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Moji Oyetayo: Mama Ajasco steps in as Lagos Actors Chair

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Those who are familiar with the history of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), especially at the Lagos State Chapter, would easily agree that the emergence of photographer-turned actress and comedienne, Moji Oyetayo, as the Chairperson of the chapter is no mean feat.

The chapter has produced about six chairmen since inception in the early 1990s and they have been all men. The closest women in the chapter had gotten to in the executive council were as treasurer and welfare officer. So, when Moji, who is popular as Mama Ajasco, threw her scarf in the ring during the last election, not too many people gave her a chance.

But not only did Moji pick up a nomination form, but she also campaigned vigorously and ran over a major contender, Emeka Rising Ibeh, to emerge the first female chair of the foremost chapter.

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A television host and voice-over artist, Moji, who is famous for playing the comic ‘Mama Ajasco’ on the popular Papa Ajasco programme on television, was returned unopposed after Emeka withdrew from the race.
She would lead the chapter for the next two years and succeeds actor and producer, Don Pedro Aganbi, whose tenure was remarkable.

In a post-election acceptance speech, Moji promised to consolidate on the achievement of her predecessor in office and lead an executive that would initiate programmes aimed at taking the Guild to greater heights, in line with its vision and objectives.

“My mission is also to empower women in the Guild, the elderly especially. Most times, people don’t call them for jobs anymore, but these are great veterans that we watched growing up. I have plans to empower them and I have plans for the upcoming actors too,” she said.

Other elected officers of the chapter are Christopher Iheuwa (Vice-Chairman); Bukola Thomas (General Secretary); Kemi Adekomi (Public Relations Officer); Adenuga Roseanna Okachi (Financial Secretary) and Julius Omijie (Treasurer).

Asked how it feels to be the first female to chair the Lagos chapter of the Guild, Moji, a mother of one, remarked: “I feel great and blessed. I have a date with destiny and that is to change the narrative.

“I am also the first Yoruba and female to take over as chairman. My inauguration ceremony was historic, being the first time we were having six past presidents and chairmen at an inauguration.

“We also had six different state chapters and their entire executives in attendance. The outpouring of love has been overwhelming.”

Born to parents who had a lot of humour in them, Moji acknowledged that she has been entrusted with the mandate to move the guild forward, saying: “I am taking over from someone who has left a very big legacy. It is a very big shoe to fit in and I promise to discharge my duties accordingly for the progress of the guild.”

Moji’s immediate task as chair is to “bridge the gap between the elites and the middle class and support platforms for newcomers to shine.

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“We will also maintain projects we met on ground and develop a constant and beautiful relationship with the AGN at all levels, while also furthering the good job done on training and retraining of our members, as well as welfare.”

A photographer, who worked behind the scene before acting beckoned, Moji’s journey as an actress started about a decade ago when she emerged one of the finalists in the 12 Ambassadors reality show programme sponsored by Unity Bank Plc and produced by Paul Obazele. She rode on the back of her emergence as one of the 12 acting ambassadors to pursue a career in acting.

Her first break was a role in John Njama’s D8 (Dormitory 8). She has since then gone on to feature in other television and movie productions, including Papa Ajasco, television series, Jenifa, and the popular series, Daughters of Eve.

Popular for her role as Mama Ajasco, Moji remarked that it wasn’t difficult to step seamlessly into the role, even though other actors had played it to the hilt.

She said: “I think what helped me is just trying to be myself and bringing something unique to the role. I didn’t try to copy what the actors who had lived the roles before me had done. I just created my own mannerisms and it worked for me and it is still working.”

Moji, who is on a plus size, disclosed that her career ambition is to have her own talk show and continue to run her Foundation, adding: “I intend to touch more lives. I want to, through my Foundation, reach out to young people. What we presently do and will continue to do is to teach them to abstain from drugs and other social vices.

“As for my plus size, I like my built, just that it restricts me to certain roles. But I like my built; it is also my selling point.”


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