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Foluke Daramola

I’m responsible for my failed marriage -Foluke Daramola

Nollywood diva, Foluke Daramola has gone through hell. She was a victim of rape and physical abuse. But rather than wallow in self-pity, the actress is waxing stronger by the day. Now, she is giving voice to the voiceless and defending the defenseless through her NGO, Action Against Rape in Africa. In this no-holds-bared interview with The Entertainer, the divorced but newly married Daramola opened up on her experiences. Excerpts:

What have you been doing lately?

I have been working on my Foundation called ‘Action Against Rape in Africa’. I work with colleagues of mine; we formed a group ‘Voice of the Common Man’. There were about 10 people involved in this: myself, Fathia Balogun-Williams, Kojola Iyaa, Victory Brakpovwe, Ronke Ojo, Muyiwa Adebola, Eniola Badmus, Ayo Adesanya and others. All of us just decided that we have to give back to the society. We have the faces, yes, a lot of things are left undone, corruption, crimes, people are abused and violated, and so, we just asked ourselves how we could impact on the society. Since we have the same ideology, we came together and formed the group. Hitherto, it was Nollywood G10. But we actually didn’t want to streamline it to only 10 people because we knew that in future people who have the same belief with us would come.  I am the PRO of the group; our aim is to help people going through one violation or the other either in cash or kind. As I said; it is a voice of the common man.

I heard that you were a victim of rape, is that one of the reasons for bringing up this Foundation?

Yes, it is part of it. I have had different experiences; I have been in a marriage once, I was abused in it, I was deflowered by rapists, I lost my father when I was two-years-old, it wasn’t easy at all. I started acting when I was a teenager because I needed to put food on my table and to further my education. In fact, I share the same experiences with the common man and that is why I want to do something to assist them.

Talking about your growing up, what happened immediately you lost your father?

I lost him when I was 2. I had a younger brother and I never got to know a father figure in my life. As I grew up, my environment exposed me to dangers and it was why I was deflowered at an early stage.

When can you say was your turning point?

It was in secondary school when I started a talk show with Chichi Okaro. I wasn’t earning money, and I was just doing it for choice, without direction. Then, when AIT started in 1995, they called us for almost the same programme though theirs was called ‘Our Time’. It was when I was about leaving the programme that I met my first mentors, Ralph Nwadike, Tunji Bamishile, and Charles Owoyemi when they were shooting a soap called ‘Palace’. They invited my friend and I to participate in the soap and it was there that everything started.

What is your greatest achievement since you have been in the movie industry?

Nollywood isn’t 20 years as people claim because I am not one of the pioneers of Nollywood. It has existed for many years before I even thought of acting. My greatest achievement is the fact that I have advanced in years since my first work, ‘Palace’. I have since done many good things.

Aside acting, who is Foluke Daramola-Salako?

She is a mother of two, a devoted wife, down to earth, passionate about humanity, feminist, and educationist. I like giving lectures and educating people.

At what point should a married woman give up on marriage?

Why I didn’t continue with my first marriage was because I found out that everything about it was wrong – emotionally, physically and otherwise. I wasn’t only affected; my children also were affected. As a film producer, I have seen and heard many stories of how a strained relationship can affect the kids. Even though, people were thinking that maybe I was following the footsteps of other celebrities, I just had to take the decision.

What caused the strained relationship?

I don’t know, my self-esteem wasn’t there. Though, I didn’t apportion blames because I know that I have my faults. I just knew that it wasn’t working and I just put an end to it. I blame myself also because I felt that I was in a hurry to get married, because my friends were also into it. The fact that I stepped off my marriage doesn’t make me a bad person. People will always talk, they will just criticize me, and perhaps, I had died in the marriage, they would have asked why I didn’t take the bold step to quit the marriage. My husband also came from a marriage where his wife took the bold step to quit. Now, I shouldn’t get the blame. I feel that everyone has the chance to be happy and avoid what people will say. Even Jesus Christ who did well all his life was criticized and killed.

How did you meet your new husband?

After my marriage broke, I waited for like five years before I entered into another marriage. I didn’t start a relationship with my new husband, no, he was my colleague; we were both activists. I realized that we shared the same ideology and he was like a best friend to me. At a point, I decided that since I derived happiness from staying with him, I should just give it a try.

How will you safeguard your marriage so it doesn’t turn into something you never bargained for?

I have a marriage principle; the only reason I will leave my marriage is for physical abuse. I won’t compromise it again. It makes someone to be dead spiritually because you lose your self-esteem and die inwardly. I can deal with infidelity but not physical abuse because I might not live to tell the story.

What do you think is responsible for broken-up marriages in Nollywood?

First, I feel that most of us fall into the wrong hands. I once made an analysis where I compared a very busy career man to a merry-go-round guy, and at the end, women might fall for the latter because we need someone who will always be there for us. Most men that we fall in love with are the wrong ones, because ideally no woman will want a broken home. I guide my new marriage with my life because I cherish it.

If there is an opportunity to go back to your former husband, will you grab it?

No, I can’t, because I don’t see us moving on the same path again.

What is your assessment of Nollywood?

It has dived into negativity. When ‘Glamour Girls’, ‘Living in Bondage’ were reigning, people paid attention to them. Even though, I was not there that time, I enjoyed it. So, if people claim that Nollywood is 20 years old, I laugh and wonder where that came from. I knew that people spend time to shoot movies that will really last long and make sense, but nowadays, people within two weeks just shoot a film and expect it to sell. I shot a film, ‘Cobwebs and it was nominated for four awards in AMAA. It was also voted in seven categories at Best of Nollywood Awards. There are no more professionals in acting; it is now an open thing.

What are the qualities of a good actress?

It is the fact that you are able to convey the message properly. For instance, if I act the part of a bitch or prostitute in a film and I do it well, my husband might become suspicious, thinking maybe something happened between the male act and I. Then, when one acts a role that is tragic and people weep because of it, in that case, you wear the character and feel it within you.

A lot of those who started with you have not risen as you have done, so what is your secret?

It is not really about acting. The Bible says ‘give and it shall be given to you’, I am a person who loves giving, I give to humanity the best way I can, and this has sustained me in life. That has been my secret.

What challenges do you have as a producer?

I have spent about N8 million on the movie I am shooting now and yet I don’t know how to make the money back, maybe from cinemas. People tell me that they have spent more than that in producing films; non-professionals are even spoiling the market and hindering our success. If the government can stop piracy, it will augur well for the industry. Pirates are worse than armed robbers because they steal our ideas and initiatives.

-The Sun

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