Vivacious actor, Saheed Balogun, clocked 50 and the industry looked away. His golden anniversary wasn’t ignored as it may seem, his celebration was delayed in honour of some of the industry finest who passed on recently. About turning 50, regrets and more, he speaks to LANRE ODUKOYA.
Why did you accept the script to act in the movie title: Banana Island Ghost (BIG)?
I felt the script was good and if you check the past records of Biola Alabi, the producer, and the director especially who has done a couple of things that I felt was really good and if you see the young ones that are good, encourage them. The script was really good so that’s why I acted in the movie.
When you turned 50, we almost missed it but then you’re 50 when Lagos turns 50….
I call myself the lucky boy and if no one celebrates me, I’ll celebrate myself when Rivers, Kwara and Lagos States, are all turning 50 and that is when I turned 50 and all these states are one in a million.
Despite the number of years you put into acting, particularly from Lagos, your name didn’t make it to the Lagos anniversary paraphernalia; how does that make you feel?
Everybody’s name can’t be there, I keep saying be who you are , it’s not about celebrating me, I did the first two casts, that first Ankara movie and that is what you can’t erase. As for me, I love Lagos and I’ll keep loving it, truthfully, a lot of people’s name was omitted not just me but it doesn’t really matter because if I want to do something, Lagos always supports me even the governor greets me: “Saheed, I’m enjoying you ” so no hard feelings, I’m happy though.
So at 50, how does your body feel now?
Have the pangs begun to surface? No, for record purpose, I’m feeling younger and fresher.
What has kept you this fit and happy?
Capital GOD. He’s the one that says yes when everybody says no, He’s the biggest producer, director and actor, He has written my script and I am just acting it out.
What are your unfulfilled desires at 50?
For me to be 50 and be in a movie like ‘BIG’, the Lord is still giving me hope, I did a production a few years back that cost ten million naira and I didn’t make up to N1 million returns due to piracy losing more than N40 million. So, for me to do a movie like BIG, it means where there is life, there is hope. The new generation’s producer and director are trying to take us to a new level and I’m begging our fans not to buy their pirated copies, please pray so we can keep them going.
Do you still produce?
Yes, I still produce, I just produced a movie called ” Owo Ago” .
Has your experience with piracy affected your interest in movie productions?
No, we will get there. Where there is a will, there is a way and that’s why I’m begging all producers to stand up and also the State House of Assembly members who are in charge of culture and diaspora who did not pass out harder laws on piracy do so now so that we can build this country.
There’d been embarrassing situations where actors solicited funds for medical bills, and alas, they died. And there seems to be one death too many in the industry lately…
No, point of correction, people die, it’s just because they know us. Two million people can die today and because they are not artistes like us, nobody will write about them and that is why I have a mark of respect for artistes, it’s not that we are not checking ourselves medically. It just happens, but I’m begging all artistes to work on their health and I’m supposed to celebrate my birthday on the May 24, 25 and 26 but I will have to move it because those are the days marked down for celebrating these late legends.
Are you insured?
I am the Golden Movie Ambassador of Nigeria, so yes I’m insured. Since I started the association about four years this prompted the need to have insurrance policy for members.
So are your colleagues receptive to this…
They won’t come and meet us, we have to wake ourselves up and that’s why I’m begging the up and coming young ones now to looks towards that way in case things like this want to happen and they want to quickly fight it.
Would you say the press has been fair to you these past years?
Yes, I don’t want to go into that. Let me give you an example; I’m 50 and the president of the Golden Movies Ambassador of Nigeria, Lagos is 50 and so everything around me is golden but I’m begging the actors to get a Public Relations manager who will be managing our image and lawyers.
I said the same thing last year. I was in Switzerland to work on a movie and when they clicked my name, the only thing they saw was, “he slept with this woman, he married this one…” and the first question the German asked me was: “Is this how your journalists celebrate actors in Africa?
Is this how they push you up or pull you down”? And I said: “Sir, can I defend them?” And he said “Go ahead but where is your Public Relations Manager?” And that’s where I lost it, so I had to stand in for journalists, we feel we are black, we won’t be appreciated. And I say no, we are Black, Proud and Intelligent (BPI).
They have affected me in little ways but we thank God, we are all friends but please I’m begging the journalists who are interested in Public Relations management to go out and look for raw talents who don’t know the power they have and try to push them forward.
So do you think social media has done more harm than good to this generation?
Both, it depends on if the Public Relations manager knows how to use it, it has been a blessing and the opposite. We have some artists that have never done one movie but are popular,the internet stars, but a star is a star no matter where he comes from , may they be blessed but social media sometimes can be bad especially for the kids because they learn a lot of bad things there.
We noticed you don’t put your relationship on social media and also your children, is this deliberate?
My father always said if a small child falls, he’d look forward, but when an adult falls, he’d look back to see what fell him. So, I’m not getting any younger, at my age, I should know the do’s and don’ts.
Are you married now?
Don’t go there.