No doubt Hafiz Oyetoro has carved a niche for himself in the world of comedy. Widely known as Saka in the movie industry, his delivery evokes laughter. He was recently interviewed by TOPE OLUKOLE, where he spoke about his foray into acting among other issues.
Can you take us through your journey into the world of acting?
I started acting from my primary school days, but I never knew I was going to go into it fully. My parents were farmers and I was thinking I would become a pilot, because every time we saw an aeroplane, it was always a mystery and I had the feelings that someone must be there controlling it.
It was when I got to secondary school that I realised that the person who controls the aeroplane is called a pilot. It was in my final year in secondary school that the artistic interest became bigger. When I finished secondary school, I decided to go into acting.
So, it wasn’t by accident that you are in the industry?
Yes, no be mistake o. I believe that is how God wanted it to be. When I was in primary school, people normally laugh at everything I did. I’m an actor, it’s just now that people started seeing me as a comedian. I can write, I can direct, I can manage production. I’m a teacher, I compose songs. So, I’m a complete theatre practitioner.
What are the feelings of your family each time they see you on the television?
My children and wife watch my roles on set but not as daddy. We see what the character does, even, when he makes mistake we laugh at him, after watching, we leave him to go his way and we come back to our family and life continues. There is a natural dichotomy between the character and the head of the family.
Will you allow any of your children to go into acting?
Yes, of course. What I will not do is to force them into it. Anyone who wants to go into entertainment will be allowed. None of my parents opposed me then, so why should I stop them? The only thing I won’t allow them to do is stealing.
You are in hot demand in the industry now. Is comedy paying your bills?
I thank God. I’m able to maintain my family, although I don’t have a big car, but the one I have takes me everywhere. I will soon pack to my house in town. Sincerely, God has being faithful to me and I can say that acting has been paying my bills.
Do people around you take you serious each time you talk?
Yes, people who understand me take me serious. My students also take me seriously, not forgetting my wife and children. Acting is a conscious, step by step action; you are consciously behaving in a particular way that is different from you.
I go out of my way to live other people’s lives. I think I’m totally different and people close to me know that. Sometimes, when you see me in my house, you might hate me because I’m very quiet, the only people I play with are my close friends like you, my wife and children, I don’t go to parties, I just want to be me.
Who actually discovered you?
I can’t really remember. It just grew that way, I didn’t see myself as a comedian. It was when I started my one-man show in the university that I discovered I could do it. With time, people began to see comedy in me. I remember when I was in 300 level at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; we were to perform a convocation play.
As a student, we were not given major roles; I was given a comic role but at a point in time, the director, who was also one of our senior lecturers threw the challenge at us that whoever wanted a major role should come for it; I did and I performed it perfectly.
It wasn’t a comic role and that gave me the confidence, but as time went on, directors and producers in the country refused to grant me such roles. I’ve rejected many comic roles before. In a month, I rejected seven comic roles and if one is not careful, one could be a typecast, but I thank God that he gave me the grace to do it and for the people like you to recognise it.
How did you come about the name Saka?
This came from a sitcom. When I came to Lagos in 2001 from Ibadan after finishing my Masters degree, my friend, Gbenga Iwindapo and I sat down one day when a friend of ours, who is a producer, called us and told us to create a drama series. We wrote the first 26 episodes and we didn’t know it will be a huge success. I would say that was the beginning of another journey in my life and career