Actor, Paul Obazele, speaks to Joy Marcus about the film industry and other issues
Who gave you your first opportunity in the film industry?
I will always give credit to some great men who pushed me so much into television. I cannot forget Chris Rapu because he asked someone to give me a script and after that, producers started flooding me with scripts. After about seven movies, I decided to shoot my own movie. That was how the movie roles started coming in until I had to say no because at that time, if you acted a particular role well, people would call you up to do the same thing over and again. After some years, I became the president of the Association of Movie producers (AMP).
There have been allegations that some producers demand sex for roles. How rampant is this?
Those who are complaining that producers ask for sex should check how they dress to auditions. I am not supporting the producers but the fact still remains that no reasonable producer or director will reject an actor who can deliver because she has refused to give him sex. Some ladies dress in a way that would make producers and directors ‘hunt’ them. The funny thing is that those producers and directors will go after them and after they finish, they would drop them because they had sold themselves cheaply.
When you were president, AMP how did you correct this?
When I was president, the disciplinary committee invited people alleged to have acted inappropriately and we had a relationship with the censors board. If any producer was reported, we investigated and if the allegation was found to be true, their movie would not be censored. Of course, that would make the producer to have a rethink. However, the people in leadership now do not understand that. They are just like a dog that can’t bite. During my time, we had a task force that made sure things were done properly, but now, they don’t have anything like that. They are just interested in playing politics.
It is also believed that the industry has been taken over by homosexuals. What’s your take on this?
I have said it times without number that the industry is controlled by gays and lesbians; I am not hiding it. It is obvious and known. Even some television owners are gays and lesbians, and that is satanic. When I was president of the AMP, I published their names. Saying you were born a homosexual is a lie.
You seem to have disappeared from the scene lately. Why is this so?
I have not disappeared; I shoot my movies. I just shot two movies with Frank Rajah. One is titled, The Lamp and the other is The Creek. It will have an international premiere and it is the most expensive movie in Africa because it was shot with N160m. The film would also be premiered in Canada, USA, Germany and France. Then, we will come back to Africa. I like to carefully select the things I do and I don’t like to jump into movies; because if it is not a family-oriented story, I won’t do it. I am not longing to kiss anybody on television because my wife is enough for me to kiss. We should not leave our stories and start telling other people’s stories. Meanwhile, the Americans want to hear our own story. America is great today because they preserved and told their stories. I am not a racist but I just feel that we can’t be great until we look inward. That is why the white man looked into Nollywood and called us a phenomenon because we told our story our own way. These days, you find people speaking with foreign accents; meanwhile, they don’t even know what a foreign country looks like. But when the white man wants to shoot a movie about Nigeria, they would bring in someone with a Nigerian accent. When I was the president of the association, countries, such as France, brought in people to understudy Nollywood and they went to the University of Benin and University of Ibadan.
How did you meet you wife?
I met her when I went to do a transaction in the bank. I finished a shoot and I was given a cheque but when I went to the bank to cash it; they couldn’t pay me and at that time, I didn’t have any money with me. I remembered that the branch manager was my friend and I decided to go and see her. But she was on her annual leave and my wife was the one on the desk on relief duty. She refused to pay me because it was a post-dated cheque and I felt insulted. So, I decided that I was going to sleep with her and dump her. Eventually, we became friends and since then, we have been overcoming storms together and we are thankful for our lives.
What were some of the storms you overcame?
Eating late night food and walking too fast. When I realise that I am walking too fast, I just slow down because someone is beside me.
Who are your closest friends in the industry?
Zack Orji and I are very good friends. In fact, people call us ‘five and six’. Also, Chico Ejiro, Zeb Ejiro, Francis Duru, Ngozi Ezeonu and so many people who have worked closely with me.
How do you love to dress?
My wife dresses me. She picks whatever I wear. I dress anyway my wife wants me to dress.