You left what many consider certainty for uncertainty? How has it been?
Oh itís been fantastic! It has been a wonderful experience being an actor. I have been working all season hoping that one-day luck will smile on me and I will get to the height that I want to get in this profession. I know that things will take shape and things will work well in my direction. But as for the passion for the job, I donít think I will ever let go. I will remain here. This is where I belong and I will not dare deviate from it. We will stay here until we get to the top.
May be you should have stayed on as a banker. You donít seem fulfilled?
Of course I am fulfilled. I am happy here. I am only saying that there is height I want to get to that I havenít got to yet but I will surely get there. And the height I speak about is the height where I can call the shots and dictate things and not this stage where we have to rush for jobs and so on.
But you see, someone told me recently that I should have remained in the bank and that by now I would have perhaps risen to the rank of Managing Director. I mean most of my mates and younger colleagues are up there even those who entered after me, have risen to the top. But the point is that this is what I desire to do. This is where I think I belong. I may not have hit it big but doing this gives me a lot of joy. I am not regretting it. I derive joy from making people happy. I will continue to do it as long as people love what I am doing. One day I will get to the very top. Besides I am now too old to return to the bank. I am 55 and you donít expect any bank to employ me now. I should have been thinking of retirement if I was in the bank. But there is no retirement in acting. However, I am not deterred by those comments. I will continue. I have been involved in several productions that have made it big. So, I believe that things will turn around for me with God on my side.
Are your children in this too?
Yes, three of my children are involved. One is already studying mass communication. She is so passionate about becoming a director and producer. She has also been involved in a couple of productions. Her name is Hamdalat. I am very proud of her and I am looking up to her. She is very intelligent. Then there is Hafeez. He is very brilliant too. He just featured in a new television soap that I produced called Family Affairs. They are both coming up and my prayer is that they get bigger than me. And by the way Family Affairs was shown on television and on cable. Itís a mix of comedy and serious issues. I played the real role of a man who had three wives and did his best to show all of them the same level of love. It is a real life story.
Is it a Hakeem Rahman story?
No, it is not o! Please it is not. I am sure you are saying this because I act such roles. It is not my story at all. I am just married to a wife in real life. What you see me do is just make believe. Those who think that I am the character I play in real life should come to my house and see. I have only one wife for over 20 years and I love her and love her alone; I am a complete gentle man. I donít indulge in such. I believe in one-man-one-woman. I also donít believe in violence but I donít take nonsense. I am a complete open person. I am like an open book. At anytime you open me you see the facts. I donít tell lies and I donít like people who cheat. If I feel bad on the spot, I say it and wonít care who is pained
But is your wife not moved at all by all these love scenes you play?
No she is not. She is used to it and my children are used to it too. They see it as part of the job. After all that is what brings money home. If I donít play such roles, I wonít come back with school fess or rent. I actually donít have a choice to what role that I play. I am given the roles and if they feel that it is what best I can play, why should I reject it. This is job for me and not hobby.
I saw you in the trailer of a new comic series Sharp Corner? You seem to have settled for soaps?
No, not really. We do soaps too to satisfy the television audience. Not too many people get to see movies, but most households own a television set so they will get to see you somehow. But I have done well over a hundred movies and have done well over 50 soaps. I get scripts now and then. But most of the times we work to make statements not as if we make all the money. You get accessed based on the works you have done. Once they see you regularly in jobs, they use you. But I had a wonderful experience on the set of Sharp Corner. It was a pleasure working with the wonderful cast and crew that a veteran like Madu Chikwendu pulled for the series. The series will come out well and people will love it.
So do you have any regrets doing this?
I donít have any regret. I have been enjoying myself a lot and people love what I am doing and that gives me joy. So I am happy. The only problem I have is the expectation of the society. The society expects so much from you. At times when they see you ply the BRT bus for example, they think something is wrong with you. When you walk down the road, they expect something from you. I donít walk free when I enter a place like Lagos Island. Not only will I be mobbed, the boys there will extort money from me. The other pain some of us in the industry have is with the producers who donít want to pay you after a job.
Have you dropped your ambition of becoming Actors Guild President?
No, I have not. But may be not in the immediate. But, I know I deserve a shot at the top post of the actor guild having served them in various capacities including being Vice President twice and being interim President. So, I will get there when the time is ripe. It has always been one step at a time for me. No hurry at all for me in life. That is why you will never hear that I am involved in fraud or in anything that I cannot defend. I was in the bank for over 20 years and was even in-charge of treasury for many years and I was never involved in fraud. I was trained to work hard and to work for every dime I earn. Nothing will change that. Not even my ambition to get to the very top.