TOP Nollywood actor, Ayo Badmus has spoken like never before on issues affecting the industry. He also opened up on his endorsement deal with Novesa London, alleged marriage hiccups and much more when ENCOMIUM Weekly cornered him at an event in Ikeja, Lagos, on Friday, February 13, 2015.
Your fans are complaining they don’t see you in movies any longer, what’s really happening to your career?
Yes, I agree with you but people will see more of me very soon. I did a lot of work recently. Also, I am doing a lot to correct some of the things that are not right in the industry. I am coming out now with a difference because all of us can’t sleep and face the same direction. We need diversity in our thinking as well. So, all is about moving forward. It’s about making our production standard. It’s all about repackaging the industry, including the marketing aspect. So, I, Ayodele Badmus is ready to go all out now to start working on all these aforementioned areas. I personally don’t like embarrassing myself by appearing in all sorts of movies. No, I think I should be far above that now. My fans should not just worry at all, very soon they will all be seeing me, enjoying my art. I am aware both young and old are clamouring to see me. I was shocked that even a five year-old girl wanted to see me in movies even more than ever before. You can imagine, the girl stopped me on the road and told me in a friendly manner, ‘Sir, I want to see you in a movie.’ I said okay, I will be there very soon. That’s why I am working now very seriously on a new production.
When last did you take part in a movie production?
That’s last two weeks. I have stopped appearing in movies like before because I have realized it’s not good at all. To say the truth, there are lots of factors I personally considered that actually informed my decision to lie low a little. If you will bear me witness, you will understand that in recent times, the marketing of some of our jobs has been poor. Production and branding are also poor. All you know is see yourself on locations, recording and shooting every day. But at the end of the day, what do you gain? If the production itself can’t bring you money, marketing is also nothing to write home about. So, what’s the actor or producer going to use for the next production? Everybody in the industry knows what I am saying. There is nothing to hide at all, unless we want to start deceiving ourselves. That’s why I withdrew from being part of the mess. I think it’s up to four years I withdrew from the regular production we’re known with. It doesn’t make sense. My effort as a producer can’t just be on that VCD or DVD that you see in Oshodi or elsewhere selling for N100. If a movie is released today, before the close of the day you will see the pirated copies on the streets of Lagos being sold for as cheap as N100. So, what’s the essence of laboring on a movie that even at times will be released by pirates before the original release date by marketers?
What do you intend doing to replace that…
A lot. Stage performance is there. And now, I have gone for film directing. I have other projects I am working on but I don’t just believe in writing them out for fun. Seeing is believing. Let the time come, people will see everything I am working on. I don’t need to make noise about anything, but I believe, very soon, things will take proper shape.
What do you think is the major cause of poverty in the industry?
Actually, what we do is called make-belief. I used to go to red carpet and move around, well dressed and all that. But later I stopped because it’s all make-belief. It’s not real at all. Our take home is very poor, due to what I have just mentioned – poor marketing and distribution. Then, piracy which is milking us dry. So, things are so bad that it’s very difficult to recoup your money after investing so much in a movie. Everything is basically because of the poor structure we’re using. Our structure is terrible. There is nothing you can do when your flick has been pirated. It’s just a matter of demand and supply. When people don’t buy your products, how will you supply more of these products? And this is because they have been pirated even before you released the jobs. And some Nigerians patronizing these pirates don’t care if you don’t make any profit. They’re only there for anything cheap, they don’t care about quality.
There was a time somebody told me over 90 per cent of our movies are being pirated. It’s terrible. We can’t move forward with that kind of situation. And to worsen it all, the system is corrupt already. If you even arrest these pirates today, the police will release them the next day. If you like take soldiers to arrest them, you can’t succeed. These guys are so powerful and rich that whoever goes to Alaba to arrest them will come back laughing. And you that’s the original owner of the job will go back home crying because you’re left with nothing. And shooting the next movie is not possible. That’s the problem. Actors are poorly paid and when you see them you think they have all the millions of this world.
Why is it that some of you actors enjoy fake lifestyle?
It’s very unfortunate that is what some of us enjoy. I remember, when Tunde Kelani produced a movie, Abeni, my character in that movie was what most of my fans loved so much. It was that of an American returnee who had all the gadgets, wears and all the swags. And some of my fans expected me to be dressing just like that outside. After the production, I found it difficult to get out of the character. It took about two weeks to get that character out of me. And I became the original Ayo Badmus again. If you watch all these so-called English movies, I can mention two or three actors who still behave the way they behave in the films. There is one of them who speaks like an American, yet he is Igbo. In the movie, he dresses, moves like an American. They call him Bad Boy of Nollywood. You can’t differentiate him in real life from his character in movies. Left to me, I call it fake lifestyle. You even see most of our musicians speak in deep American accent, British accent and all that. And the funniest thing is that most of them have never travelled out of this country. You see only one person speaking in deep American accent, British accent, South African accent, let me tell you, it’s nothing but fake. That’s our major problem. A lot of these people don’t even have cars, they don’t have houses let alone paying rent.
Does that mean Ayo Badmus is also poor because a lot of people can’t believe you don’t have money?
You can’t take me out of the industry. I am also part of the system. No matter how we see it, we still have rich people in the industry, who quickly identified all I am saying and tried not to remain in that shallow water. Right now, I thank God, I have a laid down procedure on whatever I want to do. And by the time I am through with that, I want to be richer. I am not condemning anybody, I thought we’re going to move together as a team but that’s not the case right now, everybody has to move individually.
Which association do you really belong to, now that the industry has been divided into many groups?
My brother, I am totally confused now. Before I could even hear about the split, it took a very long time. Somebody just told me somewhere that the house wasn’t one again, and I was like shocked. Now Yoruba sector alone has been divided into about four associations. Then, I begin to worry because when we were even one family, we couldn’t do it. Left to me, I believe we all still need to come together as one big family so that we can be stronger. It’s not about splitting, it’s all about coming together and do something positive. Some of us have been beating this warning for a long time. We need change. We need to move forward. We can’t afford to remain on the same spot. We also need to take into consideration the way the world is moving technologically. For instance, in our industry, it was first by celluloid. Then after sometimes, VHS came, followed by VCD and DVD. Now, people don’t even need to buy DVD before they watch your movie. They can just download everything in their mobile phones. So, we ought to have thought of this, planned for the rainy day. We have been talking about cinemas since, which is the major solution now. But if you have to go to cinemas, you must go with a good film.
How much do you think a producer needs to shoot a good movie?
You just have to shoot correct and proper film. It doesn’t have to do with cost. There is one crazy thing about our people, everybody wants to do a premiere. They don’t even know the meaning. Premiere is not a thing you will invite people to come and dance, sell Ankara aso ebi and all that. It’s wrong but it’s difficult to correct. And why are they doing that? It’s just to raise money. I think it shouldn’t be about premiere but a good film that one can boast of taking to the cinemas. And by doing that, you will surely make your money back.
You’re the face of Novesa London, how often do you renew the contract and how much have you collected so far?
Renewal of the contract depends on the owner of the brand. I was contacted by the manager this year because I have done it twice just for one day each. We have both enjoyed ourselves. But this year happened to be the first time I met the owner. He is a young man from New York. Of course, he started from UK. But he wants the brand to grow in Nigeria and establish some branches here as well, including Abuja and Port Harcourt, Rivers State. This time around, I signed one month with the brand. It covers the valentine period during which all their products I will be wearing must have a touch of red if not red completely. As a celebrity, I would be kitted up in their wears, including shoes. And I will be taking pictures with a lot of couples that will patronize the outfit that day. I will be treating them politely. Then after the valentine, we’re going to discuss the renewal of the contract.
Let’s be a little private, what’s really going on concerning your marriage to your nurse lover? Not much is heard about you again as a couple, why?
I was at Abeokuta during All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign. I was beside Buhari when he answered a similar question. He just told the crowd that not moving around with his wife is what his wife wants. He said his wife wants to be quiet. And that’s exactly what my wife also wants. I don’t want to be discussing our relationship on the pages of newspapers or magazines again.
But a lot of people are saying things are no longer at ease between both of you and that’s why you no longer step out with her…
It’s a lie. There is nothing like that.
Has she given you any child since you married her?
I have two children already. One before I met her and one from her. She had a child for me about eight years ago but my first born is in London. Now, we’re expecting one more from God.
Is she pregnant now?
I don’t want to talk about that.
But we learnt she suffered miscarriage recently, how true is that?
She actually had a miscarriage recently but we have put that behind us. Although, it’s a painful experience, we can’t query God. We believe He will surely give us another baby.
– TADE ASIFAT