The actor. who has been in the movie industry for decades, talked about his career, family and more in a new interview with Sunday Scoop.
What stirred your interest in the movie industry?
From a very young age, I had always been interested in anything that had to do with arts and culture. I grew up in Lagos Island and there were a lot of activities that went on there in those days.
Were there theatre practitioners you looked up to in those days?
Of course. There were people like Hubert Ogunde, Ojo Ladipo, aka Baba Mero, Oyin Adejobi, Ayinla Olumegbon, among others.
What was the reaction of your parents when you wanted to start acting?
There was no parent that supported their children going into theatre production in those days. Particularly in the town where I come from, religion was taken very seriously. I was also the first child, and people felt it wasn’t proper for me to become an actor. The profession was looked down on in those days, and they only respected people like doctors and lawyers. It was quite tough in those days. But I thank God that today, the story has changed.
Did you have any other ambition apart from being an actor?
I had the ambition to become a lawyer but I didn’t have the opportunity to pursue it because there was no money at that time.
Was it because of your ambition to become a lawyer that you encouraged your son, Femi, to study law?
I never discussed that with him. It was entirely his decision to study law and I supported him. As a matter of fact, my godfather, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, is a lawyer, and I named Femi after him. I worked with him as his personal assistant when he was the Federal Commissioner for Works.
What was your initial reaction when your children expressed interest in joining the movie industry?
I didn’t feel bad. I only mandated them that they should all complete their education, and whatever they wanted to do after that was entirely up to them. I don’t force them to do anything.
What advice did you give them when they wanted to join the industry?
I advised them based on my experience, and they have been following it. Even till date, whenever there is anything that they are confused about, they come to meet me and I guide them. I tutor them on how to behave, how to relate with their fans, among others. I cannot have this much experience and I wouldn’t pass it on to my children who are in the same field with me.
Has there ever been a time that you went out with Femi and more fans swarmed around him than you?
There is no father that wouldn’t be happy at such a thing because it is a thing of pride. But it’s never like that because just as fans come around him, that’s the same way they come around me.
How do you feel whenever you hear or read negative reports about your children?
Whenever I hear anything like that, the first thing I do is to find out whether it is true or not. Not everything that is written is actually true. If I find out that what they did is wrong, I have ways by which I correct them. And if they are being lied against, I would feel bad and fight against it because such things can damage their reputations.
Considering that you have a large family, how were you able to ensure that they grew up in unity and love?
It is simply the grace of God, and not by my own doing. I am happy that there is unity and love in my house; and all my children are progressing.
With the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
One thing I may have termed a mistake, but which I consider to be destiny is raising a large family.
How do you unwind?
I’ve always been dedicated to my job so I don’t really have much time to unwind. However, I like to be in the midst of my childhood friends talking and having fun. I also listen to indigenous music by people like Yusuf Olatunji, Haruna Ishola, among others. I could also decide to stay home and rest.
How do you like to dress?
I like to dress simply, neat and presentable. My life is very simple; I drive simple cars and do all my things in a simple way.