Spotlight on Nollywood: Sola Sobowale is Relentless

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Remember the distraught mother in Tade Ogidan’s 1998 thriller, Diamond Ring? That was Sola Sobowale at her best. Sola played Chief Dike’s (RMD) wife and Chidi’s (Teju Babyface) mum. Diamond Ring was memorable because it had all the makings of a true Nigerian story; a family in crisis and the attendant drama.  It wasn’t just the story that caught our attention, it was the brilliance of the acting and that’s why two decades after, we can still write and have conversations about it.

 

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In Diamond Ring, Sola Sobowale was simply phenomenal, she played the role of the desperate mother in dire need of a solution to the crisis her son had thrown the entire family into. That was one of Sola’s most memorable roles, until 2001 when Sola played the character of what we now know as the most famous “other woman”, on our TV screens. The personality came alive in her role as Toyin Tomato, in “Oh Father, Oh Daughter”. It is the story of Suara, a man, desperate for a job and asks his wife to sleep with a wealthy man to nab the job, his wife goes ahead with the plan. He gets the job, things get greener but he steps away from his family to enjoy the wealth with a new-found lover. The lover was played by Sola.

While any other actress from that time could have been cast in the role of Toyin Tomato, the experience would not have been the same, with what Sola brought. Wale Adenuga Productions chose Sola to bring the character alive. She brought flare, expertise, and pure drama to the role. Many viewers of “Oh Father, Oh Daughter” loathed what the character of “Toyin Tomato” represented, yet, it was impossible to hate the person that brought the character to life. Families gathered to watch, to learn but also to enjoy Toyin Tomato flare up at Suara. Toyin Tomato became the symbolic name for women that ate from the pocket of husbands of other women. It became a catchphrase for promiscuity and even for karma. Sola made it so.

The story catapulted Sola to superstardom. She went on to have a sizzling career, and even featured in the 2004 hit, Dangerous Twins starring Ramsey Noauh. However, her career went into total silence from 2009 – 2015.

Sola endured a number of damaging news reports while she was absent from the industry.

Blog stories tried to shred the integrity of the loved actress. She started to make a return by featuring in a few Yoruba films that went unnoticed. It took a photo posted by Ebony Life Films in early 2016, announcing their new project featuring Sola and memories were triggered.

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With the success of “The Wedding Party” it reassured filmmakers that fans of Nollywood like their ‘old cake’. They like old memories and Sola led the movement. She did the bulk of the work leading “The Wedding Party” to success.  Word of mouth for the feature was dependent on the presence of Sola. It proved that memories were not to be joked with, many people wanted to see Toyin Tomato again and so they went to watch it.

Her presence in “The Wedding Party” was an essential boost for the film to land on top of the box office. She did not only bring back memories with her return, the mother of the bride elements displayed by Sola, made for pleasurable viewing. Excitement to see her daughter get married showed through her performance. Her one-liners are used for snap backs, her eye swings are used for funny GIFS and her entry dance to the reception hall has been used for a thousand memes across the country.

“The wedding Party,” “The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai,” “Wives on Strike: The Revolution,” and the upcoming “King of Boys” are few of the examples to use for Sola’s successful comeback to the industry.

Sola will come again in “King of Boys” by Kemi Adetiba playing Eniola Salami. This again will see her in a lead role that will give us a totally new experience to the capability of the leading woman. It is also the first popular role, where she will be in the lead. Her performances in recent years have been in the supporting area and still, her presence has been able to dominate. What will the impact of Sola look like, leading the story in “King of Boys”? Powerful!

With Sola there is no decline of talent, there is only a refreshment of it.

One thing has been very clear with Sola’s return, Sola is revered and she remains a testimony that rare talent is essential for a new tenure in an industry that is not kind to second chances.

Sola makes brave choices and as new filmmakers seek old faces to stabilize the industry, the woman to go to, if they need some drama or a lot of it, is Sola Sobowale.

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