After a 15-year sojourn abroad, which includes academic exploits, Nollywood actor, Bolanle Ninalowo; has returned home to ply his trade. The graduate of Accounting and Marketing, who is being touted as the next best thing to come out of the industry, speaks with DUPE AYINLA-OLASUNKANMI on his decision to return home among other issues.
WHY did you choose to return home after 15 years?
I relocated to Nigeria to pursue my dreams and become part of the fastest growing society. I realised that our nation is the new land of opportunity and I didn’t want to be left out. To benefit from something, you have to be a part of its growing process, so I did the needful by relocating. Another reason I returned to Nigeria was that I had always wanted to pursue my interests in the arts and reconnect with the Nigerian society. That was a major reason why I was glad to serve the country in Ibadan, Oyo State.
You seem to be gaining grounds in the industry?
Well, I thank God for that. All Glory be the highest. Thank God for grace and favour and the strength to persevere and pursue.
How did you make it into the industry?
I broke four years acting hiatus because I wasn’t successful in other ventures. I have no issues with being typecast or asked to play bad boy roles in movies. I now get more scripts and it is as a result of grace and answered prayers. I am working hard on being the best I can be. I am of the opinion that any producer who casts me in his or her film deems me fit enough to play the role.
And you also do not have issues with stereotypes?
The truth is that we all need to understand the market in which we play. Through my years of learning and understanding the market and society, I realize that the first thing I needed to do was to get noticed. And as a result of my appearance, most directors and producers were only willing to use me for similar roles which I was thankful for.
Initially, it was about getting a role, irrespective of its nature so I can get noticed whilst learning and be mastering my craft. I created a marketing plan for the brand I was pursuing which had various phases and each phase had its requirements. The first phase, which happens to be the one in question, required the flexibility and opportunity for stereotypes. So I did what was necessary and took full advantage of the opportunities God sent my way with the hope of breaking through. And it is paying off now.
Why did you shut down your record label?
I shut it down simply because it was the right and only thing to do at the time. I ran it for three years and did all I could to achieve success, but it didn’t make any headway, so I stopped.
Don’t you think a partnership could have kept it going?
Possibly, but I have no regrets, neither do I look back and wish for a better outcome. It was what a phase God wanted me to pass through so that I can learn and prepare for the greater things he had in stock for me.
Have you finally found love?
(Laughs) I am not searching.
And how have you been managing a family abroad while based here?
I am separated from the mother of my children. Though my kids live with her in America, I have good communication with them.
Tell us about your debut movie
My debut movie was my first production back in 2010 titled ‘Rebirth’. I was able to premiere it in America, and it also got me the Best of Nollywood Revelation of the Year award in 2010.
The plot of the movie was woven around HIV awareness and stigmatization of people living with the disease. It was premiered in several cities in the United States of America. I hope to break into Hollywood very soon and there are plans to actualise it.
How was the outing?
It was never released publicly because of various constraints back then, but I do have future plans to remake and release it to the public.
How do you feel being named the new hunk of Nollywood?
Well I am thankful to God for the grace and glory. I am not better than anyone out there, neither am I the best but the blessed. I only see myself as a representative of Gods testimony.
In 2016, you wished to find love, and in 2017, you were seen with a wife and two grown children. Can you explain this?
I had been in a toxic relationship with the mother of my children for years, trying to make things work. However, I accepted and concluded that the relationship had to end due to irreconcilable differences.
Tell us about your background?
I am popularly called Nino. I have seven siblings and I am a native of Ikorodu in Lagos State. I spent the first 15 years of my life in Nigeria. I relocated to Chicago and I lived there for another 15 years. I studied Accounting at Devry University and Marketing at Keller Graduate School of Management, both in America.
I did use my degree to gain employment in various firms in America and Nigeria before I decided to pursue my passion for acting. I was once a banker; I worked with Bank One. I was also an accountant at a company called General Growth Properties in Chicago. Upon my return to Nigeria, I worked with Guaranty Trust Bank.