On June 2, friends and families would gather at the Blue Roof, LTV 8, Lagos to celebrate with Olanrewaju Hassan as she marks her 50th year on stage. In this interview with Tribune correspondent, Iya Awero, as she is fondly called, shares her style, secret of success and her memories, among other things.
I am Olanrewaju Hassan Adeshina, popularly known as Iya Awero. I am a Lagosian and I am from a polygamous home. My mother was from the Bankole Shonibare family in Lagos, while my grandmother was from the Kosoko family, so in a way, myself and Jide Kosoko are related.
Passion for theatre
I started acting in 1963, when I was in school. Back then, we would organise end of the year shows and that was when I developed the passion for theater. So in 1964, I joined a group with the likes of Ojo Ladipo, known as Baba Mero and Iya Mero then, it was called Young Stars Concert Party. But in 1966, to formalise the affairs of the group, we voted Ojo Ladipo as the leader and the name was then changed to Ojo Ladipo Theater Group.
My travelling theater experience
We started with stage performances, moving from one town to another, but it was later that films in celluloid were introduced. I had the opportunity of working with the late Chief Hubert Ogunde and I featured in all his movies, except for Aiye and Mr Johnson. I featured in the likes of Jaiyesinmi, Aropin ni Teniyan and others. I was also once a customier.
After my secondary school education, I proceeded to a school of drama, so as to have an edge in the industry. That was to enable me to feature both in Yoruba and English productions.
With a certificate from the school, one could easily gain admission into the university. My guardian wouldn’t have allowed me, but for Wole Soyinka, because he was the one that signed on my behalf and that influenced my guardian’s decision to allow me proceed to the school.
How I got the name, Awero
I featured in a movie titled Efunsetan Aniwura in 1973 and I remember we staged the play for Oluyole Club back then. I played the role of Awero in the movie and since then, the name has become my alias. But because there is respect in the Yoruba culture, some people would add ‘Iya’ to it, hence, the name Iya Awero.
My Dear Mother experience
I started with Dear Mother about 12 years ago and I’ve been with the director, Mrs Ariyike Oladipo since then. The reception has been good and I am happy that many viewers appreciate it. Dear Mother is a soap that reaches out to mothers on how children could be properly raised. It teaches mothers how to strike a balance between doing what they feel is right for their children and what the children really want.