The hilarious performance put up by Kayode Olasehinde, popularly known as Pa James in the popular television drama series, Papa Ajasco, has earned him an enviable reputation. Despite his lack of higher education, he has been able to weather the storm in the world of make-believe. in this interview, He speak about how Papa Ajasco changed his life.
Are you the same person on screen in real life?
When I am on set I may look or say funny things but when I am off set I am a serious person, though people find it hard to take me seriously.
How would you describe your life as an actor?
I have really gathered wealth and fame from acting. The little money I get I have been able to use it well. As a matter of fact, everyone in the industry charges fees, but what we use our money for is different. The industry is not as poor as people say, although producers don’t make life easy for us.
When was the first time you starred in a movie?
I cannot remember the exact year again. I think it was early ‘70s. I cannot remember the name of the movie too because we didn’t know that it was for commercial purpose until the producer suddenly mentioned that he was taking it to Idumota, Lagos. The equipment he used also were not the best in quality. I have starred in many movies and I have lost count. It is work for us and whenever I wake up in the morning my prayer is to get jobs.
Are you fulfilled?
Yes, I am. I don’t have other things I do than acting. It is just that producers use actors and dump us, especially Yoruba films’ producers. They don’t like to pay well and I cannot really blame them because they probably have low budget. It is always a problem to pay artistes. Instead, they would start using characters that are not fit just to cut corners. They call it caucus; they would claim that such people belong to their caucus. Most of such films don’t come out very well since they didn’t use the best characters.
How do you think the Yoruba film industry could be improved?
It was not like this before. Then, if you see a movie you would be wondering where they shot it, but now you can easily tell the location because people in that area will dominate the movie. If it was shot in Abeokuta, Ogun State, people there will dominate it. Now, people use those who are close to make films not minding professionalism.
Look at Tunde Kelani for example; I see him as one of the best producers in Nigeria. He picks characters from different states and brings them together. That is the best way to produce quality films and develop the industry. That sense of unity is lacking in the Yoruba film industry. Pa James When was the last time you worked with Tunde Kelani? I have worked with him before and I was so happy I did.
I starred in “Ti Oluwa Nile” part three some years ago. He called me for “Narrow Path” at a time, but I was so busy. I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t make myself available and it was painful to him also. It is a thing of joy to work with people like that because the job comes out well. The movie was shot at the Republic of Benin and my son starred in it.
How many of your children act?
I have only one who does films. I don’t think the other two are thinking of acting. Even the one that is acting I didn’t put him there and he is doing well. In 2000, he got the best Kid actor award and got another award in 2 0 0 7 . H i s name is Samuel Olasehinde.
Do you agree that people know you more in Papa Ajasco & Company?
You are very correct. I can never forget Papa Ajasco production and I always give kudos to Wale Adenuga. If everyone thinks like him this industry would have grown bigger because he knows the right people for roles. He picked the characters himself; I didn’t even know him from anywhere. They just called me that I should come.
I cannot remember the year particularly; I don’t border myself with dates, but I wrote most the details somewhere. We are like in our 18 years now. There is no point lying; If there is no Wale Adenuga production I would have been frustrated out of this industry because of the use and dump system.
When they give you small money and you request for a better pay for another movie, they won’t come to you gain. They would always want you to help them. After helping a producer two times, have you done any wrong to ask for payment? But since I met Wale Adenuga Production I have not had any regret. I thank God for him and I always pray for the company.
But how come it seems Pa Ajasco & Company is dead?
Pa Ajasco is alive, the production is alive. The challenge is that most people don’t follow the stations we are airing it now. When it was being aired on AIT people were seriously following it. Many people often ask me the stations airing it. It is on Startimes, Wap TV; they do it like three times in a week. We even have other films that are equally funny there. I am an actor so I am free to do any other production, but I won’t use the name Pa James.
It’s the fact that you had limited formal education a challenge in your movie career?
I thank God. As I speak to you, my highest qualification is secondary school certificate. As you are speaking all these big grammar to me, it is the grace of God I have been able to answer. People call me and give me scripts to read. I can read well and do what they require of me. I am always surprised too when I play some of these roles and I do them well. I always tell people that if you speak bad English, people would correct you and you would learn from it thereafter. You should say it; there is no point being ashamed.
Why didn’t you try to improve yourself?
Though there is no age barrier to education, I am not interested in going to school again. My children can go to all the schools; I don’t want to disturb myself anymore. The actor attends Obafemi Awolowo University, one is at the University of Ilorin and the last is still in secondary school.
How long have you been married?
I got married very late because I thought that I must have the necessary things to bring a woman into my home. What is killing most people now is that they don’t plan well before they venture into marriage. Marriage is a journey for which you must be well prepared because it is forever. But people don’t see it that way. I used to tell myself that if I get married with empty pocket how do I take care of my family? Then, this industry was so poor.
In the ‘70s, ‘80s and partly ‘90s, there was no money in this industry. Though people got married and had kids, I didn’t like the fact that I would have to beg to take care of my family. This made me to take my time before I settled own. I tell people to make sure that they are ready before they go into marriage because it would make the home strong. Young people especially should think well before they go into that journey.
What makes you happy as an actor?
I have many things that give me joy. The moment I am in the midst of my colleagues I forget all my worries. Once you tell them what is bothering your mind, they have a way of making you to forget it. You know this industry doesn’t welcome one being moody because it affects one’s output.
Do you have other businesses asides acting?
None yet, but I plan to start selling fish. I started that, but it was so small. I plan to do it on a large scale now. Acting remains my first priority and I will not drop it for anything.
How do you spend a day without work?
I am always at home if I am not working. If there is no light I would put on the generator. I like to rest; I see movies because it affords me the opportunity to watch out for techniques. I see English and Yoruba movies, even the ones I featured in. I would look at areas I didn’t do well and make sure I don’t repeat those mistakes again.
What do you still plan to achieve?
I hope to be more committed to Christ because all what we do in life has no gain if we don’t make the kingdom of God. If you do well here on earth you will be praised in heaven. Also, I pray that my children become useful to the nation just like I have been to the country even though they’ve not give me national award.