NOT ALL YORUBA ACTORS ARE THUGS —KENNY ADEYEMI
Kehinde Adeyemi, is a notable film producer and actor in the Association of Nigerian Theatre-Arts Practitioners (ANTP). Having churned out Omotola, Oloko, Eye-Ega and others, the Odunfa caucus member of ANTP is currently a force to reckon with.
Q: You have been in the industry for quite sometime, but you seem to be a slow achiever despite the fact that you have produced some block buster films. What has been responsible for this?
A: Actually, it is not as if I am a slow achiever but what I believe is that it is not fair of me to blow my trumpet. As you rightly said, my films have really made good hits in the industry but I don't allow all that to get into my head to the extent that I begin to flaunt my achievement as if it is everybody's business. I love to set the pace and that has always been my driving force.
Q: But can you explain why most movie producers have pigeonholed you to what you are widely known for in films – acting as a police officer?
A: It is unfair to say that they have pigeonholed me as you said. Moerover, I have acted other roles than being a common police officer in a film. In case they don't know, Kehinde Adeyemi is one of the few versatile artistes in ANTP. There's virtually no role I cannot play, many thanks to my senior colleagues in Odunfa Caucus (Yinka Quadri, Taiwo Hassan and Abbey Lanre) who had prepared the ground for us to operate.
Q: Why has your versatility not given you at least a minor role to play in English soaps or films?
A: As a matter of fact, I write some of my scripts in English Language and even train other people. Apart from that, I want to seize this opportunity to correct the impression that most of us (Yoruba actors) cannot speak English well.
If given the opportunity, I can prove to you that we do our best. For instance, Abbey Lanre is an actor as well as a voice over artiste and he does that well in English Language. Yinka Quadri acted in the defunct 'palace', a television series created by Tunji Bamishigbin in the 1990s. Ogogo has done that before and Ebun Oloyede, (Olaiya Igwe) acted in 'Super Story' by Wale Adenuga Productions, Baba Suwe, my closest friend in the movie industry, had also done an English comedy film alongside Bolaji Amusan (Baba Latin) before. So, we do our best possible when occasion arises but the Igbo actors have been too unfair to us. They are not accommodating; tribalism determines who they work with. Most of them keep us at arm's length claiming we are not doing well. Check out those of them who have associated with us and see how well we have absorbed them. Segun Arinze is my very good friend and he can easily beat his chest to tell anyone that we have something to offer after he featured in 'N150 million', a film which was rated at the level of 'Titanic' of Hollywood and 'Sholay' of Bollywood.
Q: But it is obvious that your Igbo counterparts are doing better in film making.
A: I will pray you withdraw that statement because we all (ANTP and AGN) have our strengths and weaknesses. They are not better film makers because we all belong to Nollywood.
Q: Even as ANTP is known for breeding thugs as film makers?
A: I don't seem to agree with you on that because we have a lot of gentlemen in our sector.
Having said that, I wouldn't want to pretend as if I am not aware of the bad eggs dragging the name of the ANTP in the mud. In every industry, it is common to have some bad people or never-do-wells known for causing one problem or another but that should not be a yardstick to judge the entire Yoruba film sector.
ANTP does not breed thugs and Yoruba actors are not hooligans as people perceive. Don't forget that we are the most widely travelled actors in Nigeria and many of us would not have been given visas to travel, if we parade ourselves as thugs.
Q: So, why haven't you travelled like some of your colleagues?
A: I guess you must have noticed it is now a trend among us. But very soon, I pray that God will see me through and I shall be travelling to the UK. Some of my fans over there have shown interest to present me awards on my films and I can't just wait to associate with them.
Q: What is your relationship with Razak Abdullahi, the boss of Corporate Pictures and what are you currently working on?
A: Razak Abdullahi is just a business partner and I must say, he is a very nice person. He has been responsible for the marketing of all my films and I hold him in high esteem. Apart from Abdullahi, I pay tribute to Alhaji Afeez Salami, the boss of Afeezco Films. He is also a nice man and I hope to work with him someday.