Let’s briefly get to know you.
I’m an actor, producer and director. I have stirred the ship of Nollywood for the past 16 years. I have sat in different offices and I have been a two-time president of the Association of Movie Producers; that’s the apex body of the entire Nollywood. I’ve also been the Director, Guilds Services of the entire Nollywood; that I held for a very long time.
I was the Financial Secretary of the Association of Guilds of Producers twice. I was the Provost of Film Makers Cooperative of Nigeria. I’m currently the President of the Edo Film Makers Association and also the President of Legends of Nollywood.
How have you been able to carry these responsibilities on your shoulder all these years?
I believe in service, I believe in being selfless in everything you do so it’s been easy for me. Coming from where I grew up, the question my father use to ask then is what value are you in your community? So when people look up to be paid, I look up to serve and that endears people to come to me.
So basically they access me easily, I don’t see service as a big deal; it’s a natural flow, I also work in the church, it gives me joy to see people laugh; that’s the only reason why I exist.
I have my strength in the smile I see on your face. I have been in this business for thirty-two years of my life and amazingly because of the family I come from, the strictness of my father being my biggest critic, my wife took the position of my late father, my mother conceded to my wife and she tells me I don’t like that and I respect her opinion, I don’t query her opinion because what she has seen I’ve not seen. It’s not been easy.
I keep telling people that if it was easy, there would not have been a Fred Amata or Alex Osifo or Ralph Nwadike, who is the current president of the Association of Movie Producers; if it was easy, there would not have been a Paul Obazele, but the way you see us sustain it is because we have been patient, we have been dogged, we have been tenacious in what we have been doing and above all, we have the fear of God and because we know we have promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep, we stand our ground.
You spoke a lot about your father, what was growing up like?
My father, Patrick Okato Obazele, a lion! You can’t fail o! You don’t have the right to fail; he tells you, ‘you will fall, you will get up, I don’t need to tell you to get up’, and he gets angry with you when you don’t get up.
I remember one time when I was praying, I was casting out, and he said, ‘son stop, don’t cast out the mountain, spoil the mountain, I said how?, he was like there are goodies inside the mountain, drill a hole get in there, take the goodies and then you can cast it out’.
So I learnt that, I drill into problems and I take it.
The amazing thing is that I hear people talk about him sometimes, I hear journalists speak about him; he was a journalist too. I was born into a journalistic family, pen pushers and voice makers as fighters of morals and etiquette of the society, great people!
Are you the first born?
I’m one of the smallest in the house, I am born into a large family, very large, and amazingly I’m the only man that has five mothers.
Was your dad polygamous?
I have five mothers, he was not polygamous, and he had five great women.
What did you study in university?
I majored in Accounting Economics, and I finished from Auchi Polytechnic, I graduated in 1986.
What was the first big movie or soap opera that people got to know you?
Let’s do it like this, let’s look at all the soap operas. There was once upon a time in my life in the history of television in this country, one guy was on ‘Checkmate’, ‘Ripples, ‘Third Eye’ and he was doing telemovies (the Sunday dramas).
‘Checkmate’ was Thursday, ‘Ripples’ was Friday, ‘Third Eye’ was Saturday, then on Sunday I was on the Sunday shows constantly for five years.
All of a sudden NTA in their magazine then wrote, ‘Paul Obazele is the most used face on television’; my father called me and asked me to slow down.
I remember my late boss then was challenged, he told them, ‘give me someone that is as good as him because I can’t find’.
What was your biggest break; I’m talking about movies now?
I have already been there before Nollywood; before Nollywood there was a yesterday of Nollywood.
These things have happened before Nollywood, so my coming into Nollywood was a blessing and who gave birth to Nollywood was Chris Obi Rapu.
We use to shoot telemovies those days and the telemovies were the ones we did on Sundays and I still remember very well, great Larry Williams dominated then; he was massive and this was me growing up, understudying them and the greatest of them all, uncle Olu Jacobs, still the greatest, and those were people I sat with and I learnt from them, I learnt the ropes from these great men.
What kind of movies can you not feature in?
I run away from sex, I run away from indecency; it’s not the African tradition, but if I must do it, I must be sending a crucial message.
So for me to do that, I’m sending a message but amazingly in the same movie there must be a correction, I don’t leave it hanging.
That’s why I don’t do sexual scenes if there is no correction to that ill; I run away from it.
The African way of doing love is different from the white man and you see us copying the white man, it’s stupid. So you’re not in support of what is going on in Nollywood where there are lots of sexual scenes and all that?
That’s madness, that’s not our style. Please go and ask our fore fathers; in the bible do you see a woman chase a man, it’s stupid.
Let’s not play outside the bible, let’s not kill the family values. I say it out, I cry about it, I’ve seen movies where you see explicit sex, and it’s crazy.
The African man sees sex as sacred, so let the world see us for who we are not what the world is, the world should be able to learn from us.
So if you were not doing all of this what would you have wanted to do?
I would have worked in a church.
Do you want to be a pastor?
I would have worked in a church not as a pastor but cleaning the church, making sure that the gospel is preached, I love God, I just love working in His vineyard because the people who lifts the hand of the preacher are blessed specially; so I must lift his hand. I just love to talk about God.
When you were talking earlier, I could perceive the love you have for your wife, tell us a little about her?
Great woman, amazing virtuous woman; she is my life, my friend, we fight, we talk, she tells me the truth and I celebrate her.
The only woman that would have been able to stay with me would have been my wife. I tell men you can’t progress if you don’t see your wife as a good thing, it is an instruction from God, and prosperity would never come to you, if you don’t see her as a good thing.
She is bad see her as a good thing, she is good see her as a good thing, the day you see her as a queen by your side, she would celebrate you as a king and that is when she would start bruising her knees for you.
I am not a preacher but I just understand these principles. The day you celebrate woman, you find out that things would change.
How did you meet her by the way?
Well I met my wife at the bank, she is a banker lawyer.
Chico Ejiro gave me a cheque, I didn’t check the date and I went into this bank believing I could withdraw money.
The teller stopped me, in my naïve flamboyant stage I took it to her, she told me, ‘sorry I can’t pay you’.
She was head of operations, small in stature, she drew my attention to the date but I was bent on collecting the money, I went upstairs, they told me that they can’t do anything, that as she has told you no, it’s no, that if you override her, she would write a petition, that she stands her ground, so I was upset and decided to teach her a lesson.
The lesson was to sleep with her and dump her. I insisted and got her number after much persuasion, she agreed and gave me her card, I made a call to her and she says she does not receive calls until weekends, I found out her place, she was talking to me through the gate, I became consistent.
So one day I was with my niece and she opened her gate and came to play with her, I had ruled out sleeping with her by now, she was drawn to my niece and she even went over to the house to go play with her and she became talk of the house, and later everyone became endeared to her and my family were now friendly with her, she became comfortable with me.
So one day as crazy as I am I walked up to her and ask her to marry me, she thought I was joking. In a months’ time we did introduction, traditional and the following month we did wedding.
So it’s not how long it is, it is how friendly and how serious you are. I knew we were going to clash severally, but the fact still remains we could still manage it.
How long have you been married?
I have told you that I don’t like numbers, but we have been married for very long, you will make me feel I’m old.
We have been together very long, she is the greatest friend I have.
How many children do you guys have?
Again in my family we don’t count children. I have great sons and daughters.
What’s your fashion style?
My wife dresses me; she decides what I put on.
What’s your advice to young actors coming up?
You must have a dream, there must be a focus, there must be a definition, you will fall, and you will get up.
If you stay down you’re dead, if you don’t have a story you’re dead, you must have a story and you must fear God.
If you don’t fear God, you will not make it, if you don’t trust Him you will not make it.
That dream and passion is hinged on God and Christ, so I say die hard and real men are people who give their life to Christ.