A Nollywood actor, Titilope Kuti, played the role of Ade Tiger in the popular King of Boys – The Return of the King, a seven-episode Netflix directed by Kemi Adetiba. In this interview, Kuti spoke about what makes him unique as an actor and what the industry should be.
You have been in the movie industry for some years now; have you ever enjoyed the kind of public attention you got with King of Boys?
No. The closest was my telecoms endorsement deal in my active modelling days.
You interpreted your role in King of Boys so effortlessly that one wonders if you faced any challenges during production. Did you encounter challenges?
There were a lot of challenges. He who dares the impossible should be prepared to face impossible challenges too. But every hurdle was worth crossing as we all had the proper perspective of what shooting King of Boys properly would do for the Nollywood industry as a whole.
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What attracted you to the role?
The audaciousness of Kemi Adetiba in an attempt to shoot a film with such a level of language representation and our indigenous cultural values represented a break from the norm.
The entertainment industry is filled with competition, what do you do to remain unique as an actor?
I try to be as original as possible with any character I am assigned to play. I take my time and put in work to absorb the character. And I think of the industry as a whole and what my contribution will add to its progress through every project.
What are some of the difficulties one may experience in the film industry?
Getting opportunities can be difficult. Sometimes it can take years, but one must never stop preparing. Typecasting can also be a challenge, so also, face-casting, as most of the big faces are considered for roles first, a situation that limits the opportunities to discover new talents.
When you began acting, how did you feel working alongside Nollywood A-list stars?
It felt good, but the truth is that I believe actors should put status bar aside and bond properly because it will always reflect on delivery. King of Boys is one project that got this right. All the actors – big or small – were on a neutral ground. The bonding was amazing. And it helped the project a lot.
Who is your role model in the industry and why?
I have watched the careers of several people over the years, both home and abroad, and admired their articulation, talent and consistency. In Nigeria, I have Shola Sobowale, Akin Lewis, Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD), while on the foreign front I have Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx. I like how they have reflected true passion, hard work and consistency.
Do you still model?
Yes. However, I cannot mention my most recent endorsement because they have not made an announcement yet, but it is with a very popular drink brand.
What are the challenges associated with modelling?
In Nigeria, modelling is not at its best for now, as it is characterised by low pay, disorganised audition structure and other issues. Therefore, to make a mark, you have to add value to yourself in other sectors of the visual media, such as acting, social media influencing etc. Gone are the days when you could make a living from modelling in Nigeria. Now, you have to be dynamic, penetrating the industry from different angles to get good modelling deals; which are mostly endorsements these days.
How do you react when you receive a negative review about a performance?
I take it from an opinion perspective. I listen to what they say, filtering out the negative or how it was said. And I try to develop in any area that needs improvement.
How do you handle admiration from female fans?
It is positive energy; when you give people an experience with your performance they will definitely celebrate you in different ways. If you understand where the emotion is coming from it will give room for tolerance and patience. So I treat them with appreciation too, patience and a deeper perspective of understanding.
What’s the most outrageous message you got from a fan?
Are you gay?
Are there things you want to do other than acting?
It is philanthropy, which I am already doing; also, discovery, military, which might be too late.
What would you have done differently if you had an opportunity to join the military? For philanthropy, who are your targets?
The military is a life of service to humanity. I have always been a service-oriented person, with the greater good in mind always. My philanthropy is tied mostly to making a mark in the world and helping others develop the capacity to grow. A lot of it is tied to my career.
When precisely did you start acting and what challenges did you face? What would you like to change or improve upon in the industry if given an opportunity?
I started acting in 2005, with television commercials as my first platform, but my first onscreen role or film was in 2010 when I filmed a series called ‘Emerald.’
The challenges in the industry remain constant, including face-casting, which limits the chances of discovering new talents. This I will improve if I have an opportunity to do so; auditions, structure and typecasting will hopefully improve too.
What would you suggest to upcoming actors and artists out there?
I will encourage them to know why they are in the business, find a genuine passion for what they do, keep learning and developing, drop self-pride and do the needful by going for auditions, subscribing to master series, finding mentors, watching and shadowing them. They should also show up every day, even when they fail and things don’t work out. They should try as much as possible to look beyond financial gains and popularity, but understand that they carry the weight of an entire industry on their shoulders with every opportunity for performance.
Where do you see your career in the next five years?
I keep growing and learning, putting in work to prepare for the next opportunity the universe would present for me to make a mark through my career. So, although I cannot tell where I will be in five years, I can surpass my expectations.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on new projects, both personal and commissioned, but I won’t let the cat out of the bag.