Building a career and maintaining relevance despite the change in times is not a walk in the park. However, veteran actor Fatai Adekunle Odua, otherwise known as Lalude has proven that it is possible. In this interview with Segun Adebayo, he speaks on his journey to stardom, his role as one of the pioneer theatre practitioners and his recent venture into skit-making. How long have you been in the theatre business? It’s been 51 years since I started. The journey actually started in 1970, which was the year I made my debut. From that time till now, when I look back to how far I have come, I feel grateful to God. I am more thankful as I recall that others who started with me are no more. Staying relevant till this time is not by my ability; it has only been by God’s grace.
You are known for roles that portray you as a traditionalist. You have played this role for years. How did you fall in love with it?
It had nothing to do with confidence, I had been watching them for a while, and I enjoyed what they were doing. That was why I joined them.
Many people know you as Lalude; where did the name originate from?
We were at the National Theatre for rehearsals one day and our then chairman, Yinka Quadri asked me what name I would like to adopt as my stage name, and I told him I preferred Lalude. I wasn’t given that name on the job. I gave myself the name. I was born as Fatai Adekunle Adetayo, but when I wanted to venture into theatre business, I gave myself the name Lalude.
Do you sometimes feel like you have that power?
No, it has never crossed my mind. Like I said, I’m an actor, and I play my role to the best of my ability.
What was your reaction when you were first approached by skit makers to feature in their skit?
I was working on a project one day and I received a call from Oluwadolarz, who told me he wanted to feature me in a skit.
Would you choose skit making over movie making now that you know one pays better?
I am not going to deny the fact that skit making producers pay well but don’t forget that it is just an arm of acting. My soul, body and heart are in acting. Of course, you can’t trade passion for money; it has always been like that and I don’t think anything can take the place of acting in my heart.
Is it true that you are fortified with some mystical power that scares people; some people described you as a strong man? What’s your reaction to this?
You know people like to just draw conclusions hastily without finding out the truth from the person in question. I am not what people think I am. I am an actor who gives his very best to his craft. I don’t have any mysterious power that could make people disappear or appear anywhere. It is all about the arts.