“I REGRET NOT GOING TO SCHOOL” …Popular Actor, Opebe

He sure became household name in the 80’s when he started playing the role of a disabled man in the popular TV Comedy drama, ‘Erinkeke’ by Babatunde Omidina, Babasuwe. Since then, Yomi King has remained a notable name in the Nigeria movie industry featuring in several Nollywood movies, Soaps and many more. The Lagos-born actor who recently celebrated his 30th year on stage in a big way

How has it been so far in your 30years on stage?
We thank God. It’s been a long time. We started in a period when everything was not so rosy in the industry that most parent does not want their children to go into it compare to what we are witnessing today. At a point when I started, I wasn’t popular at all but by the time I met Baba Suwe things changed. I did not start with him in his group, I had my own group before. I started with one man called Tunde Idikayo, under Oke Agba Theatre group. Then, I was very small, I was in Class one, I started real acting in 1979 but then there was no opportunity to appear on television set then. They thought us how to dance, beat drum, recite incantation and at a point we begin performing stage play from one state to the other. One day, I realized that my flair is not much in beating drum or doing this incantation, I now went to my boss then under the Oke Agba theatre group that I will love to be a full time comedian in acting that was around 1981 or 1982 but he told me he wasn’t a trained comedian rather best incantation of the olden days. I remember there was another Baba then called Baba Aiyelaagbe, he was in Sura, Lagos Island that period, it was at the same place that this Baba was doing his rehearsals that Baba Suwe and his group came to join them because there was an issue with where he formerly performed his own rehearsals. It was at a Rehearsal place now called Phase 2, Jakande Estate on Lagos Island now that I met Baba suwe. I have known him before but I wasn’t under his group, but I had told by boss to help me tell him that I am interested in the comedy aspect of acting, though it was not only Baba suwe that was into comedy then, we have the likes of Baba Maggi, Black Wahab (Emulewu), Baba Kongo, Ajirebi but he was the one very close to our area then. His group was called Babatunde Theatre group at that time but it has changed to Babs Omidina theatre group. After my boss had approached Baba Suwe to tell him that I want to go into comedy, I now went to go and see him one day on my way to school, he said truly that my boss has informed him but he said he hope it wasn’t that I fought with my boss, and I said no. that was how I started with him, we started doing rehearsal, we did in Igbosere, Bamgbose. There was a period we wanted to go and shoot for Channel 10 then, at the Bar Beach, in Lagos it was Baba Suwe, Godogbo and Black wahab that were given 13 episodes. The person that was playing the role I later played for Babasuwe was called Sanya but known as Kesto, when it was his turn to play that role he said he his coming that he quickly wanted to go and collect his salary in his workplace . That was how I was drafted to play that role and I did it well. Subsequently, I was made to do the role. I was very nervous because that was the first time I will be facing a camera for television. Eventually, I did it well and we were also given another 13episode when Channel 7 began operation. That was named “Erinkeke” and Channel 7 took it as the Station programme. It was the comedy show that blossom my name Opebe everywhere. The programme was later taken to other states like Ogun, Oyo State.

If you aren’t doing film work, what would you have been doing today?
I trained as a Printer while I was going to secondary school. I believe I would have being a Printer, acting rarely gives you more time for other things especially in those days, its more easy now, that was why I devoted my time on acting.

Do you have any regret in life?
The only regret I still talk about is that, am not happy I did not go further in school beyond secondary school. It’s the only regret I will say I have till date.

Many use to say that actors of your caliber and experience still get little to show for it in terms of naira and kobo?
One thing about this work is that, you must first have contentment, the passion for this work come first. If you don’t have contentment, there is no amount of money that you made that you will be satisfied with. Truly there is no much money on the job, but the goodwill we get as a notable actor is what we live on. It open doors for you anywhere you go to, that ordinarily is the heights of favor you get for doing the job. It is about your good name as a known actor or actress. So, I think if you have contentment with that, then you will thank God.

In terms of number, can you count the movie you have appeared in?
I cannot count. It’s quite too many.

Which of them really projected your name much?
Of course, it was ‘Erinkeke’ I did with Babasuwe. It was in that drama I got the name Opebe. And it has come to stay since then.

How do people react to you in the public when they sees you outside your work and noticed that you weren’t a handicap as you use to portray in movies?
Several times I have been embarrassed, people have confronted me that “so you use to deceive us, you are not handicap”…… I tell them that was Opebe, the old man who is disabled in movies. That, I’m Yomi King, I am able. There is different there. I can play any role, in the current soap been shown on television now, Civilian barracks, the role I played is quite different from Opebe. And I have been receiving enormous of recommendations on it.

What is your relationship with Babasuwe now?
We have a very good relationship, you know he is like a brother and my boss as well, so we talk regularly anytime he needs me he will call and I must be there for him. He supported me very well during the planning of my 30th year on stage.

Why did you decide to celebrate your 30th year on stage?
It’s was an event to reflect on your career with focus on the ups and down as well as to call on everybody to celebrate with you, because any career you belong for such years with things to show for it, it means God also spared your life till date, there is need to thank the Almighty. Lots of your colleagues has passed on, even those that are not up to you in age some of them are no more. So, there is need for you to be appreciative.

What was your first take home in acting?
It was around 3naira, because I remembered they pay us 3naira per episode for ‘Erinkeke’ but the big money I collected then was when Tolly Baby Jelly sponsored ‘Erinkeke in Abeokuta. I was the one that went to collect the money and I was given 10,000 naira. But now things have changed, there is more money in the industry. However, it was flair that made us go into acting. In fact for people to watch you on television and commend you is enough. The first time they saw me on television in my area then, I became very popular and walk like king on the street. Even my father never liked it initially but when he started seeing me on TV, he had no choice but to allow me follow my conscience.

Where do you see yourself in acting in the next decade?
By then people will just be producing for me while I give directives and I will definitely be playing few roles in movies. That’s a dream.

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