By Juliet Ebirim & Iyabo Aina
WHAT have you been up to lately?
So, at this time and at this point in my career, what I’m basically doing are jobs that are qualitative and definitive of the future of Nollywood. I’ve been trying to establish my own production company. My wife and I are starting a production company known as Applause Entertainment. We promise that we won’t fail in the standards of high quality that people expect from us.
Who is your wife?
My wife is Remi Ibinola Olatunji Blaq. To me, she’s the best writer in Nollywood. I’m not saying this with any sense of exaggeration. In prose, poetry, script – she’s amazing. We’re coming together to make sure we take Nollywood by storm.
What is the basis of your assertion that your wife is a good writer?
My wife wrote ‘The Distance Between’. You can look it up in the archives and it was directed by Izu Ojukwu. It starred myself, Rita Dominic, Mercy Johnson and Kalu Ikeagwu. It was shot in 2007, amazing piece of work.
She’s written works like ‘The Hunting’ for which I won an award in Ireland in 2009 or thereabout. She also has a blogspot. It’s not a statement founded on conjecture or emotional attachment. It’s a statement of fact based on antecedents.
How did you meet her?
We met sometime ago when she was about to shoot a movie entitled ‘Growing Up’. I went with a friend of mine to meet her, we spoke about the movie, I got the role and subsequently, we kept communicating. One thing led to another and here we are, many years after that and we’re still together.
How long have you been married to her?
We’ve been together for approximately eight years.
How has married life been?
It’s been interesting. I’m someone who gets easily bored and same goes for my wife. We’re both very engaging and creative people and in the core of our persons is the ability to be bored. Everyday is an adventure, we see something new and different in each other. It’s like a never-ending onion, there’s always one layer after the next.
You have a very close relationship with Juliet Ibrahim, how does your wife react to that?
She’s okay with it. My wife is a professional through and through. When we were shooting ‘The Distance Between’, my wife wrote the script. She wrote my character to have a romantic relationship with both Rita Dominic and Mercy Johnson. She was on set while we were shooting and after doing a kissing scene with Mercy Johnson, my wife called me aside and said “That kiss is not real. You need to make it real”.
She knows that as long as I’m on set, it’s my job and I’m doing the kissing not because I’m enjoying a kiss from a woman, but because it’s the character doing the kissing, not me. If I kiss a girl outside the set, I’ll have a lot of questions to answer. She knows about me and Juliet.
Was it movies that brought Juliet Ibrahim and you together?
Yes. The funny thing is I’ve heard about her, seen her and the first time we really had time to relate was when we shot the movie ‘ Corporate Operations’ with Alex Mouth in Abuja, but there was no time to bond. Shortly after that, she called me while she was in Ghana and there was this movie we were shooting ‘Number One Fan’, starring myself and her.
I went over to Ghana for the movie and that was where we really had the chance to bond. I knew her real person behind the screen, she’s nice, hardworking, dedicated and focused and those are the qualities I appreciate in a human being. We are still friends till today. I was at her birthday party sometime ago in Lagos and we had a great time partying all night long. Once again, my wife knows about it.
If you weren’t already married, would you have married Juliet; is she your kind of person?
Yes, she’s my kind of person. She’s smart, dedicated, but it’s a pity I’m not single. It’s a great thing I met my wife first and if you ask me, ‘If I had to do it all over again, would I change anything?’. I’d tell you it’s nice to be with someone with whom everyday is a new day with its own challenges, rewards and beauty. My wife is creative, crazy, lovable and she’s my love.
Your job sometimes create room for adventures which can sometimes be dangerous….?
(Cuts in) Adventure with another person is dangerous to a relationship, but when you have adventures with your wife, it’s just beautiful. Most men marry and they tend to treat their wives as their mothers, but unfortunately, that’s wrong. She’s someone you can have fun and crazy adventure with, party, talk and everything.
When you’re married, you’re not supposed to cross the Rubicon to the other side, you’re supposed to stay there and make it interesting, because marriage is a bit more challenging than relationships. It’s different day in, day out – there are challenges, there’s work, family and kids to worry about and so on. At the end of the day, when you have a good relationship with your life partner, it’s just the way to go. Everyday is a new day. (Sings – New every morning…… Laughs)
Are you saying you can never cheat on your wife?
Not at all. I never say never, but in this situation, I’m going to say ‘Never’, because one of the biggest things that destroys the joy in marriage is cheating and distrust. Once you break someone’s trust, you can never get it back. The person can tolerate you and live with you, but never trust you again and that’s something I’ll never play with.
You’ve not really been doing much movies lately?
Some actors play every role that comes their way. Sometime ago, I played a certain role that was beneath my talent as a person. Since then, I told myself that anything I’m going to be involved in will have a certain amount of quality. Quality and quantity are not synonyms, as a result I’ve not been churning out works like others.
I’ve been doing very qualitative work like Sinking Sand, A Place in the Stars, Corporate Operations and many others. I’m working on some at the moment. For me, it’s about quality, I’m saying this with all sense of modesty. My work will outlive me. When I’m gone, I want my son to say with all sense of pride “That’s my father in that movie”.
You’ve done a few Yoruba movies, how many are they compared to the English movies you’ve done?
I’ve done a couple, about three Yoruba movies. That’s no comparison at all, because I’ve done almost 300 movies. It’s a minor percentage.
To you, which is more challenging?
Every role I play is challenging because when you are acting, you’re making a departure from your person. It’s not about me playing me, but about me playing someone else. There are no small roles, only small actors. You try as much as possible to bring all of yourself into every role you play.
How much do you charge per role?
Trust me, every time I charge, I’m making enough to be able to cater for an average family in Nigeria for a year. No artiste has a specific amount, you are always flexible.
What influences your sense of style?
I’m very individual and stubborn. I’m from Ondo town in Ondo State. My people are very stubborn and by Zodiac, I’m taurian. That makes me double-stubborn. I do not go with the crowd. If I like it, I wear it. I’m not a fashionista by virtue of fashion of the moment. I wear what I like and what I feel comfortable in.
What else do you do besides acting?
I’m a voice-over artiste. I’m starting my own production house at the moment. I’m a content developer and a songwriter. I’m going to come out with my first single soon.