African Entertainment: DAKORE EGBUSON-AKANDE: Why I hid tattoo on my waist because of prying eyes
Actress, Dakore Akande nee Egbuson’s career lull is over. The elegant thespian is back on the grind with a fresh spark. Her career hiatus was occasioned by her marriage to Olumide, son of billionaire businessman, Harry Akande. She speaks with LANRE ODUKOYA about her grand return to acting, family, and other issues.
You seem to like tea so much..
Oh, yes! I drink green tea every day. It’s the best. It cleanses your system and it’s an antioxidant. I’m a tea drinker, I love it more than coffee. I do herbal tea sometimes like peppermint for digestion. I exercise and I do a lot of health stuffs and I take multivitamin supplements. I want to stay young in physique and at heart. Little wonder you still look this young… Yes, that was the plan. I never wanted to look like somebody’s mother yet.
And it doesn’t bother you when much younger guys make passes at you?
‘Them no dey toast me o. Them dey mad?’ They know this is not a girl. There is a way you’d see a woman that’s slim, trim, fair and fine but you’d also realise this woman isn’t my mate. They know, so they don’t come near me. Yes, we could say ‘hi’ from a distance and that’s as far as it goes.
What about the older men?
They’re not that bold. They know I’m married. Look at these rings (she thrust forward her finger) and you’d know they’re big enough. There’s no way you’d just want to do that. After seeing the rings there’s no way you wouldn’t lose the courage even if you’d mustered it before. They just feel, ‘I can’t compete with that’ which is great. Kudos to Mr. Akande!
I think you’ve got a tattoo, why did you hide it? Is it actually for him alone?
Well, I don’t like to be obvious about it.
How many are they?
No, it’s just one and it’s about seven years old now. I’ve had it for a while. It’s a symbol, like a Ghanaian hieroglyphics and it means ‘I represent the majesty and supremacy of the Lord’. So, if I was going to have a tattoo it had to be something profound.
Is it permanent or temporary?
It’s permanent. I’m an African, fiercely one. I always feel calm whenever I’m in Ghana, so I go there often because I also have a huge fan base out there. So, I go there to relax. It was on one of my trips there that I came across the symbol. It was very interesting. It’s not Nigerian though, it’s Ghanaian’s and Ghana is just 45 minutes away.
Why did you decide to hide the tattoo around your waist?
I just didn’t want it to be anywhere in public view so that if I’m wearing clothes I don’t have to cover it, since it’s in a nicely covered place. I like to be discreet.
I thought the whole idea of tattoo is for people to see and admire..
No, it depends on why you have a tattoo. I was not doing it because I wanted it to be seen or get admirers. By God’s special grace I got many and I’m not looking for extra. I really just wanted something close to me and close to my faith as a child of God.
You wore dreadlocks for years and created a personality you wanted to be identified with.
I think from the time I started having dreadlocks people started noticing that this is somebody who is very conscious. When I found my consciousness, I just tried to read more, asked questions and was interested in other faiths and religions. I tried more to understand people better with their faiths as well, and it brought me to where I am right now. I want to continue to grow; I don’t want to ever stay stagnant with my faith in God and in humanity.
It was incredible to see you shave your lovely dreadlocks I understand but I was bored.
I carried it for 13 years and you know for a woman, we love to change our hair, we like to be adventurous and I coloured it, cut it short, grew it really long and did everything with it until there was nothing else to do and I just got bored. But I still have them. I kept them in a box; so, sometimes I still look at them in the box.
Many people missed the regularity of your face on movie jackets; was marriage responsible for that long hiatus?
Of course not! I’m a bit offended that this old question is still being asked even when I’m working and got nomination for Best Actress at AMAA for my role in the movie entitled ‘50’. You know progression is important. I can’t keep on doing things at the same level. I need to progress, so I must leave the field for the younger ones. I cannot be hustling now the way I used to hustle 10 years ago. The up and coming ones should be given the space to do that. You hustle smart and not hard. I’ve moved from the Asaba movies, though it trained and made me. I’m doing more cinema works and you know that kind of work is not as regular and on the faces people as the other one. I’ve also been very picky about my works and what I lend my name and energy to. It just can’t be like before when I was in all the films.
How did you get the role in the movie, ‘50’?
I auditioned. I had a screen test.
I thought you were handpicked.
Everyone had to go in and read. The director was there and Lady Mo, Tope and Biyi Bamidele were there. And I had to perform, so it wasn’t that the offer fell on my lap. I worked and studied for it. They gave me a few sides and I was able to work on them. They even gave me a coach, Ifeoma Fafunwa, who coached me. I’m not at a point in my career where I feel I know everything. And it’s nice when you feel hungry for knowledge again. And I really wanted to play ‘Tola’, I’m glad it finally came and the film has been a huge success. It’s a great validation that one can do this.
Has there been any character you’d taken away from one movie set to another or even back home?
No, that’s part of why I don’t work all the time because I believe as an actor, you’re embodying another character. So, the same way it takes time to embody that character, it takes time to wean yourself of that character. And if you do jobs back to back, then you’d have a backlog of all these characters. And you’d start having psychological issues because if you take it seriously, the way I do, you’d need a break. After ‘50’ I didn’t work for almost six months and I’m glad to be in this position that I can afford to give myself that break because struggling actors don’t really have that option. Sometimes you play some really horrible characters and you want to really make sure you get it out of your system because it can really interfere.
When was the last time you did any film before ‘50’?
‘50’ was like my seventh film after the hiatus. I did ‘Journey to Self’ which was my first comeback film in 2012. Then I did ‘Unconditional’ with Uche Jombo and after that I did a short film called ‘Paired’ and it only showed online. So, I’ve been working steadily. I did ‘After the I Dos’ which was an MNET movie that came out as one of the Africa Magic original films. I went onset for ‘Hear Word’ afterwards. I started working on stage, I did that for two seasons. I was doing all that to hone my skill. All those steps gave me a leap on my talent so that by the time ‘50’ came along, I was fully prepared. Mo Abudu is somebody I respect so much and somehow she always wants me in her project. It was actually Tope Oshin, the producer that called me for ‘50’. She just said, “Dakore, there’s this movie we’re doing but you have to read for it. Hope you don’t mind doing to read for it.” And I said, ‘what? Are you kidding me?’ I would read for anything. And the rest is history.
Have all these engagements interfered in motherhood for you?
Well, it really did. And at other times I was away from work because I didn’t want to be pregnant and be working at the same time. I was pregnant with my second child in ‘Unconditional’ and nobody knew. It was three months project, but after that, I said no more movies.
Did you actually enjoy motherhood?
I did and it was amazing and hard at the same time. I haven’t slept properly since then because I was 33 when I had my first child and it slowed me down whereas I used to be very swift and bubbly. I’m so happy that I have both of them by and large. They keep me young and that’s why people tell me you look 18. I run and play around with them and it keeps me in touch with that childish part of me. They’re amazing and are the best. My daughter just graduated from a nursery school yesterday (June 10). I saw her and was like, look at my baby. She’s four. She’s so smart.
When are you returning into the labour room?
For now, I’m fine with my two kids. It’s not easy.
What do you miss from your yesterday?
I miss waking up and just travelling anywhere I want to. I loved to travel so much. I could just wake up one morning and say, you know what? ‘I’m bored and I’m going to London’. So, I miss that because now I have to plan for my family. I must be certain everything is in place. Previously I could decide on the spot if I’m taking a script or not, but now I have to consider my kids. Is the movie such that I’m comfortable with my children watching? I now have more filters. When I was younger I could take perhaps any role I liked but now I must be discerning because my kids are going to watch. I don’t want to embarrass my family with the roles I take. That’s not to say that I’ve always taken embarrassing roles because I’ve been very lucky. Even when I take controversial roles, I did with a lot of poise and class. It wasn’t tacky at all.
What was growing up like for you?
When I was growing up, because I’m the first child, my mother was on my case because I had three brothers and a sister behind me. She taught me to be polite, to learn to respect and all that. And it was all overwhelming on me, but I thank God for all she taught me now. Now those teachings had carried me through my career, you’d never hear ‘oh she’s rude’, that upbringing is so important but unfortunately it’s lacking in some of our youths today. They feel like the world owes them something. I was never raised that way. So, maybe at a time I hated my mum for shouting at me and say I should not go out , but I’m glad today that she did that because I wasn’t on the streets as it were. Even when I was in the university, I was able to handle myself. My family pedigree was also there to protect. Nobody likes to hear the truth but I’m glad that I did.
You were raised in a conservative home and you’re married to another one. Don’t you desire some spice to your life?
I’ve got spice to my life, trust me. I love music and I love to dance. The times that I need to have fun, I have. Like if I’m in a concert and feel like dancing, I won’t pose, I would scream and dance. And some people would say ‘but she’s a star’, I don’t care. I do photo shoots and I enjoy them. I create my fun anywhere I go because I like people around me to be happy.
How do you feel about the AMAA nomination?
It’s amazing. Where I come from AMAA means woman and this is my second nomination. My first nomination was for the movie, Caught in The Middle, where I played the lead role with Richard Mofe Damijo in 2008, but I didn’t win. That movie was a classic. To be nominated after coming back to the industry is a great validation and I really hope I win. But even if I don’t, I’m just grateful that they’ve acknowledged that Dakore is back.
Will you ever return with your dreadlocks?
Yes, I’m going to return to growing and rocking my ‘locks’. I’m someday going to be one of those old women with ‘locks’. I admire those old women with gray ‘locks’ and I just say, I’m coming for you.
Your wedding anniversaries have been quiet and it seems you never celebrated.
I just don’t want to be putting our stuffs out like that. Marriages nowadays, my mother always say, ‘cover your yam and how you’re eating it’. Like on his birthday, I just do maybe some posts on Instagram but we like to celebrate anniversaries in-house with the kids. We’ve been together for 10 years but married for six years.