Having performed about 30 stage plays and the list keeps rising; Omololu Sodiya has turned himself to producers’ delight with his superlative stagecraft. He interprets roles in a way that gives the impression that he is telling his personal story; a trait that has given him an edge above his peers and enabled him star with notable thespians, as well as take on lead roles in different stage performances.
Started acting in 2005, but went professional 2007, the University of Lagos, Akoka, trained theatre artist never expected he could one day eke out a living from stage performances. In fact, theatre art was the least course he ever thought of going to the university to study.
He said: “My dream was to become a visual artist and not an actor, but after I gaining admission into University of Lagos (UNILAG) to study theatre art, and I was adjudged best actor in my first performance in my first year, alongside the pleasant comments my colleagues and lecturers often pass on me, I began to have a rethink on my stand; and with time, I braced up for the challenges in the profession.
“Acting to me is more of an in-born thing. It flows in my family, but it was not easy starting at first because I used to be a very shy person and do not relate so much with people around me. However, when I performed Yemoja written by Professor Ahmed Yerima and soon after Olurounbi at the National Theatre in 2008, I began to loosen up. After, these plays, the door opened up for me and many other performances came and up till now there is no dull moment for me,” he stressed.
On how he felt when he was adjudged the best actor in the cast of Yemoja and Olurounbi, Sodiya disclosed that the announcements shocked him. He recalled, “ it was the least thing that came to my mind. I was surprised to be called as best actor, because I was doing my thing the best way I know how to do it; not in any competition or expecting a prize. I was shocked, but I believed in the judgment of the panel that comprised professionals and professors in the field. I believed they must have seen something in me that I didn’t actually know that made them adjudged me best actor in the plays,” he noted.
While some actors/actress dread live stage performances, Sodiya disclosed that he feels at home with it, saying it is the foundation of all performances and would grab any opportunity given to him to showcase his acting prowess on live stage.
“I feel happy and at home acting on live stage because the stage supposes to be the foundation of every good actor. It enables me to reach out to the audience, feel their pulses and have a feedback on my acting skill. I have not condemned other platforms, but I must say, if you are an actor/actress and cannot perform live plays, you have not really started,” he said.
On reasons some plays come out bad, even with a good director, Sodiya puts the blame on actors who improvise and not act because they are not well-trained or ill-prepared for the role given to them. According to him, if an actor/actress has a good foundation then a lot of things would have been settled. He disclosed that a lot of actors/actresses do not want to go the extra mile, put in personal efforts on research to find out more about the role they are to play. He revealed that the kind of training he had, while in school, is different from what some people who claim to be actors/actresses go through, adding that a lot of people feel the profession is for anybody that has failed in one field or the other, without knowing that thespians undergo rigorous training to be what they are.
Underscoring the need for training, the multiple award winner noted that for anyone to excel in the field, training is key. “You must learn and relearn; you must be open to new ideas, especially as acting is a business that requires some processes to be followed. It goes beyond mere entertainment.”
Can’t these processes of learning and relearning be avoided? “No, he insisted, “ acting is a real business. It is just like you being an accountant or a lawyer; you need to be properly trained. You cannot wake up one morning to say you are a lawyer or a medical doctor without being trained. To excel, you must meet the masters to groom you or go to school for it.
“At times, as an actor/actress you may have a badly written play, but you need to interpret it, bring out the message for the good of the society and your audience, if you are not trained, doing this may be difficult or impossible. So, a good actor makes a badly written play appear good, but the worse is having bad actors to interpret badly written plays,” he said.
Of the about 30 plays you have acted, which did you find more challenging? “It is Yemoja by Professor Ahmed Yerima, may be because it was my first on a stage with a large audience, but the truth is I have done a lot of plays that each time I remember them I feel happy and contented,” he said.
On how he has been able to carve a niche for himself, worming himself into the hearts of many executive producers and directors, Sodiya disclosed that he does not always rely on his oars. According to him, aside reading widely, he believes in research and observing people.
“Each time I get a role to play, I normally go and research into it, know exactly what to do or how to take the personage of the person involved. I do go the extra mile to interpret the role, internalize it and act it. I think this has given me an edge over my colleagues in the profession.”