Bukky Ogunnote, talks about her humble beginning as a drummer and later as an actor, and the challenges, among other issues. She spoke with TONY OKUYEME
How was it growing up?
I was born into the family of Pa Eric Ademola and late Mrs. Elizabeth Ofili Ogunnnote in the early 60s. I am the last born of my mother but not the last born of my father because my father had many wives from different parts of the country – Calabar in Cross River State, Delta State, Ijebu Ode in Ogun State. I am from Ijebu Ode in Ogun State. My mother is from Illa, Delta State.
I enjoyed my early life with all my siblings and my step-brothers. We were nine children. I started my elementary primary school at Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, at Ile-Ife. Then I went to another school also at Ile-Ife.
From there I went to Obande Grammar School in Ile-Ife as well. From there, I retook some papers at 7th Day Adventist Grammar School, in Ile-Ife too. Thereafter, I went to Oyo State College of Arts and Science (OSCAS) where I did my A’ Level.
From there I went to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where I had a Diploma in Physical and Health Education. I came out with distinction there. I also have a degree in English Language from OAU as well.
I was doing some drama courses while I was at OAU. I enjoyed it. In fact, I was always at the Dramatic Art department, involved in one production or the other. Later, I came to the University of Lagos for my second degree which was in English too. I have worked with Prof. Hope Eghagha and others.
How did your career as professional artiste start?
It was when I was in primary school. I had always liked to do some things to please people.
I don’t know but I derived joy from it. So each time there was cultural dance I always go and watched them, and I would be dancing. I love dancing. So, they looked at me and said that I should come and join them. I understood drums, like the Gongon, right from when I was very young. So, people always love watching me, and each time they heard that I was one of the dancers in a performance, they would come and watch. I was so smallish and tiny in stature then.
They were always amazed watching me dance to the tune of Gongon drums. And I always enjoyed it. Then, there was a particular group led by the late Chief Faloyin, who was in charge of the drama group in the entire primary school then. He was preparing some pupils for a competi-performance – because they were judged based on that.
But on a particular day, he was rehearsing with the pupils on the storytelling, and it involved a person telling the story and two drummers. So, this person was telling the story accompanied by singing and drumming. At some point, it will stop abruptly, and the drumming was expected to change simultaneously into a faster beats.
That particular segment, they could not get a drummer to beat the drum correctly. They tried several persons but nobody could get it. From where I was watching, I raised my hands and told the man that I could do it.
He was surprised but he eventually allowed me to try. Everybody expected me to make mistake at that particular point, but I did it very well without any mistakes.
They were very impressed with my performance such that the man gave me the role, and I went with them to the competition. And that was how I became a member of the troupe. So, you started as a drummer? Yes. And from there, as I said, I joined the cultural group, and I was also acting and dancing with them. I remember, he gave the role of one of the Oloris (wives of the king).
The rest is history now. What were the challenges? I made up mind, as young as I was then, that even if our parents would be fighting, we the children should be united. I made sure that anytime I was around there, it was fun all the way. So, it was always fun. When did you finally decide to go into acting professionally? I took up some jobs at NTA and attended some auditions.
I have featured in many television drama series. I was in ‘Third Eye’, ‘Blessed Memories’, ‘Dilemma of Wealth’, ‘After The Storm’. I featured in several episodes of Telemovies of those days. So from there, I started featuring in movies (Nollywood films). What is your take on Nollywood industry? We are improving; we are growing. Nollywood is growing.
What about the music industry?
I remember, years ago when Mike Okri, Daniel Wilson and others were reigning, I used to like the kind of music they play. I sat down one year, and say that I wished a time will come when we will not have to have any course to listen to foreign music. That the music we will be listening to will be from Nigerians. Look at it today, it is happening. So, when I see this happening, I am so happy. The music industry has grown. But they should work more on the messages they pass across.
Your happiest moment, can you recall the experience?
I cannot remember that now.
A lot of actresses have complained about sexual harassment especially when they started. Did experience any sexual harassment?
I have never experienced such. That is the truth, and I am so proud to say it. I used to say something: ‘There is nowhere you do not have sexual harassment. Anywhere you have a male and female, there will be sexual harassment. It depends on you to know what you want. People would come to ask you for what they want, it depends on you to say no or yes.
So, you must let them know your own stand, what you want and what you don’t want. The way they see you determines the way they will come to you. If you know what you are doing, and you know you are good, keep at it. One day you will show forth. Your gift will showcase you.
What has been your experience about marriage?
What I say to people is that people have their personal experiences as the case may be. I don’t judge people based on anything concerning marriage. You know what you are facing in your own; I know what I am facing in my own.
So, if it is working out for some people, it is not because they are the best. And if it is not working out for some people, it is not because they do not know how to do it. Let’s just pray that we will continually be happy in life in whatever we do.