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How Playing ESTHER In JENIFA's Diary Changed My Life - Fast Rising Actress, ADEJUMOKE ADEROUNMU Reveals

Fast-Rising Actress, Adejumoke Aderounmu, popularly known as Esther, was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State. She is a TV host. She had her Primary and Secondary education at St. Bernadette Private School and Abeokuta Girls Grammar School before moving to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, where she bagged a BA in International Relations in 2008. She went further to study Film making in Lyon, France.

In 2010, she went to study  television production and presentation course at Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria Training School, Lagos. Subsequently, she worked with Goldmyne Entertainment, as a Producer and Presenter. In 2010, she auditioned for a role in Funke Akindele series Jenifa’s Diary. She failed initially, but didn’t give up, tried harder, put all her efforts and eventually got the role.

She has featured in many movies with notable stars like Funke Akindele, Bimbo Akintola, Francis Duru, Antar Laniyan, Yomi Fash, Yemi Blaq to mention a few. And she is also popular for movies like “Okunfa, Amiwo, Awa Obinrun, Arugba and the series. “The partiots. Adejumoke is small in stature and this has hindered her from getting lots of roles in the movie industry.

In this interview with City People’s TAYO OYEDIJI, BIODUN ALAO and PRECIOUS POMAA, she spoke on her journey into the industry. What she went through to get a role in the legendary film maker, Tunde Kelani’s, movie entitled: “Arugba”, how her role in Funke Akindele’s series, Jenifa Diary, turned her life around and her challenges in the industry. Below are the excerpts.

Tell us how acting started for you?

Acting started for me a long time ago like 2007 or there about, but not professionally. Professionally, it was in 2009.  That was in the set of the legendary Tunde Kelani movie Arugba. I also featured as Yemisi Lawal in the series entitled; “Patriot”, then I attended loads and loads of auditions. The journey started when Moyo Lawal introduced me to lots of her friends, such as Mary Njoku, the owner of Rok TV, also to Femi Brainard. 

While attending auditions I got roles as well to play extra characters here and there, part of which was “Okun Ife Yi”. I did all these before featuring in Arugba. When I heard about the movie, Arugba, I wanted to be a part of it, and also do something really professional, to express myself. Till date, I happened to be one of those few actors/actress who go for auditions to get roles.

Do you have friends in the industry?

I keep professional relationship with everybody. It takes someone, who really knows me to know the real me. Many people misjudge me without even making efforts to know the real me. I am not open to allowing too many people into my personal space because I really don’t want it abused. And that is why I attend loads of auditions to get movie roles. And that was how I got the role of Princess Omodele in the movie, Arugba. I have lots of people who encouraged me that I would be a good actor.

In which one do you feel more comfortable featuring in English or Yoruba?

For me, there have always been a plan. And I stick to the plan all the time. I feel comfortable in any role I’m given all the time. As an artistes I interprete characters who I’m completely different from in real life. 

I try my best that I don’t take myself to work because I have tried doing that a few times, I was abused, because of the kind of person I am, people take advantage of who you are and use your weak point against you. I try to get into the characters I am given a few weeks or months into it, all depending on when I get my script. 

I try to build the characters. I do a lot of thing to being that character, afterwards, I slip the characters off me. So, I am comfortable to play any character. Initially, you might just look at home and conclude oh! She might not be able to play that role. My strength lie in my talent and I’m very grateful to God for that. 

I speak the two languages perfectly. I take all roles that come to me. I have featured in a few Yoruba movies as well. I have featured in a good number of English series and I appreciate God for blessing me with the talents and also to be able to inspire the generation after me.

Which is your most challenging movie?

Challenges comes with everything one does in life. So far, for me, the most challenging role for me is Esther. It was very emotional for me because Esther and I are two different persons, but I’m very grateful to God because that role, Esther, has brought me everything good in life, and I’m very super grateful to the producers of Jenifa’s diary and Funke Akindele for trusting me with that role, I keep saying this. 

I had to audition for it twice, I had to fight with someone to get that role, though that often happens to me. It was, indeed, challenging for me, having to do all the stuff Esther did. Having to be who Esther really is in order to deliver that role perfectly. 

You need to become Esther herself, which I did. Forgetting your true identity and carrying that character everywhere you go I remember someone hitting me in a banking hall, challenging me that, why did I do that to Jenifa, I only said thank you  and Lord Jesus because the challenge simply means, I did my job well. 

So, Esther has to be the most challenging so far, and I’m so open to more challenges. I’m really excited about the journey. Every other role, I was able to juggle around it, but the role of Esther freaked me out, she almost turned me into who she was.

What was the experience like, working with Funke Akindele?

The series, Jenifa Diary, was not my first experience with Funke Akindele Bello. I have worked with her before. I got to understand what working with her should be, nothing below percentage, nothing personal, she is a perfectionist and always go for the best. 

She wants you to always understand what she wants before going into it. She understands and has the picture of the character she wants you to play already in her head. So, you have to interprete it so perfectly. 

The fact that I have to always deliver that role perfectly is always in my head because, the moment, you start and she is not getting what she wants, she tells you immediately. She is literally telling me all the time, this is who Esther should be, so in all, it was really good working with her, I leant a lot, and gained lot of experience working with her.

How has playing the role of Esther in Jenifa diary helped your career?

Playing “Esther” in Jenifa’s diary shot me to limelight. After playing that role, it gave me opportunity to knock on any door. God used Esther the grace I need in life and that alone is enough for me. It can only get better.

I am in the industry, where I learnt the first thing you need is your home training. Once you lose your substance, you are opened to a lot of venerability that can get back to you at the end. Though, I don’t want to sound arrogant or even pass the wrong message, but I have professional relationship with a few persons and basically I feel that’s okay. The word friendship is a strong one. You can force or misuse it. 

So, I can just start calling people my friends, so what I have is a professional relationship with a lot of persons, but all the same, “I have people who genuinely like me and also celebrate me, saying Jumoke you are a star. Take it or leave it, though I don’t know what they have seen before saying this.

Take us through your background?

My mum had me after her youth service scheme at 33 years, I started crèche at 1 and half years, I went to St. Benedict Private School for my Nursery and Primary School in Abeokuta, then Abeokuta Girls Grammar School for my Secondary education, then OAU, Obafemi Awolowo University, I studied International Relations, then recently I decided to know more about the job that I do because I just stumbled into the industry, with no much background, so I went for film training recently and more knowledge in acting school.

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