By Tony Ogaga & Rita Okoye
A-list actress and creator of popular TV series, Jenifa’s Diary, Funke Akindele has found love again. Last year, she married her heartthrob, Abdul Rasheed Bello aka JJC Skillz of the 419 Squad, in a secret ceremony in the United Kingdom. In this interview, which took place at their Ibeju Lekki, Lagos home, the rapper turned-movie maker opened up on how he met and toasted the actress.
What’s new about JJC Skillz?
I am now officially a music video and film director. For the past few years, I have been telling people that I was about to move into Nollywood, but they didn’t believe me. I am now one of the directors of Jenifa’s Dairy. I shot all the London scenes and now we are back to Nigeria. I am also one of the brains behind an upcoming TV series, Industreet, produced by my wife. We came up with the concept of creating a story around the entertainment industry in Nigeria. I am also part owner of the SOP Music label that has four new acts. We are planning a lot of movies this year; my hands are full.
What is the concept behind Industreet?
I have 20 years of experience in the music industry and I believe nobody has been able to tell the story of the African music scene. I was there in the beginning so, I want the world to know what is really going on behind the scenes in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
Is it like your true-life story?
Not really. It is the story of the betrayals, the rise and fall, the success, failures and lots more. It is a story of a group of young people who started a label, SOP Records. When you watch it, you will understand how the street took over the industry. That is why we called it Industreet.
How much of your personal story is in Industreet?
About 70 per cent of it was infused into the story line. I actually came up with this idea in 2009 and shot about half an hour pilot for it. It will premiere on May 19, and a week after; you can watch it on our website. Even Jenifa’s Diary can be watched on the sceneone App.
After marriage it seems you took a break from making music?
My music is on hold because I need to focus on this great opportunity. Jenifa’s Diary is a big project. You can see we have been winning awards here and there. We, as a family, have our hands full already on different productions.
The scripture says ‘He who finds a wife, finds a good thing’, can you relate to that?
Of course, he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord. Most times, as a single man you carry almost all your burdens alone. You would have to worry about what to eat and my cooking skills are not fantastic. But when I found my wife, I knew I had found my better half. Now, when I think about something, I share it all with my wife. We wake up from the same bed in the morning and head to the field, because we are both into entertainment. She is the actress and scriptwriter and I am the director and editor. She is very hard working. In fact, I don’t know anyone like us in this industry; she works day and night. We wake up every single day with the mindset of making each other happy.
Funke is a very busy woman; does she have time to cook for you?
Why not? It is said that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Definitely, she cooks amazingly, but I told her to stop so she can get enough rest. Most times, she would insist because she wants to take care of her man.
What is her favourite dish for you?
Her pounded yam and ewedu always sweep me off my feet, and I would always ask her if she has added ‘something extra’ to it. She is all a man could ever ask for.
So, how does it feel being married to a popular actress?
To be honest, I lived the better part of my life in the UK, so I didn’t really know who Funke Akindele was. When I met her, I felt I had just met someone who wanted a director for Jenifa’s Diary. That was in 2013. We have been going out for a long time, people just found out in 2016. We were very low-key because we are two popular people; we had to protect our privacy.
How did you meet Funke Akindele?
She wanted someone to direct her TV series. I was about to embark on recording the JJC album then. Her sister introduced us because she knew I was into music and video directing. When I met her, she told me she did a movie sometime ago and would like to turn it into a TV series. We started working together and preparing for the shoot, then one thing led to another. Here we are today, the rest is history.
Would you say it was love at first sight?
Yes, because the first time I saw her, I was wowed! She also told me that when she first saw me, she went ‘wow!’ We tried to keep it as professional as possible, but along the line, emotions ran high.
How did you propose to her?
I am definitely a romantic person so I gave her a dose of it. It wasn’t in an open place, because very few people knew. So, that very day, she came home to meet flowers and candles everywhere; quite a romantic set up. She had no choice but to say ‘yes’.
Were you not afraid she could say no?
We had a very beautiful relationship, but to be honest, I had proposed to her earlier and she laughed at me. I think that was a week after we met. I was like ‘I have never met anyone like you, marry me’. And she just laughed at me. And then I promised her that she would be my wife. I play around a lot but I meant it.
Who apologises first when you both have issues?
My wife would say she does but I’ll object because I know I apologise first. Most times we apologise at the same time. No relationship or marriage is perfect so such things are normal. I will get upset, she will get upset and we later apologise to each other and let it slide. In fact, we hardly find ourselves in such positions. However, the important thing is not to carry over any argument or misunderstanding to the next day. We are now family, so we help each other grow. We both have had our own fair share of horrible relationship experiences, so we appreciate each other and value our love and hold it tight. A lot of people are looking at us with envy while some are hoping and praying that one day, we would break up. We are going to disappoint them because we try hard to keep ourselves in check, encourage and most importantly pray for each other.
When would the kids start coming?
Soon! God’s time is the best. We are working on it.
How did your kids accept their new step mum?
Before we got married, we all had a good relationship here in Nigeria. The kids were always seeing this beautiful woman around daddy, and she was always making him happy. They might be away and in different continents but they are part of our daily activities. She is also very close to them. They didn’t know she is an actress then, because in the UK, they hardly watch Nigerian movies, but they love her so much. It is a perfect blend. I remember my daughter telling me ‘Dad, make sure you marry her. She is a keeper’. And I did, I followed my daughter’s advice. One of my songs, ‘Save The Last Dance’ was written for my wife; she really saved the last dance for me.