Jaiye Kuti is a woman of many parts. She is an actress, producer, businesswoman and the Chief Executive Officer of Jaylex Aesthetic Productions, a company which specialises in film, video and television productions. The sultry actress explains the secret of her success both at the home front and the make-believe world despite the peculiarities of her chosen career.
When did you start acting?
I have been acting for decades. I was born with the talent but I didn’t venture into it early because I was not sure of myself and I didn’t want to lose my office job as a Personal Assistant, but in 2002,I followed my dreams and started acting professionally.
What was your first appearance on set, soap or a movie?
It was a comedy soap opera. I was invited for an audition by my younger brother’s friend who I had earlier told I wanted to go into acting fully. I got the job for a 15 episode soaps “Laff Patterns” . From there I took on to soaps like Everyday People, One Love, Face To Face, Spiders and many others.
Was it because you started with soaps that makes you feature more in them than movies?
No, though soaps were the first opportunity I had but that is not the reason for featuring more in soaps. My husband loves soaps than movies and that is why I feature more in soaps. At the initial stage, my husband was afraid of my leaving the house for a long time. For soaps you can spend a month or two in the house before going for the next episode or another one. As it is, I leave the house everyday but ensures I sleep in my house whenever my location is within Lagos. But I have to be in both.
Talking about home videos, why haven’t you been taking many lead roles?
In most of the movies, the story is about a young man and a woman. So I take the sub lead role as the mother of the main character and a mother is supportive
Could the reason be your stature?
I think so. I have a physique of an African woman and indeed I am a mother. I also like to play the role of a mother because I just have to portray what is inside of me. It is not as if I do not take other challenging roles too.
How do you compare the experience; doing soaps and movies?
The experience is the same. The two is about reading , interpreting and delivering a script. The only difference is that for movies you have to stay out of your house for a week or two but soaps you can switch between your house and location for months. In an episode, you can have like six scenes and when you have 15 episodes, it means you have like 90 scenes to act. Soaps take longer time but one can still go home.
Which pays more, soaps or movies?
For me, both pays well but soaps pay me more. Because it takes longer time.
Apart from English soaps you do, you seem to be doing only Yoruba films, why?
The Yoruba took me over and once in a while when I am called for English movies, I definitely go for it. At a time, I worked for Eminet .People have the perception that I am a soap opera person so it is difficult to change. But this is not the case in Yoruba movies, many actors and actresses want Jaiye Kuti in their films for the motherly role. And as a typical Yoruba woman, I want to dedicate more time for Yoruba movies and soap operas.
At this age and as a married woman, do you still get advances from men?
Yes, all the time in fact on daily basis I get advances from both younger and older men. I am beautiful but as a mother and a good wife, I apply wisdom in dealing with them. I know I have what a man would see or feel that would make him want me but I would never cheat on my man.
Has your husband ever been intimidated by other men because of you?
My husband can never be intimidated by any man. I happen to marry a good man who knows and understands his wife passionately. He gives me what makes him my husband. H plays his fatherly role to the children, no man can stand up to my man in any way.
How do you think your husband feels when doing sexual roles?
My husband is not bothered. My husband is even of the opinion that Nollywood is not doing well enough. There was a time he told me “I wish you were much younger, I would have taught you how to make better romantic scenes”. I have never done a tongue to tongue kissing with any actor and I am not saying my husband encourages that too. But he is saying I can be more romantic even in my looks or touch while acting.
Are you saying your marriage is preventing you from some roles?
No, but I can never have a wet kiss with another man.. I really don’t know how my husband will feel but I will rather drop that job than kiss another man, tongue to tongue. There are some actors you dare not put your mouth into theirs. Not Jaiye Kuti.
How do you see the injection of sex scenes into our films?
Sex is everywhere. And there are stories that would not be well told if there are no sex scenes and Nollywood is trying its best to censor our films.
Why do we always have sex scandals in Nollywood?
It is not peculiar to Nollywood. Every occupation has sex scandal, it is only popular in Nollywood because everybody is interested in us. I am not supporting promiscuity. I have never dated anybody in the industry and I have no godfather. But sex is everywhere. We do films that teaches family values and condemn abnormal sexuality.
What has been your worst location experience?
It was a time when I got to a location and sat throughout the day because nothing was in place and after wasting my day, I had to sleep in my car because there was no provision for where I would sleep. Some had to sleep at the bar. I think they had financial problem because many things went wrong in that location. Since then I take extra money with me when going on locations.
What was the worst thing ever written about you and what measures did you take?
I have been scandal-free. The only one was when it went viral that I got married to Wasiu Alabi Odetola popularly known as Pasuma. So many did not know it was in a movie, I got many calls wanting to why I disappointed them. A woman who wanted to join Nollywood and was still begging her husband for his consent called me saying she does use me as a good example of decent and happily married actresses and now I have shattered her hope. I took the pain of explaining things to her and now she is following her dreams.
What is the nicest thing acting has brought you?
Acting has kept my marriage and I will always thank God for this.
Apart from acting, do you engage in other things?
Yes, I am into lands and properties. I have properties in Agbowa and Imota. My husband has two hotels and I am in charge of the bar. I also get things to sell when I am out of the country. That is one of the good things about acting, it gives room for other things since you are the boss of your self.
I am working on a platform where I can educate women to be better mothers and a supportive wife to their husbands. I aspire to be a mother that can correct a nation.