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Oreofe Williams grants his first media interview!

Oreofe Williams known for his hit movie ‘Awo Jesu’ has just granted his first media interview.
The gospel movie producer disclosed how he grew up thinking his ‘grandmother’ was his mum and lots more.
See excerpts from his interview with Punch below:

You are a producer, director, actor and university lecturer; are you not like the popular cliché, ‘Jack of all trade…?’
No. I don’t see it that way. I am a
lecturer in my field and that is Film Studies and Dramatic Literature at
the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State. I teach Creative Writing
as well. I think lecturing is about bringing our experiences to bear and
being able to raise the next generation. That was what led me into
lecturing.
So when do you have time to do the other stuff you do including acting and directing?
It has to do with planning. We can do
many things if we plan our life and time. I was a producer before I
became a lecturer. It was my success as a director that paved the way
for me to become a lecturer. I go for lectures from Monday to Friday and
I leave the movies for the weekend. By Monday morning, I am back to
school. I try to create time for the family as well. A good husband and
father should have time for the family. But they also understand that if
I stay at home, all of us will go hungry.
One of all the things you do would naturally suffer …
A student in the university is not there
to study one course. Every student offers not less than nine courses
every semester. So because you plan, you attend all the lectures and
read for all of them and pass. That is the same thing that applies to
the way we run our lives.
So how did you get into the movie industry?
I didn’t get into the movie industry per
se; I would rather say I grew with it. I have been in drama since I was
very young. But professionally, I started practising even as an
undergraduate. Then we would invite some actors like Yomi Sodimu to the
campus to feature in our drama in school back then. But the first
producer that featured me in his movie was Deji Adenuga. I was to play
the role of an armed robber. I thought the film was the same thing as
the stage. Because I was coming from the stage background, I was asked
to shoot a gun in the movie and I used my mouth to make the sound of a
gunshot. Everybody collapsed. I didn’t know the movie would be taken to
the studio and the sound would be infused there. I was eventually taught
the rudiments. I played another minor role in Dele Odule’s film. That
was how I started.
How were you able to adapt as a film actor since you came from the stage background?
There is a big difference between the
stage and film. Any actor without a stage background is not a real
actor. The stage is natural. You could feel the vibe and energy. But in
the movies, it is the camera that does the work. The stage is very
productive. A stage actor who has never appeared in a movie would earn
my respect more than a film actor who has never featured in a stage
movie.
When did the big break come?
That should be in 2008. We did a movie titled Awo Jesu.
The reason it was the big break was as a result of our innovation.
Producers of gospel films in Nigeria are used to a set of selected cast.
But we chose to use secular artistes and that brought some sort of
controversy. Some people were complaining that it wasn’t ideal. The
castigation became some sort of an advert for me. People watched the
movie and fell in love with it.
Are those producers now comfortable that you use secular actors in your movie?
No. Some of them are still querying why
we do that. But many people do not even know that some of these
so-called secular actors are pastors in their churches. I don’t
understand why we should segregate them. Are there gospel doctors? Do we
call the lecturers secular or gospel lecturers? An actor is an actor.
You cannot tell me not to use somebody in a movie when I know that
person can deliver the script very well. Some say these secular actors
have scandals. But scandal is everywhere, even in the church.
But is there really a difference between gospel drama and secular drama?
As an academic, I would say a movie is a
movie. Your content may be different but there is no clear cut
demarcation. Some Christians don’t even watch the gospel movies. It is
really affecting the industry. Why can’t a gospel movie compete at an
award winning event? Why can’t a gospel actor be a brand ambassador?
These are issues we ought to work on.
Why don’t you do Nollywood movies?
I shoot meaningful films. It would be
difficult for me to feature in any film that celebrates nudity. I do
movies that can stand the test of time. Then again, I am a lecturer; I
may not have that luxury of time.
It is said ladies try to seduce movie directors and lecturers as well, how do you cope when such comes?
Nigerian ladies are very peculiar and
intelligent. Sometimes we blame the girls for the wrong things they do
but many times, I have seen that it is the other way round. What of when
you have a lecturer who tries to victimise the student? Will you still
blame the student? There are so many girls who just want to be your
friend and nothing more and if you go beyond the line, they will even
tell you off. It is your principle that matters. If you have principle,
those who even have ulterior motive would not attempt to come to you
because they know the kind of person you are.
Doesn’t your wife get jealous that your job attracts women to you?
She might be jealous, I don’t know. But I
know my wife wants people around all the time, especially ladies. She
knows that ladies are caring. It also has to do with trust. Once a woman
knows that her husband is principled, then she has nothing to fear, all
she would need to do is to help her husband in prayers and I think that
is what she does.
Are there times you wish you weren’t a gospel actor?
No. I have never felt that way. I just
enjoy every bit of it. And because I enjoy it, I have become fruitful in
it. We have so many movies in the market. I want to do more and do
better films.
How was growing up?
I have been an orphan as long as I can
remember. I grew up with my grandparents. It was somebody from outside
that even told me that my grandmother wasn’t my real mother. I used to
call her ‘Mummy.’ So when I went home that day, I confronted my
grandmother and asked her to tell me if she wasn’t my real mother, she
didn’t want to answer because she felt I was too young.
Did she eventually tell you?
She did. I cried. That was when I
started writing scripts. I was just expressing my emotions. I needed
that outlet. My grandparents were nice to me. They didn’t make me feel I
didn’t have parents. But at times, I would also wish I had parents,
even now. If any of my friends tells me his mother is around, I would
just envy that person. I never knew my parents. I was an only child.
There was nobody to fall back on. But if my mum were alive, I might not
have gone into entertainment; I probably would have been a medical
doctor.
Why do you say so?
I learnt she was into medical science. I am sure she would have urged me to tow her line.
Were you a stubborn lad?
My grandmother was a headmistress. She
was very strict. She didn’t tolerate any nonsense. I took it from her.
She didn’t pamper me. She was loving but she made sure I wasn’t a
wayward child.
Since you got born again at a
young age, that means you didn’t do what normal young boys did; and it
is believed that if you didn’t do those things then, there is a
likelihood you would do them now…
I was a local boy. We were always
indoors. I didn’t live in the hostel when I was in secondary school. I
was not wayward. I still find time to enjoy myself but not negatively. I
don’t misbehave.
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