Two of the things I’m most thankful for in this life are food and photographs. Food has nothing to do with this post, however – just wanted to put it out there that I love food. Thankfully, Deola our midnight parrot always plugs me to the latest with her Talku Talku Foodie segment. As to why I’m thankful for photographs, it’s because of creatives like the multi-talented Damilola Kusamotu who handle a camera or a smartphone to create moments of magic.
Photographs are just simply amazing. No matter what is photographed, or how terrible the quality is, I always marvel at the fact that a moment could be captured for life. Then you have incredible photographers like Damilola Kusamotu who make them into beautiful works of art. Damilola is more than just a photographer though. Her talents and her portfolio put her above those of us that are still “upcoming”, but her focus and drive shows that she still wants more.
“The path chose me,” says Damilola Kusamotu
Damilola Kusamotu studied Linguistics and Nigerian Languages at the University of Ilorin. She now plies her trade in the acting scene, alongside owning a small beauty business and being a full-time fine arts photographer. As a photographer, Damilola likes to tell stories with her pictures. She sees the moments, feels them, and captures those moments in time to immortalise them, and they make for some really cool art.
As stated earlier, Damilola Kusamotu is more than just a fine arts photographer. Damilola is a multi-faceted creative and entrepreneur. She’s a young lady who oozes confidence that attracts people. She has got a lot going on for her and is well on her way to taking over the world with all the talents at her disposal.
My first encounter with her work was on Instagram as I was looking for a particular kind of photographer for a personal project. After falling in love with her photography, I just knew that I had to put on my famzing hat and go after her. I pursued further to find out what makes her tick and finally got her to agree to a chat. Here’s my discussion with the very interesting Damilola Kusamotu below.
Let’s meet you, Damilola
Hi, good evening. My name is Kusamotu Damilola Temitope Akankemi (laughs). I’m a Yoruba girl from Osun State. I’m a creative – I act, I’m a costume designer and I’m also an entrepreneur, and finally, I’m a fine arts photographer.
It’s a pleasure to meet you, Damilola. Now tell me, why did you choose this life?
So, I think the path chose me, because ever since I was little – like as little as primary school – I used to dance in all those activities. My mum even had to take me away from that school because she felt that I was being distracted at that level. In secondary school, I was already acting on stage and it was a big thing. Like, every time I act, people would call me the character name for a while. So, then, I was even big (chuckles).
Coming out of school [university], I always knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I didn’t hold back. Immediately – like a week after university – I went straight into production. I didn’t even take time. I knew what I wanted to do and I chased it with every single thing that I have.
You’re, like, everywhere now (laughs). So how did you get started on these paths which you currently walk?
I think for you to find your way, you have to try things out. You have to. I knew I wanted to act and I didn’t know anybody in the entertainment industry. And I was a young girl again, so I could easily fall into the hands of all those, “Come, let me sleep with you and you’ll get a role,” people.
So I thought, “What can I start with?” I’m a very realistic person. I have very huge dreams, but I like to come down to the present and say, “Okay, what’s in my front? What can I do, what can I achieve with the resources I have?” So I asked myself this question and I started as a PA – production assistant.
I was in production teams, I served food to crew members, and doing all these, I realised, “Oh, I don’t like this department. I’d love to be part of this department.” Eventually, I ended up in costume designing and it has been amazing because I have learnt a lot. And I only learnt because, at every opportunity I had, I made sure I worked really hard. Because when you don’t shy away from work, you’ll learn.
In every department, I was doing way more than I had to do because I wanted to learn and I wanted people to give me more work so that I could learn. Maybe someday, I will share more experiences, but hard work and perseverance made me discover this path.
You’re a tough one, Damilola. That’s very sexy (laughs). So tell me about the best and worst experiences you’ve had so far.
This question is funny (laughs). Okay, so my best experience is the learning I do. I love learning. When I’m in the midst of people who are talking about things I don’t know anything about, I keep quiet and listen. Because learning is so fun and intriguing. One minute I don’t know about something, and the next minute, I’m an expert. It’s really very nice. It’s very amazing to me.
Then, worst experience (sighs). As a crew member, you work hard. And sometimes, people look down on crew members so I’ve had my worst experiences as a crew member. But I just see them as one of those things.
One of those things, indeed. Okay, so you’re everywhere like I said earlier, so what are the challenges you face as a multi-faceted creative?
I have a lot of challenges, right? When I tell people what I do, they’re like, “Wow, you do a lot.” Meanwhile, these are all part of me. They’re all part of Kusamotu Damilola – all part of Kusa. So I can’t shy away from them because I want to please people or something. So, the challenges I face are what to do at these moments. But like I said before, I’m a very realistic person. I’m an actor, a costume designer and a fine arts photographer. Whatever is in my front is what I go for.
Safe to say you don’t have many challenges then?
You could say that (laughs). Because I use what I have to get what I need. Not in the way that statement is usually used; I mean my skills.
Listen to Talku Talku Short Tory Episode 15: Love, My Way
Awesome. I have to ask, though: the failure rate in the creative industry is very high. Why don’t you just do something else?
I’ve never seen myself doing anything else ever since I knew what I wanted to do because it’s either passion or nothing for me. I am a creative. If I don’t create, I won’t be fulfilled. And if I don’t feel fulfilled, I won’t be happy.
I tell myself that, if I don’t get to where I want to get to, I’ll be happy because that happiness will come from doing what makes me feel fulfilled. That’s why I can’t do something else. I’m a creative and I have to create. If I’m not creating, then what am I doing?
And I know this is a cliché, but passion is important. Passion can die without work. I have my passion and dreams, but the work I put in it to make that passion and dream come true, ehn! Hmm. It’s not funny. Sometimes I don’t even like to use the word passion [in discussions] because where’s the work?
Preach, sister! (laughs) What are your aspirations as a creative person?
I love this question (chuckles). So like I said, I’m a girl who’s big on dreams. And that is because I’m a child of grace. Anything I want, I can achieve it by God’s grace and hard work. These two are my go-to magics. My mum died when I was little and my dad has been there emotionally, but not so much financially. So I’ve had to work twice as hard. It has made me sharpen my dreams. So as an actor, I want to be in Nollywood. I would also like to direct a movie because of my creative vision.
And as a fine arts photographer, I’d love to have my own website and showcase clients like Nike, Fenty, Beyonce. You know, international brands. Because big photographers have liked my pictures on Instagram and when I go to their websites, I am wowed. I want that too. I want my art to be in galleries, to be featured in auctions.
Long after I’m dead, I want my art to be sold for millions of dollars at big auction events. That’s also why I’m not selling my photographs at small rates because I don’t want to make many copies. I want them to be in the hands of the creme de la creme of society so that it can be worth more.
And by God’s grace and with hard work, I know opportunities will meet me right where I want them. Yes.
Amen! Will definitely be looking forward to all your exploits.
Thank you (laughs).
Tell me about any projects you’ve done and any I can look forward to.
Okay, so projects I’ve done. Hmm. I have done a lot, as a crew member, that is. One of the stories I worked on was Òlòturé – I was a chaperon on that. Citation is another one I worked on as a costume designer. I acted on Castle & Castle as you already know.
There’s also Quam’s Money. I was a costume designer on it too. It has been really nice. There are some that I’ve done that I can’t talk about now because their promos haven’t started yet. For my photography, I share them as I do them on my social media feed. But this November, I can feel something coming. Just watch my space this month.