Comic actor, Charles Awurum’s profile is organically on the rise and he speaks about this, how he handles his female fans, marriage among other things in this interview with LANRE ODUKOYA.
At some point you veered from playing serious roles to playing comedy roles in the movies. Why this transition?
I came out of the university a versatile actor. I hate being stereotyped into a particular character. So, at a point when the comedians were really doing some great work, I told them that I can do it. When I came into this industry I was acting serious movies, action movies, I call them Rambo, but I told them I could act comedy. But they said with your hard face, you act detective, how can you act comedy? But I told them I am an actor.
A comedian must not be deformed. You mustn’t be somehow to make people laugh. As an actor, you can play any role. It was by force that I got into comedy. Then I had to get my friend, Sunny Nnaji, I pleaded with him to give me a comic role during any shooting. Then he asked, ‘how much am I going to pay you now?’ I said, ‘anything’. I want to show people that I can do this.
The title of the movie was Long John. He gave me a two-scene character which I played. I told him how I was going to play it. He agreed but then the executive producer said ‘no, no’, but he insisted I should go ahead and play it that way. And I did it. After that, they started giving me comedy roles. I did A Million Madness, Under Fire, and Walls Apart. Since then it’s been comedy movies.
Before you joined the big league comprising the likes of Mr. Ibu, Nkem Owoh, Victor Asuagwu, did you have any fear?
In acting I don’t have any fears. When I used to do stage production, the crowd was my motivation. When I came to do Obiora, I was taken out from nowhere to somewhere to play the lead as Obiora. I came from Imo, when I got to Lagos, people were gathered, stars were gathered, but I was not afraid.
That was why I was able to carry the character. Even at National Theatre then, people were waiting to see who the person is. What is he going to do? People were waiting for my downfall at the rehearsal but when they saw what I did, I made friends with everybody. They liked me.
That was when some executive producers called me and said, ‘Charles, don’t you want to come to Lagos and stay?’ Meanwhile, I lived in Lagos before I went to Imo State. I was born in Lagos. I grew up in Lagos. I stayed in FESTAC for a long time. I schooled in Ansar-Ud-Deen High School before I went to Calabar. So, coming back to Lagos, we had a house in Lagos was not a problem, where to stay was not my problem. I went to the east for something else. I had no fears. And till now I do not have any fears. Even if I were to act with Arnold Schwarzenegger tomorrow, I would not have any fears because acting is my career.
What has always been people’s reaction at first meeting with you?
When I got into this place you saw how a guy shouted, that is how most people do. Some scream, some say Jesus, so many things. But when you grow in a certain industry, you get used to all those things. Those people are your fans. They are the ones that make you who you are. When you see them that way, it makes you feel that what you are doing, people like it and that’s what make you happy.
I go through so many gates because of what I do. Doors open for me because of what I do. People are happy seeing me. I am used to crowd. Before I entered into the movie industry, I was on stage. I have played so many stage productions before I went to school in Calabar and read Theatre Arts. So I am used to people.
How often do you get embarrassed due to the comic roles you play?
Many times, there was a time I was coming back from Onitsha, a girl saw me and she said, “chicken thief. See am, he go steal fowl.” They call you all sorts of names. That’s why most of the time; I don’t blame our celebrities who try to shy away from people because it is when somebody greets you and you return the greeting that he or she has the time to tell you what he or she wants to tell you. People can just see you, the next thing they call you, ‘Hey! Come, come, see my girlfriend, come do am make she laugh.’ And it’s not funny because most times, these are people you are much older than. Some people are very disrespectful, without thinking twice, they tell you words that will not go down well with you but you just look at the person and go your way.
How do you handle your female fans?
I am a man, whether television or not, we interact with women and you know women show more love and in showing you love, they can do certain things that would turn you off but you look at them and make sure you don’t make them feel bad. I try not to make anybody feel bad, no matter how you look because I didn’t create myself and you didn’t create yourself. I embrace everybody that comes my way whether man or woman but I know where to draw the lines and when it gets to that point, I take myself away from that environment.
Are you married?
I am married and has three boys. Once I’m not onset, I go back to my house. If I finish a production now, say at night, the following day, I’ll be going back to my house. Once I’m not working I make sure that I’m with them. I think I have a happy family. I have a good wife. And one thing you have to know is that a wife makes the home.
How long have you been married?
It’s getting up to 10, 11 years.
What has kept you married for almost a decade?
One is that I love my wife. Secondly, I took her away from the public eye. Most people don’t even know her unless I show her to you. And the third is that I have control over my family and also makes them feel happy. Get at least the things they can get. Another thing is that I have told my God I don’t want to have a broken home. And I don’t think anything can make me break up with my wife. I don’t like breakup because it is the children that suffer.
Have you always wanted to be an actor?
Yes, I wanted to read Law or Theatre Arts. There was a time I wrote to Village Headmaster crew that I wanted to be part of them. I was very small then. My happiest time in life was when they sent me a letter with NTA (Nigeria Television Authority) letterhead paper, inviting me to come. I didn’t go because I was small; there was nobody to take me there. So I kept on doing church drama. I was part of drama and debating society in school, I was part of everything. Until I watched Langbodo, in FESTAC ‘77, and one person that moved me then was Sam Loco Efe, from then, I made up my mind to be an actor.
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