STAR actor, Yemi Blaq is one of the most admired Nollywood thespians. Known for his sense of professionalism, the father of one child, married to Remi Blaq (a scriptwriter and movie producer) already has over 300 movies under his belt. ENCOMIUM Weekly recently had a chat with the winner of Celebrity Takes 2 Season 2, and Sinking Sand star on his acting career, love life and sundry issues. Yemi Blaq also talked about the new movie he starred as a lead character, Spirit of the Assassin and more…
What has stardom done for you?
I see myself as a Nollywood actor, rather than a star. One of the things it has done for me is that it has opened a lot of doors.
What more do you want the industry to do for you?
I just want the industry to shoot good movies in terms of quality because it’s not just a competition in Nollywood, but the world over. We need to shoot movies that will compete favourably with the rest of the world, not only in terms of quantity but quality.
What more do you expect from Nollywood?
I need professional ethics to be in place. Like I said, we need to raise the bar. Every guild in the industry must be peopled by professionals. It is not about the actors being professionals, but every guild, including the directors, producers and all production hands. If Nollywood is made of professionals who know exactly what they are doing, only then can we compete favourably with the rest of the world.
What did you do differently to get to where you are at the moment?
I am one of those that like to do things right. Before I started, I was adequately trained and I’ve been applying what I learnt in my works.
Any special advice for up and coming actors?
They should first make sure what they are doing is the right thing. You also need to be diligent, because acting is a calling. If it’s what you’ve been called to do, you have to be diligent enough to perform well.
What are the common mistakes artists make?
Most people come into the industry because of material gains and because they want to be stars. It is about doing the job well. Acting is not all about fame. When you are famous, people expect more from you and attention is on you. This is when your flaws become visible. So, as an actor, you should make sure you avoid flaws.
How would you describe yourself because you are different things to many people? Some say you are proud, others say you are humble and homely?
It’s funny. It’s like the three blind men who went to see an elephant. When they got there, one of them touched the elephant’s nose, the other the tail and the third blind man touched the legs. But at the end of the day, they had different perceptions. So, in one way, they have described me. Yemi Blaq is proud not arrogant. He’s proud of his career, creative enterprise and family. I’m accessible if you know my home, but if you don’t, you tell a different story. I’m homely because I love my family. That’s me.
Have you had any unusual encounter with a fan before?
Yes, a lot. Some of them will call to tell you odd things. Some would send you crazy and unprintable messages. I was in Abuja sometime ago, I was actually in a hotel room. I could not see the door from where I was seated. Someone knocked at the door and a friend went to open it. All I heard from where I was sitting was a gasp, like he saw a ghost. When he returned, he said the lady at the door was stack naked! She came from the opposite room wearing nothing at all, knocking at my door. Crazy things like that happen to actors all the time (laughs).
How do you cope with such crazy fans?
You have to be grounded before you can fly. So, I wrote in one of my poems. I am very grounded. So, things like that don’t make me go gaga, because most times it’s a reaction to the characters they see me play and not my person.
You recently featured in a movie, Spirit of the Assassin, what is the film all about?
It’s about a man that. He was an assassin on a mission. He failed the first mission and was killed. So, his spirit kept returning. You can see the rest of the movie.
Who produced it?
Spirit of the Assassin, an actor movie was produced by Diamond Pictures and directed by Andy Boyo. It featured Yemi Blaq, Frederick Leonard, Constance Okoro, Hakeem Rahman, Faith Stephen, Emeka Ani and the financier himself, Andy Boyo. The Talisman, as Spirit of the Assassin is also called, was premiered amid glitz and glamour at the Maponya Mall in Soweto, South Africa on July 26, 2012. It is already showing at Sterkinekor Theatres, the largest cinema chain in South Africa. It has also showed at the Pioneer Mall in Maseru, Lesotho and the Arcades in the heart of Lusaka, the capital of Gambia.
What should we be expecting from Spirit of the Assassin?
You should expect da bomb, to borrow a cliché. It is an entirely different movie from what is on ground right now.
What were the challenges you faced while shooting this movie?
As an adventure movie, it was really challenging using explosives. It was very challenging because it was new to me. It also took us time unlike the normal Nollywood movie.
There was this particular stunt where you were on a bike and a tanker was shot behind?
That was what exactly happened. I have never ridden a bike before. So, before I got on set, I had to learn how to ride one.
How much were you paid?
I think I was paid about N600,000 three years ago for the movie. Later, I got another N200,000, after we had overshot the budget.
So, what’s the least Yemi Blaq takes at the moment?
For me as an actor, it’s not just about the money. It’s according to my preference. But I think it should be from N850,000 upwards.
Have you had cause to reject scripts on account of their not being well written and expected quality of directing?
Yes, if it’s poorly written, I’m not going to do it because my wife is a fantastic script writer. And we live in the same house. So, all the time, we read the scripts together. We also review my scripts.
What are you working on presently?
I’m still putting things together. I just shot a couple of movies, one in Ghana, one in Abuja. I am going to veer into music also. I am working on dropping my single. I am also working on producing my movie, but I need to get the funds first and also put the right minds together. I want to produce a movie that people will not like to blink when watching it.
Why have you not been doing endorsements like your colleagues?
I have not been out of it. I am waiting for the right one. I’m just trying to be careful.
How do you intend to give back to society that has given you so much?
I am partnering an international non-governmental organization, African Children Talent Discovery Foundation. I’m an ambassador with Chika Ike, Segun Arinze, Emeka Rollas and many other celebrities.
You won Celebrity Take 2 in 2010, what’s happening to the show?
I honestly think you should pose this question to the producers of the show (laughs). I was just called and asked to participate.
Prior to the time you won, we never knew you were a great dancer?
It’s not about being a good dancer, I think I’m a fast learner. It was absolutely marvelous. We had the likes of Stella Damasus, already a great dancer and singer. So, I was an under-dog. I thank God. I won. And I’m still reigning until a new dance king emerges.
Nothing much is known about your family, can you please tell us about your wife?
I’m married. My wife’s name is Remi Blaq, she is a writer and producer. She has a blog now, it’s called firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is married life?
It’s new every day. It’s full of ups and downs, but it’s exciting and marvelous. We have been married for five years.
How did your paths cross?
We met in Nollywood. She produced a movie, Growing up, which I featured. From there, we became friends and later got married.
What has kept the relationship when your colleagues’ are crashing?
It’s about compatibility and excitement. We cherish our relationship because it’s kind of spicy.
You have a child?
Yes. His name is Kay.
So, you don’t miss bachelorhood?
I don’t because of the job I do. I crave to be home after work. I miss home all the time.
You are a prolific actor, no doubt, can you still remember how many films you have shot so far?
I have lost count of the movies. It should be well over 300.
Let’s know your first 10 most popular movies.
I would say To Lust, The Distance Between, Traumatised, Letter to a Stranger, The Hunting, Spirit of the Assassin, Growing Up, Sinking Sand, the list goes on. Incidentally, my wife produced Growing up and The Distance Between.
You also do Yoruba movies?
Sure, I’ve shot Yoruba movies. The first one was Alelese. After that I shot Ewu Okolonge and Omolara Eletan. I’m a professional and a Yoruba at that. I don’t think an actor should have any limitation. Once the price is good, I’m game. I even want to shoot more movies in Yoruba.
How long have you been acting?
I have been acting professionally since 2004.
So, what does Yemi Blaq’s future look like years after?
To see my future, I need very dark glasses because it is very bright!
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, September 11, 2012