I'll Marry Soon —Saint Obi
Saint Obi, star actor in the Nigerian movie industry in this interview with Ayodele Lawal, speaks about himself and his career
Q: Saint Obi, how are you?
A: I am alright, I am okay.
Q: Why haven't you been prominent in films of late?
A: I have been acting lately, only that it is not at the rate you expect. To satisfy my fans, I made a film in 2003 and in 2004, I featured in one or two films. But I did not feature in any in 2005, when my fans were complaining that I feature in a lot of films.
Q: Then 2006?
A: (Laughter). I know I featured in one or two films, it is not a matter of quantity but the quality.
Q: Why the setback in the number of movies you feature in. Are you trying to appraise yourself or something?
A: No, as I said, I have been in quite a number of movies. If the script is right and the money is good, then, why don't I do it? But if the script is not good, I'll rather stay in my house than mess up my image. Again, I am working on my own movie, which is going to be my second movie as a producer and director. It is entitled True Colour. It is going to be shot here in Nigeria and in America. It's not going to be one of these roadside movies. It is going to be a well-baked movie and I assure you that it is going to change the face of Nigerian movie industry.
Q: You just said you can only feature in a film if the script is good. Have you ever had cause to reject scripts?
A: Yes, even when I was not popular, I rejected scripts.
Q: When you started, we knew you as a sex symbol because you featured mostly in romantic films and suddenly you started acting in action films. What informed the change?
A: Well, the ability to play the good, the bad and the ugly is what makes you an actor. To God be the glory that I have been able to play all of these.
Q: Then, how bad or good are you?
A: That's not for me to say. It is for whoever is watching to judge.
Q: Going by the bad roles you often play in movies, have you ever been harassed for a particular one you've played in any movie?
A: Actually, people are bound to think beyond what they watch on the television. I have had an instance, where someone saw me and called me a yeye (naughty) man. And I have equally had an instance, when a guy saw me and said he watched my movie, Heart of Gold and that the movie inspired him to work harder. That's actually about the best compliment I have ever had because I learnt the guy was lazy and because he watched the movie, he became hard working and his wife started calling him Saint Obi.
Q: So, how would you describe your journey into the movie industry?
A: I am not one of those accidental people here. I am a Theatre Arts graduate and I had always wanted to be an actor. I have gone through the mills. My coming to Lagos was conscious and I have always had the flair for writing. People that have known me for long can testify to that.
Q: So, are you trying to say that the movie industry has been fair to you?
A: I will say it's been fair.
Q: You mean you have made money and fame to your satisfaction?
A: Well, money is relative. So, it depends on how you look at it. I may say I have made money and I may say I have not. But it has been very wonderful being in the industry.
Q: As one of the most eligible bachelors of the movie industry, when are you getting married?
A: It will happen soon.
Q: Do you have a woman in your life?
A: I still want to maintain that it is going to happen. That's all, because I don't want to stir a controversy about “who you are dating or not.” I try to run away from that because at the end of the day, we are reduced to people who just talk about their work and the person they are sleeping with.
Q: Don't you think that your fans would want to know more about you?
A: That's why I take objections to the questions I answer.
Q: Okay, what's your assessment of the Yoruba and English movie genres?
A: Well, I will say we are still growing. The movie industry is still evolving and we are looking upward, even as we are facing a lot of challenges. The production quality has gone up and the interpretation of roles are improving. Investors are now coming into the industry and we have had the capacity to turn our image around.
Q: Most of the upcoming actresses complain of sexual harassment, is this actually true?
A: There's none that I know about. But it happens everywhere; in the banks and many other sectors. Because we are on the screen does not make us special people. If such harassment exists, there's none to my knowledge as I said earlier. But even if one is harassed, it is for you to stand up and say no. What I always tell most of these upcoming ones is that if you want to be an actor, never succumb to anybody trying to harass or molest you, just because you need a job. Otherwise, that job is not worth it.
Q: And you, as a man, have you ever been sexually harassed by women?
A: (Laughs). No.