SEASONED comic actor, Afeez Oyetoro is sure counting his blessings. He is one of the rave of the moment because of the numerous mouth-watering endorsements that have been coming his way. Saka, as he is popularly called has spent a decade in the make-believe world doing what he knows how to do best. ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with the soon-to-be Ph.D holder on life, family, telecommunication brand ambassadorship and much more…
Looking back to when you started your acting career, would you say the journey has been fulfilling?
Yes, to the glory of God.
What were the challenges in the course of attaining this height?
The normal challenges of trying to grow up, trying to get your desired goal, distractions, psychological distraction here and there. It is normal that when you want to achieve something, you have to work hard for it. I thank God that He gave me the grace to force ahead despite the challenges.
It seems that you feature more in comedy movies, why? Should we expect to see you taking other roles as well?
You are right but it does not mean that I cannot play other roles. I am a theatre practitioner. When I was in school, I was playing serious roles. It is just that here in Nigeria, directors and producers don’t want to spend money. Anyway, I don’t blame them, there is no resources. Under normal circumstances, we are to spend five weeks on location but because of the inadequate resources, we spend five days. They also want ready-made materials. They are supposed to call for auditions, then work on characters. They can’t because the resource to do that is not available. That is why we see the same set of cast in almost all our movies. I have tried to reduce my appearance in movies. I have a lot of scripts on my table. I diplomatically rejected most of them. I am tired of repeating roles I have taken before. I take roles that are challenging even on comedy.
What is the secret of your success, you have been receiving awards and endorsements for a couple of years now?
The secret is God, the giver of creativity, the giver of wisdom to identify one’s potential. He gives you all those gifts and enables you go ahead with it. If you have the potential and there is no energy, there is no way you can achieve your goals. It is God, I will also attribute it to hard work.
Are you planning to produce your own movie one day?
Yes, television production, so to say. It is already in process. It was shot in London. We are planning the conclusion in Nigeria. Produced by myself and my intimate friend, Mr. Windapo, he is my former head of department at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos. The story is entitled, We-We. We did part of it in London. By the grace of God, before the year comes to a close, we will finish shooting remaining part.
In terms of material well being, how has all the endorsements you have gotten over the years impacted on your lifestyle?
When you start a business on a small scale, after a while, it will grow and you will see tangible progress in it. Likewise, your material well being will increase. To the glory of God, things are working well. I eat what I want now, not what I see unlike before when I started 20 years ago. Apart from that, I am a lecturer. I have a steady income. I am not a millionaire but I am not hungry. I pray that my situation will be better.
Which car do you drive and where do you live?
Like I told you, I am not a millionaire, I am an average Nigerian. I am driving a Maxima 2004 model. I live in the quarters the school gave me. I pray that very soon, I will move to my own house. I am trying to do it according to my pocket.
When are you building your own house?
When God gives me the go ahead. There is a process going on because I am not a millionaire, I cannot start a house now and finish it immediately. When God says, I will finish it, I will move into it.
Tell us about your family, your wife and children.
My wife is a very fantastic woman. She is more than a wife. She is my sister, mother, my very good friend. My real lover, the woman who has turned my house to a home. She is my source of happiness. God has given me the grace to meet the woman that shares my vision. The greatest mistake a man can make is to marry a woman who does not share in his vision. I thank God that He gave me a woman who believes in my vision 100 per cent. She is another joy in my life. Her name is Laide Oyetoro. She is a businesswoman. She studied Mathematics but had to resign so that she can have time for the children at home. She has shops where she sells children things. God blessed us with three wonderful gifts. They are my very good friends, two boys and a girl. The eldest is nine years, the last born is four. I got married late but I thank God they are doing well. The first is Abdullahi, Rufiat, Munim. They are doing well in their schools. I thank God for their lives.
Why did you marry so late?
I married when I was above 40. I thought of the comfort before getting married. I don’t want to be a liability to any family member. I got married when I was ready to get married. As an artist, I was moving up and down. I did not have a stable life until I was a bit comfortable. When you take the wrong step, it can lead to an everlasting problem. To the glory of God, I can feed my family, pay their bills, that is more important to me.
Since you got this MTN endorsement, as anything changed about you?
I don’t want to say anything about MTN. Very soon, I will do that.
You are a lecturer, father, husband, actor, how do you balance everything?
Thank God for everything. He is the organizer of people’s lives. He has given me the grace and I am able to plan everything well. I lecture Theatre Arts, it is the same thing I practice. Whenever I go out, I gain more experience to enhance my teaching methodology. Apart from that, the organization that I am working with cares a lot for staffer’s development, the college encourage us to go out for conferences, seminars. I have been sponsored by the college to go for conferences outside the country several times, it is a very easy thing for me.
As far as my home is concerned, I feel so confident that my wife is taking care of the home. The children are safe, everything is stable. There is no challenge in that regard.
How far have you gone with your Ph.D programme?
I just finished my first year. I am now in my second year. I am still working on the field, collating data here and there. My project is on stand-up comedy as a source of performance. My work is going on, I thank God.
If you are to dump acting or academics, which one will suffer?
That is a difficult question. As an actor we teach, as a lecturer, we teach. Though one is formal, the other is informal. I love the two, it is very difficult for me to dump any of them.
How do you cope with students and their challenges?
My students know the difference between Saka and Afeez. When I am teaching, they see me as their lecturer. I have no particular challenge with them. I am not a difficult lecturer. I see them as my brothers and sisters.
Can you recall any embarrassing moment with them?
Not really. I don’t think I have any, of course, some will play certain pranks. Maybe, when one of my student’s father offered me money so that his child could pass. My students know that they will pass automatically when they work hard.
Where do you see yourself in years ahead?
I want to see myself as one of the foremost academicians known for adding values, positive ones to the society. I want to see myself as the best in whatever I do.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 2013