RMD: TWO DECADES OF SCREEN ROMANCE
Life has never been smooth sailing for veteran actor Richard Mofe-Damijo. He speaks with Funke Adetutu about his life and career.
Actor Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD) is the toast of any woman any day. Despite the fact that the veteran actor has been on the Nigerian movie scene for two decades, his charisma and prowess for a profession that he loves stands him out.
Married to Jumobi Odugbesan after the demise of his former wife, May Ellen Ezekiel, (MEE) RMD says that success is a combination of so many things.
"My success is a combination of everything but the most important is the spiritual part. Promotion comes from God, make no mistake about that. I am like a pencil in God's hands that He uses to paint good pictures. I am not the best actor in this country. It is God who moves you from one point to another and He is responsible for whatever success I have achieved."
With role models like Olu Jacobs, Wole Soyinka and others, Damijo believes the success of the movie industry requires the collective efforts of both old and new actors who must contribute their quota to make the industry meet international standard.
"People like Olu Jacobs did something that made someone like me want to take part in the profession. We did something that is why the new generation wants to come in after us. But what some of us have that the new generation does not have is the training. This is why you will find that some of them will not have the courage to do stage acting.
For instance, some of them are not versatile enough to be masters of ceremony or conduct workshops. They are not as versatile as an average theatre art graduate who also loves the profession and practices it after school. They are discovered for the camera and that only."
As a graduate of theatre arts from the University of Benin, Edo State, Damijo hits the television screen with his lead roles in defunct soap operas, Ripples and Checkmate. And this journey he took led him to a world of fame he never dreamt of. Though his mother desired he becomes a lawyer, his father, Onadjeria Williams-Damijo was indifferent to his acting career. But as a man with a mother's love, RMD fulfilled his mother's dream when he bagged a second degree in law from the University of Lagos.
RMD clarifies the controversies that trailed his one year ban from the movie scene. "I stopped acting in September 2004 to prepare for law school, I spent a year there, and I sacrificed a year's earnings of about N30-million to do it. But I chose to do that. There are no such laws for actors. I take offence when people say ban.
Do I look like some one who can be banned from acting? I have been working. It is not possible to ban me. Some cowards can sit somewhere and think they have a reign over my life, but I do not think anyone upholds the ethics of this profession more than I do. Nollywood began in the 90s and I was there before that time."
A father of four children, Tega, Nena, Brume and Kome, RMD and his wife Jumobi met before the death of MEE and he explains that it was difficult taking the decision to exchange another marital vow. "It was at an African Independent Television (AIT) function. Jumobi worked for AIT at the time and we were introduced by a mutual friend. Nothing happened, sparks did not fly or anything like that. I was married when I met her. Every one who has lost a wife is always afraid to get married again because you cannot lose the fear of the same thing happening again. I was spooked in a whole lot of ways. I think that accounts for why I waited that long. A lot of my aunties felt I should marry immediately, they felt that if I did not marry soon, the fear would grow into something I could not conquer."
Despite the fear, RMD says he finds a true friend in Jumobi. "When you meet somebody with whom you are going to spend the rest of your life, there is not just one thing, you just find that everything about the person rubs you differently. You can start off by saying she is pretty, well behaved, that you love her, that she is intelligent, all these are things that you can put a word and name to. It is more spiritual than all that for me. We had been dating and there was a lot going on around me that I had no control over. But she struck me as being very patient and the more I opened up to her, the more I understood that we could share our lives together. I developed a loving relationship with her and the rest is history."
Though 46, RMD still has secret female admirers from his numerous fans who do not mind to have an affair with him. "I find it very flattering because each day I keep telling myself I am not that 20 or 30 something year old that I used to be. I think they like the grey hair. It is not about being a fine boy and a talented man or a man who is committed to his craft and who does not allow his stardom to be the dominant thing in his life. I would rather make sure that that being RMD impacts positively on the young people I meet every day. If I can touch only one person in my life time, maybe that person will be the catalyst for change."