Sadiq Abu was born and raised in the Kono District of Sierra Leone. At an early age because of the uncertainty in his country of birth, he pursued a life long journey to every Sub Saharan African country. He spent some years in East Africa before finally settling down in South Africa where he continued to pursue his career as an actor. While in SA he studied Market Theatre. During his days of travelling, theatre cum films became a means of survival for him.
Presently residing in Los Angeles, USA, Sadiq works as a full time actor. Having come from a humble Muslim family, Sadiq Abu who is in his early 30s has seen life from every angle. He was nominated for three categories in the just concluded African Movie Academy Awards held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, namely Achievement in Sound, Best Film in the Diaspora and the Best Actor in a Leading Role, but won the Best Film in the Diaspora (Soul Diaspora).This strikingly good looking dude in this interview with Geraldine Okolie, savours his recent award.
How do you feel wining the award?
I feel really great, humble, honoured and blessed to be recognized by Nigerians working as an actor. I really appreciate that the AMAA committee was able to put something like this together that is for African, by Africans and for all Africa.
We won three nominations - Achievement in Sound, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Film in the Diaspora but I won the Best Film in the Diaspora.
Who are the 'we' you are referring to?
I said we because I am part of the film and the director is a Nigerian by name Odera Ozoka, who is from Anambra State. I and he are a team. I would have loved to win the best actor if I had not won this one. Ramsey Noah, who won the best actor, is a talented guy. I feel honoured to be in company of these great actors.
What's AMAA all about to your understanding?
It is like an African story telling, promoting of African arts and it was created by a lady called Peace Anyiam Osigwe and few of her colleagues. So it is more of celebrating African cinema, not only that but it also enables Africa to tell its own stories by its own people through its own perspectives.
So it is basically African stories being told by Africans because for a long time African stories have been told by someone else. It is about time we told our own stories and Peace has been able to achieve that. AMAA is not only about cinema and films, it is also about nurturing, educating, creating the next generation of African film makers.
How would you rate the Nigeria film industry?
It is in a very good place with a lot of potentials but it still needs a lot of growing up. However, starting from this year, it's going to be even better because all of these other actors nominated are all top world class filmmakers.
It is no longer like when you see a film in Nigeria, the acting and the production value is bad. To me, all of that is a thing of the past. At least, Nigerians and indeed Africans as a whole are beginning to understand that film making is not a one man effort but a collective effort. Some are telling the stories right and for one to tell the stories right, there is need to take time to do it by getting a good script and a good story, a better production value, good directors, actors as well as producers.
So I think that the Nigerian movie industry is definitely going places and I predict that Africa as a whole is going places when it comes to cinema in the next few years.
Apart from acting, what else do you do?
I act, that's what I love doing all my life because it's my heart. If am not acting, I have a theatre company that I help cofound with a group of pan African actors who are in western world. It is not only me; there are other people who are like me from all over Africa.
We also created a secret drum company in Los Angeles, which is doing very well, and we are creating everything from a concept to a reality. We are presently in the process of developing a TV show called Maison Blanche. It is about creating and moving forward with whatever artistic integrity that we can put in helping African cinema.
What do you do at your leisure time?
I read a lot of literature books, soccer, keeping fit, watch movies where I also learn from other actors and I have featured in some films like The Pretty Boys Project, Trafficker and the most prominent and very close to my heart is Soul Diaspora. It really brought me into limelight and showcased my work.
It has also won the favourite award at the Pan African Film Festival. It was also an official selection at the International Film Festival and it has also won the best film in the Diaspora at AMAA. I really cannot remember all the films I have featured in but I have done some TV shows in America.
Can you say that the award has motivated you to continue in your acting career?
Oh yes, very much! If there is anything it has done for me, it has pushed me to the next level and it has given me the opportunity to get to where I had always wanted. I can't wait to work with more generous and talented Nigerian actors and directors because to me, it is about sharing and bringing myself as an actor, get to see a very good production value, then I will be willing to work with a lot of actors out there that are wiling to put the story out.
What role does story telling play in your career?
Yes, I love story telling, I grew up mostly without electricity in Sierra Leone telling stories around the fire. So that is why story telling is part of me but I believe it has a kind of insignificant value to us as Africans, especially in the medium of cinema.
As Africans, we need to come together as one big great continent and I truly believe that story telling in cinemas as a whole is what will enable Africans to achieve what we want to achieve.
Do you think Nigeria is a good place for investors and tourists to come in?
What we hear about Nigeria in the western world is all about negative stories but when you come to Nigeria you will see beautiful things in positive ways. What I have experienced here is incomparable; Lagos alone is a very vibrant city and very much alive and I just came back from Abuja. That, itself, is so beautiful and I begin to wonder why so much negatives have been said about this country.
Why are all these good things not being mentioned in the western world? So for me, that negativity is out of the way and I'm just looking forward to the positive attitudes and positive changes for the future of Africans.
What would you say about Nollywood?
It is doing great, it should continue in that path of greatness. My advice to actors and actresses is that they should remain persistent in whatever thing they are doing. You don't just wake up one morning and start acting. You know acting needs skill and it is like any other industry or profession like engineering, law and so on. It is a knowledge that you can attain, it's a career. So they should open their heart and learn as much as they can, read broadly, research on the internet, make yourself better as an actor everyday. If you want to be the best, you have to be very hard working and believe in yourself as an actor.
Do you think that Nigerian movie industry needs the backing of the government?
I really think that the film industry needs a lot of support from government as well as individuals. Huge investment is what the industry needs from these group because film industry is an extremely profitable business, if the structure is right.
So for the structure to be right, these group and cooperate bodies have to come in and develop this industry that is just at its birth.