Actor and former interim President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Hakeem Rahman, is back from his 2-year trip to the United States of America. At an event weeks back, YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine’s JULIET IKEOKWU ran into him – and they chatted for some minutes…
I will like to know, what you are working on now?
A lot. I’ve been in about four movies since I got back from America, trying to showcase my talent again. People believe that when people travel, they tend to forget what they know how to do. But for two years, I was in America, but I am still relevant in the scheme of things. As soon as I returned, the news was all over the place and when I get to events, people don’t let me rest and it’s because I do my job well.
As a former interim president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, are you still involved in AGN politics?
No, I am an elder now in AGN. I install who should be the president. We know how to handle AGN issues. Basically, we don’t need any post to be active because we are authorities already. I’ve been the president, though interim and I’ve seen it all.
You have been acting for a while now, do you produce as well?
Yes, I’ve produced a series, Family Affair and people love it.
Why did you produce a soap and not a movie?
Soap was the in-thing when we started. I started with Checkmate and in those days, you cannot be an actor if you can’t speak good English. Nobody will listen to you. For you to be in (a) soap, you have to be vocal intelligent. Amaka Igwe will not accept you. Bolaji Dawodu, who was the director, will reject you. So, certainly, we belong to the highest authority. Soap actually gave birth to all the quality film stars that you see like RMD until later when the likes of Genevieve and others started coming out through movies. The major stars the industry is enjoying now came from soaps.
Would you say that soaps give more money to an actor than movies?
The way things are, soap is a strong way for an actor to make it in life. Because everything will be packaged and arranged within the number of scenes you will be involved in. If you are taking hundred thousand per episode and you are appearing in ten episodes, you know your money is one million. So, there is no argument. But if it’s a movie and you will do hundred scenes, they will make more money from soap than movie, especially because of piracy. Well, I am more of an actor than a producer. My producing is on the side, and I don’t intend to go into producing fully. If you are a good actor, you won’t like to produce. Because it’s a professional work. It’s not cheap. If you have a fan base, you will keep acting until people are tired of you.
Are you saying that all these actors and actresses that produce films in the industry are not good?
No; most are good, but they’ve established themselves. So, there is no going back. If you are just coming in and you want to produce, it doesn’t make any meaning to me. Let people know your worth. If you are well established, then you can go into producing and one will understand that it’s because you want to make more money. Producing can earn you more money, but professionally, it’s staying in acting. It’s not even about the money, it’s about the love, the passion for it.
But there is this belief that actors and actresses go into producing because they don’t get the roles they want. What’s your take on that?
No, it’s not about the roles. They don’t want to be rubbished. Somebody who has attained the rate of one million naira per job, somebody is pricing you one hundred, two hundred, you will feel bad. So, the next move is producing so that you start earning more.
Should it always be about the money? What about the job/script?
It’s not about the money, it should be about the passion. How can you be called a film star and you can’t drive good cars, you can’t live a better life? That’s how it’s being done abroad, you know. If you are a very big actor, you should live big. When someone is pricing you low, he is not helping you to grow. He is sending you back. So, the only way to survive is to produce and make more money. So, I wouldn’t blame them. I am not thinking of producing, I am still satisfied as an actor. I will still get roles, people will keep calling me, I will never lack money. Certainly, I am on the right track.
What’s your success secret?
My success secret is because I am in the right place, doing my right job and people love what I am doing. Anywhere I get to abroad, they celebrate me. When I was a banker, I was never celebrated like this. This job has given me exposure and doors are opened everywhere, because when they see my face they start smiling for me and from there they ask me what I want. When my son was seeking admission and it seemed difficult, I entered the university and that same day he got admitted. Because I was recognized and taken to the V.C’s office. So, that’s fulfilling.
Can you tell us more about your family?
My children are adults. The first one is doing her Masters. She is a manager in one company in Ikoyi. And my last born, Afiz Rahman is in his third year in University of Ilorin. And I am grateful to God.
God has been kind to you, what else do you wish He will do for you?
I still want to earn and live big. After struggling for so many years in this industry, doing this same job, one should be living like a real star, living in Lekki and VGC. I am praying to have one endorsement and I will go with it. For the next four, five years, I will be shooting movies on my own. I won’t be perturbed if the scripts are coming or not.
What can this new government do to help with the issue of piracy?
They should help the way Fashola did. He supported us. There was a walk we had with PMAN, where we went on the streets, collecting all the fake films. They should continue to help us. We just have to win this battle. Jonathan did his best in supporting the industry, but our people are not honest. When money comes in, people will start killing themselves because of their love for money. Then, you have segments, those who came earlier, inbetween, those who don’t belong to our group and so on. But it’s like that everywhere in the world. There are always back-stabbers and there is always division. People are hungry for positions and power and money, because when you are in a position, people want to listen to you. If Ibinabo walks in here, everybody will scatter because the president has come. Things like that are the reasons why people yearn for power. So, I wouldn’t blame them because it’s like that even in America. But we have to put our house in order. People who love us will not listen to us if we keep fighting all the time. Because we are the ones sending messages through our works, telling them what is right. But within us, we are not together. Actors Guild of Nigeria is still one, whether Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo or any other tribe, we are still one body. Nollywood is one. Whatever has been in existence must exist.
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