Alhaja Odukanmi Kudirat, otherwise known as “Iyabo Oko”, is a veteran actress of repute. She was born on 15th of November 1960 in Iwo Local Government Area of Osun State in Nigeria where she started schooling before she was taken to her soldier father who was based in Port Harcourt. Iyabo Oko joined acting at a very tender age, 1973 to be a precise on the platform of Eda Onileola theatre troupe. The ageless actress got the name Iyabo Oko which shot her to the limelight after she played the major character in the flick titled Oko, produced by Oga Bello. Sometime back,she spoke to City People’s Yoruba Movie Reporter,GBOLAHAN ADETAYO on her life as an actress.
How did you get into acting?
My journey into acting was a very long one, but before I go into that, let me start with my names. I am Kudirat Odukanmi Oduola popularly known as Iyabo Oko, Apoti Aje and Sisi Mama. I started acting in 1973 through Chief Eda Onile Ola’s caucus. I joined the industry simply because I had so much interest in it and I really appreciate God for all I have made in the profession. From the beginning, it was really challenging but along the line, things began to move smoothly for me. Acting was not something your parents will allow you to do then, but in my own case, I proved stubborn and I thank God I did not encounter any obstacles.
How old were you in 1973 when you joined?
I was so young in 1973. I was learning the vocation and I finally joined the league in 1974. Though I can’t recollect the actual age I was, I remember that there was nothing on my chest to identify that I was a mature girl. I dropped out of school to venture into it.
How about your educational background?
Glory be to God Almighty for the little one I was able to acquire. I am a school cert. holder but it was by force. I went into acting immediately after I started my secondary school. My father wanted me in school by all means but I turned him down with just a school cert which was then like National Diploma. I started schooling from Oke-Ola Primary School, Iwo Osun State before I joined St. Andrews Recondary School, Port Harcourt.
What prompted your schooling in Port Harcourt?
My father was a soldier and after I completed my primary education, I was taken to him in Port Harcourt. I couldn’t tell him that I wanted to go into acting because all his intention was for me to acquire all the degrees we have. So, I didn’t inform him before I ran out of the house.
When you ran away from the house, where did you go?
I ran away to follow theatre practitioners for many years. In fact, I completed my secondary school as an actress then. I didn’t return home again. My dad came to take me away from Baba Eda’s house twice and I insisted that I wanted to act. He kept me in his care and I was going to school from there. I just started schooling in Port Harcourt before I saw them doing a stage play and I stopped my school to follow them, but when my father was disturbing himself over my career, I was asked to complete my secondary school which I did.
How did he feel by the time you became famous?
Unfortunately, he died before then. Only my mother witnessed my success in the acting industry and I really get pained each time I remember this.
How did you become popular in the industry?
I will attribute that to Veteran actor, Adebayo Salami a.k.a Oga Bello because he made me to become a star despite the uncountable movies I had featured in. But Oga Bello invited me to join his group because of the talent he saw in me and I joined him in Lagos. My first appearance movie that got me the fame was Oko (Stone) which many call me with and I always appreciate him for that because he made me not to regret my journey into acting.
What influenced your ways of acting?
There’s nothing special about my acting prowess. It is what I am used to with when I started. If you watch the boss who taught me this job very well, you will agree with me that there’s no role he can’t play and he has imbibed that in us. If you want to be sucessful in this profession, you don’t need to stick to one role at all times. Since you are gifted, producers will always opt for you because you are capable of giving them what they want and after that, many will start noticing your different talents.
How about your buttocks?
It is a God-given material from above. It’s not something you can cover with wrapper and if you do, it will sure show up. I am not the first person to have such huge buttocks in the industry but God purposely made mine and that’s why many keep eyeing it. They are eyeing it and it brings money for me and I pray that it should not perish. I really love the shape becuase many thought as old as I am, the stuff should go out of shape, but God made it the way it is. If I shake it to right or left, it goes to the direction I direct it to. What I mean is that many producers will tell me that they want me to catwalk and shake the buttocks,and I will bill them for this and I get paid. Producers demand for it to sell their movies.
Are there no complains from your children over that?
Not at all because they know that I am a responsible mother to the core. I don’t go out with men. I have no one except my God and my children. My children don’t complain because they know that their mum is a good mother, and I won’t wear a mysterious dress that my children don’t like.