Suave Nollywood actor, Yemi Olatunji, better known as Yemi Blaq, is well known for his acting prowess, which makes him one of the most talented and professional actors in the movie industry. In an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, he told us what has been happening to him since he started his career as a movie actor, his passion for music and how he’s going to pursue it.
What has been happening to Yemi Blaq?
I have been doing a couple of things, trying to make sure that I work in the background to make sure that whatever comes out would be something worthy of my brand, my name and the reputation that had been set up over the years.
So, basically, it’s been working behind the scene to make sure I have enough. Check out a place in the star ‘, check out Eko the blessing of Olofin and a couple of other projects are in the works, they are being edited. So, it’s just been work mostly on projects that are worthwhile so that when they come out they can stand the test of time. So basically that’s what has been going on.
Aside acting, is there any other thing that put food on your table?
Aside acting, I’m a voiceover artist and a content developer, those are the things I do at the moment but I’m going to add music to my repertoire and that’s something I’m very passionate about, it’s something I believe that I have more and modest abilities.
The Bible even says that you should not be lazy with your talent. So, I’m trying to come out with something that would not soil my name, something that would make Yemi Blaq remain a brand over the years.
Looking back at all the movies you have featured in, which one can you say is your favourite and why?
I always tell interviewers that I find every movie role challenging, because its always a departure from my real self, it’s me being someone else and it’s not easy being someone else and being true to the person you are portraying. So, it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, and over the years, I have had an handful of favourites, one of them is The Distance Between written by my wife and co-produced by her in 2007.
Also a Letters to a Stranger that is the movie I shot with Genevieve Nnaji a romantic comedy and after there that, I featured in Hunting also written by my wife, a fantastic script writer and producer. So, these have been my favourites so far and then Sinking Sands a movie by (Leila Jancy) a Ghanaian director. She really did well putting the story together and we tried to portray the characters. Its a really beautiful piece. You might want to see that too, so these have been the ones I really have found worthy of mention over the years, among others.
What about the most challenging?
I find every role challenging but some are more than others. I think one of the movies I found the role challenging is The imposter. This is a movie in which I played twins and both of them grew up in different circumstances with different influences that count for their behavior. Both of them got into a situation where they had to pretend to be the other person.
In fact, it was really very confusing for me but I kept trying to make sure that my head was in there. I was on the spot, I was in the zone at that time and I won Zumo Awards best actor of the year for that movie. I think it was 2012 or so, hard work payed off.
Can you recall your first experience on set?
My first experience on set was with Obi Osotule and Mathias Agbo in Benin city. They were shooting this movie The unseen eyes and I had gone there to just flex my acting muscles. I got on set with the rest of the people who came for the audition and we started reading.
Immediately I got in there they called me Steve and I said but my name is not Steve, I’m Yemi Blaq and they said, no you are not Yemi Blaq. I got quiet worried because I didn’t get where the whole Steve thing was coming from. I later got to know Steve was a character I really looked like in their mind. To cut the story short. I read the script and at the end of the day, I played the character. I was supposed to be paid N2,000 but I guess that is bad debt now. So that is the story of my first time on set, it was a great time, I shot it with Ini Edo, and Emeka Enyiocha. It was a great experience.
What would you say are your achievements in your six years of acting?
In six years of acting, my achievement is being able to carve myself as not just a national brand but an international brand to get fulfillment for my talent because one award I won was based on the fact, that I have been doing a good job, people I meet on the streets the way they appreciate me has been more than enough verification of my talent and the vindication of my interest and my time. That is the most beautiful thing that can happen to a human being, knowing your field and you invest your time and skill and everything, and people turn around and say wow! Good job! So, that’s my greatest reward.
What is your opinion about the state of the industry?
Nollywood is coming of age and gradually we are growing in leaps and bounds and we are getting to some stage where the world is watching and there is only one place to go now, that is to totally explode and get to the top. I know that sort of thing is going to happen, we have seen it happen in the music industry where artistes are making music videos that are very explosive.
Making music the world is reckoning with, they are getting paid for the talent, getting awards abroad and everything, so definitely that is where we are going now. Our music artistes are not just getting awards from Africans in the diaspora they are actually getting international and that’s where we are going very soon. Nollywood is positioning to get there as well, so it’s just a matter of time, in a short while I am very certain.
Tell us about your wife, children and where you come from?
My family is amazing. I have a very sporty wife, very smart and very talented. Watch out for her because very soon she’s going to blow. I mean that literarily she’s going to explode in your faces. You are going to seek her name out, Remi Ibilola Olatunji and trust me she’s one of the best writes and a marvellous producer and writers film maker.
I have a son who’s very talented and he’s already showing great talent as a writer and song writer. We are five in my family, my parents are still very much alive, I have two brothers and two sisters. I’m from Ondo Town.
Which do you find fulfilling between producing and acting?
I find acting fulfilling, I have not produced before, my wife is the producer and every time she talks about her work you will see how passionate she is about being the producer. For me, I’m not much of a producer. The more I think about it the more I realize that maybe I would like to be an executive producer or an associate where I can source funds for production. I like acting and I believe I have flair for directing which I would explore soon, but above all I love acting. Being in front of the camera, bringing out a character to life is just my thing. I also love music as well. I breathe it. I eat it. It’s just my life and I love to write musicals, these are my passion.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by life, I’m inspired by the totality of life, just walking around in the morning and seeing a caterpillar on the tree just going about its business, looking at human beings, how they react to each other and how real the cycle of life, the rain, the sun and singing and crying and happiness and anguish of the whole cycle of life.
I am an observer of life. I’m always looking at people, always trying to make sure I understand their motivations, thoughts, and intents it and helps me to be able to translate it into my work.
You acted a lead role as Olofin in the story of Eko, how did you arrive at that?
As for the job of Eko, I was shooting in Asaba then, Wale called me and said he was working on a project, a Lagos state project and I wasn’t sure that I was going to be chanced to be there because I had a couple of movies lined up but he still gave me the script to read and I liked it.
I like the language, it was grand, it was like a poetry and it was in Yoruba. So we started from there and at the end of the day we arrived, shot it and I know that it’s going to be something beautiful when it comes out. You will like it because it is not like something that’s been done before. It’s totally different in Yoruba genre I’m so looking forward to it.
Tell us what people don’t know about Yemi Blaq?
There are lot of things people don’t know about me. I’m a mysterious kind of person and will rather keep it that way. So the things they don’t know are the things they probably might never know – but one thing I would say is I love music a lot.
I’m sold to it, I just love being in the studio, its very stimulating for me when the instrumentals are being played. So, that’s what people probably don’t know about me.