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I REJECTED MY DAD’S CHOICE OF CAREER BY OPTING FOR SHOWBIZ. TODAY, IT HAS PAID OFF’

Source: nigeriafilms.com
PAUL OBAZELE
PAUL OBAZELE

His father, Chief Patrick Ukato Obazele was instrumental to the building of the NUJ Light House as the union's chairman in his days as Director of News with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).

Apparently, not only was Chief Obazele an achiever, he was also a man that wielded much influence in his choice career.

However, even though Paul, the fourth of 18 children from his dad declined his father's desire for another profession other than the film business, the young man could not be said to have fallen short of expectation because as it is, not only did he begin well as an actor, he also established himself as a film producer cum director who of late has also seen the need to glorify the men and women who have brought Nollywood (the Nigerian movie industry) to the level it has attained today through his television program, Legends of Nollywood. But above all, his unofficial role as the most used master of ceremony for Nollywood events and occasional mediator between his colleagues as stakeholders and some governmental film agencies, are evidences of spot light achievement that one can say if well harnessed will spring him into a frontal role like his late father. Incidentally, Paul Obazele is vying for the presidency of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP).

Recollecting how the journey into Nollywood started, Paul Obazele whose father was opposed to his acting career said the old man had to allow him do his heart's desire following his superlative performance in a stage play entitled The Storm Within, at the NICON NOGA HILTON. The play, a satire, which was staged to mark the National Productivity Day, was done under the watchful eyes of the then President, Ibrahim Babangida and other service chiefs. The play also had Olu Jacobs, Joke Silva and Wale Macauley as casts.

"I remember playing a very arrogant manager in that play such that during the gala night I.B.B. said to me, "I hope you are not like that in real life?" he asked.

Stylish and fashionable, the usually elegant Edo man disclosed that the reason he was not given to journalism like his father and his elder brother was because, apart from the fact that he wanted a different identity, he didn't also see journalists as men of class and style. He thought that journalists are too much of the academics, hence his desire to study Business Administration at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi. This, he said was to satisfy his business inclined nature adding that while in school, he and his peers where organising shows that were fetching them money. He believes that those days in school further boosted his appetite for business as a result of which he was able to channel his given talents towards result-oriented commerce.

"My business inclined nature led to my organising shows in school from which I was marking money until consciously I entered into the theatre business. What I read in school has enhanced my long stay in this business".

Before the advent of what today is dubbed Nollywood, TV guide had once labelled him as the most used face on television following his outing in various soaps and television dramas.Among them,

Amaka Igwe's Checkmate where he played the baby lawyer, Ripples, as Doctor Raymond and Third Eye, as a police officer. Others were Mind Bending and After the Storm.

Establishing his own world as the chairman of Royal Pictures Production, Obazele pointed out wasn't a difficult task.

"Production is not a new word to me. While doing Ripples for example, I was also producing shows and commercials for the radio. Infact my main stay was commercials. One of my jobs was the commercial for Yamaha Generator," he disclosed.

His first movie, Shadow of Death featuring Zack Orji and directed by Bolaji Daudu was done in 1996. This was followed by Blind Justice, Douglas My Love, and Black Friday.

Asked if those movies did any well in the market, Obazele who directed them all except for Shadow of Death affirmed wittingly, "I pay my tithes.

" How did he come about the television programme, Legends of Nollywood, the producer says "I discovered that the major players in Nollywood are hardly celebrated. I then asked myself, is it until these men die before we will recognise their value? So what I do is to bring in movie directors, producers and other people behind the scenes on the programme. These are the real legends of Nollywood.

Asked what is the yardstick for bringing in these people. Obazele said, "We have a pedigree. For you to be a legend, you must have attained 10 years in the industry. We have such great names like, Andy Amenechi, Fred Amata, Tchidi Chikere, madu Chikwendu, Chico Ejiro, Zeb Ejiro, Zack Orji, an actor/director, Amaka Igwe, Bolaji Dawodu and a whole lot of others.

"The television programme which also features films of yester years, Obazele disclosed will be run in a total of 21 stations across the country.

Another interesting dimension to the programme is the segment that is dedicated to up-comers. This is expected to recognise budding talents and help to promote them.What more? It is the season of TV reality shows and Royal Pictures is not lagging behind as 12 Ambassadors hit the airwaves soon. This he said is coming out of the yearnings of the average youth in this country. "My greatest fear is the generational gap" he said.

"We do not have people to hand over to and this should be the concern of every filmmaker. Half way into the Legends of Nollywood, the phone calls were getting more and more. So we said let us give birth to people who will be top actors, actresses, producers and directors.

As an evidence of credibility, the public will rate the participants of the reality show," he said.

Why the name 12 Ambassadors. "Because 12 inmates will emerge winners. The 12 will be merged with the big stars in movies typical of international standard. The scripts are ready; all that we are waiting for is the set time. When the 12 Ambassadors finish their training, they are going to rule, for twelve calendar months. This will be arranged with the movie directors," he said.