Having sojourned the length and breadth of the make-belief world, with a wealth of experience to his credit, seasoned actor, producer and director, Saheed Balogun, still strongly believes he is yet to be a master of the game. In this interview with Showtime Celebrity, he speaks on his acting career, politics, relationship with the Ooni of Ife and other important issues.
How would you describe your forty years in the movie industry?
Fantastic; it has been a very interesting learning process.
Would you say you are where you are supposed to be?
Yes and no. No, because I may not have all the money in the world. Yes, because some young guys are coming up now who have got what I don’t have and who have got something that was not there when I started. We have a lot of legends, instead of flaunting myself as a legend I go to the young ones and ask them to teach me what I don’t know. I’m happy to be alive in this generation because new things are springing up and I’m happy for that. If I see that you possess something good about acting, I’ll become your friend straight away. Age is just a number to me, that doesn’t mean you should disrespect me though. It means you should respect me and I will romance the good things you have done.
Aren’t you worried your contemporaries may mock you for wanting to learn from younger actors?
That is their problem. If you think learning from the young acts can put food on your table then why not do it? What I think about romancing the happening guys is that I show them some things and they show me some as well. We work together and get 100% results.
What else have you been doing to improve on your craft?
I go for seminars and private courses. I’m the president of Golden Movie Ambassadors. I plan on stopping tribe discrimination. I want oneness.
What plans do you have for retirement?
The entertainment world has no retirement age. The only thing that can stop me is my health. If I’m healthy I will keep acting. No plans for retirement, but plans for the way forward.
Entertainers usually seek public help when they are sick, don’t you think there should be a structured health plan for entertainers?
UCH in Ibadan named me the first entertainment ambassador in Nigeria because when I celebrated my birthday, I called to tell them we need to look into our health system. Many insurance companies are doing their best but they haven’t done enough for the movie industry yet. As entertainers, we lack two things which we need to look into to help us grow. We need to plan for our health. Also, many of us should look into tax payment and insurance to help us. Not all money begging is wrong. If we all have a good health insurance plan it will help a little.
How about setting up a pension scheme for actors?
Pension and insurance are two different things, if I collect my pension and I’m not healthy, where will I spend it? Pension is good but health insurance has to be there. If I used to make millions before and I don’t anymore, I have to find something doing to help myself.
Are you insinuating that acting is not lucrative?
It is lucrative. It’s the angle you look at it from. They call me ‘Yoruba actor’ but AMVCA nominated me as Best Supporting Actor in an English movie which shows how lucrative it is. If you belong to the low budget entrepreneur circle, maintain your lane. If it’s the high circle you belong to maintain your lane. All you need to do is to plan before going into it.
What’s your take on the state of the nation?
It’s funny. The only thing I thank God for whenever I walk on the street today is that even a 14-year old child can differentiate between drama and what is real. The state of the nation is not what it should be. It is terrible, especially, for entertainers and journalists. We need to be very careful what we say, who we support, who we talk to. People are now wise and they’ve got their voters card and will use it well. We should use our PVCs to claim the right thing. We shouldn’t spread false stories.
Who do you see taking the lead at the 2019 presidential elections?
That depends on the electorate. My thoughts or decision doesn’t have a say in this matter. We have about ninety million people who are qualified and ready to vote. That’s why I said we are all now wise. I don’t know who will win. I have my personal opinion, so, I will vote for the right person. Majority carries the lead. I will vote for who my conscience thinks is real.
Do you also nurse a political ambition like some of your colleagues?
No, not any time soon. But if my people want me to serve then I can’t say no. The political game is getting deadlier and I see a revolution coming. When the revolution comes, the youths and the elders will let me know.
Why do entertainers love to romance politicians ?
I really don’t know. I don’t think actors kiss politicians’ ass. If you believe in that person, go ahead. If I believe in you, why won’t I follow you? I’ll follow you because I think you have the vision to carry my mission to that greater height.
How does your nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the AMVCA 2018 make you feel?
I feel happy. It’s not by age or by how many movie roles you have done. For what I have got, I’m happy and grateful.
Why does the Yoruba movie industry seem divided?
It’s because the Yorubas are living in a noisy city, we are many.
What projects are you working on presently?
I’m working on three films now. One of which is titled ‘White field’, it was shot in Ilorin. We have about 200 deities and I’m also working on something about that. We have to show our cultures. I’m working on ‘Born to serve’, which is about Obatala, Oriki Yoruba.
You recently announced a joint project with the Ooni of Ife in Brazil. What is your relationship with him?
He’s for everybody. He’s like our father, so, my relationship with him is normal. I worship him like the great king that he is. He’s going around trying to wake things up, so, my relationship with him is cordial. He advises me a lot.
As a movie producer have you suffered piracy?
I have and I almost ran mad. I spent over 23 million on that movie and it was terrible.
What is your advice to wannabe actors?
Be focused, humble and prayerful