Femi Branch is not a stranger in Nigeria’s Entertainment industry. He is prolific poet, playwright, film actor, director and producer who has comfortably caved his niche. In an exclusive interview with Time Nigeria Correspondent Adenike Adelodun, the Nollywood star talks about his career and how it all started and sheds lights on his upcoming projects too. Excerpts.
Time Nigeria would like to meet you
I am Femi Branch, actor, writer, singer, song-writer, film maker and businessman. I am married with two kids, Olive and Nathan.
When and where did you start your acting career?
Started in school at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, since 1991 and to the glory of God, I am waxing stronger by the day.
What was your first experience like on set?
I had to beg my way into a stage production. I had to create my own role and the director and cast were so thrilled with my performance that was how I was given the role. That’s how it all started.
What was the reaction from your parents when you took up acting as a profession?
My Dad was pissed off. He wanted me to be a Lawyer. But with the success of my MTN advert, he later gave in.
How many movies have you done or featured in, both Yoruba and English?
Ah! I can’t recall o, the last count yielded over 150 and that was three years ago.
How would you rate the movie industry in Nigeria?
We are evolving. Nollywood has come a long way. There is still so much work to be done though, our associations need to work more for the betterment of production standards and the lives of the members if they want the Artistes to be more involved in them and more proactive. Our leaders need to dump the selfish habit of begging government for stipends which they will still fight shamelessly over and should seize every opportunity to present serious needs before them. We should be sponsoring bills in the National Assembly that will provide more cinemas for the movies we produce and combat piracy head-on.
What does it takes to make you play a role in a movie?
A good script, good director, a producer that understands the job and of course the right digits.
Are Nigerian and Ghanaian movie industries as equals?
The Ghana movie industry evolved from the efforts of Nollywood. If you watch their content it is mostly styled after Nigerian movies. But we have better values. Especially regarding things like nudity. No Ghanaian artiste can become established without recognition in Nigerian movies. They also started by using our stars and the culture continues even now. So there is no basis for comparison. We produce more, we cater to a larger market and we are better recognized globally than they are.
In some Yoruba movies, the subtitle is always annoying, due to grammatical blunders, why is it so?
It is because of lack of professionalism. People don’t bother to get professionals who specialize in that field. That’s one of the things the associations need to look into.
Some see you as a snub, how would you describe your relationship with fans, and people generally?
I relate to fans as human beings who appreciate what I do. I don’t take them for granted or take advantage of them. They are the fuel that runs the engine of my career so I don’t joke with them.
Your most challenging role so far?
Most challenging role? All roles come with their varying degrees of challenges. No one role is a walk over.
Have you any award to your credit?
I have several awards to my credit. When people appreciate your works, and recognize them as being invaluable contributions to the betterment of your industry, society and nation, awards are bound to follow.
Your advice for upcoming artistes?
I always tell upcoming artistes never to compromise on their values. What takes you there must be able to keep you there and the only things I know that can do that, is talent, integrity, good work ethics and ultimately God.
Any project at hand?
Several projects are on my plate right now. First and most importantly is the completion of my new movie. Also my Street Wear Label, we’re creating some clothing items which the young and urban minded can indulge in. It’s a way of diversifying for me. My new book is also coming out and so are some singles. All of these I am hoping to achieve.
Being a public figure, do you still live a life you wanted or you have restrictions?
Live like I want ke? Is that possible? When you have a million eyes watching you every minute? No Nike, you can only make the best of the situation. Catch some trips when you can, like eating bread and egg bugger at a Mai Shayi by the roadside. In all, you are still thankful to God for the privilege of choice.
With the just concluded election, what are your expectations from the incoming president and his administration?
Well, now we have a new president, our expectations are definitely high. Many people see him as a miracle worker but I just see him as a man. Yes, I know he has good intentions but then he would not be the first good man to go into office with that but we all know how they end up. I hope he works with good people and so I wish him the best. Let’s give him time and let’s stop expecting him to bring the sky down in a matter of months, our problems are bigger than that.
Any message to your fans out there?
To my fans I say as always Thank you for believing in me, for supporting me, for loving me, God will prioritize your matter this year in Jesus name. Love you all dearly.
Thanks for your time, we wish you all the best you desire
You’re welcome, amen.