For now, there is nothing to indicate slightly that crossover and celebrated actor, Prince Jide Akanni Kosoko was a dreaded teenager rascal, whom most parents dreaded then, warning their children to distant themselves from him. His parents were embarrassed and disturbed as a result. But disturbing, the young Kosoko was adamant. In fact, the more his parents tried to change him, the more rascals he became. IFECHI OKOH engaged him in this exclusive interview where Kosoko opens up about his growing up years; how he delved into acting at 10 years; the magic behind his fluency in English productions, years after trending only ones in Yoruba movies and other interesting revelations.
Please, give us an insight into your background.
My name is Prince Jide Akanni Kosoko, born on 12th January 1954 to the Kosoko Royal family of Lagos. I grew up in the Ebute-Meta axis of Lagos State.
We knew you with Yoruba movie acting which even shot you into the limelight. How did it start?
I remembered vividly that it all began in 1964 when I was 10 years old. This was when a tenant in the compound where I lived discovered my potential as a future actor and so, decided to help me nurture this potential by simply inviting me to one of his rehearsals at their base. We called him Uncle Dele Toyinbo. His local company then was Ifelodun Theatre. I still remembered that my first small boy’s role, Alabi was on stage and later on TV in the year 1964. The production title was Makankuola.
How would you describe your childhood days? Were they really memorable?
Oh yes! They were vibrant and memorable too. I was actually a rascal in those days. During such times, I was involved in various activities, including staging masquerades at Easters and Christmas periods. I was a team leader of the rascals at my tender age. It was quite incredible! All rascally activities were linked to me. As a result, some highly disciplined parents, then forbid their children from associating with me because they dreaded me and my activities. My parents on their parts were concerned and disturbed too over my rascally activities. Hence they developed various punishment strategies to curb my rascality. But funny enough, I was just too strong for all that.
Were you brilliant to compensate for this distraction of a sort?
Oh yeah! I was brilliant, although, I was an average student because of the distraction coming from my involvement in literary activities, especially dramatic ones. However, my results at the end of the day were not bad. They were encouraging in other words.
What are the factors that propelled you into Yoruba acting as your first love?
When I started at the age of 10 years, I have never had any cause to look back till I got to the height I am. I really thank God for ensuring that I didn’t give up to any distraction, despite attendant challenges.
Did you enjoy staying long in the Yoruba movie productions?
Yes, I did and I participated in no fewer than 60 percent of celluloid films produced in Nigeria. My orientation of starting from the Yoruba traditional theater may have helped matters greatly.
At what time did you decide to embrace the English productions?
From the onset, I have been doing English productions. Maybe many people may not have noticed it as my Yoruba productions because they were much more than the English ones.
You flow in your English productions like the Yoruba ones. What is the magic?
Magic? Don’t you know that I am educated? Be informed that I studied Business Admin in Yaba College of Technology and performing arts at the Olabisi Onabanjo University in OgunState. Moreover, acting in any genre is the same in English and Yoruba productions. You can now place my fluency in both productions I guess.
Which of your English productions is the most famous?
I think it was the Palace, a rested TV series where I played the role of Dr. Lucas. My fans cherished my acting there, hence it was loud and memorable till date. Honestly!
Have you finally moved from your age-long love for acting to productions and directing or just productions or directing alone?
Not quite! I am still in love with acting. Hence more of it for now!
What do you hate with passion in both Yoruba and English productions?
There is nothing really, except that there are not too strong network distribution channels. However, I strongly believe that with time, they will conquer this challenge. I know it is a matter of time.
Which is more challenging, Yoruba or English productions?
It is obviously in Yoruba because there are no scripts most times. It is unlike the English productions, which have scripts.
Culled from Independent