NOLLYWOOD actor Osita Iheme is dwarfed by his fame, influence and recognition in the movie world. In his interview with CHIOMA PIUS and IMAOBONG UDO, Iheme, popularly called Pawpaw, speaks on various aspects of the movie industry.
Tell us about the recent happenings in your life?
The Lord has been faithful to me. I am alive and bouncing in the Lord. We have a brand new phone that is coming to the market, it is called Aki and Pawpaw AG, just like the way you have blackberry phone. We are in partnership with a company in South Africa, so that our fans can be able to feel us. Partially it is a contract, because we are not the people manufacturing the phone, it is a company that is manufacturing it for us for a period of 12 months, which can be extended if things work out the way we expect.
Which other project are you embarking on?
Aside that, we have a lot of project, we are trying to do a music for UNICEF for African children. We want to partner with UNICEF so that they will use the proceeds to take care of African children. The song is already done. We also have a foundation called Aki and Pawpaw Care Foundation, we want to use the song to generate money for the foundation to support African children.
Glo recently made some artistes its ambassadors but this has been causing ripples in the industry. What is your reaction to this?
I dont see what the company did as a problem. It did a tremendous job in the industry by taking some of our colleagues as its ambassadors. It is good, that is what we have been praying for. We want some of the corporate bodies to come into the industry and brand their products with good concept. Anybody can be a Glo ambassador. I donft see any problem in that because they choose the people they wanted.
How do you feel not being a Glo ambassador?
I feel nothing. I believe if they want me, they will also come for me. I believe everything you do is either you are there or not, but remember we have our own deal outside Nigeria. I appreciate what Glo has done and I believe Dr Mike Adenuga, the Globacom chairman, will soon do more because he is a very great philanthropist.
Are you married?
When I am ready for the public to know about it, the public will know.
Is there someone in your life right now?
Everybody must not have a partner before he gets married. Before you get married, you can just decide who you want to marry and start looking for him or her. I am not ready to go into that now.
Have you ever had any regret because of your stature?
Not at all. I do not have any regret over it because however you see yourself, I believe that there is one person that created you and that is God. God has created me to be like this and I am surviving and making it like this, so I donft need to have regret.
No human being is perfect. The bottom line is to do something for yourself, something good, achieve something in life. No matter how you are, you dont have to regret it.
You had plan to study Law, have you continued your education?
Yes. Somehow I have been doing it; you know how our work is. I try to do some courses abroad so that it will also enable me to continue with my carrier and do some other things.
Why do you choose to study Law and not Theatre Art?
I tell people that you go for you want, if you feel that what you want is not Theatre Art, you go for what you want. Everybody must not study Theatre Art, you don’t need to study Theatre Art before you start acting. A lot of people study Theatre Art but they are not into acting. It depends on what you feel like doing, the acting in me is inborn.
Are you saying you are going to retire as a lawyer?
Not really. For you to choose a profession does not mean you are going to retire with it, you keep going on in life. Life is all about movement, you don’t need to be rigid, I keep going on in life. I will never leave acting, I will keep acting even in my old age.
How many years have you been acting and how many movies have you featured in?
I have done more than 100 movies and I have been acting for more than eight years. I thank God I am doing well.
Do you think meeting your friend, Chinedu Ikedieze, was what brought you to limelight?
God has already prepared something for us, so our meeting was just a divine intervention.
Why have you refused to disclose your age?
My age? Well you don’t need to bother about my age but my achievement in life. My age is on the Internet, except you dont believe the one you have seen on the Internet. It is a question everybody has been asking me, but the Customs Immigration officials at the airport know the age, they see my passport any time I am travelling.
Do you think your size has brought you any good advantage?
I know I am just unique; I am peculiar. But despite the size, I can still achieve something in life. I don’t think it is about size; it is all about what is in me. It is about Osita Iheme.
Is it true that you collect over N1 million for a movie?
Yes. That is very true.
Which movie gave you the biggest hit?
I cant really say one, because a lot of them have given me hit. But the major one that really brought me and my friend Chinedu to limelight is Aki na ukwah, also Criminal Law, Gordon etc.
If you are given the opportunity, what will you change in Nollywood,?
What I will change is for people to have the fear of God, the Spirit of God, because if you are being controlled by the Holy Spirit a lot of things will change. With the Holy Spirit in the industry, a lot of things will change for good.
Are you born again?
I am a child of God. You don’t need to carry the Bible around before people will know that you are a born again Christian.
How do you handle fame?
I try to manage it. It is difficult to handle fame but with the Holy Spirit, you can handle it. When you are being controlled by the Spirit of God and you are in contact with him, you can manage it. The devil can attack you at any time, so you need to protect yourself very well. With God on my side, I am managing fame.
People believe that ladies that come around you are after your money, is that true?
I don’t believe that any woman that comes into my life is after my money. Some people like me for who I am, for what I am, my personality. Even before I started making money, some ladies did like me, though some could be fake, others are real.
How will you rate the entertainment industry?
We are moving forward, we are getting there. It is just that the government is not really interested in what is going on in the entertainment world. Though we are doing it ourselves, we are moving up and we are doing well. I believe we will get there. As you can see, we are the number one in entertainment in Africa. Nigeria represents Africa in entertainment.
How do you unwind?
I stay in my house, alone in my room and unwind, relax and watch television. I don’t really go out like that, but onecs in a while I club.
Who is your role model?
I have a lot of role models but in the entertainment industry, people like Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD) is my role model, he is the one I just admire and Alpaccino, the guy that acted in the Oscar film, Puff Daddy.
What is your advice to people of your same size?
My advice for them is that they should not look down on themselves and they should believe in themselves. They should know that God has created them to be that way; they should take that bold step and go for whatever they want. They should behave like giants because it is not all about your size, but your intellect, what is in you and who you are. Move on and show people the stuff you are made of and also believe in God for all things.
What advice do you have for the upcoming artistes?
They should move on; find things that will lead them to their goals. They should know that the passion is what matters. They should always have the positive idea of what they want to do and never copy anybody. And they should always put God first.
Do you feel fulfilled?
I am not fulfilled, but I thank God for where I am today and I am still asking him to move me forward because I have not reached where I am going.
Have you ever been embarrassed in your life?
Of course. Many times people embarrass me, though I don’t see it as embarrassment. I know it is the cross I have to carry for being a celebrity, for acquiring fame. Sometimes when your fans are celebrating you, they will do certain things which will look very embarrassing to you.
Which is your memorable day?
It was when I lost my father.
Who is Osita Iheme behind camera?
A child of God, a man who goes for whatever he wants. He is a man who does not allow intimidation to weigh him down, or allow friends to choose him but he chooses his friends.
Do you think the entertainment industry also needs bailout?
We need bailout because many things are wrong. There is no money, there are no facilities, no light, no structure to distribute our movies and piracy is disturbing us too. We need bailout especially on this piracy issue, if they cannot bail us out with a huge sum of money, they should bail us out from piracy so that we can move ahead.
How do you think the government can end piracy?
They have laws that say if you pirate a copyright, there is a penalty. So they should implement the laws. The police should go out there and arrest anyone that is found committing this offence. They shouldn’t allow people to make money from others’ intellectual effort and work. Nigeria can re-brand the entertainment industry.