There is always a moral lesson in every bad role
One fulfilment Patrick Otoro has as an individual is his ability to realise his dream of becoming an actor. Although his father initially frowned at his choice of acting as a career, little did Patrick know he would make a name from imitatiing whatever anybody does around him.
In his school days, he was a member of dramatic clubs. His bold decision to study drama saw him proceed to the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. His national youth service at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was to crown his efforts as he was named the overall best actor for the NYSC year, 1994.
With this honour, Otoro went ahead to organise some educative and public enlightenment programmes; an effort which also paved way for a programme he was doing with drama; he was sponsored to America on an exchange programme.
Back from the trip, he has many ideas to work with but no fund. Apart from talkshows, Otoro presently presents Customs Duty, a weekly focus on the activities of men of the Nigerian Customs.
My name is Patrick Otoro. I am from Ugheli South Local Government Area, Delta State. My educational background is a turbulent one. I had just gained admission into the university when my father lost his job. So, going through school was really tough for me. After I completed A-levels in Federal School of Arts and Science, Ondo, I went for a certificate course in theatre arts at the University of Port Harcourt, where I proceeded with my degree in the same course. I am blessed with a wife and three kids.
How I started
I started as a toddler watching television programmes and films, especially foreign films. I watched the professional actors. As I admired their style of acting, I always wanted to be like them. My ambition was how I would be on the screen one day. As time went on, I realised that I had the talent and everybody in my family confirmed that. This was due to my ability to imitate all things.
At home I became a point of focus so that, whenever the family wanted to laugh, I would be called upon to imitate the people. When I entered primary and secondary schools I belonged to the dramatic club up till my days in the College of Arts and Science. But my father was not in support of my love for the stage. He thought that theatre artists are never-do-wells. He insisted that I must be a lawyer. He even refused to pay my school fees. It was my mother who had to come. But I must tell you that the discipline with which he brought us up has helped and is still helping today.
Reward in acting
I can say that it has not been easy in terms of financial remunerations. But in terms of fulfilment, I can tell you that it has been quite fulfilling. I just want to act all the time. In Abuja, it has been rough equally. But now I am beginning to smile.
Stage and the screen
There is money and glamour in movie acting but I love the stage so much. Why I don't like the screen so much is because of the low standard of the works. They are always telling the same stories and repeating so many things. With this I found it uncomfortable to join the movie industry.
But I must say that things are beginning to improve these days. More professionals are coming into the industry. So, that is why I was involved in some screen productions. There is a soap opera entitled Domino which we are recording and will go on air on African Independent Television(AIT). It may run for about two years.
Some professionals, like Kate Henshaw Nuttal, are in the cast. Also, there was an American producer that came here to produce a film on HIV/AIDS, I played a role. Others that featured in the film were Norbert Young, Kate Henshaw Nuttal, Desmond Elliot, among others. As for the stage, I have acted in Gods Are Not To Blame, Hopes of the Living Dead, Our Husband has gone Mad Again, Kurunmi, The Beggars Strike, Her Royal Majesty's Visit, A Resting Place, Holding Talks, Death and the King's Horseman, Trials of Brother Jero, etc.
Without being immodest, I can say that I have acted in many published plays in this country. From the first generation to the second and to new generation playwrights. I mean the plays of Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, J.P Clark, Elechi Amadi, Wale Ogunyemi, Rasheed Gbadamosi, Sunny Oti, Ahmed Yerima, Bode Osanyin, Onukaba Adinonyi Ojo and so many others. Apart from acting in their plays, I have directed so many too.
My role model
Denzel Washington is my role model on the international scene. But in Nigeria here, it is Richard Mofe Damijo(RMD). What I admire in them is the quality of their acting. Denzel interprets his role so well that viewers must always believe him. Then, RMD is versatile to the extent that he can play any role. He does not act only on screen but stage also.
My relationship with RMD
I can say that he is a big brother. He has encouraged me a lot. We have done some things together. I must say that I like his kind of person. Before I knew him well, you hear people say he is an arrogant person. But it is a very wrong impression. He is a person who wants the younger ones to grow like him and he is very humble too.
Most challenging role
My most challenging role is in the play Old One Two. I played the role of a naughty lecturer. When I finished playing the role, some members of the audience saw me as a very wicked man. In fact, at a point in the rehearsal I did not want to play the role again. But because of my commitment towards acting, I reminded myself that I am a actor whose role it is to mirror the society. So I felt I must use what I do on stage to affect my audience.
When I came to Abuja, it was tough. So, I had to start doing compere jobs to survive. In addition, I was presenting a programme, Heart Beat on NTA, Abuja. The producer of Customs Duty, saw in Heart Beat and invited me to come and start presenting it. I must tell you that the Customs Duty programme has brought me a lot of goodwill in Abuja. I have made new friends and have new fans from the programme. As an actor, it has helped me and that is why I can call myself actor-broadcaster.
As an actor for every good or bad role I play, there is a moral lesson I want my audience to learn. I am a tool that helps the society to change. I use my body to preach the way a pastor uses his voice. In my church I am involved in dramatic performances that help convey the message to the congragation. If the government would use drama well in this country, it will bring about positive changes in the country. One thing government do not know is that money can be generated through drama. We can export our culture using drama. This will boost our economy. Policy makers should realise this
The fact that I want to see Nigeria a changed place inspires my acting. I strongly believe that drama is a potential material for this reform. I call on other actors to think about our responsibility. We can use the stories we showcase in the screen and stage to demostrate where we are coming from, where we are going to.
To the upcoming ones
The problem with us is that we place money first. But it is better to face what we do and achieve excellence. But we have to bear in mind that the road could be tough. So, we must be prepared.