Tope Tedela is a young actor but already acts like a veteran who has been around for a long time. He already has an award to show for it. The AMVCA Best Actor in a Drama. We caught up with him and these are the things he told us about himself.
- Can you tell us about yourself in brief? Your family background? Educational background too
I am Christopher Temitope Tedela. I hail from Ekiti state but I was born in Lagos state. I’m the first of four children and I was raised in Lagos by businessman and businesswoman parents. I earned a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.
- Have you always known that you would be an actor?
No, not really.
- What were the things in your background that prepared you for the present?
When I was a child, I became enamored by acting, stories and the arts generally but I didn’t think it was something I could take up as a profession. As the years went by, after trying out accounting, engineering and other line of courses, I realized that this (acting) was what made me tick. I ignored all nay sayings and just began to pursue it.
- How did you get into the industry and how has it been?
I had a family friend who worked in a production/advertising agency so when I decided to pursue a career in acting, I talked to him and I went with him to an audition; That was the beginning really…well apart from acting in church. I was cast as Julian in a popular TV Drama, “Edge of Paradise” in 2006 directed by Greg Odutayo while I was in Univeristy of Lagos. I went on to feature in “Twisted” by Niyi Towolawi in 2007. I rested for a while to concentrate on my degree. In 2012, I returned and took acting classes at Film Factory in Lagos. In the same year, I was cast as Lala in “A Mile From Home” and this got me the award. Working in the industry has been very, very tough. And that’s just the truth of the matter. In recent time, it’s gotten better for me but there’s still a long way to go.
- What was your debut performance and what was the experience like?
I’d credit my performance as Julian on Edge of Paradise as my debut and it was a great starting point because I was in good hands. I was fortunate because though I was a rookie with no previous screen experience, I was encouraged by my director then, Greg Odutayo. I was really overwhelmed by the lines, I had major issues with my diction, I had no training then and I was generally jittery. At some point, I was going to relinquish the role out of fear but I said ‘what the hell?’ All I had was passion and I left that set a better person.
- What is your Most challenging Performance?
None, each of them come with their challenges.
- What is your Best Performance?
I don’t have one yet, I keep going.
- How many movies have you starred in? Can you name some?
I have appeared in movies like Niyi Towolani’s “Twisted”, “Awakening” by James Omokwe, Moses Inwang’s “Torn”. More recently, I starred in A Mile From Home directed by Eric Aghimien. I also starred in Apostates directed by James Omokwe, In My Father’s House directed by Jimi Odumosu, “Heaven” and “The Hurrying Man”.
- What awards have you gotten and how many in all?
I won Best Actor in a Drama at the 2014 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) and I am also nominated as Best Young/Promising Actor at the Africa Movies Academy Awards to be held in 2014.
- What makes you different from others in the industry?
That’s not exactly for me to say. All I know is that I take my job seriously. It is serious business and I treat it as such. I think I treat people with respect and 100% of the time you won’t regret working with me.
- Who are your models in the industry?
Over the years until now, there have been a lot of people who I’ve drawn wisdom and inspiration from. The list is pretty long…
- What other businesses or profession do you have outside this?
Well, asides acting I used to be a TV/Radio presenter, an editor, a musician and more. I say ‘used to’ because I’ve not been actively doing all of these. At the moment, I combine acting with being an MC and occasional journalist.
- Would you want your child to pick up acting?
It’s a pretty free world as they say. My parents allowed me become what I wanted to become an actor so if I have children, they’d definitely be what they choose to be. I hope I can raise them to make reasonable choices.
- What is your social life like and what do you do when no acting?
When I’m pretty free, I enjoy reading, listening to music or making music and chilling with family. A social life is largely non-existent but I go out if I have to. I’m an indoor guy.
- What is the difference between the real you and you on set or stage?
Tope is cool-headed, calm, humane, smart and all that. Tope the actor can be anything, all things being equal… crazy, wild, loquacious… anything the script demands.
- What roles can you not play? What can you not do in your art?
Every role is tied to a story that must be told. Someone has to be the conduit for that story to be told. The question is: who will be that conduit. If we don’t get to that bridge, we may never know.
- Are you thinking of retirement soon?
Retirement? I can perform till my last breathe. Of course, at some point you’d slow down but that’s slowing down, not retirement.
- Any last words?
I’m a young Nigerian trying to live his dream and hoping that by my accomplishments, I can help others bring their dreams to fruition. May God help me.