Fatima Isah Muhamad is a Kannywood actress popularly known as Teema Yola. She came to limelight with her role as Hajiya Laure in Mansoor – one of the best Hausa movies ever produced. The actress has become a prominent face in Hausa films recently. In this interview, she talks about her journey to stardom, among other issues. Excerpt
Daily Trust: How did you get into acting?
Teema Yola: What really pushed me into acting was the interest I have in the screen business. I had never for once hidden my interest of becoming an actress and luckily for me one of the industry’s versatile writers, in the person of Abdulkarim Papalaje, introduced me to some producers and directors. I was auditioned and since it was something I had a passion for, I proved my worth.
As we speak, I can’t precisely tell you how many Hausa movies I have featured in. I know my success in the industry wasn’t my own doing but the will of God and I always thank Him for bringing me this far in the industry; this is my seventh year.
DT: How would you describe the Hajiya Laure role that brought you to limelight?
Yola: To be honest, the movie ‘Mansoor’ and the role I played in that movie made me feel as if I had never played any role as good as that. My role in that movie no doubt created a good name for me as an actress and showcased my ability to act, thereby making me a household name in the industry.
When the movie was premiered, people were like ‘who is this actress that we never knew can act like this’? I had to be sneaked out of the venue because everyone wanted to see me. That day, I shed tears of joy when fans gathered just to have a glimpse of me, and ever since it has been one role after another.
DT: Does it mean the movie brought you more acting deals?
Yola: Of course it did, because it made me an instant star that every producer wanted to cast in his movie. Fans wanted to see more of Hajiya Laure and her antics.
DT: Tell us about your struggle in the industry?
Yola: Yes, I have faced a lot of challenges to get to this level in the industry. You see, there were moments when I will be cast in a movie and after doing all the roles assigned to me, I will not get paid at the end. I will try all I can but the producers wouldn’t pay me.
On several occasions, people would advise me to take legal action but I will just laugh and forge ahead. I later realized that I was treated that way because I was an upcoming actress, but today the same producers that refused to pay me are paying me in advance even before the script is submitted to me. I was patient enough to witness these two different transitions in my history as a Kannywood actress.
DT: Some say you are too expensive to cast in a movie. Is that true?
Yola: Driving expensive cars or having expensive things doesn’t make you expensive when it comes to your profession. I am an actress who always wants to protect her dignity; maybe that’s what makes people think that I am expensive.
DT: What would you say are your success stories as an actress?
Yola: My success stories in the industry are too many, but I can say I have been to places that I wouldn’t have been ordinarily if I were not an actress. I have met people and made a lot of fans that are willing to do anything for me, and I have acquired many things through the Hausa movie industry.
DT: Does that mean Teema’s dream is being fulfilled as an actress?
Yola: Sort of, but my main dream now is to get married and settle down. However, I will not leave the industry even when I get married. I will still be with the industry but not as an actress. I want to be a producer because the art of making films is a profession just like any other.
However, all these depend on my husband’s wish; if he says he wants me to be a fulltime house wife, so be it.
DT: What is the saddest thing that has ever happened to you as an actress?
Yola: It was an incident that occurred during my early days as an actress. I worked at a movie location for seven good days, in fact I got stung by a scorpion, but at the end the producer of that movie refused to pay me. I really went through a hard moment during the shooting of that movie, only for the producer, in his own selfish wisdom, to decide not to pay me. I always feel bad whenever I think of that day.
DT: Do you have any message to your fans?
Yola: I want my fans to understand that nothing lasts forever and therefore they should make good use of the opportunity life offers. They should continue to give us their support and we promise not to let them down.