Alt Africa talks to award winning actor/director Wale Ojo, the versatile thespian of stage and screen who describes himself “as a chameleon” is about to release his directorial debut, The Ghost of Tarkwa Bay. The short film will premiere alongside feature film The CEO (dir: Kunle Afolayan) as part of the BFI Thriller season on December 2nd.
London born Wale who now resides in his native Nigeria has a career that spans over three decades. UK viewers would be familiar with his more recent appearances in Meet the Adebanjos, 2012. Following the route of many British actors he appeared in Grange Hill, his long line of credits includes film debut in Rage (1999), Number One Ladies Detective Agency (2009), Johnny English Reborn (2011).
No stranger to the UK stage he has appeared in many known theatres, Bristol Old Vic, National Theatre, Royal Exchange theatre, in various roles. Wale has not completely left the stage behind and notes “this is where I started” and when asked if he could play any role what would that be without hesitation he states “Hamlet”.
There is no end to his ambitions and Wale has aspirations to create opportunities for Nigerians to have more access to cinemas with his mobile cinema venture. Identifying the need for the development of community cinemas aimed at the lower end of the mass market who are huge consumers of local content.
“The whole point is to start a sponsorship drive to acquire the open-air screens and start right away. Travelling the length and breadth of the country providing cinema to people who will otherwise never watch a film in the cinema house”
The intention is to join “the mobile cinema venture with the Virgo Foundation (my charity)”. Joining the two would enable communities visited to benefit from help in all areas from health, to environment, to essentials.
With his sights set on directing, his production company New Nigerian Cinema currently have a slate of five projects underway, not confided by genre “they range from outright comedy to social satire, romantic comedy, martial arts, comedy action films to thrillers”. One of those projects is Kalakuta Express which Wale describes as “a felasophical film based on the teachings of Fela Kuti”.
Kalakuta Express tells the story of young struggling musician who falls into the hands of political gangsters. The gangsters set out to assassinate the musician before he spills the beans on their illicit operations at a major Afrobeat concert to celebrate Fela.
To Wale residing in Nigeria was a decision he should have made sooner as when he looks at his peers his does not see much changes “in terms of diversity”. Since 2012 his Nigerian film credits are growing, working with top Nollywood/Nigerian Directors: Phone Swap (2012) Actor, When Love Happens (2014), 8 Bars & A Clef (2015), The CEO (2016) Ojukokoro (2016), Ayamma: Music in the Forest (2016) and White Colour Black (2016). His 2017 film Alter Ego (Sneeze Films) with Nollywood Actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde premiered in Nigeria this July.
BFI Thriller Season 2nd December 2017
Five top level staff of a company are selected for a retreat where the new CEO of a global company will be chosen. What starts off as cordial soon goes sour as they attempt to outdo one another to be named The CEO. Nigeria 2016 Dir Kunle Afolayan With Wale Ojo, Angélique Kidjo, Nico Panagio, Jimmy Jean-Louis. Run time: 105mins
THE GHOST OF TARKWA BAY
Set on a remote island in Lagos, a young child learns how to surf from the hands of a ghost. The ghost (a white man) was shipwrecked on the island as a child and brought up by the local villagers who are expert surfers, they taught the man how to surf. One day he drowned, but came back from the dead to teach the young boy as an expression of gratitude. Nigeria 2017 Dir Wale Ojo 15min Run time: 15mins
Buy tickets here on sell from 14th November: http://bit.ly/2ioeIQF