a result of the role you played in a movie?
I can’t really say it was an embarrassment. I only got a feel of that when I started becoming popular. One day, I went to a market to buy some things and the market women were shouting at me, saying: “E de naowo landlord fun wa, sebi landlord ti fun yin lowo now.”(‘spend the landlord’s money on us, at least the landlord has given you money’). People relate to you by what they see. They were referring to a role I played in a film as a landlord’s wife. A lot of people get carried away by what they see; they don’t want to see it as part of acting; they see it as a real world thing. There was a time I played a wicked role. Then I went to Idumota, Lagos to buy jewelleries and the next thing I heard was: “Eni Agbelebu; e ma kan wa magbelebu o.” (‘please don’t crucify us on the cross o!’) When I wanted to talk, one woman said: “I know you will be wicked; you are just acting as if you are nice.” Because they believe that a nice person cannot be that wicked, they think you must have that wickedness in you. What they fail to realize is the fact that you are playing a character of another person in a film which is part of what makes you a professional.
You are a beautiful woman with equally beautiful shape, how do you handle your admirers?
You can’t run away from your admirers even if you are not beautiful. Even the ugliest woman has a man somewhere. People would be asking why the man married her because he is handsome and the woman is ugly. For every woman, there is a man; for every woman, there are several men who would appreciate or admire her. God created women for men to appreciate. I have lost count of men who said they want me. Some will even say they want to take me away from my husband at whatever cost. They don’t care.
That means you may even have admirers among top politicians and company CEOs.
I don’t know. I have never been approached or spoken to either by governors, senators or commissioners. But what I do is to give those who make the effort my phone number. I have a special number I give to such people.
Why don’t you give them your regular phone number? Are you afraid that your husband may catch you?
I am not afraid; my phone is available even to my children. I have two lines: one is for business; whatever comes out of it are my official and business activities. I cannot go out with two or three phones. My husband knows what I do; both of us read my scripts together. My husband once told me that he doesn’t like Yoruba movies because they don’t act romantic roles well, that I should try and switch. … That they are not real? … how can you say you are a wife to someone and you are far from the person? He saw me in one movie in a romantic role, and he asked: “Is that my wife? What is that man doing with my wife?” He was just joking! Jide Kosoko was hugging me and at the same time Aremu Afolayan was in the same bed with me, romancing and caressing me and my husband was watching. He said: “Kai! My wife!
What do you think gets you attracted to the male folk?
I have this physique of an African woman and when you have it, it is the hottest in the world. We call it ‘Figure 8.’ When a woman has a pretty face and every other thing in the right place and finally, you are friendly. That makes you a hot figure and irresistible to the opposite sex and I think I have got all that.