Listen to article

Segun Arinze has gradually become an interesting tale in the Nigerian entertainment industry. From being an actor, Arinze stormed the music world with romantic songs and Hip hop music. He was recently spotted anchoring the "Hidden Paradise" reality TV show, and in Guinness commercials. In this interview with Rachel Ogbu, reporter/ researcher, Arinze explains his passion for the entertainment industry and his political ambition come 2010. Excerpts:

How did your career start?

Arinze: Acting was the beginning of my career, and looking back I have no cause to regret that I decided to start acting. For me, I am having fun doing what I like to do. I went into acting because I love the job, I love to be an actor. It's definitely something to cherish.

You are actively engaged in so many things. What is your next move?

Arinze: I'm so blessed, I've got dreams coming. I act, I write, I sing, I produce, I direct and I am into politics. Once in a while when I think I can manage it, I do public relations for people. I am an entertainer. You know gone are the days when people would scream in disapproval if you told them you were an entertainer. Now, there is dignity in all kinds of labour, even the taxi driver is proud of his job; after all, it brings food to his table. The word dignity in labour is beginning to manifest itself in present-day Nigeria.

You said you are into politics, how well-involved it are you really?

Arinze: I am a political animal; I like to be aware of what is going on in my environment. I like to know everything that is going on around me. Well, I take it like that because I am a Nigerian and I am in my base, Lagos. I am from Badagary and in my country I have to be aware.

As for actively taking part in politics, I would say it's just in a matter of time.

You are a musician, too, what kind of songs do you sing?

Arinze: No, I am not a musician… I am a singer.

What really is the difference between the two?

Arinze: The musician sings but in addition, he or she is also able to play a musical instrument. That is what makes him/her different from a singer who only sings. There is always a misunderstanding between the two and everybody says Segun Arinze is a musician, but that is a wrong definition. I am a singer.

Okay, so what kind of songs do you sing?

Arinze: Well, I sing Hip-Hop, I sing high life and I am into Ballads as we

How many songs have you released so far?

Arinze: I have quite a lot. You see, I have been singing since 1992; that was when my first album came out with Premier Music. It was called "Dreams" and that was also the period I changed my name to Segun Arinze.

What was your name before then?

Arinze: My name was not really my name, but that was how I got to change it from Segun Aina to Segun Arinze.

Why didn't you stick with the old one?

Arinze: Let's just say reasons that have been forgotten.

After that album, did you have any other?

Arinze: I have been singing since then. I have another album called In the Mood; it will be released next February. In that, I featured talented artistes such as Stella Damasus Aboderin, Six-foot-plus, Mike Aremu and some others.

Who are your favourite actors?

Arinze: That's a tough one because I have a lot of them. Dustin Huffman is one, Danzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Jon Voight, Robert De-Niro, Michael Douglas and of late Jimmy Fox.

How about on the local scene?

Arinze: Olu Jacobs, RMD, Ramsey Noah, Sam Dede, I like Jim Iyke. He is really crazy and Desmond Elliot, the guy after my heart. And of late, one of the young guys that have been creeping me is Nonso Diobe.

Which of these favourite actors have you never worked with?

Arinze: I have worked with virtually all the famous Nollywood actors, everyone of them, except maybe the up coming ones.

What about the actresses? Do you have any favourites among them?

Arinze: I don't have favourites, but I do have actresses that I respect and would love to work with them again. They include Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Stella Damasus and Genevieve Nnaji.

What is your general perception of the Nigerian movie industry?

Arinze: I don't want to talk about the movie industry; I never want to talk about it.

Does this have anything to do with the ban that was placed on you? You are part of the industry. So, how can you avoid addressing issues if there are any?

Arinze: I really don't have anything to say about it. My anger is that the movie industry is in shambles, non-existent. There is so much rubbish and nonsense; I wish the whole thing would just come down and begin all over again. We have the wrong people in the right business.

As a stakeholder, are you working on a positive change?

Arinze: We are doing something already, we have started working.

Would you say you had some regrets in your acting career?

Arinze: I would not call it regrets but I will say I had some sort of anger in the roles I was often given to play. They stereotype you to playing only one particular kind of role all the time. They make you rigid and unable to play any other role except the one in which they feel you always do well. To me, I feel that is restricting our talents and putting us in a tight box. I tell myself I'm not going to continue playing those roles when I can do so many other things. Why should I limit myself to a particular kind of role always.

Talking about role change, sometimes fans are disappointed with their favourite actors when they perform very well in a movie and the next one which is anticipated to be better, ends up a career flop. They feel maybe he should have just stuck with the old role?

Arinze: It is not their fault really. There is no actor that will go and shoot a movie with the intention of doing a bad job. Much of that comes from the editing. An actor might think or even know he has played his role very well but the editors might make a mess of the whole thing if they do not do it correctly and properly. It's just like a professional photographer who takes many skilful shots, but in the lab, the lab guy could mess the whole thing up by using the wrong materials to wash the film.

It seems then that your career is very challenging. What challenges have you conquered?

Arinze: Well, it's not that bad; we encounter challenges everywhere. For me the challenge comes in the part where I have to slim down for a particular role and then gain back some pounds for another role. Right now I have added a little more than is required and I have to shed it off quickly.

What has been your most successful film to date?

Arinze: That would be Silent Night. Also, Battle of Love and The Return were very successful movies.

How many awards have you received so far?

Arinze: I have quite a number including Best Actor of the Year 2004, Real Awards for the movie, The Return.

How do you make out time to spend with the people that are dear to you?

Arinze: I had to consciously make up my mind that no matter how busy I become I have to create time to spend with my people. At a point I was too busy, I couldn't even make it to church. But I had to stand up and restructure everything because I must go to church and unless you create the time, you never have it.

Are you married?

Arinze: That is an old gist; I was married and now I am single. My wife and I are separated.

Were there any kids from your previous marriage?

Arinze: Yeah! I have a son and two daughters.

Do you see any of your kids tending towards being in the entertainment business?

Arinze: They are still very young now, but God knows later if anyone of them wants to go into entertainment, I would not stop them.

So, are you getting married soon?

Arinze: (Laughs) Please, let's leave my private life out of this.

But all we have been talking about is your private life?

Arinze: Okay, but let's leave that one out. I don't like relating such stories to the press.

Do you find yourself acting outside the screen, like in real life situations?

Arinze: No, I leave acting to the camera; when I am out, I am myself. I have never found myself acting outside rehearsals, shooting and performance.

What are the gains of your acting profession?

Arinze: It has a lot of gains. For me, it is the fact that I love doing what I am doing and that there are people out there who also appreciate my work. That is a blessing. Many times people see me on the street and they scream my name, you now wave and say encouraging words. Even some fans are really nasty when they talk to me, but I have to understand that they do not really mean to be nasty. It's just their own way of expressing their feelings. That is a good thing.

Who has been the greatest influence on your career?

Arinze: It has been God; He has influenced my every move and decision. Also, I have been motivated by great people who have made a difference around the world.

What is your greatest body asset, perhaps not your eyes?

Arinze: Sorry to disappoint you but my eyes are my greatest body asset. They always have been and will always be. I just love my eyes and anybody who is jealous could go get eyes like mine.

What could you say about the entertainment industry?

Arinze: We are trying and we would continue to work and do our best, God guide us. We have the resources, we have the talents, we have everything, Nigeria is so blessed. We do not have any excuse if we fail.

In the next four years, what should your fans expect from you?

Arinze: (Thinking) They would see me in the Senate, still serving them.

Do you have what it takes to run for Senate?

Arinze: Let's just say I am not lacking either. You don't expect me to disclose my plans now; so we shall see.