Doing Life With… is a BellaNaija Features series that showcases how people live, work, travel, care for their families and… everything in between. We are documenting the lives of
all people and ensuring everyone is well-represented at BN.
Did you miss our first edition of the year with Bruce Oshakuade, you can catch up here.
This week, we’re doing life with Bukunmi Oluwasina, a Nigerian multi-talented access, singer and filmmaker. She tells us about her childhood passion for filmmaking and how her father was a huge part of it.
Hey Bukunmi. How do you do?
I’m doing great. And I’m thankful.
Great! Give us a peep into your childhood and how it helped shape who you are today
I had an awesome childhood. I’m from Ekiti State and had my primary and secondary education there. And I studied Theatre Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University. Growing up with the best dad and a sweet mum made me know what to look forward to in a man and also how important “family” is. My siblings are my best friends. We weren’t those kinds of kids who pop up at different events or birthdays just because it’s happening in our environment. You would need to tell Dad days before the event and tell him why you want to go. When you give your reasons for wanting to attend, it shouldn’t be because “everyone is going” or because “your friends are going”. He didn’t take away the freedom, but he wouldn’t watch you abuse it. So I grew up learning that just because everyone else is doing something, it’s not always a good reason to do it yourself. It’s important to have your opinions and thoughts. This lesson taught me the value of being independent and not relying on others for my happiness. It also taught me the importance of planning ahead of time.
Let’s talk about Nollywood. What motivated you to pursue a career in acting and filmmaking? Tell us about how your journey into Nollywood started
I think in Primary 3 when I wrote my first script. I used to spend time alone in front of the mirror in my room exploring, discovering and enjoying different expressions on my face. And I always told my dad “I’m going to be an amazing actress and will someday meet Genevieve Nnaji.” He would smile. When I was done with secondary school, he introduced me to Mrs Fadekemi Ologbeses. His friend, a good woman and talented actress in Ondo State. She was supposed to train me. He already paid for my form but my admission to OAU came in, so I resumed to professionally start my learning and actual training theoretically and practically as a stage and film actor, and also as a filmmaker.
My dad died in my second year at the university, but made provisions for me in his will, which I used some part to executively produce my first movie “Ayomi” which premiered in Viva cinema and partnered with Pepsi. Although I eventually sold it outright to a marketer. Ayomi was nominated for AMVCA awards where I met Genevieve Nnaji that year, who was also a fellow nominee. We took pictures. And I was sure my dad was looking down from heaven that moment and smiling again.
A lot of people know you as an actress but you also make music. How have you been able to manage a balance between them?
I’d say time management helps to balance, but acting and singing are inborn for me. I grew up not just knowing this is what I want to do, but what I’m made to do. It’s more than a means to put food on the table; more than wanting to be seen – I’m not a fan of fame and I detest unnecessary attention. Acting and singing are a call that I answered. That’s why I always do things in my own space. I don’t need motivation to keep doing it or a distraction to stop doing it. It’s like asking “What motivates you to be Bukunmi?” That’s my name. That’s who I am.
It hasn’t been challenging because of my reasons for doing them. Sometimes, I do it for my satisfaction and yet, I find that everyone else enjoys it too. I love creating stories about people I have never met before but I know they exist. Whether it’s a love story, a song with a groovy beat or a sad melody, I enjoy expressing and experiencing the pain of others. Sometimes, recognising the pain is the first step towards healing.
What does success mean to you personally and in your career?
Personally, my purpose determines my success. Because it’s much more important to fulfil a purpose than to achieve a goal. You might be doing well in your career and studies and still be a failure in life, because it could just be you achieving the goals you keep setting for yourself to satisfy people. But your purpose is much more important. The two most important days of our lives are the day we are born and the day we find out why. So, identifying my purpose and fulfilling it all is a success for me.
Career-wise, growth is knowing that I’m better than I was yesterday, and success is realising that I’m not the only one growing through the work of my hands.
Are there specific lessons or experiences that have significantly shaped your growth?
One experience that has shaped my growth is knowing that it’s a transactional industry. You don’t have to be a good person to be loved, but you have to pretend to be one. So we have a bunch of people with masks that may take years to fall off. So you have to be who you are not if you want to be everywhere. Or be yourself and be where you could be. The same rules that govern the industry now govern social media, and fortunately made fame easily accessible to people who don’t even understand it. However, what all these experiences have taught me is that being in the right place is more important and valuable than being everywhere. And this has shaped my growth. It gave me an understanding of the power of time. How to work with it and not against it. Doing the right thing the right way at the right time, and most importantly, for the right reasons.
So what are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges I faced was trying to strike a balance between who I am and who people want me to be based on their expectations or needs. However, I later remembered what my dad would always say, “What doesn’t make you can’t break you.” Most celebrities are not genuinely happy today because they struggle daily to live up to public expectations and validation; to be everywhere and loved by all. It’s impossible to achieve all of this without losing oneself along the way without even realising it. The reason why you do things would even change – it wouldn’t be for fulfilling a purpose or passion anymore, but to be seen always or look better than everyone around you.
Sometimes, maybe the best way to make people watch you forever is to make them try to find you, not to keep them glued at all times. Sadly, no one gets watched forever. No matter how good and consistent you are at what you do, there will always be someone better than you. You can never compete with time because you don’t even know what tomorrow looks like. If competition is one of the things that motivate you to do better than yesterday, then you will never be happy. There are some people, no matter how much you run, you can never overtake them, but that doesn’t mean you are a loser (But you will feel like one). Their journey could just be different from yours. For example, no matter how fast or long you travel, you can never reach your destination if you are on the wrong road.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Wake up, pray, kiss my daughter and husband in their sleep – if I’m the first to wake up – and go through my to-do list for the day and how to achieve them. Brush, cook, after that, bathe, eventually get company, be served, eat with my family, pick my babies’ clothes – husband and daughter – and have conversations on how the day would be for everyone so we know how to keep up. We pray together, go to work, check my emails, or messages, return home, have movie time with family, eat and gist about how the day went. The routines can’t be precise always. There are days I don’t go to work, days my babies wake before me, and days my husband wants to perform experiments in the kitchen.
Can you share a funny or embarrassing moment from the set of a film?
That would be the first time I wore my custom as Agemo after practice, and was trying my first flips during a fight. The costume made me feel a little heavier on the ground, so as I ran and tried to flip, I met myself on the ground. I got all my moves right, but it was the first time trying it with the costume and it’s not that easy. The head was also heavy and the holes I was supposed to see through on the mask might widely shift to the side. But eventually, I got to master it and got used to it. Did the flip again, got it, and there we go.
And there goes Agemo
What hidden talent or hobby will your fans be shocked to know you have?
I can weave any hairstyle and do my makeup perfectly and I even have a box for it. But I never get to do it because I don’t like it.
A role you can’t wait to play?
I currently don’t have one in mind. I have played a lot of roles but I know I enjoy playing roles that give me opportunities to learn new skills.
If you could become any character you’ve played for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
Maybe Rantimi in “Ayomi”, because light came after darkness and love won. There is nothing as sweet as doing life with someone you love, and you are certain that this person also loves you even much more than you love yourself.
Three people you’d love us to feature on our Doing Life With next?
Johnny Drill, Fireboy DML, and Temmi Ovwasa.
Many Thanks to Bukunmi Oluwasina for having this conversation with us and answering all our questions – and swiftly too, we must add.
Do you love this content, have any feedback for us or want to be a BellaNaija Features contributor? We’d love to read from you. Shoot us an email: [email protected]. Join us on Saturday for the next episode!
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