Lateef Adedimeji: The more the fame, the more we need a lot of improvement
Adetola Abdullateef Adedimeji is an actor, screenwriter and filmmaker. He attended Ire Akari Primary School Isolo, and Ilamoye Grammar School, Okota both in Lagos. He graduated from Olabisi Onabanjo University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. He began his acting career in 2007 and has so far featured in over a 100 movies both in English and Yoruba. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, he talks about his craft.
You’re one of the actors who have crisscrossed the indigenous and English movies, how are you able to blend?
What is basic is the discipline, strength and focus you put into the job, and if you look at the Yoruba angle all of the time, the drilling is a very crazy one. Taking that learning process into the other world is actually a very good one, when you get into the other world, you see more of discipline. So, putting the two together, it is just right for you to just give it all your best, all of your time.
I also don’t see a reason why anybody cannot blend. What’s important is that you need to put a lot of energy into what you do and then you need to be very versatile; you don’t need to be a stereotype type of person. And for me, I make sure nothing passes by me; everything or human I meet on a daily basis, I make sure that I pick something from you. So, that way, if given any role, I just need to take a flashback to whoever has made that kind of character and throw away Lateef and get into that role.
Yoruba movies seem to be your strength, how did it start?
Basically, I think it was where I found myself first. If I had found myself in the English world, it would have been the same. While growing up, getting training in dance and acting were those in the Yoruba movie industry and that’s where it all started. So basically, I do not have a choice but to pick up from where I know a whole lot of people, then eventually grow up into what I am today.
You play humour so well, is there anything in your growing up that influenced this?
It’s just basically learning; I think I have a bit of it inside of me, and then now, learning from a whole lot of people, watching a whole lot of comedians and all of that. At first, nobody sees me as a comic actor, everybody says he always plays a serious role, ‘he plays a mumu kind of role’ and all of that. And at a point in time, that emotional role keeps coming, then I needed to make people understand the fact that I’ve got this inside of me already as well. So, I had to switch at some point and turned down emotional roles and picked up comedy roles so that people can see that part of me too. All is balanced now and you can actually call me on anyone and ask me to fit into it.
How have you evolved over the years?
I think I’m better by the day, because we grow every day and civilisation is still ongoing and upgrade is still on going on a daily basis from 2D to 3D, 4D and 5D. You just have to follow the trend to stay relevant; you need to be active, know what is going on and make sure you lift up and match up to what’s going on. That way, you keep being relevant with the situation as it goes on.
What do you consider a major challenge in the industry?
The major challenge is that we don’t think outside the box. We need to challenge ourselves, we don’t need to limit ourselves and then think that the minute fame comes, we don’t need to improve again. As a matter of fact, the more the fame, the more we need a lot of improvement so that the fame can match up. Its just a lot of work for actors; as the fame grows, the expectations gets high, then you have to match up to that high expectation so that there can be at the balance.
What lessons have you learnt in the industry?
I’ve learnt a lot of lessons over the years; learn all that time, no knowledge is a waste. I play a lot on set, but I know everything that is going on around. There’s just a thin line between the character you’re playing and your natural self, so you can actually use it. So for me, it has always been paying strict attention to everything that is going on around me, and that works for me all that time.
How would you define your fashion style?
Just simple, but classy; I don’t like it too loud.
Describe yourself in three words?
Gentle, easy going, unpredictable.
What are your final words, especially to young people who are looking up to you?
I always hear people say, ‘I want to be like him’, and I tell people don’t be like me; it’s crazy. That’s the worst thing you can do to yourself. Do not be like me, if you see something interesting about me, you can pick it and add it to yourself, but don’t try to be like me. If I have a fifty and you have a hundred and you want to be like me, you have limited yourself to the fifty that I have and you have every right to be better than I am in every way to get to your hundred. So, pick from me, and go ahead and prosper.