By Orji Onyekwere
The first encounter with beautiful actress Bimbo Akintola leaves you with the impression of an intelligent and confident lady who says her mind when it matters.
Akintola is a woman of many parts: accomplished thespian, TV presenter, screen actress, producer and singer. A thorough and creative artiste, the Oyo state born thespian is one of the most prolific stage actors in Nigeria today. She has featured in prominent stage plays like Vagina Monologue, which talked about female circumcision; A husband’s wife, and Death of the Maiden among several others. Her strong theater background dates back to her undergraduate days at the University of Ibadan, Oyo state, where she studied Theater Arts under the tutorship of some of the best professionals in the industry.
Her stage craft and high level of professionalism has earned her commendations and accolades from both older and younger colleagues who see her as a role model.
She explains further: “Those days as a theater arts student in the University of Ibadan, if you are late for class, five marks would be deducted from your score, and my lectures did that a lot of times. I was taught by some of the best professionals including Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Dabo Adelugba and Dr Bamidele.
“When they say something you better listen and do what they say. I just carried that along with me into the industry because I am trained to be an actor and I don’t see why I should dump my training half -way.”
Bimbo cut her teeth in the industry with the movie ‘Owo Blow’ in 1995, alongside Femi Adebayo. In 1997, she shot into limelight with the movie ‘Bounds’, which also featured veteran actor Richard -Mofe Damijo.
Over the years, Bimbo has shuttled from stage plays to home movies and
soap operas. Though she is known more for her exploits in English
movies, Bimbo says she also enjoys doing Yoruba movies because their
story lines are irresistible.
Her words: “Well, I have featured in a lot of Yoruba movies because their stories are so good; their ideas are brilliant and they are now spending good money on
productions. You find out that there are specific producers and when you watch their jobs, you are always impressed because you are satisfied with what they have done. I love Yoruba films.”
One thing she is passionate about is the issue of women’s right and violence against women. This, she has reflected in most of the movies and stage plays she has done. She has featured in movies like ‘The Mourning After’, which talked about widowhood in the South-eastern part of the country. There is also ‘Freedom from Chains’, and ‘93 Days’, a film that was produced in honour of late Dr Stella Adadevoh for her heroic feat in stopping the spread of Ebola in Nigeria.
Bimbo’s childhood, like every other child, was filled with fun as she was more of a tomboy occasionally beating up boys who dared to challenge her to a fight. She also played a lot of pranks which sometimes landed her into trouble. She recalls one experience. “As a child, I was more of a tomboy and I used to beat some boys after school. I used to fight, and I was very aggressive. I remember the April Fool we did to my dad and he didn’t find it funny. When I was younger, if they said Bimbo was sick, it was a serious matter. I was always in the hospital and my ailment used to be crazy and we played the trick on my dad and he did not find it funny.”
Bimbo is also a producer, and one of her productions is a TV drama series titled ‘Circle of Friends’ which hit the screen a couple of years ago before it was rested for lack of sponsorship. The TV drama featured three single ladies: Kate Henshaw,
Ireti Doyle and Bimbo Akintola who were under pressure by the society to get married.
According to her, the essence of the drama was toteach a lot of older women that it pays to be patient. Some of the older women because of culture and tradition in the society are always under pressure to get married once they hit a particular age. For her, desperation should not make any woman to rush into a marriage where
she would not be happy. Although the drama series is off the screen, Bimbo is still optimistic that it will soon come back on air.
Surprisingly, this suave actress started off her entertainment career as a singer, but had to back out after a mishap on stage.
“I started off as a musician and I sang in the same club with the late Jaiye Aboderin. We used to sing at a club called Divine, and also in the university a long time ago. I stopped because I had a bad experience. Somebody upset me before I went on stage and I sang off key till the end. I could hear myself, but I could not do anything and my elder sister was just in front clapping and cheering me up,” she
On a flip side, Bimbo remembers with nostalgia one of her most memorable experiences on stage as an under graduate where she gave an excellent performance. According to her, it was in the play titled ‘Igirigi’ which was packaged and put together by one of her lecturers, Amah Briggs(now deceased). Briggs’ brilliant directing and chorographic skills brought out the best in her. As a professional, her most challenging stage play so far is a drama titled ‘Death of a Maiden’, a three-man play that featured veteran actor Keppy Ekpeyong , Bimbo Manuel and herself. She explains further: “I will call the play challenging
because that was the way I saw it. It was a story of a woman that was arrested, tied to a cot nake, blindfolded and raped repeatedly for months. That was my hardest role, and at the end I felt I had not done justice to the character. The director, Chuck Mike, told me it was okay and fantastic but I didn’t feel the impact. I felt they were just saying it to make me happy.”
Bimbo Akintola has close to 50 movies to her credit and was nominated
for Best Actress in a Leading role at the 2013 Nollywood Movies Awards. She is the third child of a family of six and a native of Oyo State. The actress was born to a Muslim cleric father and an Edo state business woman.