No Favourites – Yemi Blaq
Yemi Blaq is not the kind of actor you see in a movie one moment and the next. With skin as black as coal and large eyeballs some would describe as sexy, he comes across as a good -looking talent, but that is certainly not all there is to him as an actor. In this interview he bares all: from his background to his career ... the whole nine yards.
Can you let us into your background?
I am from a family of seven, which includes my parents, because there are five of us; three guys and two girls. I always say that because before. I came into the picture, there were two girls and then the guys followed. I am the last child of my family, my parents are alive and so are all my siblings. In fact, some of them are kicking too much because I have a brother who majors in karate, tae-kwon-do and traditional Chinese kungfu (that's a story for another time). I have always loved arts. I have always been an actor and I'm not one who just dabbled into arts. This is where I have always wanted to be and this is where I am. I have a background in theatre arts that dates back to my days in the University of Benin and here I am. That is my background. I am from Ondo town and both my parents are from Ondo town. If you go down my lineage everyone must have probably been from Ondo town.
What was growing up like for you?
Growing up was fun. Unfortunately, my memory is a bit tip-top. I have memories of my first day in school and mother always wondered how I remember because I was very young. She thought I would cry and she wanted me to cry but I just walked in there and I blended and I waved at her. That made me independent and seriously so. I am nomadic by nature but I'm learning to settle down a bit.
Your diction is superb. Did you do a professional course abroad?
I would love to, actually. By the virtue of the work that I do, I understand the art, whether the visual, graphic or otherwise, it is a medium of communication and to communicate effectively you need to have the right tools of language. If you are speaking the visual arts you have to speak language fluently and if you are an actor, a broadcaster or a singer you need to have a firm grasp of your language of communication so as to be able to optimally utilise it.
Why did you decide to be an actor?
I would pay money to get answers to that question myself because I just always knew I wanted to be an actor. I grew up in a kind of situation where people will tell me stories so that I will tell it to other people. Later on when I started studying Theatre arts, I realised that was the origin of theatre arts right there. Theatre arts started from story-telling. It's about people who come and live the characters in the stories. An example is the story of the hunch backed man who would hunch his back in a bid to tell the story. I realised that I have always been the guy to entertain, want to get into a party and talk to people, tell them gists and stuff and just laugh. They will want to come back tomorrow and hear some more. I guess it's just a part of me and it's something we can't talk about here by virtue of the fact that I have three personalities.
You act mostly in soap operas. Why is that?
Unfortunately, that piece of information is wrong. I have only done two soaps, the first one I did was Domino and after that I was supposed to shoot one before Domino but it never made it to the airwaves because we didn't finish shooting. It was the same producers of Crime Fighters, the popular TV show that produced it. After that I shot Domino and after that I shot another one. I don't think it has started airing too and that's been all. I appeared in three episodes of Tinsel as a medic. Apart from that I have been doing movies majorly .
What has been your most challenging role?
Most of the time I don't like people asking me this question because the answer makes me sound like a politician, but the truth of the matter is that every role is challenging. Acting is basically a diversion from your person, who you are, the soul of you. So if someone gives me a character to play today and it's a simple of script, it's still a challenge to me because I'm going to have to portray that which I am not. Someone saw me some time ago and called me a wicked man by the virtue of the fact that they had seen a movie in which I shot someone (the movie Lost to Lust). That was my first lead role with Mercy Johnson. I played this guy who was very lustful and had chains of girlfriends but could not satisfy his wife sexually. She saw me and she was vexed, she looked at me and said wicked man. There was another role that I played in Traumatized where I raped Ini Edo and people said the scene was very real and that I must be a rapist to have been able to do justice to the role. It gives me joy because I will never rape a woman, I have so much confidence in myself and in my sexuality to force a woman. I will never pay for it either. If we are not on the same wave length forget it and that's it. If I do that and someone thinks it's real then it shows I have done a good job.
Apart from acting what do you do?
I write songs, I hope to be able to have an album out soon and pass as an actor that would win an award for acting though I won a couple for acting in Zuma last year. I also play the musical instrument called big boxing and (he makes sounds with his mouth) I play the conga too.
Who are your role models in the industry?
That's something I have never had. I don't do role models. I just have a few people that I like. I just appreciate that they are good.
What is left for you to achieve?
There is a whole lot to achieve. I want to be in the fore front of the movement that shows the whole world that Nollywood is not just about figures or the muscle population and the mass of the movies we turn out but the artistic integrity of every single work that comes out. I want to be in the forefront that shows the world that we are not just there but we are story tellers who understand the art of movie making.
What would you spend your last kobo on?
If I had a last kobo I would probably give it out, to save myself from thinking about what to buy.
What food will make your day?
I don't have a favourite, I don't have a favourite kind of woman, and I don't have a favourite actor or a favourite car. If it's good it's good, trust me. If you make me vegetable soup with the attachment I will probably be game, if you make me plantain and egg, when it's nice, it's nice. So, I am not a favourite food kind of person.
Are you married?
No, I am not.
Any special woman in your life?
Yeah, she is a writer and a producer and her name is Remi.
What makes you tick?
Apart from my heart which ticks all day (laughs)? It's just the fact that I know that human existence is not based on what you achieve or what we know or how intelligent we are but on the fact that we are involved in a daily struggle for that which is everlasting which is the knowledge of God. The knowledge of the fact that at the end of this all, we are going to a place that is far better and far more everlasting. It's eternity where we have three scores in ten years to prepare for. That's what makes me tick to fight the battle because it's not easy. I am a Christian and I want to be more of a Christian than I am now. I just want to be more and I am involved in that daily struggle because the truth of the matter is that, we are in darkness and so we need to find a way to get to the place that everything will be good for ever.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I'm going to say this just because of the fans that might want to hear it because the truth of the matter is, I am not easily embarrassed. When I was born and I cried out, the nearest doctor bought my shame. There was this day I went to the pool with my mother in Shell in Warri and she bought me a pair of trunks, so, I went to the pool side and put on the shower, showered and as I walked down to enter the pool I noticed that everyone was looking at me and pointing. I looked at myself and saw the colours of my trunk running down my legs and it was really embarrassing. Everyone looked at me and pointed but I know how to handle situations, so I walked calmly back to the shower and showered again. The more I stood there, the more the colours ran and after a while there was no colour left so it become boring because I wasn't acting jittery or shaking or anything like that, the people got bored and after sometime, they continued their activities.
What are the benefits you have enjoyed as an actor?
I do not understand about being a star, I know I am an actor and that is my job description but in the past few weeks there has been fuel scarcity and most of the time when I get to stations they just put me right ahead of the queue. I don't ask to be there because I would rather just join the queue and be like everyone else but hey, they say there are vessels unto honour and if they call me honour I'm not going to dodge it, I would just say thank you. So, it's just that people recognise you and want to do something nice.
What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from life. Everywhere I go I find something that inspires me. I'm the kind of person that can walk by where people are fighting and just want to stay there and watch or people are talking and I just want to stay there and listen. That's me and that's my job. I love to watch people. I can tell a lot about people by merely watching them. I think life is very interesting.
How did you get to be a part of Celebrity Takes Two?
I got a phone call in Asaba and someone said hello Yemi, would you like to be in Celebrity Takes Two? And I said is it the dance show and he said yes and am like, first of all, I don't know my ability as a dancer because you know, its not my thing but I guess to be acting means you have to have a bit of this and that sprinkled in you. So, he called me a couple of times, we spoke back and forth and I later accepted the challenge
Where do you relax?
Home, I'm not a club person because I can be very bored being there with all the dancing but I'm a game person.
What do you think is left for the Nigerian movie industry to achieve?
What we need to achieve is the infusion of art in movie making. We need it. Movie making is not a purely commercial venture. You need to put a lot of show as in showbiz and art to get the business going. That's all we need to do right now. We are doing well but there is a lull in the industry at the moment. It should be expected but the truth of the matter is that, what should be done is to get the government involved in movie making process so the scourge and piracy that is eating deep into everybody's pocket can be stopped. Piracy needs to be reduced to the barest minimum or stopped at best and once that is achieved, the last thing is an establishment of a very solid distribution network.
Once that part, piracy is handcuffed and we have a strong distribution network, then trust me, actors will probably start building houses in the moon and people will enjoy movies they see because there will be quality control in acting, directing and every facet of production.
What message do you have for your fans?
I want to say thank you for appreciating me for what I do, for standing by me through thick and thin throughout the years. Thanks for having my back in Celebrity Takes Two and every other venture that I have been involved in and I just need you to imperatively believe in yourselves as human beings because, the truth of the matter is that every human being has a potential to be great and all you need do is look inside of you and bring it out.