How did acting begin for you?
My name is Olatunbosun Odunsi. How did I start? I started acting in Lagos with Olayemi Sycostration Orchestra at Ile-Nla in Ebute –Metta. They performed for churches and because they would not leave Lagos and I was interested in going round, I had to join the late Hubert Ogunde. I worked with him for almost 8 years before I left to form my group, the Araba concert, then.
You have been acting for how long?
I have been acting for more than 50 years.
And before I joined acting, I was a student and right from school, I joined Syncopation Orchestra and when I got out of school and after obtaining my G2, I joined them fully before I moved to Baba Ogunde’s group. I also briefly worked at a company in Apapa as a Machine Operator, Then I later moved fully to Baba Ogunde.
Acting for over 50 years, was there, anytime you felt like living acting out of frustration?
There wasn’t and this is simply because I took it as my real profession and I would not like anything to take me out of it. The nature of our job then also took us around the country and outside Nigeria.
So, I never gave it a thought quitting. But at a time, I embraced agriculture because I was into animal husbandry. I had my poultry and the poultry gave me enough money to finance my acting career and each time I go for rehearsals, my birds. Suffer. Many died, while I was away on location.
Which movie will you say shot you into the limelight?
Before the movies, the stage performance made us popular. Most especially when I was with the late Hubert Ogunde. “The Ologbo Dudu”, Yoruba Ronu, Otito Koro and so on. I was already popular on stage.
The stage was so popular that anywhere we went, people used to hail us. But when the Movies started, the “Idamu Padi Mi Kailu” written by Alagba Adebayo Faleti and Television performance. “Inspector Adegboye also made me popular. I have been popular before the advent of movies.
How many movies have you produced?
I produced “Ejo ni Igboro” which was my first film in 1983. Later Ayorunbo, then Ogun Abele. I wrote “Ogun Abele”, but somebody bought the script and produced it.
How many movies have you acted in?
Haa! uncountable. I cannot count the number of movies I have featured in. I have done more than 2,000 or 3,000 movies, both home and abroad.
You also acted abroad? which movies was that?
Changing Faces, shot in Nigeria taken to America. The Sun in Japan. I was in Japan then and I participated in it.
We hardly see you in movies these days, why?
I still act, but I told you I am into farming. It a big farm at Ago Owu In Osun State. My mother is from Osun and I am from Ogun State.
You cry a lot in movies, what is the difference between crying-Tunbosun Odunsi and Pa.Tunbosun Odunsi?
Yes see, any good artist given any role should be able to get into that character. Artists are clay in the hands of the molder. You know clay must not argue with the molder, he bends you into whatever he likes. A good artist must be able to adapt and bend into what the script says. Enter into that character and give the writer what he wants.
You were with Ogunde for 8 years, what were you doing with him?
I was teaching and dancing, I acted any role given to me.
Do you have any of your children towing this line of business?
Yes, I have a son, Gbenga Odunsi, who is also getting there by God’s grace. He has produced once too.
How do you rest?
You see, I take my time to rest. When I am given a job to do and I know I can’t cope, I have the opportunity of telling them that it falls within my resting period, I may not be able to cope.
If the producer is the type who wants me by all means, I ask him if he could postpone the shooting of the scene to accommodate me.
You have been in the limelight for over 50years, how old is Pa Odunsi?
I will clock 75th on July 3rd.
You don’t look 75years?
That is what this job does to us. Acting and farming, most especially farming job. It gives you lots of opportunities to exercise. There is no time for laziness.
How is it like turning 75 years?
To God be the glory. How we wish we can turn back the hands of the clock and look at the youthful days. But there is no big deal especially when you can mix with the old and the young. If you try to seclude yourself, then there is a problem.
Do you belong to any caucus such as the Odunfa, and others?
I belong to the entire group and this is because I am a father.
You started acting with many veteran artistes, who are your contemporaries?
Hubert Ogunde, Oyin Adejobi, Kola Ogunmola, Duro Ladipo, Ayinla Olumegbon, Ibari Oloko, Isho Pepper and many others. Chief Akin Ogungbe, Chief Oluseyi Tiger, Chief Omilani, Chief Moses Olaiya Adejumo (Alawada) and several others.
Would you say being educated has helped your career?
Yes, I will say that. You see the education we are talking about does much. If an illiterate decides to be a thief and a graduate decides to be a thief, education will go along way in prospering one better the other
How do you plan to celebrate your 75th birthday?
I don’t plan to celebrate it.
Why do you hardly throw parties?
You see, I took after my father. My father hardly attended any party. In fact, I saw my father dancing once in his lifetime. That was when Jehovah Jire African Church was to be dedicated in 1956. My father danced as the patron of the church. He danced for about 30 seconds. (Laughs)
Is that why you don’t want to throw a party?
You see, what I know about parties, my knowledge about parties, nothing good comes out of it. Many problems people face these days emanate from throwing parties. If you don’t have any enemy try and throw a party. You will immediately have enemies. This is because it won’t just be one.
Many problems people face now if you look deep into them, you will know that they started from the day they threw a party. For example, many of the stories. I have written, series in “Ogun Abele” on BCOS, my series on OGtv, “Amoye”, Eleti Ofe were true stories from happenings in people’s lives. Ogun Abele emanated from somebody, who got married, 13 years without any issue. The cause of the childlessness started from the story of how they threw a wedding party. But as the Lord will have it, somebody told them to go and meet Iya. The couple played with her and she told them the reasons of their childlessness just because of the food offered her at their party.
How is it like crying and mucus coming out of your nostrils?
Let me ask you when you are given a huge sum of money, how would you feel? You will cry. There is a cry of joy and cry of sorrow. If you are expecting something and it suddenly drops on you, it will bring tears.
You have a signature cap?
(cuts-in) I just put it on my head and press it to the front. Just as my Oga, Alagba Faleti.
How do you juggle being a farmer and an actor?
Dele Odule called me from farm to be here. You don’t fight piracy on the farm. I love what I am doing.
You have acted in over 3,000 movies, what are you working on now?
I am working on “ Ojo Ola” I don’t know if I will still be alive to shoot it, but some people will take it up. The story has to do with what happened to this Nation. I so much believe in the balkanisation of this country.
I don’t believe in one nation. You borrow money to send your kids to school and he/she comes back, no job. But somebody will be at that position that my child is supposed to be without having the qualification or the technical know how. I will not bring a Hausa man to be DG of Custom in my country. An Ibo man will select his Ibo brother to take care of his Navy. Let us sit down and work it out.