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However, many who watch him act do not know he started very early to chase his destiny in the arena he always had known since childhood.
Many do not also know that ever youthful looking Yemi who prefers to call himself a chartered actor is up to 46 years, even went to school( he has three masterís degrees) with the way he eats up the yoruba language in his films not to talk of the fact that he was a disco dancer before going to study Dramatic arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife. Seen as one of the most handsome sex symbols of the Yoruba genre of Nigerian films and known to be the ever free wheeling and dealing play boy in his films, Yemi has come a long way and in this explosive chat explains why his fans are too numerous and why they think he is a playboy among other issues. Enjoy this super story.
Training in the arts
I SEE the essence of education as a paramount perequisite to entering the motion picture industry. People should be sure to educate their minds before venturing. In fact, this is the bane of the industry. It is not enough to say that one acts, produces or directs or that one is an engineer. It goes beyond that really. I want to appeal to practitioners to open their minds and broaden their horizon. We do not just use the little we earn to buy tokunboh vehicles and glorify in the feeling that we have arrived. This is delusion we need education both in and out of the classroom. One could be coming from any background but it is incumbent on any one to train in his chosen profession. One needs to be in and outside the classroom.
In Nigeria, the theatre practise is bedeviled with all other troubles like intrigues which are cankerworm to its progress. Nigeria is a secular state but you could see at microscopic level, that people establish working relations along ethnic leanings. It is very sad to see that happen. One was trained to recognise talents as the main issue and not ethnicity. It is delivery we should hammer on.
I trained professionally. I went through the dramatic arts department of OAU Ife. People say they are Chartered Accountants so I say I am a chartered actor. I have an academic qualification to doing what I am doing today. There was something burning inside of me that made me think I was cut to be an actor. I started my social life very early. I was a disco dancer. I had seen the likes of Jimi Solanke who was my yardstick and one of the greatest actors to have come out of Africa. He still leaves in Ife. I felt I could do all that. You wonít believe that my first experience as an actor was a 45 mins monologue on stage in Ife? No one believes I had never acted before then. It was titled Crazy Youngie.
I played the passenger, driver, conductor in an imaginary bus. Any one who witnessed me in Ife then would recall.
It was an intense performance in my first year. I just looked at the stage and felt like doing that monologue. I got the script from Niji Akanni who didnít believe I could do it. He gave me the directions and blocking. After Ife, I went into other things. I went into academics. I served in NYSC at the University of Maiduguri and the Ramat Polytechnic where I taught General Studies, communications skills and literature. I moved over to Kaduna Polytechnic and taught literature, communication skills. I did a Masterís in Public Administration, another masterís from the University of Leicester in Sociology and then another in Ife which is called Masters for non social scientists. I realised that no one could employ dramatic artists then. I was teaching and needed to beef up my credentials. It was all for survival my dear.
Return from the North
I had experienced the riots twice in the north of Nigeria. My house was burnt once and I returned to salvage the situation when the coast was clear. When I discovered that the MKO elections were approaching, I had to run home because of the imminent troubles that might accompany it. Moreso, Late Sage, Alhaji Isa Kaita advised me to head for home. I saw him as a demi god in the north and he loved me so much. I had taught one of his sons at Kadpoly and he told him he wanted to meet me and I met him in his house at Angwar Shanu. He was afraid for my life in the North. I have never known a detribalized Nigeria like that. He wanted me to work for PAN in the PR department. But one of the bosses said I wonít get it because I was for the south. I did several things in Kaduna and the British Council was a regular venue every October 1st.
When I returned and was facing the so called pariah status from my friends, it was Muritala Sule who came up with a script called Ojunu (insight). But the movie didnít see the daylight even though it went to the cinema. It didnít get to the shelves. But since then, I have done several movies especially those associated with love. May be that is why most people see me as a play boy. But really I am not. It is wrong to say that that is how I behave in real life.
My mum is from Akwa Ibom. My wife is Cross River. I am a Yoruba man because it is what the society tells you about where you come from.. My father was not a full fledged yoruba man just like me but I was born and bred in Lagos. I went my elementary and post elementary in Surulere. I went to St. Thomas Aquinas Primary School and Birch Freeman Secondary school, all in Surulere along Akobi Crescent. When I saw my school a few years ago, I could not show it to my friend whom I was riding with because it was a sorry sight. Bash Ali went there too. Tunde Lemo, Deputy Director of the Central Bank also passed through the school, Rev. Tunde Joda and a lot of other great guys.
I did my A levels in the U.K. at Tyhill College in Coventry and out of rascality, one couldnít just finish up. Then I was back and headed for OSCAS, Oyo State College of Arts and Science to prepare me for Ife. It was there I met the likes of Dele Momodu, Damola Aderemi, Niyi Ayoade all big boys now. I was the dance king then.
Women women and women
I have always said that this third marriage of mine would be the last. I pray this is the last and would survive. I have promised my wife that I wonít go into another marriage. I went into an early marriage. It took me over twelve years to get into that after my first one with a girl in the North. The first marriage for me was to a Shuarab charming girl in Maiduguri whose parents wanted to Ismalize me and I refused it totally and it broke away. That second one broke away because of no fault of mine. We spent two years. But I am happy she is happy with whom ever she is with now in London. We didnít live tegether. She was in Ibadan and I lived in Lagos.
My wife now is a charming half caste whom I met at the location of Super Story. My second marriage had just collapsed and I needed to fill the gap. I asked if she would marry me, a guy who had tasted two previous marriages. I really pleaded with her and she accepted. We are blessed with a daughter.
Filmography: Shadows, Thunderbolt, Lady In The Forest, Madam Dearest, Mr Gabriel and many Yoruba movies.
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