It’s the Holidays season and we sort of took a break! But we’re back with yet another mind blowing celebrity interview. And this week we have Teniola Aladese as our Spotlight Art. We’ve seen her take on the role Sejiro on MNet Series ‘JEMEJI’ which was quite an intense role, we’ve also seen her on the web series ‘THIS IS IT’! Of-course, we got curious about who she really is. So here we are! Let’s get to know Teniola more, as she talks acting and everything in-between.
Describe Teniola Aladese in 5 words
Eclectic. Whimsical. Open minded. Ambivert. Creative.
Tell us about yourself, state of origin, education, what’s your story in a nutshell.
I’m originally from Ondo State, but I was born in Lagos State. I attended Raregift Nursery & Primary School, then went on to Dansol High School for my Secondary education. I then went on to Covenant University to receive a B.Sc in Mass Commnuication.
I’M a very fun loving kinda gal. I love to draw and paint. I love to dance and sing. I love to read and watch movie and TV shows. I also love going to restaurants and trying new/exotic food. As much as I like going out, I also really do love my space and solitude.
How did Acting Begin for you, share with us your journey to fame.
I started acting in 2015. I starred in an Africa Magic Original Film called ‘Perfectly Flawed’. And that was the first support character I played. I had been working behind the scenes up until this point. I had always wanted to act, but somehow, I started off as a production assistant, went on to become a Production Coordinator- which was when I got this acting gig. It has been a chore trying to act alongside working in production, and my acting career has had to suffer for most of it, but that’s definitely changing now, by the grace of God.
You played the role of Sejiro on Jemeji, how did you get the ROLE? What was it like working with the cast and crew of Jemeji? Was it difficult delivering on that role? How did it affect you afterwards?
To be honest, it was crew members and colleagues in production that suggested I play the character of Akweyon/Sejro. We were in Pre Production for the show, and they suggested to my Supervising Producer, Mr. Ope Odugbemi that I’d be great for the character. He then spoke with the Executive Producer of the show, Victor Sanchez Agahowa and they then agreed that I could pull it off. I’m forever grateful for that opportunity.
What is the one thing, people will be surprised to know about you?
I associate the way people talk and look with food or inanimate objects. E.g I think a friend of mine talks like tea and ceramic. I think a colleague of mine sounds like pap. I think one of my sister looks like mango. Another friend of mine’s voice sounds like crayfish. People don’t seem to understand it when I say it out loud, but members of my family are used to it.
As a public figure, what’s your opinion on Politics? Feminism? Democracy? Stereotypes? And Rape?
I think a lot of people have misconceptions about feminism. Feminism is not women hating (on) men. Feminism strives for equality with both sexes. Equal rights for women, as well as men in every regard- in the work place, at home, in social settings.
Rape. I’ll refer here to female victims. I saw a poster once that read ‘Short skirt is not consent’. I agree with that. You cannot blame a woman and how she dresses for getting raped. I get infuriated when people say women should dress a certain way in order not to get abused or avoid rape. How about letting people dress the way they want and feel confident in. How about putting certain measures in place to have a sex offenders list. There is no excuse for rape, and we shouldn’t be blaming victims!
Stereotypes. My Final year project topic in Universty was ‘Gender stereotyping in Nigerian Movies’. I think the media reinforces stereotypes that have been present in our society for decades. And my conclusions in that project were that although these stereotypes are not necessarily created by the media, the media plays a huge role in reinforcing them. Society has projected such a limited view of male and female abilities and restricted them to certain capacities. Why do we think it is only the woman who should cook in a home? Why do we put the pressure on a man to be the cash cow of the family? These are cultural and gender stereotypes that are causing inequality and stratification in our society,
Why did you choose acting as a career path?
I’m very interested in people. Very interested in watching individuals. Noting what makes them tick. Noting what makes them different from others. Watching and understanding their nuances. I try to imagine what it would be like to be various people. What pushes them. What drives them. What prompts them to do the things that they do. I think I first realized I wanted to be an actor when I realised I consciously sought to study people. I sought to study their habits. Study their mannerisms. I find people intriguing. Humans are fascinating individuals! I find that analyzing them, their strengths, and supposed ‘weaknesses and flaws’ and then, channeling those and internalizing them, births several characters. Lee Strasberg said “Work for the actor lies essentially in two areas: the ability to consistently create reality and the ability to express that reality”. It gives me a certain type of fulfillment creating a reality for a character and expressing said reality. And then, people connecting with this reality. This is why I chose this career.
How long have you been acting?
I’ve been acting on and off for about 3 years. I haven’t done as much as I’d hoped, because I’ve shuffling with my career in production as well, but I’m definitely grateful for the progression.
Are you happy with your career so far?
I am. I have grown tremendously in the space of 5 years, which is when I started working in production. I’ve been able to hold several credits to my name as I’ve grown ; From Production Assistant, Production Coordinator, Production Manager, Casting Director, Associate Producer, Line Producer, and of course, actor. I do not take these for granted at all. I’m very grateful to the people who have given me opportunities to prove myself and show my craft, and also the people who have compelled me to do what I had no idea I was capable of doing.
What Actors would you like to work with in the future?
In Nigeria, that’s one long list, but it includes and is not limited to; Pete Edochie, Genevieve Nnaji, Nse Ikpe Etim, O C Ukeje, Femi Jacobs, Shaffy Bello, and of course Aunty Tina Mba.
If not acting, what other career would you have chosen?
I’d probably be a news anchor or a detective.
In which area would you like to improve as an actor?
I’m constantly working to improve in various areas as an actor. By taking classes- whether in person or on line, by reading. I’m currently making personal efforts at working on my voice because I know that an actor’s voice has the ability to make one sound younger or older.
What sort of acting roles will you be looking out for in the future?
I’m looking forward to roles that require me to change my physical appearance. I think those would be very interesting. I’m also looking forward to roles that are entirely based off of real people and real events- true life stories. Where I can study a particular person and try to portray events in his/her life.
How many Movies have you been part of so far?
Movies; ‘Perfectly Flawed’, ‘The Men in her life’, ‘Reaching Heights’.
TV Shows; Lowladee’s ‘This is it’, Africa Magic’s ‘Hush’. Africa Magic’s ‘Jemeji’, Victor Sanchez Aghahowa’s soon to be released ‘Flat 3B’
If you were to change a thing in the Nigerian Entertainment Industry what would it be?
I’d say it’s more producers giving a shot to up and coming actors. As a production person, I understand when producers cast certain big names for PR purposes- you want someone who audiences can recognize and will draw a certain crowd to your film. But I think that it’ll be good for more producers to take risks on up and coming actors who have the talent.
Up Close and Personal.
Who in the whole world inspires you most and why?
I inspire myself. I remind myself that I have to succeed at what I enjoy doing in order to have true happiness.
I have a lot of them. Common and his bald head. Lol. I love them both. Also, Will Catlett from the OWN show ‘Love Is’.
What is on your bucket list?
A number of things including learning the Italian language and living in Italy with a lover for a few months.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
Probably one of my black boots. They can go from casual to chic.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
Do not expect to receive the same amount of energy and thought you give to other people.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Good food! Exotic food!
What should every woman try at least once in her life?
I think that every woman should date casually without any expectations for a period of time. I think it allows you to come to meet and engage with interesting people without the pressure of being romantically involved with them, just having great conversations and learning new views and new positions of different topics.
Are you a fan of Teniola? You can follow her on Instagram @theteniola
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