Michael is the fourth child of popular actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. He talks about the life his mother leads off the stage with TOLUWANI ENIOLA
Tell us about yourself.
I am 16 years old. I am an aspiring cinematographer and movie director.
Did your mother influence these interests?
I usually accompany my mother to movie locations. That experience attracted me to film-making and movie business in general. Anytime I watch a movie, I analyse it in a different way. Along the line, I discovered that cinematography is the right career path for me to pursue.
I have watched some movies. There is a huge difference between Nigerian and foreign movies, like the ones produced in the US and the UK. The storyline is different and the quality of the production is also different. I want to do something great with the camera. But I am not sure yet if I will shoot movies for Nollywood or be a Nollywood cinematographer. I am learning as much as I can. I might consider acting along the line as well.
What are your recollections growing up with your mother?
I have many sweet memories with my mother. One that I remember clearly is that she has always been a supportive mother and an inspiration to my academic success. I remember the first time I applied to go to secondary school. My father wanted me to begin secondary school education in good time. I applied to a secondary school when I was in primary four. Many pupils applied to the school of my choice but unfortunately, my application was not successful. Owing to a large number of applications, the school raised the cut-off point and my score was below it. I remember that my mother shouted at me but later calmed down. She encouraged me to study harder next time. She told me to be more focused and that next time, I would pass. She encouraged me to study hard, warning me that none of her family members had failed.
Does being her child put a burden on you?
I don’t think there is any burden on me on account of my mother’s feats. I am very careful about what I post on the social media so as not to be perceived wrongly.
How do you feel being the son of a popular actress?
To be quite honest, most of the time, I feel like every other child. My mother is a disciplinarian. She raised her children in a way that gave no room for one to be proud. I am not the child that will enter a place and say, “Hey, my mother is the popular actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde.” I don’t brag about my background. In fact, when I entered secondary school, I did not want anyone to know who my mother is. But they eventually found out.
How did your friends react when they knew who your mother is?
It’s a big institution and many children of prominent Nigerians attend the school. Everyone is special in a way. When my friends saw my surname, some did not actually believe I am the son of Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. Those who didn’t believe simply justified their claim with the fact that there are many Ekeindes in Nigeria. My mother didn’t come to visit me in school regularly. My father usually accompanied me to school.
One day, my mother came to the school and my friends were surprised to know that she is my mother. She was nearly mobbed by the pupils who took turns to take pictures with her. My mother has always been a friendly person so she was excited to relate with the pupils. She said to them one after the other, “Hi, what’s your name? What class are you?” How are you doing? Even though she didn’t remember as many names as she heard. She visited me in school on special occasions such as my birthdays.
How do you feel when people call your mother omosexy?
I have no problem with that. To be honest, I have not heard people call her that in my presence.
What nickname do you call her at home?
I only call her mummy. I am only allowed to call her mummy at home.
What language does she speak to her children at home?
She speaks Yoruba to us at home. I can’t really speak Yoruba fluently. I remember a week that she didn’t speak English to any one of us. She spoke to us in Yoruba. She wanted us to learn our language.
Do you get preferential treatment from your mother as the last child?
I don’t think there is any preferential treatment for me. Yes, my mother treats me well. I was brought up to respect my siblings and behave well.
Can you share any memorable experience with your mother
She likes to joke a lot. Whenever she plays her old school songs and I say, “Mummy, why now?,” she would say, “The songs are better than what you hear nowadays.” When she is really enjoying the songs, she begins to dance. She enjoys dancing.
Did she use the cane to correct or discipline you at any point?
She does not use the cane to discipline us but when I was much younger, she caned me on my palm. There was a Saturday she asked me if I had cleaned my room. I could not remember whether I had cleaned my room that morning or not. But I told her it was clean. She said, “okay.” I thought she would quietly go to her room but she went straight to my room to confirm. She was mad at me for not telling her the truth.
Tell us the Nigerian artistes she likes.
She likes Falz and Kiss Daniel. She also likes classical music and old Nigerian songs especially those produced in the 90s. I know some of the songs but I don’t know the name of the singers.
Which of her movies is your father’s favourite?
He likes all her movies. But I enjoyed “The Last Flight to Abuja” the most.
Who is stricter between your father and mother?
I think my mother is stricter. My mother told me the story of her life when she was growing up. She was heavily influenced by her mother who she described as strict. She told us that before she did anything wrong, her mother punished her ahead. My father is softer in some cases.
Does your mother’s name earn you preferential treatment from your teachers?
No, they don’t treat me specially. My teachers are her fans. They always check her Instagram page and tell me what they see there. I remember that they once talked about a picture of my father and mother at the gym.
What biggest gift did your mother give you?
My mother has given me many things but the one I value the most is a camera because it’s valuable to my aspiring career. I have also gone for a film course. In the area of career choice, my mother didn’t force any of us to do anything. My mother and father have always supported our ambitions.
For instance, my first sister, Princess, has always admired the hospitality business and management. She was excited when my mother helped her to secure a placement of two or three weeks at the Eko Hotel and Suites. That exposed her to standards in the hospitality industry. When my brother, Captain E, mentioned that he wanted to do music, my parents supported him. For instance, he supported him with equipment.
She also helps him to call any artiste he wishes to work with. When she called those artistes on his behalf, she usually tells them to work with him only if they are satisfied with the quality of his works. My sister, Meraiah, has always wanted to do fashion and styling. She also uses her connection to link her with other great people in the industry and getting her sewing machines.
Considering your privileged background, do you always get everything you ask from your mother?
No. She taught us to be content with what we have. I once told her to get me a car. She shook her head, laughed and said, “You are not serious.”
What major advice has she given you?
My mother always emphasises the need to be straightforward in life. She dislikes dishonesty and encourages me to be disciplined. My parents advised us that life is not a bed of roses. They encouraged us to be determined and tackle any hardship that comes to our ways.
What are the things people don’t know about your mother?
My mother is a prayer addict. You need to see her Bible. Many people don’t know she is from a Muslim background. She was a Muslim. She converted to Christianity when she was in secondary school or thereabouts. She is also very close to God and attributes her success to Him.
Who are your mother’s role models?
I don’t think she has any role model. The last time I asked her, she told me she is her own role model. But she respects many other people. She has a pastor she looks up to and that is Pastor Tessy.
What is her favourite food?
She likes plantain and fish. She eats lots of vegetables too.
What does your mother tease your father about?
My mother teases my father about his love for pounded yam. My father likes pounded yam so much that he doesn’t mind eating it thrice in a day. He specifically said he would be happy if he gets pounded yam thrice daily. My mother also teases my father for studying almost all the time. She encourages him to have fun. My father too teases her about her love for dancing.
How close is she to her family members?
My mother enjoys a cordial relationship with her siblings. She used to tell us about her parents. She was very close to her parents. Like I said earlier, she learnt discipline from her mother.
Which of your mum’s movies is your favourite and why?
The one I like the most is Beyonce and Rihanna. I like it because it’s funny.
How has she been able to stay off scandals?
My mother is a disciplined person. She does not associate as much as one would expect. She does not really go out. She goes out only if it’s necessary.
Who is her best friend?
Her best friend is Rukky Sanda.
Tell us about her most difficult and fulfilling moments.
I think her most difficult moment was when she lost her father. She lost her father at age 12. Her most fulfilling moment is when my father and all the children are with her.
What advice did you give her on her career?
At a point in her career, I noticed she featured regularly in gloomy movies. I remember I told her, “Mum, can you please stop acting in sad movies?” She responded with mixed reactions.
What is her favourite sport?
She hates football. She gets annoyed anytime I watch football (laughs). She likes squash and lawn tennis. She also likes watching wrestling, badminton and swimming.
She once veered into singing. Did she tell you why she stopped?
I don’t really know why she stopped singing. I think her passion for acting is stronger than singing. I was happy when she declared that she wanted to go into music. I know she can sing. I like the song she produced then. But my brother, Captain E, who is also a music producer, has been encouraging her to continue singing.
How does she relax?
My mother is a workaholic. She always has something important to do. But she likes relaxing on the couch. She visits the spas too. She also relaxes by dancing. She always forced me to dance with her. Dancing with her is not an optional thing (laughs). I think she enjoys relaxing by sending me around. She enjoys sending me around a lot. My mother could be on a couch with her phone just by her side. Yet, she would call me from a distance to give her the phone (laughs).