Listen to the story now:
When I was 9, I told my mother I was going to become a truck driver just like Ponmile’s father. Ponmile and his family stayed in the room right next to ours in the face-me-I-face-you house where we lived. I loved going to their room because his mom always gave me a full bottle of Coca-Cola. After several months of questioning, Ponmile finally told me that they always had so much to drink because his father was a truck driver for the company manufacturing Coca-Cola. He said the company gave his father all those bottles to sell, but he could decide to drink them all, and the company wouldn’t do anything because that was how the job worked. It seemed like the coolest job in the world.
In my house, I only got a full bottle of Coca-Cola on special occasions; Christmas, New Year, my younger sister’s naming ceremony, every other day my father wanted to apologize for hitting my mother, and he wanted us to beg on his behalf. On other days, I had to share one bottle with my two elder brothers.
My mother said I was being childish when I told her about my dream of becoming a truck driver. Ponmile’s father is stealing those drinks, and his employers must not know because they will fire him. You are going to become an Engineer, Bobola, she drummed into my ears.
The first engineer that came to my mind was Uncle Jide . He repaired computers and mobile phones at my street’s junction. He was a wizard when it came to fixing gadgets. It was common knowledge that any gadget Uncle Jide couldn’t fix could only be fixed by God. But, my mother told me he wasn’t a real engineer. She said I had to become a Petroleum Engineer like the man who owned the house where we lived. The same man also owned the other eight blocks of flats on my end of the street.
When I got to Senior Secondary school, I opted out of Science class and followed Anike to Arts class. I had a serious crush on her, and I was willing to do anything to be around her, including telling my mother I wanted to become a lawyer so I could sue anyone who offended her.
Anike left our school in the first term of SS2, long before I could summon the courage to tell her how I felt about her. When she left, I poured all my unspoken love into dramas so much that I became the Loverboy in all the plays we acted for our Literature classes.
A few years later, when I wrote the Jamb exam, I chose Theatre Arts as my first choice at the University of Ibadan. My father wasn’t pleased. He had started boasting to his friends that his son was going to become a lawyer. My mother on the other hand was more receptive of the idea. I had to promise her I was going to be bigger than Odunlade Adekola.
I started going for casting calls while I was still a student and I got a lot of waka pass roles. I took things more seriously after graduation, but I wasn’t interested in Yoruba movies. I came close to getting major roles in English Nollywood movies on five different occasions because I apparently have the look of a bad boy. Sadly, I missed out on all the roles because of my accent which in the words of one of the casting directors, tainted my English like a palm oil stain on a white sutana. Another casting director said he would get back to me if he needed someone for a funny role because I obviously was a joke to him.
The realization that my accent was an issue was new but I wasn’t going to let it stop me from becoming an actor so I had to re-strategize . I gradually opened my mind to the possibility of featuring in Yoruba movies and it was at the casting call for a Yoruba movie that I met Bolaji.
Bolaji was a very handsome young man with an enviable bald head and full beard. I noticed him because he was the only one more good looking than I was at the auditions where we met.
I had been told to act the role of an imbecile and the directors didn’t seem impressed by my performance. I sat in the waiting room and processed how I could have acted the role better.
Don’t think too much about it, you win some you lose some, Bolaji said as he sat next to me.
He was so easy to talk to and it didn’t take long for me to open up to him about my accent issue which had become a stumbling block for the roles I really wanted. I am so certain he obviously noticed the accent for himself.
I had mixed feelings when he first told me he was a casting director for an agency and he was headhunting for new actors. Coming to those kinds of auditions was one of his strategies to get potential actors, he said.
My agency would help you blow and you won’t even have to say a word. All you have to do is make sounds where necessary, he chipped in at the end of our conversation.
A week after I signed up with Bolaji’s agency, I got my first role. I was paid 350,000 Naira for my first movie. In a few months, Bolaji’s agency helped me set up an Onlyfans account with the help of some of their contacts in the US. I only had to create content with some other colleagues and they handled the rest. He called it Dollar earning, Naira living.
So these days when anyone asks me what job I do, I smile and I tell them I have the coolest job in the world.