First aired in 2021, The Olive is a drama thriller series available on Accelerate Plus app and Accelerate TV’s YouTube channel. It follows the story of Anayo, a man in his forties who, in the wake of his wife’s demise, has to cater for his children, take care of his wife’s restaurant business and maintain his relationship with friends. His stability, however, becomes threatened as he discovers that his wife led a dubious life, and his curiosity leads him to investigate further.
As the drama returns for a second season, with an ensemble of actors, which includes Ibrahim Suleiman, Theresa Edem, Joke Silva, Stephanie Coker Aderinokun, Bolaji Ogunmola, Derby Frankson, Demi Banwo, Chukwuma Aligwekwe, and Harriet Ojobaro Akinola, more action is guaranteed. Season 2 is themed “Good people do bad things”, and it follows the story of Anayo as he further uncovers evidence of his wife’s affair with a kingpin Ibrahim.
Veteran Nollywood actor Ibrahim Suleiman reprises the lead role of Anayo in The Olive. Here, Culture Custodian had a sit-down with the actor as he gave his thoughts concerning his character and the entire show.
What are your general thoughts on your character Anayo, and what’s the point of attraction?
All his cards are on the table. Practically everyone has two sides, but Anayo is predominantly one-sided. He is like an open book. What I mean by open book is that the guy is not cunning, he doesn’t keep a lot of secrets, and he trusts easily. Unfortunately for him, he is not aware of what goes on behind him, which leads him to constantly get into situations where he is the last to find out what really happened. I think his relationships were interesting dynamics, especially between him and his kids, and by extension, his relationship with his friends. This makes him an interesting character to play. But there’s also the aspect of dealing with loss, which he does not handle well. A lot of the time people think that when men lose their spouses, it’s easier for them to get back on their feet because a few months after, they can get married to someone else. But, in reality, it doesn’t always work out like that.
What do you think about Anayo’s relationship with his children and interest in his wife’s past? Do you find him overprotective and unnecessarily inquisitive?
Anayo as a father is exemplary because he makes time to get to know his children. After Ehi passed on, he over-compensated for her absence. There were certain situations where he could have been more firm, however, but he wasn’t. He let some things slide unnecessarily, which wasn’t good enough. At one point, the guy was figuratively at sea and was drowning.
About Anayo digging up Ehi’s past, I get it. Personally, I do not like being kept in the dark, so I completely understood why he felt the need to figure it out. If I were in his shoes in real life, I would probably do the same and be driven crazy the moment there’s just a slight hint of something suspicious about someone I thought I knew very well. I would advise every man in that situation to figure it out even if it’s just to put it to rest.
Still speaking of your character, how has he evolved in Season 2 and how would you distinguish him from Anayo in Season 1?
First of all, he dyed his hair in Season 2, to everyone’s relief and excitement. One feedback we got concerning this character in Season 1 had to do with the patches of grey on his head. Fans didn’t just like it. Anayo is around 45. In Season 1, when I auditioned for the role, I looked too young for someone that old with three children. I had to gain weight. For Season 2, I couldn’t bring myself to continue with eating to gain weight. That’s why Anayo looks slimmer this time around. I think it makes sense to say Anayo has lost weight because he is stressed out. Also, Anayo became less coordinated and more distracted in Season 2. He was more of a mess. He had unravelled so many things and he just lost track.
What was the experience like working with the entire cast, particularly the director, and other actors on set?
Playing Anayo expanded my family. Micheal and I have been friends for years, so bonding on set as friends was a bonus. Faith Stanley, Phillips Francis and Angel Unigwe were my children on set and have continued to be a part of my life. I am constantly in communication with Angel, Anayo’s last born, so she is like my child in real life. Segilola and I have worked on some previous projects together. I also met Bolaji some years ago before the project. Then, it was my first time working with the director Filmboy, but I enjoyed it because it was fun. One of the producers, Chidinma, is a business partner of mine today, and The Olive is the second film project that has brought us together. In fact, some members of the crew were just hilarious to watch on their own. Of course, filming a show like that, which took a lot in performance, story and location, within a short period of time was quite hectic. But we got through it as a team because we enjoyed being around one another.
What was the most challenging thing about the production?
Filmmaking in Lagos is generally hectic. You know Lagos is a melting pot. Many of us in the industry were raised in other parts of the country but we moved to Lagos because it is the headquarters of entertainment in Nigeria and the gateway to the rest of the world. So, it’s tougher making films in Lagos than in other states. During the project, we had stressful experiences like being stuck in traffic for three hours just to be at another location to shoot for an hour, noise from the surrounding streets on set, and having to change location because area boys demanded exorbitant amounts from us. Ultimately, in spite of the challenges, we have made a show that, quality-wise, is head and shoulders above many shows you find on YouTube and other platforms.
How did you react to the demise of Karibi, knowing that his character Tobi was your close friend in Season 1, and what was it like having to retain the character in Season 2?
I knew him outside of The Olive. We had a working relationship, he was also friends with my wife. I was not thinking of The Olive at first when he passed on. It was weeks later that it dawned on me that his character Tobi in the show would be affected. It was a serious conversation during the pre-production of Season 2. The character could have been written off, but it was decided that it was better to honour Karibi by retaining his character. That difficult task fell on the shoulders of Michael. So far, the reactions to how Michael portrayed the character have been good. The character is still alive. Accelerate TV have also done a great job of honouring Karibi across their social media platforms.
How does Anayo resonate with your real-life personality, and what do you find detestable about the character?
The first thing is his family values. My parents split up while I was young, and I was raised by my mom. She was able to instill family values in us. I carry it like a badge on my chest. I respect the fact that Anayo is a family-centered man. Also, like Anayo, I love to say what is on my mind and express something the way it really is. It’s why I know that I would never survive as a politician. Often, in this part of the world, people who claim to be blunt are actually rude. I don’t think I’m blunt. I’m just honest. Because of that, my circle is small and tight. Anayo and Ibrahim are similar in that regard. After appearing on two seasons, I think I can comment on what I dislike about Anayo. I do not like his inability to stay focused. That is unhealthy for a single parent. It doesn’t matter whether the single parent is male or female.
What impact do you think Accelerate TV has brought to the Nigerian film industry and the society at large?
With Accelerate TV, there’s a balance of quality and quantity. If you check other shows from Accelerate TV, you will notice that all of them are unique in style and tone. They do not just do generic shows. The formatting of their shows is different. You can see this in The Olive and Visa On Arrival. Both shows are special.
What more should fans expect from Ibrahim?
There’s a project Michael and I are working on. It also stars Okey Jude and Maurice Sam, and it has been quite fun working on it. The show will be out this year. Regarding other projects, I’m actually beginning to explore my villain phase. Honestly, I’m bored playing the good guy in movies. I’ve played a lot of characters that have parallels with me as a person, and I’m tired of that. So, I’ve recently taken up characters that are not the good guy. There’s a project where my character is a guy who holds a gun and shoots people. I have a background in dance and choreography, and I will be putting that to use in taking more physical roles. I hope to get more ‘action guy’ role opportunities in the coming years. Outside film and television, I’m doing my first art exhibition in September this year.