Remilekun Oshodi, fondly referred to as Remi Sirutu, lost her first daughter to sickle cell anaemia in July.
For the first time since the death of her daughter, the ace actress speaks about how she has been coping with her loss and sundry other issues.
Why are you delving into music like some of your colleagues have done in the past?
While growing up as a child, I used to be a chorister and I am still a member of the choir in my church. I’ve recorded some songs but I decided not to release them yet; they are still there in the studio.
So we should be expecting an album from you?
What kind of album would it be?
It would be a gospel album. I just want to use the album to thank God for everything that has happened in my life.
You could still have done that with any other genre of music…
It is because that has been the way I was raised up. I have always been a mummy’s pet and a church girl. It was when I grew up that I became a tomboy and you should also know that this acting profession makes you become whoever you want to be. While we were growing up, we would wake up about 6 am to get ready for school but before anyone left the house, we would pray for a long duration of time. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we had church programmes that we had to attend with our mother. Then on Sunday, we had to go to church, that was very compulsory. Then if you did not freshen up on time, you would have to go to church without eating breakfast. When I became an adult, I was so happy because I felt I could do whatever I wanted, I could sleep till as late as I wanted but I never for once forgot my background.
Many people believe that you are Muslim especially because you have a silver tooth…
Not to go too far with that, my mother is a Christian while my father is a Muslim. I managed to satisfy them both but I tilted more to my mother’s religion.
For someone who has been in the choir all her life, how come you became popular through movies and not music?
Yes, I am a church girl but when I was much younger, I first began my career as a model. Then from modelling, I delved into acting and most of our rehearsals and shoots were done at the NTA. I was in the old and new Village Headmaster. After that, I got involved in some television series before I settled in with the Yoruba speaking sector of the Nigerian movie industry.
If I had wanted to sing, I could have but the truth is that even though one started as a chorister, there is no laid down rule that the person must end up as a singer. You grow up to choose the facet of life that best suits you. When I recorded most of my gospel songs, I was just in the studio goofing around with my music producer. After I was done, people commended me that I did well and I had to tell them that I am a choir member. I had recorded the album since last year when nothing was bothering me and it was in the presence of my late daughter.
What is stopping you from releasing the album?
Nothing is stopping me other than I am trying to get back to my normal self. I just want to be normal so that I am able to do more.
How was a mummy’s pet able to delve into modelling at a time the profession was frowned upon by most parents?
Initially, I was sneaking out of the house to model for some advertising agencies like Lintas, OBM and the Concept Unit at Surulere. There was a time we went for an auditioning at the NTA and I was picked because at that time, my cousin had introduced me to acting. At that stage, I had to leave the house and return the next day. If you look at my left hear, my mother cut me there while she was dealing with me.
I went to shoot with an NTA crew overnight on the Island with Danladi Bako for the movie, ‘Sparks,’ and while we were shooting the movie, I was not bothered because I told myself that at that point, I was done with school and I was a ‘big girl.’ By the time I got home, I learnt that my mother was so worried that she had looked for me everywhere. Sadly, it is not like these days where you can reach the person by phone. I can never forget that day because it was my late uncle’s driver that took me to the movie location. I begged him to take me to NTA. When my mother was looking for me, someone told her that it was her younger brother’s driver that took me away. Immediately, she took her housemaid, who was an elderly lady, with some other people to my uncle’s office to ask for the driver but unfortunately, he was not even at work at the time. She had to ask for his house and even though he lived at Maza-maza, she took the whole crowd there to look for me but she did not see the driver still. When she was making all the trips, she bumped into a family member who told her that I was not with the driver but at the NTA acting and it angered her more. She headed for the NTA but was not granted entrance. I got home the next morning, a few hours before she did and when she saw me, she simply said, ‘wa fe ku leni’ (you would almost die today). She called for my elder brother who just arrived in Nigeria from London with his friend and ordered them to beat me black and blue. I was thoroughly beaten that day. I remember a few years ago when I premiered one of my movies, my mother was present and when she was being interviewed, they asked her if she was proud of her daughter’s achievement and she said yes. After the interview, I called her and reminded her of the beating she gave me but she just hit my head jokingly.
But how come you did not quit acting after the epic beating?
After they beat me, I was determined that I would become a star and make them proud. I am a very stubborn child so if you beat me about a particular thing, I would continue with it and succeed.
At what point did she accept you as an entertainer?
When I began to appear on the television, she did not have a choice. I was in the Village Headmaster and for a weird reason, my mother always brought food for me virtually every week with my cousin. Then she started noticing the other big stars I was acting with. Luckily, these people loved me, so, they also helped me to convince her that I was in safe hands.
If you were not an actress what other professions would you have opted for?
I am not someone that can be easily predicted. There was a time I used to work at the funeral home, Ebony Casket, to be precise. I dined with the living and the dead. I worked at LASUTH inside the morgue with Aunty Taiwo Ogunsola.
Why did you work in the morgue?
I wanted something different, a rare field to play in. I felt that if my mother did not want me to do what I wanted to do, then I would do something extremely different. I wanted to frustrate her.
What was your mother’s reaction when you started working at the morgue?
She only said ‘you this child again’. I was not scared when I was working at the morgue because I did not kill them, they died. If no one takes care of the dead, who will? The fact that some people think that you may see some metaphysical things when working in the morgue is a lie. I did not see anything out of the ordinary while working there.
Did you eventually quit the job for acting?
No, I did not. At a point, I was combining the two jobs. I never left. I would go for some presentation I did for the late Alade Aromire; then from there, I would head for the morgue and be there all through the night.
We learnt that you are back on a movie set, what movie are you currently working on?
To be honest, I have been on set for a while and I have lost count of the jobs I have been pre-occupied with. I was on the set of ‘Gold Status’ by Tade Ogidan, which he says is for international film festivals. I am also a part of ‘Face2face rebranded,’ I have other works lined up for me.
Don’t you think you are overloading yourself with work?
I don’t think it is my fault and aside from the movies I listed for you, there are still some other Yoruba movies that I was involved in. I mean I was a part of ‘The real housewives of Iyana-Ipaja.’ All I would say is that God has been awesome to me.
When it is time to relax, what do you do?
I always travel out of the country but because of what I just passed through, I have been given a lot of work to do so that I can take my mind off my daughter’s death. I am still here in Nigeria but I would still travel soon.
Are you aware that some people think you can hardly speak fluent English?
Yes, I am aware. People say that a lot. There are times that I am at the airport and when I speak fluent English to the immigration officers, they are usually taken aback. A lot of times when I am at the bank for a transaction, most of the bankers are quick to greet me in Yoruba but when I reply them in English with my accent, they begin to look at themselves in amazement. When I ask what the problem is, most of them open up to me that they did not expect me to speak so eloquently. I just tell them sorry but they don’t expect me to be the same person they see in the movies.
How have you been holding up since the death of your daughter?
God has been so awesome to me. I had cried for a long while before you came into this place but I promised that I would hold myself all through this interview. I knew you would ask this question, so I promised to hold my tears but it is quite an impossible task (sobs). I must confess to you, I really miss my daughter, I miss her every day, I miss her so much because she was my partner and everything. She had a younger sister and we were all close. I must confess to you, for the rest of my life, I would never forget about her (sobs). I put her clothes in between mine and her shoes as well. So for me not to run mad, whenever I am picking my clothes, I pick hers up as well and say, ‘Ayomikun I miss you, I love you and I know you are still with me.’ When I am picking my shoes, I look at hers and say, “Ayo, look at your shoes here. (sobs). Please come and pick your shoes.” Some people tell me to delete her messages, videos and pictures from my phone but I cannot, we would live together till we meet again. In order to immortalise her, I am putting finishing touches on a foundation in her memory. I have to say a big thank you to Hope Fashion and Mutiat Alli who helped me stage a comeback after the death of my daughter. May God continue to bless every other person that stood by me during that dark period.