On The Sofa With Theodora – Guest, Tolu Yesufu
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Tolulope Yesufu from Ondo State, Nigeria. Born and grew up in Lagos State. I attended Chrisland Nursery and primary school, F.G.G.S Akure and Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State, where I graduated with an HND in Marketing. I worked as deputy Marketing manager at N.I.I.M for a while before I came to the UK where I trained in the mental health sector. I featured in my first movie in 2008 titled ‘OWO OJU EGUN’ and then moved on to produce my own movie ‘SHATTERED HEARTS’, in 2012, which went on to receive 3 ZAFAA nominations and 5 BEFFTA nominations.
(2) Is Nollywood UK different to that of Nigeria?
It is the same Nollywood but I think in Nigeria, they are more popular for Indigenous contents and address issues relevant to our mass audience, whereas in the UK, you would see some producers trying to westernise their films which is NOT a bad thing. With that being said though, we still have Nollywood films being produced in the UK that still have the Nollywood feel to it and with a mix of both at least we satisfy a wider audience.
3) As a film Maker, is there anything that has surprised you about film production?
The Stages in the production of a movie is unbelievable. You would think it’s all about writing a story, getting people to act it out, and showing it to the public. It is far more than just that. You have the Pre-production stage, meetings upon meetings, Production stage, Post production stage, Distribution and it goes on and on. It takes a passionate, committed, patient, Focused and dedicated person to be a film maker and I can confidently say that so far, the film makers in UK Nollywood are all of the above. I have been fortunate to work with Talented, Focused and dedicated people.
(4) Was there anything you were told about production that proved to be a fallacy?
You get told a lot of things some true, some false it’s up to you as an individual to either believe what you hear of make your own judgement as you go. Everywhere you go, nothing and no one is perfect so you will see and hear things but true or not, you are better off not loosing focus of what your aim is or who you are as a person
(5) What does it mean to be Nollywood UK?
I believe UK Nollywood and Nigerian Nollywood are the same, UK Nollywood movies I believe are basically movies shot and produced in the UK mostly by movie producers based in the UK.
(6) As a producer, what are your priorities ?
I would love to be able to produce movies that would send out messages with positive impact on people and the society at large.
(7) What are the existing challenges facing the Nollywood film industry and do they differ to those facing the UK Nollywood industry?
The Nollywood industry of Yesterday I believe is different to that of today. It has dealt with a lot of challenges ranging from Piracy to funding to government support but the industry is still standing strong. I’m sure like every other business, there will still be challenges the Industry is facing but in the UK Nollywood industry our biggest challenges at the moment are Sponsorship and Distribution Network
(8) Why the shift in career to producer?
My love and passion for creativity and entertainment. I love Writing, Singing, Drama and this was from a young age. I would join any group that involves creativity and entertainment, from joining the drama group, choir, etc. I always knew that Gods willing I would love to do what I am doing right now and I’m grateful to God for making it happen.
(9) Is this you testing the waters of film producing or are we to take this as a fully fledged declaration of intent?
I love doing what I’m doing at the moment and I’m here to stay by the special grace of God.
(10) Tell us a little about your journey so far.
It’s been fun, Interesting, and Challenging my dear Theodora. I have met and still meeting wonderful, talented, focused and dedicated people like you Theodora. I have had my fair share of challenges and faced quite a few but I believe every challenge is a learning curve and each hurdle you scale through, you learn something from it.
(11) Give us an idea of a moment when you reached boiling point with Nollywood.
I would not necessarily say I have had such a moment where I have reached boiling point…….hmmm…there might have been an occasion it almost happened but I have a lot of passion for this industry and what I do with God on my side is I sit back, analyse the situation and decide on the next step and way forward. I try not to let things weigh me down that much or get me to that stage of not being able to control myself.
(12) How many films have you appeared in?
About 10 but some are yet to be released. The ones i remember are ‘OWO OJO EGUN’, ‘SHATTERED HEARTS’, 1 ’18 CARAT MAMA’, ‘HOUSEWIVES AND GIRLFRIENDS’, ‘MA NO MI’, ‘CHAINS’, ‘LARABA’, AND PRESENTLY ON SET OF MY NEW PRODUCTION ‘MURDERER IN LAW’.
(13) We understand you have been nominated for BEFFTA Awards 2014, how do you feel about it?
Wow! I feel excited, humbled and very appreciative. BEFFTA Awards is the biggest black award event which is recognised globally, and to be nominated as Best Supporting Actress 2014 is massive to me. I would like to use this opportunity to say a big thank you to the organisers of the Award, Pauline Long and her dedicated team and also thank you to the producer of 18 Carat Mama who also happens to be the lady who featured me in my first production in the UK ( Helen Gold Osabutey ). Finally a massive thank to the almighty God.
(14) Any message to upcoming actors?
Be patient, hardworking, focused and unshaken in your faith and you will achieve your goals.