Two things distinguish the career of actor Alex Usifo. First, his mean look and unmistakable baritone voice. Then the roles he plays in movies, either as a powerful and rich chief or no-nonsense man.“People see me and call me movie chief. But I'm not a traditional chief. The truth, I must confess, is that I don't like being called a chief. I don't get excited when people call me chief and I wont even take up any traditional title. I am a Christian, and I won't be conferred with a chieftaincy title.”
In similar vein, Usifo said the mean and powerful roles in plays in movies are a distant cry from his real person. “ I am definitely not as mean as the roles I play in movies. Truly, I am comfortable. I don't borrow, and I can pay my bills, but I am not as rich as I am made to appear in those movies.
I am not a mean man at home. As a matter of fact, I am a very homely person. I don't imagine myself being away from home and not finding a way to communicate with my family. I have an update on what is happening in my home at any time.”
Indeed, you cannot fail to notice the transformation from the man Alex Usifo to the movie chief whenever he is on set. Off the camera, very unlike the mean-looking chief, Alex Usifo proved that he is, indeed a master of the game. Often, he dished out instructions to the younger artistes on the set on how to get the best result. More than once, uncle Alex changed the wordings of the original script to have a better effect on the movie.
All these, he said are needed in a movie, because according to him, the movie is like “ a football game. It requires teamwork and spirit to get the best result. You don't have to intimidate the young and up-coming actors with your resume and character. The established stars need to carry them along and teach them the steps to take at the right time.”
Alex Usifo, undoubtedly, ranks among the few veterans the industry that started the profession in the days of television dramas. He was there before the advent of the home video industry in the early 90s.
However, his illustrious career would not have been if he had loved his first job as an administrative officer with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). “I worked with the NTA for five years.
But I just did not like the administrative environment because people had to lobby for everything. It is not in my character to do such things, so I opted out. I first tried my hands on a few businesses, but the issue of lobbying soon reared its head again. That was how I got into acting. With the benefit of hindsight, I thank God that I was able to discover myself that early.”
We should not compare ourselves to Hollywood at this stage. We should just remain focused and keep doing the good job that we are doing now. Though it may take time, we'll surely get there some day. We are working hard to take the industry to the next level.
My voice is a genetic trait. My father has a deep voice. I take after him. My younger brother and my little son also have the trait. However, even with the deep voice, you still have to do something about it. So, once in a while, I find time to train my voice so that it will sound the way I like. I love to train my voice to suit my personality.”
I detest being noticed. Though being a star has its own advantages, I still prefer to remain anonymous. My personality has helped me in several ways. For example, I don't get to spend long hours on the queue when I go to the bank. It is same for other places. People want to render one assistance or the other whenever they recognise me.
With the present standard, it is not all that easy for the young and up-coming ones to get to the top. They have to go through a lot of stress. I have heard about their complaints, and I see what they go through. To be honest, it is not pleasant. However, with dedication and focus, they'll surely get to the top.
My take on morals
It depends on people's ideal, either negative or positive. How do you define morality? What is moral to you may be immoral to another person. Unfortunately, people don't want to take up responsibility. If people want to be morally upright, what they want to be must start from the inside. The moment you can acknowledge that what you are doing is wrong, even when you are not seen, then there is the possibility that you wont want to do that thing that is bad.
My children and acting
Apart from my daughter who is already in the industry, none of them is showing interest for now. But in think they all have the talent inside them. Right now I see the potentials in all of them, but they are all old enough to take the decision for themselves. But I wont stop them if they decide to join the industry. I only need to counsel them on how to go about it and the need to be educated.