Thom­son Makolo Jnr

How I dumped med­i­cal line for act­ing

Weekly Trust - - Weekend Magazine - Itodo Daniel Sule

Thom­son Makolo Jnr is a Nol­ly­wood ac­tor, film­maker and event com­père. The Kogi-born film­maker has pro­duced a num­ber of movies, such as ‘Nol­sta­gia’, Makafan’, ‘Pushed’, ‘Omayoku’, ‘Pray for Me’ (Chaduwami), ‘Edo’ (Heart), ‘Ona’ and ‘Atama’. He has fea­tured in movies such as ‘Oc­cul­tic’, ‘End Game’, ‘Neck­lace’, ‘Won­der­man’ and ‘En­gage­ment Ring’, amongst oth­ers. In this ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, he talks about his de­ci­sion to en­ter the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, its chal­lenges, and more. Ex­cerpts:

Week­end Magazine: How did your jour­ney as an ac­tor and film­maker be­gin? Thom­son Makolo Jnr:

Act­ing and the arts in gen­eral has been part of me from my pri­mary school. I was deeply in­volved up to sec­ondary school. For four years, I won the best broad­caster of the year be­cause I was a mem­ber of the Cur­rent Af­fairs Stu­dents’ So­ci­ety of my school, Gov­ern­ment Sec­ondary School Ologba, Kogi State.

I was also a lead­ing light in the drama so­ci­ety and was vo­cal and out­stand­ing in quiz and de­bate. My then English and Lit­er­a­ture teacher, late James Ojotu, may his soul rest in peace, be­came my men­tor. I was a sci­ence stu­dent but he told me I didn’t have any busi­ness be­ing in the sci­ences. He said I was born for the arts. Most of my friends then were all in the arts. You will never find me among the sci­ence stu­dents.

At a point my English teacher said he needed to talk to my fa­ther who was a dis­pen­sary at­ten­dant. At the level of the com­mu­nity, my fa­ther was a big name when it came to the med­i­cal field. He had a very big phar­macy and he wanted me to build on that foun­da­tion be­cause, way back be­fore that time, he had opened a clinic. He was called a doc­tor in the com­mu­nity and he wanted me to be­come a doc­tor. But that didn’t play out. How­ever, be­cause of how much I re­spected him and wanted to do his wish, I fin­ished up as a sci­ence stu­dent. I got a very good re­sult and ap­plied for med­i­cal cour­ses in ABU and BUK but all of that didn’t work out. Within the wait­ing pe­riod between grad­u­a­tion from sec­ondary school, writ­ing JAMB and wait­ing for ad­mis­sion, I founded a theatre group called ‘Sen­sa­tional

Theatre Group’ made up of my friends and other like­minded peo­ple. That was the high point of the need for aware­ness cam­paigns against HIV AIDS back in 2003/2004, and we were deeply in­volved. We went from one sec­ondary school to the other mak­ing pre­sen­ta­tions and were ap­plauded for our ef­forts.

Just be­fore I got ad­mis­sion, my fa­ther died. That was where the road ended for me be­cause he was the one I looked up to. So, I picked up my pieces and met some­one at Kogi State Univer­sity who was then a Theatre Arts stu­dent. She told me about the Ac­tors Guild of Nige­ria, Benue State chap­ter. My jour­ney into film mak­ing started there. From Makurdi, I went to Lafia to at­tend an au­di­tion con­ducted by Zac Amata, ‘Win­ners and losers’, and later moved to La­gos to re­alise my dream. I was given a let­ter of au­tho­ri­sa­tion by the then pres­i­dent of Ac­tors’ Guild of Nige­ria, Ejike Asiegbu, to set up a branch of the Guild in Kogi State. From there the jour­ney con­tin­ued, but it wasn’t a bed of roses. It’s been very tough and murky.

WM: What has been your ma­jor mo­ti­va­tion? Makolo Jnr: My ma­jor mo­ti­va­tion is sto­ry­telling. The urge to tell a story, doc­u­ment and cre­ate.

WM: What was it like work­ing on some of your movie projects?

Makolo Jnr: ‘Makafan’ was my first movie project and ‘Omayoku’ was the sec­ond. Between 2008 and 2013, I was not do­ing any­thing. That was my down mo­ment. Suc­cess looked like it was going to come too fast and a lot of things went down. So, for six to seven years, I wasn’t ac­tive.

I re­turned with ‘Ile-One’ in early 2014; in 2015, I did ‘Pushed’ and ‘Nol­sta­gia’. In 2016, I did ‘Chaduwami’; in 2017, ‘Ona’ and ‘Edo’. In 2018 I needed to marry and set­tle down. In 2020, I made my lat­est movie, ‘Atama: The Mil­len­nium Preach­ers’. I also got en­gaged in a se­ries of other movies in main­stream Nol­ly­wood. I fea­tured in ‘Neck­lace’, ‘Oc­cul­tic’, ‘End game’, ‘Won­der man’, ‘En­gage­ment ring’ and the fa­mous Inikpi movie pro­duced by Abu Yaqub. I also fea­tured in a num­ber of Igala movies.

WM: You are a big name in Igala movies. What has been your driv­ing force? Makolo Jnr: It is the quest to pro­mote, pre­serve and doc­u­ment the his­tory, cul­ture and tra­di­tion of our peo­ple, which is what es­sen­tially film is meant to do. I am yet to see a film that fo­cuses on an Igala fam­ily. In­stead, they al­ways have an Igbo back­ground. Burial rites, fam­ily set­tle­ment,

cast names and cos­tumes are all usu­ally Igbo. How then are we mak­ing Nige­rian films with­out talk­ing about other eth­nic groups or us­ing them as char­ac­ters in telling our sto­ries?

WM: Tell us about your lat­est project…

Makolo Jnr: It’s been quite a busy year for me. We re­leased ‘Atama’, my lat­est film some­time in May this year. We are work­ing on dig­i­tal plat­forms to dis­trib­ute it. Cur­rently, it is not enough to make a film. I also tell other sto­ries, and that has led me to come up with my new show tagged ‘Cre­ative con­ver­sa­tion with TMJ’; It is a plat­form de­signed to en­gage all arms of the cre­ative in­dus­try from film to mu­sic, broad­cast­ing, paint­ing, fash­ion, and so on. We want to set a plat­form for dis­cus­sions.

Thom­son Makolo Jnr

A scene in Makolo’s lat­est movie, ‘Atama’1

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