Baaj Adebule is an actor, writer, filmmaker, compere and model. He’s starred in some of the biggest projects to have come out of Nigeria like ‘Hush’, ‘The Governor’, ‘A Soldier’s Story’, to name a few. He has also won Best Short Film in Africa 2015 at Zafaa Global Awards. He’s enthusiasm and love for the arts is one of his most admirable traits. He speaks with ABIOLA ALABA PETERS on how it all started
I am an actor, filmmaker, model and host. I’ve starred in a couple of movies, series and short films and I also run a media production outfit called House of Baaj Pictures. We have a Zafaa Award for Best Short Film in 2015 for the film, ‘Seeing Betrayal’ and currently we’re working on our next film and a TV series as well. I’m pretty much a simple guy, I love my work and when I’m not working, I love sports, adventure, travelling and most of all, I love watching movies, cartoons and TV series.
What’s your educational background?
I have a second class upper in Economics from Covenant University and more importantly, a home schooled actor and film maker.
How did you get the role ‘Adze’ in ‘HUSH’?
Oh yes I auditioned. I auditioned a lot if there’s anything like that. I first did the general audition then I was invited to a call back. I eventually landed the role. At first I rejected the role because I was at the time interested in working on another project alongside a filmmaker I really admired. But I had to pick ‘HUSH’ eventually because of the effect it will have on my career at the time. It ended up being the best decision.
What were the challenges you faced at the beginning of your career?
The first challenge was acting itself. I started my career without first placing emphasis on actually acquiring the skills, knowledge and tools I’d need to be an ‘actor’. I entered the industry with just love and passion for the arts alone. But then I worked hard and still working very hard every day on acquiring as many skills and knowledge as I can. And then there was the lack of good acting opportunities but that’s expected as always. But persistence, patience, always showing up and doing my best and grace helped a lot and is still helping.
What were the most hurtful comments about you you’ve ever read?
The comments that were the most hurtful came from the start. Like I said before, I started without working on the acting talent so I got a lot of bad feedback in my early years which almost made me quit acting. But when I realised I would rather do this than do anything else, it didn’t matter anymore. I was ready and still doing so every single day to develop my craft and become a better actor.
What is the one thing, people will be surprised to know about you?
Lot things would be surprising, because they’d always be an already predisposed assumption of what you are as an actor. But I think I get the biggest wow when I tell people I started out as a really bad actor. My first year and half in the industry was covered with statements like ‘this boy can’t act’ or ‘he is a bad actor, can we recast?” But that taught me that it’s not about where you started from, it’s about what you’re doing to get you to where you want to go.
What were you doing prior to acting?
I was majorly testing the waters. Trying to discover what kind of person I want to be and what I want to do with my life. I worked in an engineering outfit for a bit. Then I worked 9-5 in a prestigious firm for over a year. I modelled for a while, did some hosting and TV presenting as well. Most of these were done while learning about acting and filmmaking.
What has been the highlight of your career?
At the moment I’d have to say playing ‘Adze Tsenogu’ on ‘Hush’. It was my first time playing a particular character for such a long time as we filmed ‘Hush’ for about a year and then repeating the role on ‘Battleground Showdown’ again as well. And of all my projects, he’s the character the fans have gravitated to the most. He has really had an impact on a lot of people’s lives which in turn has had an impact on mine.
You were featured in ‘Zena’, what was it like working with the likes of, Ijeoma Grace, Omowumi Dada and the rest?
Oh what an experience; so many first time experiences on this set. It’s my first ever epic movie. It’s my first time working with Bimbo Akintola, Omowunmi Dada, Ireti Doyle and lots of other amazing actors. It was my first time filming in the middle of a jungle for that long. It’s also first time being half naked for an entire movie and so many others. I am a bit of an adventurer and I love having new experiences and this was definitively one of them. It was a great project to be a part of.
As an actor, what has been your favourite role so far? And what role would you love to play that you haven’t yet?
I’ve had the privilege of playing a number of complex characters in my young Nollywood career so to pick one as my favourite would be difficult. And sometimes it’s not just the role but who you’re working on the project with that makes it special. Playing ‘Thankgod’ was really fun and difficult. That’s my name, a lead character from the film ‘Uncloaked’ showing on DSTV and IROKO. It was an amazing experience. Others are Adze Tsenogu of course, Detective Lazarus on the film and anthology series ‘The Missing’ and characters from the film ‘Payday’ and ‘A Soldier Story’ as well. I’ve been really lucky but there are still a lot I would like to sink my teeth into. From playing a doctor to a pilot then a boxer, a drug addict, a serial killer and I would love to do a biopic as well.
Can you go nude in a movie?
I find it strange that this has to be asked sometimes. In this line of work, one should know that your entire body belongs to the character and story you’re telling. So if the character or story demands it, then it has to be done.
Apart from acting, what else should we expect from you?
I am a filmmaker as well. I and my team have been working on our first feature film as well as TV series. We’re currently in the market for investors as well. We already filmed the pilot of the series some months ago and released a one minute clip of it on Instagram and the reception was unprecedented. Went viral and had people asking for the full thing and got a ton of views, likes and positive feedback. But first we want to shoot the film. As for acting, I have a long list of projects already done to be released in cinema, on the web and on TV respectively. Also, I already signed on to some juicy projects as well. This year is going to be an amazing one for me.
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on a role?
Having the chance to play a role with all the factors that would help you give a great performance is almost impossible. The chances of getting a great script, with a great role, with a great cast, with a great director, crew, good working conditions and having ample time to prep is impossible. So the challenge always comes from having to compromise and/or go the extra mile to cover some shortcomings caused by sometimes yourself or your insecurities, the folks you’re working with or especially Nigeria itself. But knowing that there are some things beyond your control and being okay with it deep within you helps a lot. It’s a big challenge being a Nigerian already, and then being a Nigerian actor or entertainer, that’s another one.
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done for you?
Not proud of it but a fan saw me in the back seat of a car and was so excited, he left the steering of his car and pulled out his phone to take pictures. Now I had to pose with a smile till he was done whilst praying his car doesn’t turn in to one of the trailers on Eko Bridge. I hope he got a good shot though.
What would be your super power if you had one?
That would be telepathy. The whole nine yards of it, from reading minds, to controlling them, the whole Prof Xavier mutant level telepath. I’m saying full time omega level here, wow, I just went full nerd. Pardon me!
What is that one thing that stands you out from the crowd?
I can’t confidently put a finger on what that is to be honest. We’re all unique in our own little way thus we all stand out from one another one way or the other. But mine I think would be my approach to things; the way I see them and choose to deal with them. But will I say that’s a stand out factor, not sure.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
Who is it now… I tend to change them up almost every week. I think I have circled back to Margot Robbie.
Single or married?
None of the above.
In a relationship?
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