Sunday, 4th June 2023

Teniola Aladese: As far back as SS2, I knew I wanted to act

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
28 May 2022   |   2:38 am
Born in Lagos State, into a family of six, she studied Mass Communication at the Covenant University, Ota, and then went on to build a career in TV and film production.

Teniola Aladese

Teniola Aladese is an actor, producer and casting director.

Born in Lagos State, into a family of six, she studied Mass Communication at the Covenant University, Ota, and then went on to build a career in TV and film production.

From 2013 to 2015, she made her way behind the scenes as a production Coordinator on over 30 Africa Magic Original Films. She then went on to serve as Production Coordinator on Africa Magic’s television drama series, Hush and Jemeji.

Teniola recently bagged the Trailblazer award at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her journey into the world of acting.

Congratulations on winning the trailblazer awards at the AMVCAs, how does this make you feel?

i’m overwhelmed. It’s an award I did not expect, but it’s so good to know that so many people support and root for me, that many people can see your work and you are being rewarded for it.

Share with us your sojourn into the entertainment industry?
As far back as SS2, I knew that I wanted to act, but I didn’t study Theatre Arts in the university, I studied Mass Communication; in case acting does not work, I would opt to be a news anchor. But in 300 Level at Covenant University, we had IT. I wanted something that’ll put me on the path toward acting, even though I couldn’t intern as an actor.

My sister, Tunde Aladese, was head writer of Tinsel at the time; she helped put in word for me and I interned for about a month and that is where it all started. I worked under the three assistant directors and learnt a lot from them; I also did production assistant work as an intern.

About finishing from University at 400 Level, I sent a letter to Mr. Rogers Ofime thanking him for the opportunity to intern with him, and if he could employ me fully as a production assistant since I would be graduating soon. He asked me to come in for an interview. My acting career officially started as a production assistant in 2013 till date; I’ve grown through the ranks from being a production assistant, production coordinator, and production manager, to a producer.

It was acting I really wanted to do, but the production life really sucked me in; I enjoyed it and made my mark for years. But it got to a point where I knew that I really wanted to act; I needed to try at least.

In 2017, I was then given my breakout role, which was Akweyon in Africa Magic Jemeji. I am grateful to Victor Sanchez Aghahowa, Mr. Opeyemi Odugbemi and Nne Nlemedim who gave me a chance at becoming this character. I played that character for almost a year. I still didn’t give up on production; I was still the production manager on that set. At the end of 2018, I decided to leave the production to focus on acting.

What has kept you going over the years?
What has kept me is that I can’t stop; I truly want to be happy by doing what I love. I don’t want to be stuck in a job I don’t enjoy. I also want to make my parents proud.

What major challenges have you faced in the industry?
Being put in a box – ‘you were in production, can you really act?’ It was tricky for people who are used to seeing me as a production person to now see me as an actor. Also, there are lots of upcoming actors looking for work, they’re really good actors, but there haven’t been given a chance, because they aren’t known and that’s a challenge in the industry.

You started out behind the scenes, how did that transition happen for you?
I just used production, which is behind the scenes as a pathway to enter the industry. But I’m so glad I entered the industry through production; I don’t think I’ll be an actor if I didn’t get in through production.

What lessons have you learnt?
I’ve learnt to give others a chance because if I wasn’t given it, I won’t be here today.

How would you describe yourself?
I like being indoors; drawing or watching movies. But I also like going out with friends; I’m a fun-loving and collective person. A perfect way to describe me is a cocktail of characters, very free-spirited.

What’s your favourite local dish?
My favourite local food is fufu and okro soup. I’m obsessed with bread too and I also love pap and Akara.
If you had an opportunity to change something in the industry, what will it be?

To give more upcoming talent with no faces the opportunity to prove themselves and also surround them with more known faces.

What are you working on presently?
At the moment, I am working on Ricordi currently filming with Big Brother Naija’s Diane Rosset, Daniel Etim Effiong and Abdul T.J. There are a couple of other projects too in the works.

Who are those that inspire you in the industry?
Genevieve Nnaji has greatly inspired me and I cannot wait to film with her. Also, Pete Edochie; inspires me and I would also love to film with him someday. Mary Njoku, I think that what she’s done with ROK is beautiful. Mo Abudu also inspires me greatly through the work she does. And my two bosses, James Omokwe and I.K. Osakioduwa; they inspire me so much. They’re such incredible bosses and leaders.