When it became official that Adesua Etomi-Wellington and Dakore Egbuson-Akande would cover this month’s The Cover magazine, I knew we were in for a treat. Having encountered both of them at separate occasions (that they would definitely not remember), my excitement was real. So one thing I knew for sure was that the vibe was going to be great. There wasn’t going to be all of those, “diva-ness” on set.
My thoughts were confirmed when Dakore walked onto set with the most adorable surprise – her babies! Two minutes with them and I knew Dakore was qualified to write a book on being a mummy if she chose to – her daughters were the most adorable beings.
What caught my attention was their fearlessness and the bond between them and their mom. The questions kept coming, “Mummy are we taking the elevator?”, “Mummy this place looks like the airport” (we were shooting at the Access Bank headquarters) and with a smile on her face, she answered all their questions every time.
Meanwhile, it is hard not to turn around twice when our second guest walks into a room. As she stepped onto set, I initially turned, thinking, ‘oh who is this lovely beautiful lady?’
But then, I did a double take as I realized it was the Vogue-covering, award-winning Adesua Etomi-Wellington. The thing with Adesua is that everyone notices her when she enters a room and she doesn’t even have to make an effort. She has an aura, an amazing aura you cannot miss.
Makeup artist is doing her thing as we jam afro-beats music from our self-appointed DJ Dakore. We switch to Country music for a few minutes at the request of her daughters, so they could entertain us with their cute choreography.
More music, then Brown Skin Girl comes on and the conversation shifts to women power, the beauty of Beyonce’s craft and her collaboration with African artistes. You could see how proud Dakore was of Nigerians. In her words, “we dominate, we are not modest about being Nigerians and we are at the forefront.”
Soon, we are talking about Nollywood and the drama that comes with the industry. Taking it back to the beginning, Dakore reveals that acting found her, “I didn’t realize I could act. I knew I was dramatic, extra sometimes, loved music but I never really thought about myself as an actor (as she prefers to be addressed) I just stumbled into it and I did it with a 100%.” You can hear the passion she has for her craft as she says, “Acting is my life and I’m so blessed for that happening.”
For Adesua, it was the opposite. She knew at 7 years old that this was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, thanks to Shari Headley’s performance as Lisa in Coming to America. “I didn’t tell my parents I wanted to act until I was 19 or 20 and I remember having the conversation with my mum and she said; if this is what you want to do, then go for it” and boy did she!
Well, for Adesua this is not the case. She is one of the few actors I have met who fortunately, is yet to have a crazy experience.
However, Dakore’s experience is something that almost every actor has experienced. Shooting her last blockbuster movie, Isoken where she played lead as an unmarried lady in her 30’s, she recalls their encounter with streets touts at the very popular Balogun market. “Balogun market is one of the craziest place you can think of filming, even though we had army escorts with us but they were working with a time frame. They told us they would leave once it was 6pm. We initially thought it was a joke until it clocked 6pm and they left and this was when all the bad guys were warming up to come out. It was nuts, but we had to find a way to get the shots and get it done”.
At this point, the creative director of The Cover magazine shoot, Tokyo James is going through their outfits for the shoot. He brings out this yellow beauty with so much layers and layers and even more layers. I could completely see Dakore giving this dress the class it needed to shine. Her daughters are still asking questions, very intelligent questions and Dakore continues to answer. At this point, I wondered what sacrifices she had to make while trying to balance work and being a mom.
“The struggle is real, it is tough and there are times when my kids don’t see me. I remember one time I was shooting in South Africa and they were in LA and I was there for two months. I mean, I saw them on face time but it is not the same. So there are times when I don’t get to see them as much as I want to. It is a chaotic life but this is what they know and I believe it is powerful for my two daughters to see their mother actually go out and work so that when they get older they will realize things don’t just come to them.”
However, being a mom has helped Dakore play some roles even better as she has gone through the experiences in real life. “It brings a lot of flavor into my work I think, because I am not just a mother, I am a wife as well and the experiences that come into my life through that, I can portray it on screen. If anything, it has enhanced my craft and given me more layers and I can access more emotions.”
As Dakore steps out of the dressing room wearing the Tulle layered dress by the creative, genius, Mai Atafo, I could see this dress was made for her. Maybe someone else could have worn it and looked good in it, but Dakore looked like she owned the dress and like I said earlier, she gave it what it needed to shine. I could see the photographer excited because he knew this was going to be a fun shoot.
As she is giving us the different faces of Dakore while the camera is clicking, I recall our earlier conversation about taking a hiatus from the industry just after she got married and had her kids. According to her, the industry has certain expectations for married women as regards to the role they can play. “I won’t lie, it did kind of choose some of my roles, when I first came back into work, but thankfully I have come through that and I know now that I just want to act, I don’t want to be stereotyped.”
The only way you would not have seen Adesua’s wedding pictures would be if you lived under the rock with no internet. I make reference to her wedding because that was the first thing I remembered as she stepped out of the dressing room in a flowing bridal dress by Mai Atafo. I am reminded of how we gushed and drooled when her wedding pictures hit the internet. Adesua is forever young, even the viral face app, I’m sure, has nothing on her.
She gets on the floor next to Dakore and lays her head on her shoulder for the group photo. Together, they looked like a dream and a definition of what women power should be. The fierceness of Dakore and innocence of Adesua.
The funny thing is that, it is the complete opposite for their characters in their latest movie, The Set Up. While Adesua played Chike the fierce operative working for a woman-led cartel played by Tina Mba, Dakore played Motunrayo the calm, innocent daughter of a rich mogul.
I have seen the movie, so allow me to tell you that if you have ever doubted the skills of these amazing women (I actually don’t know why you should), this movie will clear all your doubts. They brought their A-game and gave us something we would talk about for a long while.
Speaking about the movie, Adesua described it as a Mind trip that will take you on a journey. “I remember reading the script and being so excited about the story. I love stories that are complex and it doesn’t get any more complex than the Set Up, because I like stories that challenge the audience. I think it is really important to stimulate the minds of our audiences and I think we definitely did that with The Set Up.”
Describing her character in the movie, Dakore says she is the heart of the movie “Moturayo is dealing with a lot of emotions. I don’t really want to give so much away. She is someone who always wanted to do the right thing and she carries a lot of guilt as a result of things that had happened in the past and she tries to right the wrong in The Set Up.”
With a star studded movie, sometimes you hear of actors not getting along or emotions running high on set but according to Dakore and Adesua it was lovely working with their co-stars including; Joke Silva, Jim Iyke, Tina Mba, Kehinde Bankole, Ayoola Ayolola and many more. “Everyone brought their A-game.”
For two amazing ladies who joined the industry at the different eras, they have some varying experiences but also a lot of similar experiences. One that stands out and I think everyone will agree with, is how difficult it is being a woman in the film industry. In as much as the world is having a conversation about feminism and inclusivity, there is still so much that needs to be done to create a balance, as Adesua and Dakore both said.
At this point the shoot was almost coming to an end even though I wished we could have a little more time just to listen to them talk about their journey in the crazy, chaotic industry, we had to let them go, but not before we got a last word from them.
“If you’re doing this (acting) for the fame then don’t even bother,” Adesua says to upcoming actors. For Dakore, she wanted to ask her fans “What is it about Dakore that you love so much?”
Watch the full cover interview below:
Cover Story: Chidinma Igbokweuche
Creative Styling and Directing: Tokyo James
Photography: Chu Chu Ojekwe
Dresses: Mai Atafo