How Marrying Toyin Abraham Has Faired On My Friendship With Kola Ajeyemi-- Close Actor Friend, Ciro

How Marrying Toyin Abraham Has Faired On My Friendship With Kola Ajeyemi-- Close Actor Friend, Ciro

Just two group of people, who know popular actor,
Kola Ajeyemi, Toyin Abraham's husband, may not know about, Tunde Shobayo popularly known as Ciro in the Yoruba movie industry. And the first group are those who just knew Awilo as Kola Ajeyemi is also known, after he became more prominent with the publicity that came with his getting involved with Toyin. And the seond group is the group of those who never really knew Awilo beyond seeing his face in a couple of movies.

But those who knew him very well and followed the trajectory of his career would easily reckon with the fact that he had, and still has his closest friend in Ciro as far as the Yoruba section of Nollywood is concerned. Because apart from usually taking up roles in same movies together, they were also like siamese twins off the movie scene such that where ever you found Ciro, you could place a bet on finding Awilo within same place. It is 2 sure, you must win the bet.

But at that point in time, Awilo, was not married, though he already had a daughter. So, he could be anywhere he wanted to be at any time he so desired without qualms. He was in total control of his time and could be as adventurous as he ever wanted to be with his friend, Ciro.

 And interestingly enough, they could sometime decide to be the "bad boys" whose role they usually took up in movies, in real life. After all, they are both adults and would always be responsible for their actions and inactions. As a single man, it is usually a world of total freedom and opportunity to explore. But it is not usually so, when a man gets married. The dynamics change. One of which is seeing less of your close buddies, hanging out with them less, and doing all sort of things, less and less together. To even think of Awilo getting married to a big celebrity like Toyin, it makes the changing dynamics to even be stiffer for him. Because, wherever he goes, all eyes on him.

In view of the foregoing, getting married to Toyin must have faired somehow on his close friendship with Ciro and that was the impetus that pushed this writer into going all the way to Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, from Lagos State, to track down Ciro for an exclusive interview. However, in such interview, you don't jump into the crux of the matter from the begining, you need to prepare the ground for it. So, this is how the interview started at Indices Hotel, Onikolobo, in the heart of the Rock City.

"How did you come into acting?" The question was posed to him, and hear him: " Well, acting was something I was very interested in from time." He stated. Speaking further, Ciro said, " Actually, I started as a Fuji artiste in Abeokuta here. I was going for shows like any other Fuji music singer. In fact, Ciro is my Fuji name not theatre name.I was known as Fuji Ciroma, Spagetti L'omo. But later, I thought of doubling my hustle which is why I came into acting." He revealed.

Not done on the aspect of his coming into acting, Ciro asserted further that, " when I discovered that theatre was taking more time from me than singing Fuji music, I realized that I needed to drop one for the other till I would get to where I hope to be with my career, so I decided to drop Fuji to concentrate more on my acting." And what year was he talking about? " I started singing in 1998 but joined theatre in the year 2000 and I dropped Fuji for acting in 2002. Meanwhile, I have now gone back into music but not the kind of Fuji I used to sing. I now sing Fuji Hip-Hop and have some tracks done already. They are online and some DJs play them all over the place too." Has Ciro produced any film of his own yet, he was asked. " Well, thank God, because so far, I have produced about six or seven of my own movies." Can he reel out their titles? And he did. " I produced 'Ohun Aye Asan' in 2006, after that I produced 'Kokoro', then 'Ojura Won Lo', followed by 'Esin Obinrin', 'Sintu Omo Alhaja', 'Ole Gbe', 'Aabo' and I'm currently working on a new movie I titled: 'Ciro Makanaki'. It would come out very soon."

As an actor, Ciro is ususlly playing the role of a hooligan or bad boy in movies. Is that because that is the role he was trained with or what? He was asked and this is how he answered: "What I would say about that is that as an actor, there should not be any role given to one that he should not be able to act. So, acting is a job I'm so in love with and there is no role I cannot act. However, the truth is that, back in those days when I was still trying to find my footing in the industry, I was usually given the hooligan or bad boy roles and I would act it to the best of my ability. And everyone was always like this guy is good in this role. So, whenever they have such roles, people would normally tell them to go for Ciro. But when it was becoming a kind of typecasting for me as a hooligan or bad boy, I started telling them that I should not be given such roles only, that I'm an actor that can play any role perfectly. And I have acted the roles of a doctor, Alfa, and even, a lover boy before. But still, most producers would prefer giving me the hooligan or bad boy roles." (Laughs)
Ciro is one of the actors based in Abeokuta rather than Lagos where is considered the centre of the action, is this not affecting his getting enough acting offers? " What I believe is that, no matter where you are, whatever is yours would come and meet you there once you are good at what you do. Sincerely, I get offers from Oshogbo, Osun State, I get offers from Oyo, Ibadan, Lagos, Ekiti and everywhere else. So being based in Abeokuta is not affecting my job offers," he responded.

Now to the main question on his friendship with Kola Ajeyemi, Awilo. How did their friendship start? " I don't think I can remember exactly how our friendship started because it has been very long ago and we have been so deep into each other to start thinking about how we started. I only remember that we first met at a movie location in Abeokuta here. And at that time we were nothing in the industry but mere trainees under our bosses. In essence, we were still hustling but luckily I already had a small car then and I saw that he was very focused too like my humble self, and I was like, guy, come, we can be roughing things together nah. And we started looking for each other. At times, I would go and pick him with my car to go to locations together.
"And along the line, we felt we should produce our own movie together too and we both started a company called "T and K", Tunde and Kola, and it was under that company we produced "Ijongbon" and "Iwosi". But of recent, people have been wondering that what is happening? When we see Ciro, we no longer see Kola with him and when we see Kola, we no longer see Ciro with him. But according to a Yoruba adage, 'Ogun Omode o le sere fun Ogun Odun' (everything has its time and season). When we were always moving together like siamese twins, we were yet to make names for ourselves, but now we have made names. So, he might be invited to a movie location in Lagos, and my own offer may come from Oshogbo. And I cannot say I would not go to Oshogbo and start following him to Lagos or vice versa. So, the main reason is that we are now been called for different jobs unlike what it used to be before. But still, our friendship is not being affected by that development. In fact, as at last night were still together in Abeokuta here. And he even called me around 3.30 a.m. to know where I was; he wanted us to go clubbing, but I was already in bed. Though, he now lives in Lagos but we speak on phone every day. And whenever he is in Abeokuta, we always hook up. So, there is no strain in our friendship," he accentuated.
But for specifics, he was asked pointedly, how Awilo's marriage to Toyin has been fairing on their friendship. And he took his time to answer: " What I see to that is the fact that the marriage of Kola and Toyin is not disturbing the progress of either of them. And that is because they both understand each other, knowing the kind of job they are both involved in. And who ever wants a peaceful home must go about it with wisdom, and normally, whatever the wife wants, the husband should try to abide by it and also the other way round. The truth is, I see Kola's marriage to Toyin as progress for him because things have gone better since that marriage compared to before and I'm very happy for him. And the marriage has not faired badly on our friendship in any way. For one, Toyin cannot stop Kola from relating with me. If I go to their house, she would not stop me from entering. And if they come to Abeokuta and I go to where they are, Toyin would not say who is that coming, don't let him in. It has never happened and not likely to happen. You know we were all colleagues before they got married, so the kind of play we now engage in has only changed from what it used to be.

I can no longer throw tantrums at her any how like I used to do, and she can no longer do so as well. That one has changed because she is now my friend's wife and I am her husband's friend. In fact, she no longer call me Tunde, and I no longer call her Toyin.
We now accord each other the due respect required of our new status to each other."
Has there been any movie involving the 3 of them of recent? Hear him: " Yes. The movie is Kola's job and I'm part of the cast with Toyin and several other actors. I think the title is "Aworan" and yet to be released. But they have started advertising it.
Interestingly, when the movie was shot Toyin was still pregnant." Leaving the matter of Toyin and Kola, Ciro was asked if there had been any regret for him as an actor? " That was long time ago when I just started, " he said matter-of-factly. Continuing, he added: " Because then, being a stammerer, even till now as a fast-talker, they would usually use that against me. If I was given any role, some would say, Ciro that is a stammerer, no one would hear what he is saying. Don't use him for the role jare. And that was usually said to my face. And I would feel like, these people don't like me. Would it not be better for me to go back to Fuji music only? Because I can't become a star with the way these people are using my speech deficiency against me. And at that time, I had a taxi which someone was driving for me and would deliver money to me, so I was making money and the Fuji thing was still going on the side. I only felt I should double my hustle with acting and they were discriminating against me.

In fact, back then, if they wanted to give me the role of a police man, some would say he looked too young and all that. So, I was feeling like an outcast and almost quit. But I just told myself that if I quit, I'll be the loser. So, I just changed my tactics. I first left my hair to grow very long, then started plating it and later changed to dreadlocks, and my look changed totally. My face became hard and that was the advent of giving me roles of hooligan and bad boy in movies. I even went as far as piercing my ear and started wearing earring. Hence, when ever there was any bad role, my look would force them to give it to me.

And being a good actor already, they would be left with little choice, so I began to get more movie roles as time went on. I would play the role of hired killer, cultist, tout and the rest of it. So, when I tried to be a gentleman, they were not giving me roles but discrimination. And when I changed strategies, I overcame the challenges. Just like the street guys would say, mo fi were port e! (I used extreme tactics to deal with an extreme situation)."
Is Ciro married, he said, "yes, with kids". So, how does he handle stubborn female admirers who might want a piece of him? " Well, may God bless us all with understanding wives. I married my wife after I started acting. So, she knew the kind of job I do before marrying me. And by that, she has accepeted me with my flaws as a man. And again, I always carry my wife along as per my movements, though, I might not be too sincere with my movements atimes, as a human being that I am, but I would not let whatever I do affect my home. If I go to a location for up to 4 or 5 days, I no longer feel comfortable having left home for that long. I don't joke with my home, especially, my kids. I talk to them everyday and my wife understands the nature of my job fully. But the truth is, the female admirers wanting to get close are plenty out there too and we relate with them with maturity. They would always come but I am legally married, and I know what it means without claiming to be a saint."

On a final note, where does Ciro see himself in the next couple of years? " Where I am going is very far, may God see me through. It is not by age but by God's grace. So, I want to become a legend in the industry like Michael Jackson was a legend in music. That is my dream." Any message for his fans home and abroad? He has too: " I want to start by thanking them for their support, because without them, there is no us. And they should keep accepting us for who we are. And for the Nigerian fans who would always demand for money when they see us, they should please reduce it for us (laughs). If it is abroad, fans give their favourite artistes gifts and our Nigerian fans should try and emulate that," he concluded on a lighter note.

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