Omotola: Shining Star In Africa
Nollywood stars are now being recognized in Europe and America with Omotola becoming one of the most recognized.
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde is one of Nollywood’s biggest stars.
The African film industry is becoming a force to recognize as it churns out movies at a rapid pace. Nollywood stars are now being recognized in Europe and America with Omotola becoming one of the most recognized.
Known for winning the Best Actress in an English Speaking Movie and Best Actress Overall awards in her homeland of Nigeria, Omotola recently visited America to support actress/ producer Chisolm Oz-Lee’s poignant movie “Lost Maiden,” a film about female circumcision. She was also honored by the Liberian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and received an award from the African Female Entrepreneurs for her charitable work with children and her contribution to African entertainment.
Omotola also starred in “Lost Maiden” which was sponsored by SACAIDS, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about poverty, AIDS and other health issues impacting sub-Saharan regions of Africa as part of its health initiative.
“I took the role in ‘Lost Maiden’ because I have definite opinions about female circumcision. Women of my generation were circumcised but my daughters are not,” commented Omotola. “I feel that women should be allowed to choose whether they want to be circumcised or not. Some argue that circumcised women are generally circumcised locally and not in hospitals thus get infections. If the argument is that circumcisions should be done in hospitals, then do them in hospitals. If it’s about pain, pain is part of life. Also, many of these women are circumcised as babies and don’t remember the pain. The real issue is whether women have a right to sexual pleasure. Countries that circumcise women do so to control promiscuity. This doesn’t always work. Some women go from man-to-man trying to capture what they will never find since their clitoris was removed. Others might feel oversexed so opt for the procedure. Again, it should be about choice. As times change, many African men don’t want their wives circumcised. As more African women are exposed to media, they too see they have choices. Thus, in some cases, tradition is falling away,” stated the talented actress who has starred in over 250 movies and won 22 local and international awards.
Having arrived earlier than expected for the interview, I caught Ms. Ekeinde unawares. Without makeup she proved to be a natural beauty who is a strong, self confident, down-to-earth, centered, charming individual who made the interview pleasant. A graduate of the College of Technology where she studied Estate Management, Omotola’s main livelihood is acting, although she enjoys designing homes as a hobby.
Ekeinde started her career as a model. “One day, a friend asked me to accompany her to an audition. She didn’t get the role but convinced me to audition and I ended up getting a part,” said the star whose husband Captain Matthew Ekeinde nick named her Omosexy.
“I did a few movies but it was my role in ‘Mortal Inheritance’ that brought me acclaim and made me an award winning actress. Even to this day, “Mortal Inheritance,” is considered one of the best Nollywood films ever made in Nigeria. The film was about sickle cell anemia which is a big issue in Africa,” explained Ekeinde.
“When I won the award it was during the big movie boom in Africa so people were attending movies for the first time in large numbers. The movie industry in Nigeria is growing. Yes, we still have problems; equipment is not always the best and as we churn out movies in rapid order more and more actors are thinking more about money than their craft. However, I think everything has to go through a phase before it rights itself, so there is great hope for Nollywood,” said Omotola who is also a pop and rock singer.
“In the last few years I have turned my attention to music. I enjoy pop and rock which isn’t that popular in Africa yet since most Africans support traditional music or Afro pop, rap and some R&B. I use songs written by other Africans as well as write my own songs. I have a single out which is doing well on the Internet entitled ‘Feel All Right.’ Right now, I am working on my second untitled album. My plan is to do an album every 3 years.”
Omotola balances her two careers singing and acting while still putting her 4 children and her husband first. “My husband is not a traditional African man. He did not grow up in Africa. Since he is a pilot, he is well traveled, open minded and a citizen of the world. But he is still a man. I am grateful that he understands show business and thus encourages me. We support one another,” remarked the industrious star.
Omotola also writes a column called Omotola’s Diary which is featured in the Sunday Sun, the highest selling newspapers in Nigeria. Her popular column and her movies have attracted many fans, even robbers. “Robbers had me on the floor robbing me when they noticed my license plates and recognized me. They were so excited they returned all my possessions and even asked me to sing for them. They claimed they were big fans,” chuckled Omotola remembering that scary occasion.
“I have a large fan base throughout the world. I even have fans in America now. Many know me via my movies and for my charitable work. I work for Save the Children in London, an organization that aids children plagued by famine, AIDS, and war. I also work with Link A Child which links orphanages and charities together to make sure they have a symbiotic relationship. I also did the UN Walk with President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Liberia’s first woman president,” remarked Omotola.