The Future Awards winners spotlight: Kemi Lala Akindoju blazes the trail

It would not be inaccurate to say that more than a few people were surprised when the winner of the Actor Of The Year for the 2010 edition of The Future Awards was announced. After all, Lala Akindoju was a relatively unknown upstart, particularly in comparison to the movie stars she was nominated against, including Mercy Johnson and Nonso Diobi.

It would also not be inaccurate to say that her progress since than has proven any possible doubters wrong and underscored the deservedness of her win. Consider this; in the past year alone she has made her big screen debut in Charles Novia’s Alan Poza, worked as a casting director for the NdaniTV web series Gidi Up, and performed in the musical play, Kakadu. She was also part of a delegation of Nigerian actors who performed at the “Nigeria House” during the 2012 Olympics, starring in all three plays that were staged, as well as juggling other responsibilities in production. This is all in addition to regular — of her Open Mic theatre initiative, and her attempts to push even further her ambitions of becoming, in her own words, a “super-producer,” with her production company, Make It Happen Productions.

Akindoju got her start in the industry in 2007, with the team that started the Theatre At Terra initiative at Terra Kulture, with Wole Oguntokun, working in everything from her main goals of acting, to “managing money and people to sweeping the floors, prepping the sets, taking okadas”.

Earlier this year her production company staged a set of performances of The V-Monologues, starring industry heavyweights like Bimbo Akintola, Taiwo Ajai Lycett and Dakore Akande. The shows held to rave reviews, not just for the acting talent but for the ability of whoever was behind it, to put it all together. This person, of course, was Lala, who spoke on the experience in an interview with YNaija earlier this year;

It was very tedious. Since that was my first production on that scale, asides from Open Mic theatre. I had been in talks with KIND, the NGO that owns the rights to the Nigerian franchise and they were shopping for capable hands to produce. Initially when I agreed, I did not understand what it would take from me. It was when I got into it that I realized how much work it was. Difficult because I am young, just starting out, with no staff. It is almost a month and I am still balancing accounts, still paying some money here and there which by some business accounts really isn’t so bad.

I knew I wanted a quality production, that people will see and they wont be like ‘lets excuse her, she is a first time producer’. I wanted something that would be exceptional artistically and performance wise. So hiring the actors and convincing them, I don’t even know, I guess I’ll have to thank God for that because after I convinced the director, Ifeoma Fafunwa who happens to be my acting coach, the rest sort of followed suit. I guess a lot of people saw something in me beyond the now. But I learned; how to manage people, how to draw up a media plan, how to manage resources. Friends and family helped, lots of help kept me going. I have not recovered but I am closer than where I started from.

But what’s next for Lala? Well her production company is currently working on a documentary “about icons like Onyeka Onwenu, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett.” In addition to this, she’s snagged a role in Tunde Kelani’s next film, Dazzling Mirage, and, she promises, even more stage work.

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