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Why I quit broadcasting, music for acting – Tope Tedela

In this Weekend Magazine interview, award-winning Nollywood star, Tope Tedela, speaks about his career, other talents and things people may not know about him  …

In this Weekend Magazine interview, award-winning Nollywood star, Tope Tedela, speaks about his career, other talents and things people may not know about him


What made you decide to become an actor?

You just find yourself being drawn to something. I just feel like it is the fact that you can conjure up a story and it can have an impact on people’s mind, their emotions. It can even change the way they think about certain things. I guess that was the story for me.

I watch an actor or a film and the way it makes me feel and think in a certain way; it makes me cry, I am angry. I relate with the character; it was just like a whole new world. I think that all the thing I could have done that appeals to me and still does is acting. I did not know I could make it a career at first but when I did, I pursued it.

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You are successful in your career, bagged various awards including the prestigious African Movies Viewers Choice Awards. How was it in the beginning, what were your parent’s reaction to your career path?

I was one of those kids whose parents were concerned for them because I was not really failing in school but I was all over the place. I used to get into trouble a lot, especially in secondary school. For the longest time, they were concerned about how I would turn out.

I eventually studied Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. I decided to become an actor shortly before I got into the university so when I told them, their concern was that I should not drop out of school because I want to become an actor. They saw that I had seen something that interests me so they decided to support me. Over the years, they have been very supportive of my career. Of course, they were concerned because it is an irregular type of job. You are not working all the time and money comes occasionally, so, there were those fears but my parents were there for me and they were enlightened enough to support me in their own little way and I am appreciative of that. That is my story. I got my degree anyways and maybe I will get another one.

Speaking of your stay in the university, you were an On Air Personality…

Yes, I was working at Unilag FM at the time.

Why didn’t you stick to broadcasting since you had begun the journey as you were also a news anchor at NTA?

In retrospect, maybe I could have stuck to broadcasting but I don’t know why I felt I would be more successful as an actor. I could have done a number of things. I was also into music ‘heavily’. I play the piano, guitar and I write music. I was doing all of these things together. I write as well, I did newspaper editing, so there are a lot of things that I have done but acting was at the top of it.

However, I feel that all those skills and interests have a way of coming together because when I am shooting a film, I am particular about the music, and all of these things. I may go back to radio, who knows?

Not so many people are aware that you are into music. Where did the interest start from?

A part of me feels like not everything is for ‘public consumption’. There are some things that are just for you. I used to be in the choir in Redeem Church when I was a teenager. In the university, I was also in the choir, then I picked up the guitar and piano. I was in a band for a while but it did not pick up because people were chasing different things. One of us is chasing their PhD and we were working towards making an album but eventually, people went their different ways. I continued to do music for my happiness, I play, write, sing a little.

You have been featured in several blockbuster movies on several streaming services platform. What is your thought on streaming services and the Nigerian movie industry?

It is a welcomed development, so to speak. All of the branches of distribution are important. From theatrical distribution to cable distribution and streaming services as well as airlines and local television. There is a place for all of it.

How many screens do we have in Nigeria? I don’t know the exact figure but about 50-60, I may be wrong. But, it’s likely not more than 60, and how many people can that serve? If you want your movie to be seen by a lot of people, stream services give you that opportunity — locally and internationally. So, I cannot knock off the impact of streaming services to the broader discussion of getting Nigerian films seen across the world and there is also a place of our local cinema to also thrive. I think they would keep co-existing because people also want to go to the movies because it is not about the big screen but that event where there is a community, bonding; going to the cinema with your friend, partner, lovers and the likes. I think we will all co-exist.

Even if we want to look at it globally, a renowned filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, was against streaming but one of his films – The Irish Man, was funded and went to Netflix.

Some blogs have it that your net worth so far is about $700,000. Is that true? Are you worth that much?

I am working towards that and it is the reason I am working hard and smart. I am not there yet.

Most people do not know about your love life. Are you married?

No, I am unmarried.

Are you in a relationship?

Aren’t we all?

Why don’t you like to speak about your love life?

It is because I always ask this question, ‘why are people so curious about other people’s personal life?’ At the end of the day, it does not affect the work that I do. The work that I do is the point of contact between myself and the audience and that is the most important thing. If people love my work. What people may not know is that I am a ‘home buddy’. I like being at home.

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