My father would haunt my dreams if I act in bad movies — Hubert Ogunde’s son, Owobo

Owobo, one of the sons of a Nigerian theatre pioneer, Hubert Ogunde, played the role of ‘Bashorun’ in the movie series, ‘Anikulapo: Rise of the Spectre’. He tells FAITH AJAYI about his experience working on that movie, other aspects of his career, and relationship with his dad

Kunle Afolayan claimed that he heard your late father telling him to feature you in the movie. How did that make you feel?

Subsequent to the ‘ask’ sinking in, the realisation surfaced in my mind that it was time to answer the call of destiny. For most people, the reaction would have been euphoric. But, owing to my deep understanding of the creative process; my reaction was a full dedication to preparation. Repetition is key to creativity.

Even though you haven’t been active in the movie industry, you played one of the major roles in the movie series. What was your approach to taking on that role?

I started performing arts at a very young age. I used the words, ‘performing arts’, because acting is only one of one’s capabilities as an artist. The way I move, speak and dance were shaped during my formative years.  I had been performing all my life, even when I was not on stage. When one has the opportunity to go through proper training at a young age, those skills don’t ever leave one. They are stored forever.

On the day Kunle Afolayan met me, he stated that all he could see from the way I spoke was ‘Basorun’ (a chief). I did not even know he was observing me that way.

What are some of the challenges you encountered working on the project?

Oh boy, I was not prepared for the afternoon heat. Also, the Oyo dialect was tricky to learn too.

How were you able to handle those challenges?

Everyone on the set was very supportive, so I quickly forgot about the heat. For the language gap, I had a language coach who helped out when necessary.

What were the highlights of your time working on that project?

Kunle’s never-ending parties to cheer everyone up and keep great vibes throughout the shooting period. Also, the food provided at the location was awesome.  The catering team did a great job. Just being back where I belong and acting again among the people whom I consider to be the best actors in the world was in itself priceless.

Since you appeared on that project, you will likely have got other offers to feature in movies. Has it ever crossed your mind to relocate back to Nigeria to face acting full time?

Yes, I will be featuring in more productions. But, they have to be quality ones, because I don’t want my father chasing me around in my dreams for participating in substandard projects (laughs). A few people have also reached out to me through social media, saying they would chase me around if I let Baba (Ogunde) down. So, I am on my toes.

Your father was a legend in the Nigerian movie industry. Have you at any point felt like if you were to come back to the movie industry, the pressure to maintain a certain standard would be much?

No.  I have never felt any such pressure, and that’s because I know exactly what I need to do. There is always pressure that comes with acting.  As a matter of fact, if an actor is not under pressure, then they are playing roles they are comfortable with. I always use pressure to energise my preparation and performances.

Similarly, have you ever felt that the expectation of some people of you being Ogunde’s son has blinded them from seeing your innate talent?

No, I have never experienced such.  If it exists, then it is yet to surface.

Since the movie was released, several people have shown their interest in working with you. Subsequently, will you be acting in Yoruba movies, or movies made in both Yoruba and English languages?

I will consider indigenous (Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo), and English movies.

You once mentioned that you fell out of love for acting after the death of your father. How were you able to revive that love to take on an acting role again after such a long time?

That was actually 32 years ago, and a lot has happened since then. I have grown, and my views have changed.

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Since you left the theatre scene, the Nigerian movie industry has continued to evolve. What are the aspects of the industry that make you most proud?

The industry is much bigger with new people and departments doing great things. Areas such as make-up, costume, photography and particularly social media, have grown immensely. Technology (my specialty and favourite subject after acting) has contributed majorly to the growth we enjoy today in the industry.

Some people are of the opinion that indigenous movies (such as those done in Yoruba), seem to be losing their originality when it comes to using in-depth Yoruba language to communicate, without mixing it with English words, and that is because many of the new actors joining the industry don’t have a deep knowledge of the culture and its language. How do you feel this can be improved upon?

It is up to the director to cast wisely and provide necessary support for actors where required. In London, United Kingdom, where I am based, it is easy to hire 121 trainers with some of the best minds in acting or other creative areas to develop one’s self. Perhaps, that is also an area we could develop here.

What do you miss the most about your father and your formative years in Nigeria?

I missed the opportunity to learn from him, and also watch him perform live.

As regards my time in Nigeria, I missed the joy that came from simple things, such as going to a buka (local restaurant), and having some delicious meals.

Aside from acting, what are your other areas of interest?

I have an interest in supercars, football and fitness (mostly running).

Who are the people that inspire you in the industry?

My dad inspires me. Other than him, nature also inspires me.

What were you up to when you were domiciled outside the country?

Everything I have been up to could be summed up in two words— personal growth.  And, that’s a whole topic on its own.

Who are your biggest cheerleaders?

They include my family members, friends and my dear social media followers, particularly on Instagram. They keep me busy and entertained.

How do you like to dress?

I like to dress in sophisticated, smart, or casual outfits.

What is your favourite meal?

It is either garri Ijebu or a full English breakfast.

How do you unwind?

I meditate, watch films, and take walks in open spaces with the breeze blowing around my face.

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