“Pursue excellence and success will chase you…pants
down.” Remember this dialogue from Rancho (Amir Khan) to his friend Raju in the 2009 blockbuster ‘3 Idiots’? Well, it’s a direct manifestation of whom I’m about to introduce to you.
This person is not from Bollywood, but he’s Proudly Nigerian… Proudly Nollywood! He has just been nominated for an award in the category of ‘Best Actor in a Drama’ in the African Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA).
You must have seen it on your screens before now and never really paid attention… It’s high time you paid attention; time you met TOPE TEDELA.
Who is Tope Tedela?
I think I’m a jolly good fellow [Laughs]…I think. I was born and raised in Lagos. I had all my education here in Lagos. I have a degree in Mass Communication from University of Lagos. But I’ve lived in different parts of Nigeria at different points in my life. I love motion picture, I love music, I love books, I love people…
Was Acting accidental or predestined? For how long have you been practising?
I feel our choices matter a lot in how our lives turn out and I also believe that God orders one’s steps. I’ve been interested in how actors become other people and telling stories as far back as I can remember. At some point in my teen years I was consuming a lot of books and I remember always wondering how the characters will be if brought to life.
In fact, I got into trouble organizing a non-authorized drama piece in primary school; joined the church drama group…it’s been quite a while. I realized at some point that I was passionate about this and I got some training, I pursued and I continue to pursue.
Portraying Julian in Edge of Paradise actually got me started before moving on to some more TV series Super Story and movies like A Mile From Home, Awakening, Torn and more.
How would you define ACTING?
Acting is as easy to define as it is difficult. For lack of a more intellectual definition, I could say that acting is the art and craft of becoming a character on stage, screen, radio or via any other media. As basic as this sounds the process from getting a script to becoming the character varies and requires different levels of preparation.
What Inspires you as an actor?
Sometimes, the issue of inspiration gets overblown. Feel me: does a responsible father await inspiration to pay his child’s fees? Everyone gets inspired, someway, somehow.
I draw Inspiration my experiences, the experience I’ve garnered from books, music, movies, news, most of all, my imagination, and many other things.
In an industry where ‘survival of the fittest’ seems the obvious situation, what sets you apart? What would be that fresh air you bring?
We all bring something to the table. We’re all unique and that is something I’ve etched on my heart the last few years. However, I take my job-which is to act-seriously. I try as much as I can to show up- physically, emotionally, mentally and so on.
All things being equal, I’m the kind of guy you want to work with again.
Your efforts have been recognised early in the industry, and you have been nominated for an award in the category of Best Actor In A Drama in the AMVCA, did you see this coming?
I am most grateful to God for His mercies. I feel honoured, humbled and challenged, really. I’m not sure you see awards coming. Eric Aghimien (the director of A Mile From Home) told me he was attending an event which I later found out to be the AMVCA Nomination Party and invited me. I was on location at the time but told him I’d make it if I was done filming. I eventually made it but lo and behold, I hear my name mentioned in the same category with some of Africa’s most seasoned actors. I was sitting but I still felt my legs wobble whilst my name was announced.
Share little but important experience during the production of that drama you were nominated for, and in your opinion, what might have gotten you the nomination.
I’d say A Mile From Home was a passion project for everyone involved, largely. In filmmaking parlance, it was guerilla style of filmmaking. And it was tough. In the toughness was the sweetness…I could go on and on. I loved portraying the character Lala and It was an awesome experience which I’d do all over again if I had the opportunity.
What might have gotten me the nomination? That’s a question I don’t think I’m in a position to answer. All I can say is that under the circumstances, myself, the entire cast and crew gave it our best shot.
Coming up against the likes of Majid Michel shows how much effort you have put in, asides you being a NIGERIAN whom we must support, what would be another reason why you should take home this award?
I understand that I’m the only Nigerian in that category but thinking that I’d get the votes just because of my nationality is quite simplistic. The truth is, in a fiercely competitive industry as this, the nomination has helped tremendously and things can only get better.
This would definitely be a stepping stone for you, what more can we expect from Tope Tedela after AMVCA?
I have a couple of projects in production and in post-production stages. Very soon expect to see great performances, I hope, from me.
As a youth who’s doing so well, what is your advice to other youths out there?
There is no particular advice I can give per se. But, as much as is within our control, give IT (whatever you find in your hands) your best shot. Get an education: by that I mean get trained in your chosen field. Have the right attitude and don’t be a pain in anyone’s behind. And then pray that God shows mercy and crowns your effort with success.
Yeah! That’s it from TOPE TEDELA… It’s up to us now… Nigerians For Nigeria… We have to stand up and let this award come home to us.
In case you are still in doubt of his amazing talent, watch these clips and make a decision.
I trust Naija, we no dey carry last.
To vote TOPE TEDELA Best Actor In A Drama For Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs)
SMS: 2E to +2783142100415
We can vote every hour: in other words 24 times daily.
Holla at him on twitter @TopeTedela
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