I worked in mortuary to spite my mother –Remi Surutu

Image result for remi surutu
Remilekun Oshodi, fondly referred to
as Remi Sirutu, lost her first daughter to sickle cell anaemia in July.
For the first time since the death of her daughter, the ace actress
speaks with Ademola Olonilua about how she has been coping with her loss and sundry other issues

Why are you delving into music like some of your colleagues have done in the past?
While growing up as a child, I used to
be a chorister and I am still a member of the choir in my church. I’ve
recorded some songs but I decided not to release them yet; they are
still there in the studio.
So we should be expecting an album from you?
What kind of album would it be?
It would be a gospel album. I just want to use the album to thank God for everything that has happened in my life.
You could still have done that with any other genre of music…
It is because that has been the way I
was raised up. I have always been a mummy’s pet and a church girl. It
was when I grew up that I became a tomboy and you should also know that
this acting profession makes you become whoever you want to be. While we
were growing up, we would wake up about 6 am to get ready for school
but before anyone left the house, we would pray for a long duration of
time. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we had church
programmes that we had to attend with our mother. Then on Sunday, we had
to go to church, that was very compulsory. Then if you did not freshen
up on time, you would have to go to church without eating breakfast.
When I became an adult, I was so happy because I felt I could do
whatever I wanted, I could sleep till as late as I wanted but I never
for once forgot my background.
Many people believe that you are Muslim especially because you have a silver tooth…
Not to go too far with that, my mother
is a Christian while my father is a Muslim. I managed to satisfy them
both but I tilted more to my mother’s religion.
For someone who has been in the choir all her life, how come you became popular through movies and not music?
Yes, I am a church girl but when I was
much younger, I first began my career as a model. Then from modelling, I
delved into acting and most of our rehearsals and shoots were done at
the NTA. I was in the old and new Village Headmaster. After that, I got
involved in some television series before I settled in with the Yoruba
speaking sector of the Nigerian movie industry.
If I had wanted to sing, I could have
but the truth is that even though one started as a chorister, there is
no laid down rule that the person must end up as a singer. You grow up
to choose the facet of life that best suits you. When I recorded most of
my gospel songs, I was just in the studio goofing around with my music
producer. After I was done, people commended me that I did well and I
had to tell them that I am a choir member. I had recorded the album
since last year when nothing was bothering me and it was in the presence
of my late daughter.
What is stopping you from releasing the album?
Nothing is stopping me other than I am
trying to get back to my normal self. I just want to be normal so that I
am able to do more.
How was a mummy’s pet able to delve into modelling at a time the profession was frowned upon by most parents?
Initially, I was sneaking out of the
house to model for some advertising agencies like Lintas, OBM and the
Concept Unit at Surulere. There was a time we went for an auditioning at
the NTA and I was picked because at that time, my cousin had introduced
me to acting. At that stage, I had to leave the house and return the
next day. If you look at my left hear, my mother cut me there while she
was dealing with me.
I went to shoot with an NTA crew
overnight on the Island with Danladi Bako for the movie, ‘Sparks,’ and
while we were shooting the movie, I was not bothered because I told
myself that at that point, I was done with school and I was a ‘big
girl.’ By the time I got home, I learnt that my mother was so worried
that she had looked for me everywhere. Sadly, it is not like these days
where you can reach the person by phone. I can never forget that day
because it was my late uncle’s driver that took me to the movie
location. I begged him to take me to NTA. When my mother was looking for
me, someone told her that it was her younger brother’s driver that took
me away. Immediately, she took her housemaid, who was an elderly lady,
with some other people to my uncle’s office to ask for the driver but
unfortunately, he was not even at work at the time. She had to ask for
his house and even though he lived at Maza-maza, she took the whole
crowd there to look for me but she did not see the driver still. When
she was making all the trips, she bumped into a family member who told
her that I was not with the driver but at the NTA acting and it angered
her more. She headed for the NTA but was not granted entrance. I got
home the next morning, a few hours before she did and when she saw me,
she simply said, ‘wa fe ku leni’ (you would almost die today). She
called for my elder brother who just arrived in Nigeria from London with
his friend and ordered them to beat me black and blue. I was thoroughly
beaten that day. I remember a few years ago when I premiered one of my
movies, my mother was present and when she was being interviewed, they
asked her if she was proud of her daughter’s achievement and she said
yes. After the interview, I called her and reminded her of the beating
she gave me but she just hit my head jokingly.
But how come you did not quit acting after the epic beating?
After they beat me, I was determined
that I would become a star and make them proud. I am a very stubborn
child so if you beat me about a particular thing, I would continue with
it and succeed.
At what point did she accept you as an entertainer?
When I began to appear on the
television, she did not have a choice. I was in the Village Headmaster
and for a weird reason, my mother always brought food for me virtually
every week with my cousin. Then she started noticing the other big stars
I was acting with. Luckily, these people loved me, so, they also helped
me to convince her that I was in safe hands.
If you were not an actress what other professions would you have opted for?
I am not someone that can be easily
predicted. There was a time I used to work at the funeral home, Ebony
Casket, to be precise. I dined with the living and the dead. I worked at
LASUTH inside the morgue with Aunty Taiwo Ogunsola.
Why did you work in the morgue?
I wanted something different, a rare
field to play in. I felt that if my mother did not want me to do what I
wanted to do, then I would do something extremely different. I wanted to
frustrate her.
What was your mother’s reaction when you started working at the morgue?
She only said ‘you this child again’. I
was not scared when I was working at the morgue because I did not kill
them, they died. If no one takes care of the dead, who will? The fact
that some people think that you may see some metaphysical things when
working in the morgue is a lie. I did not see anything out of the
ordinary while working there.
Did you eventually quit the job for acting?
No, I did not. At a point, I was
combining the two jobs. I never left. I would go for some presentation I
did for the late Alade Aromire; then from there, I would head for the
morgue and be there all through the night.
We learnt that you are back on a movie set, what movie are you currently working on?
To be honest, I have been on set for a
while and I have lost count of the jobs I have been pre-occupied with. I
was on the set of ‘Gold Status’ by Tade Ogidan, which he says is for
international film festivals. I am also a part of ‘Face2face rebranded,’
I have other works lined up for me.
Don’t you think you are overloading yourself with work?
I don’t think it is my fault and aside
from the movies I listed for you, there are still some other Yoruba
movies that I was involved in. I mean I was a part of ‘The real
housewives of Iyana-Ipaja.’ All I would say is that God has been awesome
to me.
When it is time to relax, what do you do?
I always travel out of the country but
because of what I just passed through, I have been given a lot of work
to do so that I can take my mind off my daughter’s death. I am still
here in Nigeria but I would still travel soon.
Are you aware that some people think you can hardly speak fluent English?
Yes, I am aware. People say that a lot.
There are times that I am at the airport and when I speak fluent English
to the immigration officers, they are usually taken aback. A lot of
times when I am at the bank for a transaction, most of the bankers are
quick to greet me in Yoruba but when I reply them in English with my
accent, they begin to look at themselves in amazement. When I ask what
the problem is, most of them open up to me that they did not expect me
to speak so eloquently. I just tell them sorry but they don’t expect me
to be the same person they see in the movies.
How have you been holding up since the death of your daughter?
God has been so awesome to me. I had
cried for a long while before you came into this place but I promised
that I would hold myself all through this interview. I knew you would
ask this question, so I promised to hold my tears but it is quite an
impossible task (sobs). I must confess to you, I really miss my
daughter, I miss her every day, I miss her so much because she was my
partner and everything. She had a younger sister and we were all close. I
must confess to you, for the rest of my life, I would never forget
about her (sobs). I put her clothes in between mine and her shoes as
well. So for me not to run mad, whenever I am picking my clothes, I pick
hers up as well and say, ‘Ayomikun I miss you, I love you and I know
you are still with me.’ When I am picking my shoes, I look at hers and
say, “Ayo, look at your shoes here. (sobs). Please come and pick your
shoes.” Some people tell me to delete her messages, videos and pictures
from my phone but I cannot, we would live together till we meet again.
In order to immortalise her, I am putting finishing touches on a
foundation in her memory. I have to say a big thank you to Hope Fashion
and Mutiat Alli who helped me stage a comeback after the death of my
daughter. May God continue to bless every other person that stood by me
during that dark period.

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