Bolanle Ninalowo has always been the hottest thing rocking both English and Yoruba movie industry. Over the years in the industry, he has become every producer’s delight and a household name.
The talented actor joined the movie industry in 2010, after his 15-year sojourn in America, where he had his first degree in Accounting from Devry University, and Marketing at Keller graduate school of management both in America. He tried his hands in movie production. He produced the movie titled “Rebirth” but the movie never saw the light of the day. He equally floated a record label called “Diesel” he equally failed and lost everything….CONTINUE READING
Being a very hardworking and determined person, he didn’t relent, his cousin Rukky Sanda gave him a role in her movie, and since then, Bolanle has been shuttling from one location to another.
His brilliant performance in the movie “Picture Perfect” became a game changer for the industrious actor, as it increased his rating in the Yoruba movie industry as well. Not too long ago he was our guest at our usual City People roundtable interview with City People team. This Lagos born actor revealed a lot about his life. Below are excerpts from the interview.
How does it make you feel being the hottest actor in the entertainment industry?
I have been a product of grace, and I give him all the glory for his favour upon my life.
How have you been able to maintain that standard?
Well, someone asked me the last time, what is my biggest fear in life, and I answered that my biggest fear in life is to lose God’s grace, once the grace is gone, then every other thing is gone as well. So I can’t take that for granted. I do my best in everything and allow God’s grace to perfect it for me.
Can you tell us, how acting started for you?
Well, I came to Nigeria in 2010, and I tried to get into the movie industry, but I didn’t know anybody, so I shot my own movie titled “Rebirth” which never came out but led me here today. But after that same year, I still had a little money that time and I went into music and became a record label owner called “Diesel Music” I did that for about 3 and a half years, and lost all my money, so I told myself instead of going back to America, why not try my luck in acting again, so I did that in October 2014, and ever since, it’s been from one location to another and this is where I am today.
So why the choice of acting?
At this stage, I realized that is where my calling is, I have always been on a journey of self-discovery, to realize why I was made and why I am on this earth. I have always been an entertainment person and also tried my hands in so many things. While I was in America, I did a lot of school plays with friends and all that but coming here, it was a totally different ball game entirely. But at some point God just did it, and I found interest in it, and I kept giving it my all.
Which movie did you start with?
In 2014, I featured in Rukky Sanda’s movie, who happens to be my cousin. She gave me my first role in the movie titled “What We Think”. That same month, I met Desmond Elliot, who was the first person that gave me my first lead role ever. Since then, I have been working hard and staying focus.
You have been shuttling between English and Yoruba industry, and you interprete all your roles so perfectly. How do you do it?
While interpreting them. I don’t know, if I am doing them perfectly. I just do the little that I can. It’s just great to hear people say, I interprete them perfectly. Being an American and a Nigerian too, when I came there was lots of criticisms, from people in the industry, outside the industry and the media as well. I remember being called worst actor in 2016, by a very big and popular media house, but I have come to realize in life, that to be successful, you have to be focused, ignore lots of things, and just keep striving to be who and what you desire to be.
Which of the movies, would you say you are really pleased with and shot you into the limelight?
That will be Picture Perfect where I played “Jobe” that was the game changer for me. It’s like a role I had to prove myself.
In everything I do, I tend to infuse my skills and wisdom in doing it. I realized I can’t be the finest boy in the industry, I can’t be the tallest actor in the industry and above all to me, there’s no best. So it is all about time and chance, so it’s just my time. For Picture Perfect, it was just like, how am I going to do something different. I remember, when I was just coming into the industry, there was this saying that a Yoruba boy cannot run Nollywood, so for me, I came with that war, that, that has to change. I don’t understand why there’s a Yoruba Nollywood and English Nollywood. So the same thing I told God I wanted is what I am getting now. I told God, I wanted to bridge the gap between both industry. If you look at the English industry, when they are shooting movies they speak Igbo and English, but when it comes to the Yoruba actor when he speaks English, it’s like his birthday. When he speaks English, it’s like something special and I didn’t think that was proper, and I can not change the industry, so I was like, what can I do to change some things a bit. So when I started featuring in English movies, I started featuring in Yoruba movies as well. I didn’t know many people, but I met with Adebayo Tijani, Muyiwa Ademola, Afeez Eniola and lots of others, those where the people that put me under their wings to fly. For me, everything is a learning process, so I learn all the time, so when the Picture Perfect came, I realized that was my first acting role.
So for Picture Perfect, I had to put in my best. I was in the garage for 3 weeks, Ojuelegba at a point, I even drove the bus, just to get the lifestyle right, I became a conductor, I disguised, just to learn, because I discovered that growth also resides outside your comfort zone. I got tired of the norms in Nollywood. I don’t believe in protocols. I believe in God. It is not how far, but how well, so against all the odds, I did what I had to do. So the grace of God has brought me this far.
Do you sometimes regret you left America to Nigeria?
Well, I had regrets, until I made it. Yes I failed many times, but people didn’t realiz. I was failing to move forward.
I knew for fact that God was not going to let me down, it was how much I could bear, and all the challenges I could go through in this country. But in all, going back to America was never an option. Failing or quitting was never an option for me. But it was a do or die, if you look at the movie Picture Perfect critically; you will understand that it was beyond acting for me, it was more of putting my life into it. For me it was like something has to change. Thank God we got positive feedback. So as far as regrets are concerned, no. No single regrets at all, but as for American dreams. I have never had that, rather it has been my African dreams, Nollywood is my focus. Look at Genevieve for example. What she just did with Netflix. Once we celebrate our culture, it attracts them and they will only respect us from outside, I can’t say oh, because I can do Hollywood, let me do Hollywood, no respect in that. People need to appreciate your culture. We have 190 million Nigerians, we are not done satisfying them, talk more of Americans. I just got back yesterday shooting a Hollywood film. It was from here, they pulled me. I was probably the first Nigerian filmmaker on BET. I have a show on BET, that shows every Monday. I was not in America when I was cast, I was cast from Nigeria, it was shot in South Africa. So it is a Nigerian series, showing on BET. So those are the examples of what am talking about, those are the type of war I want to conquer, so for me, it is just an everyday struggle.
How do you cope with attraction from the opposite sex considering your looks?
Honestly, I appreciate my fans, male and female, before fame or Nollywood I have always been attracted to lots of women. In my past life, I have realized a lot of my downfall in what can make me. There are 3 barriers to success, women, and arrogance, so for me. I don’t see all that women stuff, there are certain things to be avoided in life.
You have a macho look. Did you prepare yourself before joining the movie industry?
To be honest, before I joined the movie industry, I started working out, I prepared myself for all I am doing today. I just didn’t know all it will take from me.
I didn’t know it was going to be this hard, wish I had the idea before being a part of it. It is part of the package, I am an American as well, and I know that aspect of branding, and also T.V is the image. People want to see something beautiful and glamorous.
So as an actor, we have to try and look good, the way a musician needs to take good care of their vocals as well. So, I just do the little bit, I feel I should do, and I thank God I am being appreciated.
How long were you married?
I was never married really.
Can you clear the air on what really happened?
Because of formality, that was why I used the word marriage. The mother of my kids, is the woman I met here in Nigeria, and I took her to America to file for her, to get her to stay, and that involves me taking her to the courthouse, and doing the marriage that was not marriage proper, that we all know about. We both had 2 kids together, and I was like, let me pursue my goals, by the time, am 40 or thereabout, then we can have the wedding proper.
So are you still together?
No, we separated 5 years ago. Things happened.
What is the craziest thing a female fan has ever done to you?
They have done a lot of crazy things o. Sometimes, I can’t even remember them anymore.
Have you been kissed forcefully by a fan before?
Yes, that happened to me in South Africa, when I got out of the elevator, a lady just jumped on me and started kissing, so I moved.
Any other one, like sending pictures?
Yes, that is normal, I get naked pictures, everyday. It’s just one of those crazy moments.
So how do you cope with all this?
I don’t regard it. Honestly, it doesn’t exist, the fame part of my life does not exist, I am not confused about who I am, or what I am doing in life. My work is my work. Like I left for America on the 14th, got there 15th, shot, on the 16th, left on the 17th and got back to Nigeria on the 18th, I could have stayed back in America for a week or two to enjoy myself, but truly, I don’t have time for such. Where I am right now, took everything away from my life.
Are you presently in any relationship?
No, I am in love with my job and my kids.
Take us through your family and educational background?
I was born in Lagos, my parents are from Ikorodu, Alhaji, and Alhaja Ninolowo. I have 7 siblings. The 2nd out of 8 children. My primary school was Grace Children School, Gbagada, then went to Model College, I left when I was 13 to America, I have a Bachelor degree in Accounting, then went further to do my Masters degree in Marketing all in America. I finished my Masters at 24 yrs, and visited Nigeria for the first time, after many years. Which was when I met the mother of kids. On meeting her, she got pregnant within 6 months of our relationship, so I told myself this is who I am going to marry.
I am from a family that is well grounded, there’s no fuss about impregnating a lady. You just have to marry her, and I was just 24yrs at that time, and my parents didn’t even know better either. So I say to myself, I am not going to be irresponsible, so I told myself, this is the mother of my kids, and I am going to marry her at a point, but not yet ready for marriage. So I decided to secure her future, which was why I took her to America to file for papers for her, but I didn’t know there was a hidden agenda, so I was just a means to an end for her. So after taking her to America, she got her papers after 5yrs and I was like, okay, let me go and pursue my dreams because that was my dream before I even met her in the first place.
After she got to America and lived there for 7 yrs now with my kids, everything changed for her as well. Its been 7 yrs I didn’t impregnate any other woman, or be with another woman and thank God, I am the Best Actor today. It is focus. My dream has always been to come to Nigeria and pursue my dreams, and I didn’t allow anything to distract me, thanks to God.
What is your ideal woman?
Now, it is a God fearing woman, it used to be a beautiful woman, but all that has changed now, I am more matured now.
What does it feel like winning Best Actor of the Year?
It is a dream come through for me. City People has made a very good number of people in entertainment today, as far as concerned. I will never forget this, my first time in this office was in 2010, when I shot that film “Rebirth”. I was trying to get promotion. I came here then, and I was not allowed in because, I didn’t have an appointment with anybody. I just walked in and demanded to see uncle Seye, the security man asked me, if he gave me the appointment because he has traveled. So I left.
The truth is that I’m a sucker for success stories, I’m from a very wealthy home. Ninolowo is a very influential name in this country. But I look at the Tuface, Wizkid, D.Banj and I am always like what is my own calling, do you just want to be the son of a rich man? How do I become me, what do I do for myself?
I lost everything to become who I am today, it is now people believe I can act. So, winning the award is the last thing on my mind, but letting those youth out there know that you can get it, you can be how you desire to be, you can go from zero to hero, from nothing to something. Having a nomination was enough for me.
I don’t think any award or City People has ever nominated the same person as Best Actor Yoruba, Best Actor English categories. So it is so historical for me. This is the first time it is happening. So my goal is to let everybody out there know it is possible, a lot of people believe you need to know someone before it can happen. I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t know any marketer or movie producer, and all these are happening and I am being honoured here today before Uncle Seye, and all these people, it is indeed God at work.
What BOLANLE NINALOWO Said About His Marriage was last modified: September 5th, 2023 by City People