Abegunde Olamilekan Smile, popularly known by his stage name Dr Smile, has come a long way in the comedy and movie business. Having started about 16 years ago as a compere, the graduate of linguistics from the University Ibadan, rose to become a jack of many trades and master in several areas in the entertainment industry – from standup comedy to acting, and compere to TV Presenter.
In this interview with Africa Movies Hub (AMH), Dr Smile talks about how comedy opened a new chapter in his life, why mentorship is very vital to upcoming entertainers and why he said ‘I will choose standup comedy over acting any time any day. Enjoy the read:
AMH: Please introduce yourself, brand, and tell us about your work.
Dr Smile: My name is Abegunde Olamilekan smile also known as Dr Smile, a gentle, simple, blunt yet reserved guy, bottled by the environment he lives in, God-fearing, adventurous, a father, husband, chef, babysitter, standup comedian, actor, TV host and show promoter.
AMH: How did you get into comedy?
Dr Smile: From time, I have always loved to joke about stuff and make people laugh. One day, I stood in as a compere (Master of Ceremony) in my sister’s birthday when the one she engaged to do the job did not show up. From then on, I discovered I could even do better than most of the comperes I knew then. So, I started to feature from one event to the other, that’s all history now though.
AMH: At what age did you start and what age do you hope to retire?
Dr Smile: There’s no retirement when it comes to God’s gift. I started early but I pray to be around for a very long time, if the likes of Alibaba, Julius Agwu and Okey Bakassi still rock the mic then who am I to think of retirement now.
There’s no retirement when it comes to God’s gift. I started early but I pray to be around for a very long time, if the likes of Alibaba, Julius Agwu and Okey Bakassi still rock the mic then who am I to think of retirement now – Dr Smile
AMH: Looking back at the period you started as a comedian, what will you say are some of the challenges of being a comedian?
Dr Smile: Once you are not on television or media so to speak, you are not yet seen as a comedian, but I think that is changing now. I pray very soon when you introduce yourself as a comedian your worth will be judged by your ability to deliver and not how popular you are.
Secondly, mentorship is very key in the entertainment industry. I initially thought I could do it all alone. It took me years to have one. I celebrated 15years on stage last year, so I have been around for about 16 years but it pains to admit I spent one year repeatedly for 10years. I lost 10 years in the industry due to lack of mentorship. I started comedy from 2004 and till 2013 no one was ready to accept me or mingle with me. During that time, only my family members and I knew I was a comedian. Nobody recognized me as a comedian or wanted to mentor me. So I was living one year repeatedly for 10 years without any progress. But I give God the glory for what he did in my life as the story changed 6 years ago. Now, people celebrate me more as a comedian than as a Master of Ceremony. My jokes that people now enjoy were created over 10 years ago.
I lost 10 years in the industry due to lack of mentorship. I started comedy from 2004. And till 2013 no one was ready to accept me or mingle with me. During that time, only my family members and I knew I was a comedian – Dr Smile
AMH: You have been in the entertainment industry now for many years and also married for about the same number of years. Would you say marriage has played a supportive role in your career? Is marrying early what you can advise aspiring actors/comedians to emulate?
Dr Smile: My advice regarding this is that when you find the best companion or the one that best blends with your character please do engage her.
With every sense of humility, ladies out there don’t have time anymore. I have met young ladies that tell me they would rather be a baby mama than be a Mrs So my piece of advice is when you see a serious lady or guy please go ahead and be marry him/her.
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- I Played 32 Different Characters in Two Hours on Live Stage – Jude Orhorha
AMH: Asides Odunlade Adekola, which Nollywood producers do you yearn to work with, and who are your greatest inspirations in the industry?
Dr Smile: A lot of people have inspired me in the industry. To mention a few, I pray to work with the likes of Kunle Afolayan, Kemi Adetiba, Ayo Makun (for the strength to combine showbiz with production), Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD) the ageless actor and so on.
AMH: Stand-up comedy or acting, which pays more. And which would you want to look at more going into the future?
Dr Smile: I will choose standup comedy over acting anytime, any day. This is because comedy will you the money and acting will give fame. I make bold to say that actors are not well paid in Nigeria. Yeah, I can say it anywhere. If you compare the stress actors go through compared to what they earn, you will understand my standpoint.
…actors are not well paid in Nigeria. Yeah, I can say it anywhere. If you compare the stress actors go through compared to what they earn, you will understand my standpoint – Dr Smile
I was opportune to play a lead role in a movie called Kilonsele gan gan produced by Abbey Ejumo and I was at the location for like 3 days and I know how much I was paid compared to comedy. But if I was on a wedding or event where I will perform, that 3 days will earn me a million at least and I spent three days on a set location and I earned peanuts. I then noticed that majority of the actors are not even paid. And this is not the fault of the producers but from the structure we have as an industry – they are not making money.
Majority of the actors you see are only living by grace. God has decided to show mercy on some special people that is why they make money. I can tell you categorically that majority of these actors you see are not making money from movie features but comedians make their money from events. If I tell you the amount a comedian will charge for an event compared to what most actors take for lead roles, you will marvel that comedy earns far better. So, I will rather take comedy over acting.
I will choose standup comedy over acting anytime, any day – Dr Smile
AMH: Please share 4 tips for new-comers who are hoping to become successful like you in the entertainment industry.
Dr Smile: Be original, be focused, be determined and be close to God!
AMH: Tell us about your new projects and plans
Dr Smile: I am working on Season 5 of my monthly comedy show which we have put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, as soon as it clears by God’s grace, we will continue with the work.
Be original! Be focused! Be determined! Be close to God! These are my 4 tips for upcoming acts
– Dr smile
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