Dark skinned, pretty and with a svelte figure, 47-year-old Iretiola Doyle remains a delight on television. One of the best but experienced thespians in Nollywood; you wonder how she has remained relevant in the highly competitive entertainment industry.
“The first element would have to be grace; without which nothing much of significance can be achieved,” she explains; kicking off the interview. Also a writer, producer and presenter, her career has spanned almost 20 years in the Nigerian entertainment industry.
“Raw talent will get you through the door, but diligence; attention to detail; a positive attitude to work; the ability to be a good team player; and a certain element of pride in ones craft, will keep you in the room. I want to believe that my longevity in the industry is due to the fact that I bring these qualities to bear in the execution of my work. I’m famous for giving a star performance without the diva attitude,” she says.
Her vocation has made her enjoy fame too. There was a time she presented ‘Oge with Iretiola’, a fashion and lifestyle programme on television. Then, she was an anchor on NTA’s ‘Morning ride’ and ‘Today on STV’. Whenever Mrs. Doyle handles the microphone on any occasion as an emcee, you would be amazed at her prowess. But there are pains of fame. Can she talk about any?
“I wouldn’t call them pains per se. There is always a price to pay for the things we want. If there is any downside at all, it would be the loss of privacy, which is an oxymoron given one’s career choice.
“Another downside is constantly being placed on a pedestal and being held up to ridiculous standards in everything— the way we look; what we wear; the quality of weave; the way we speak and conduct ourselves in public (and private). It’s a lot of unnecessary pressure,” she says.
Married to renowned veteran actor, Patrick Doyle, Iretiola, whose role in popular television soap, ‘Tinsel’, gets applause, says of her marriage:
“Patrick and I have a similar mindset to our careers —first of all its work. It’s what we do to send our kids through school and put food on the table. The fame and celebrity are things that come with the job. To my mind, simply another tool to use for advancement. When you view it like that, it helps to keep things in healthy perspective.” According to Doyle, marriage was not on her mind when she met her husband of 12 years: “I met him at my first official audition in Lagos State because I had done a production in Jos, Plateau State, before then. School was shut for a very long time. I was bored, I told a friend this is what I wanted to do and she said, ‘I have somebody who can help, let us go to him.’ We went and he said there was an audition the following week. He asked me to come and try if I could get the role. I was auditioned, got the job and we started working together. We got along well but marriage came later,” she reminisces.
But despite the skepticism when they were getting married 12 years ago, the union still stands and remains scandal-free. This is unlike what obtains in most celebrity marriages, so what is their success secret?
“No secrets,” she replies amid smiles. “Grace; communication; mutual respect and compromise are the inherent ingredients. A marriage is a very complex thing and takes a whole lot of work and commitment. Also, a marriage is between two people; therefore, the issues therein should remain between the two people. Sometimes, things get rough and you need intervention, but as much as possible, what goes on between a couple should stay between them. It’s not like we never have issues, we just try not to resolve in public.”
Quite busy, how does she juggle home, business and then, acting, for a balanced lifestyle? “It’s easier these days now that the kids are, for the most part, grown and can do basic things for themselves. My formula has always been the same. I have a small group of trusted personnel who pick up the slack when I can’t be in two places at the same time. I run a peculiar work schedule. There are times when the hours are long and the days intense. On the other hand, there are other times, when in-between projects for instance, when for days on end, I am doing nothing but being wife and mommy. When I am working, I give 150 per cent of my focus and attention to that; and when I’m with my family or indulging in some “me time,” the same rule applies,” she says.
Wondering what kind of man her husband is? She brings you to his world: “Patrick Doyle is a gentleman, easy going and pretty laid back. He’s a family man, who, when not out working, is likely to be found in his room watching TV; reading or engaged in some intellectual discourse with his kids. He has a keen mind and is very good at what he does. He has over thirty years experience in the industry and is the creative brain behind several successful Nigerian TV and live shows,” she says.
Not young in age, how has she maintained this young looks?
She responds amid laughter, “Age is relevant these days but again, I adduce my looks to grace. I can’t take credit for something I didn’t create. I guess I will also have to thank my parents for passing on to me great genes. Special diet? No, we all know the drill— do all things in moderation although lately I’ve been binging on chocolates and it’s beginning to tell! I hit the gym only when I need to address any particular area that has become ‘problematic’ but I find other ways to stay active. I indulge in swimming, dancing vigorously round my house, walking instead of riding and other things. I eat everything and thoroughly enjoy a good meal, especially if it’s accompanied with great company.”
On fashion, she explains what dictates what she wears: “The main considerations would have to be comfort and functionality. Then, where I am going; what is expected of me and what time of day the event is—am I a spectator or an active participant? The answers to these questions will determine my choice. Can I be described as fashionable? Yes, I think so. Or better still let’s use the word stylish as I am not big on fashion trends. Now, you may or may not agree with my definition or interpretation of style, but I most certainly have developed something over the years that is totally all my own.”
What is her definition of style? “Laid back, oftentimes, subtle, but always elegant and classy,” she enthuses.
Leisure, for her, is: “I love to read, I love to travel and I relax by spending quality time in good spas. I enjoy spending time with my kids, and a few choice friends.”
Described as an ‘actor’s actor’ by her peers; Doyle believes she has started living her dreams. “All I ask is for the good Lord to continue to increase and consolidate the many good things He has blessed me with because I am living my dreams,” she says.