Binta Ayo Mogaji: Sterling stage and screen actress Sambas on and off the turf

It was her brother, who is also a showbiz personality, Jamal Bola Mogaji, that announced on social media that the sterling actress Binta Ayo Mogaji, was “a day and year” older.

“Binta Ayo Mogaji is my sister and I want to use this opportunity to thank Almighty Allah for making her see another day and year,” the bearded Jamal wrote on his Facebook page.

He added: “I want you all to help me wish her a happy birthday. Remained blessed sister and party like no tomorrow. I love you to the bone.”

Congratulatory messages for the top-rated actress who has had a remarkable career on stage and screen flooded his timeline seconds after he hit the send button.

A very elated fan, Yeancah Adamu, who described Binta Ayo Mogaji, or BAM for short, as one showbiz personality that has “blessed” the stage and television with her works, wrote: “Happy birthday to the one and only legendary and ace actress, Ayo Mogaji.

“You blessed the stage and television with your work. I celebrate you now and always.”

There was equally a rain of congratulatory messages on BAM’s personal social media handle, particularly on her Instagram page, from home and abroad, all eulogising Binta, who is unarguably one of the few actresses in the Nigerian theatre and movie industry that has had a remarkable career, earned their spurs and enjoyed super roles on stage and on screen.

In appreciation, BAM thanked her fans, colleagues and family members for the great show of love and for standing by her all through the years.

She wrote: “I glorify Almighty Allah’s name for granting me another year on earth. It is not by my own wisdom or power, but by His grace.

“And to Him, all praises is due, as I celebrate my new year.”

A jewel on screen and on the theatre turf, the Oyo-State born actress sits pretty well on the list of the few in the Nigerian television, stage and movie industry that belong in the professional class.

She has taken part in over 800 stage and screen productions within the last two and half decades of her involvement in the thespian art, including Sergeant Okoro, Igbalandogi, Mojere and Owo Blow and is widely considered one precious talent that any good producer or director would want to have on his/her hands.

From what was just a mere fulfillment of a childhood fantasy, BAM has risen to become not only one of Nigeria’s prolific and well regarded practitioner of the thespian art, but she has also become something of an acting auntie to a number of young actresses and one practitioner who is so bonded to the arts.

Focused, determined and likeable, BAM started out in the early 1970s, but as a child actor. She recalled displaying so many stunning acting chops that got her elder brother to secure a role for her on the set of the popular television series of old, Why Worry the Barber, which was about the most watched series on television then. It took only that appearance for her to become so bonded to the arts.

Binta progressed from acting on television to acting on stage, and when action resumed on the home movie turf in the early 1990s, the versatile gap-toothed five feet tall actress, who was on the cast of the long-rested television soap by the late Amaka Igwe, Checkmate, hopped on the turf.

She has not looked back since then and has continued to samba both off and on the stage, television and movie turf.

A naturally gifted actress, BAM recalled that she made her debut as an actress on home video in the movie, Mojere. It took that appearance for movie roles, both in English and Yoruba, to come tumbling in for her.

She has lost count of her stage and screen movie credits, but reckoned she would have taken part in over 400 movies and stage productions.

Her most notable movie credits include the popular Mainframe’s production, Ti Oluwa Nile, Motherhood, Owo Ale, Ileke, Ojuju and Ile Olorogun.

An actress who is in love with her craft and has had a lot of influence on her junior colleagues, as exemplified by how she is roundly admired by younger actors, BAM has received a number of industry awards, including Best Actress by organisers of then annual REEL awards.

A proud wife and mother, outside the turf, Binta said she spends quality time with her family and still finds time to read and watch movies and hang out with friends and relations.

Asked if her involvement in the arts been rewarding, Binta paused, and replied: “Well, it has been rewarding in other respect, but definitely not financial. We still toil so much for very little. So, it has not been financially rewarding.

“Yes, it has made us famous and has provided for our upkeep, but it has not been as rewarding as a lot of people out there think. I mean there are so many people here who struggle to survive when they should be living comfortably.

“I mean, why do you have to do so many jobs just so as to survive as an actor? I probably have done more jobs than any Hollywood actress, but I cannot compare myself with any of them.

They just do one job and rest, because the pay is enough to keep them until they get something better. It is not the case here, where you have to work and work to make it.

“But one is not deterred or discouraged. This is what we have signed to do and, of course, you know there is no retirement.

So, I am going to keep doing this, get involved in a lot of productions, especially international collaborations, and keep an eye on my family.

“I will work when I want to work and give them full attention when I am not on se.”

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