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How I Got The Stage Name, FALI WEREPE

•Veteran Actress, MODUPE JOHNSON

The very talented and energetic Modupe Johnson aka Fali Werepe is one of the popular veteran actresses in the Yoruba movie industry. She started her acting career 45 years ago from stage performance and has remained very active and relevant in the Yoruba movie industry.

Besides acting, she also produces movies and she remains one of the matriarchs in the Yoruba movie industry. She revealed in one of her interviews that she never planned to be an actress but got influenced by her friend who was an actress who invited her to come and watch their performance on stage, and at a point, she fell in love with acting and told her friend, she was interested in it, and she eventually joined in 1973. She trained under Tunde Owodunni and has since remained an actress.

She is one of the pioneers of the Yoruba movie industry and she was involved in the various stages the industry has passed through. She started acting at Village Squares, inside the hall, what many refer to as stage performance from one place to another, acting and dancing on the roadside in villages and towns. From theatre to home videos, and for her it was not about the money back then but the passion for the career.

According to her theatre back then, there was no money and we didn’t pay attention to the issue of money, we were all managing, and we kept acting on stage from one place to another. It was a travelling theatre and we were happy. I started on the stage acting and dancing on the roadside, in villages and towns. It was not about money, we didn’t see ourselves as poor, we were happy”.

She has featured in lots of movies and she is known as a no-nonsense person in movies, as she often interprets the role of a very tough and troublesome mother in movies. Recently she was a guest at a radio programme where she shared more light on her over 4 decades of acting career. Why she often takes up tough roles in the movies and how she came about her nickname “Fali Werepe”. When asked how long she has been in the industry? “I started acting in 1973, though never planned to be an actress, but got introduced to it by my friend and I trained under Tunde Owodunni.

And if you were not acting, what would you have been doing? She revealed I would have been into fabric selling. In the movie that shot her to the limelight and how she got the name “Fali Werepe”, she had this to say. “It was a movie I did at that time titled “Bata Wahala”, and my boss Ajimajasan produced the movie I acted as one of the 27 wives in the movie, and that was where I got my nickname from, one thing about me is that I prepare well for my roles when I interpret roles, I put all efforts into it, to make it look very natural, I will shout, jump, put all my energy into it and that was exactly what I did in this movie, there was no single dull moment and people usually clap for me after most scenes. That was exactly how I interpreted my role. There was even a scene I was told to use a pestle to hit my mother in law in the mouth and I did beyond what I was told, I delivered my role perfectly.

I put in so much energy and passion and by the time we got to the 13th episode, my role had ended in the series and I was asked to leave the house but people opposed my leaving, saying once I leave, the remaining episodes won’t be interesting so they had to bring me back and I continued and that was where I got my nickname from.

I am so grateful to God Almighty for my talents, I am very good at acting and producing movies. I am very good at narrating stories I dictate the story while someone else does the writing. I can say a whole story now that can be turned into a movie, and the following day, I will do another one. I have people who assist me in writing my script while I dictate to them, I stopped my education at Primary 6, so after writing, typing I will get a director, my role will be given to me and we will get other casts for the movie and it will always turn out well.

When asked if she has any regrets so far after spending over 4 decades in the industry? No, I don’t have any regrets at all, rather I am grateful to God Almighty for his mercies, grace and talents, which he has blessed me with.

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