Yoruba actor, Taiwo Hassan, popularly known as Ogogo, in a recent chat with Journalist Ademola Olonilua talked about his career, marriage and why he ventured into music. See excerpts below:
Do you feel accomplished as an actor?
Yes, I feel fulfilled and I thank
Almighty Allah for his mercies and goodness. As far as I am not dead, I
am still working to be better at everything I do. So far so good, I give
thanks to God.
Why did you leave your job in the civil service for acting?
I retired. I really love the acting
profession and I have been doing it for a long time. I began acting even
before I started working for the water corporation. I began acting in
1981 shortly after I got a job at the water corporation as an
auto-mechanic. I worked at the water corporation for about 13 years
before I decided to face my acting career. That was in 1994. I am sure
not many people believe that I trained as a mechanic.
How were you able to combine your civil service job with your acting career?
I always made sure that any production I partook in was on a weekend or during my annual leave.
What was your ambition as a child?
To be honest, all I knew was that I
wanted to be someone great in life. I never knew that I would be
involved in the entertainment industry while growing. I just admired the
glitz and glamour. I think my love for entertainment can be traced to
the fact that I come from a family that is deeply rooted in the Yoruba
culture and tradition. We are masqueraders and I know how to praise
people and chant very well. When I started acting, producers loved
giving me the role of a traditional chanter because they knew I could
chant ‘ewi’ and ‘oriki’ very well.
Since you began acting in 1981, has there been any time you felt like quitting?
Never. Such thought has never crossed my mind.
So you never had a challenging moment?
Of course, there were challenging
moments but they were not enough reason for me to quit. Things are
better now because back then, we did not get any financial gain from our
profession. The people that enjoyed being actors were those whose
parents were rich enough to sponsor their projects. Back then, if you
were unable to produce a movie, it was difficult to become a success in
the industry because you would always rely on stage plays to survive.
When I produced my first movie, some people were shooting theirs for
less than N20,000 but because I knew what I wanted, I aimed higher. I
knew what it meant to produce a quality movie and I spent over N70,000
on my project. The Wicked Boy was my first movie and I shot it
in 1993 in two parts. It was a big success and it sold very well. I
produced a movie that I was paid a royalty of over N2m in the 90s. Now
pirates have messed everything up for us.
How much were you paid for the first movie you ever featured in?
During that period, we could not charge.
We were satisfied that we featured in movies. We were just doing
solidarity jobs for ourselves. Gradually, we started charging and the
highest we were paid then was N300. We suffered a lot before the
industry became what it is today. There was a time a man called me for a
job; he wanted me to chant in his movie. When he saw me, he did not
believe I was an actor because of the corporate way I dressed. Then I
was still a mechanic with the Lagos State Water Corporation but you
would not know. When he asked me to name my price, I said N600 for
starters but he could not meet up. He said that the lead character was
charging about N400. I declined the job. In 1994, the highest paid actor
charged about N1,500. I was paid N1,200 in 1991 for Omo Yoruba, that was the very first movie that I was paid big money.
How did you feel when you were paid such a huge amount compared to what your contemporaries were earning?
I did not see it as a big deal because I
was already working; although it was a huge sum in the 90s. At that
time, you could not finish N2 in any restaurant except you were a
glutton because naira had value then. From the location that I collected
N1,200, I went to Ado-Ekiti where Fadeyi Oloro was shooting his movie
and he paid me about N850. Within a week, I could make as much as
N2,000. Don’t forget that I was earning salary as a civil servant. So, I
lived like a king.
It is a popular belief that you are a womaniser because women flock around you
I am not a womaniser, I just believe
that people surround me because of the love God has for me. It also
depends on how you present yourself to people. I believe in self control
because if you have sex with every woman that comes your way, then your
life is in danger. If I indulge in such acts, I will not look as
radiant as I am at my age. Most likely I might have contracted various
diseases. If I were a womaniser, I would have thought I contracted a
sexually transmitted disease during the time I was critically ill.
When you fell very ill, it was rumoured that you peddled cocaine and it got burst in your belly
I do not even know what cocaine looks
like. Of course, I heard the rumour but an official of the National Drug
Law Enforcement Agency once told me that no one survives it when
cocaine bursts in the belly. It is normal for people to peddle rumours
against a popular person. Some people are image makers while others are
image breakers. While I was ill, a journalist very close to me published
that I had AIDS. When I became healthy, he began to dodge me. When we
eventually met, I told everyone present to thank him for me because
without his write-up, even though it was false, no one would have known
that I was very ill and I could have died.
When you were very sick, did it ever occur to you that you might die?
Of course, it was only natural for one
to have such thoughts at that period. I began to have the feeling that I
might lose my life after I had sought for help at several places but
found none. I spent a lot of money while taking care of myself.
What lessons did you learn from your illness?
I learnt that it is not everybody that
truly likes you. We have a lot of entertainers in Lagos but only a
handful cared enough to check on me when I was ill.
How were you able to regain your stature because you looked very frail when you were ill?
That is the work of God because I did
not use any drug to regain my stature. I had chronic ulcer so I had to
be eating well; the only thing I could not do was exercise. I am getting
over it because ulcer can only be managed and not totally cured.
Did you have ulcer because you hardly ate?
Ulcer is not only about eating well,
there was too much acid in my body. I don’t go to parties, neither do I
drink alcohol. The day it began, I was fasting. I was at home for seven
months without taking anything except pap. I thank God the worst is
Why do you always act the role of a saint in movies?
I have acted the part of a wicked person
years back. I have done movies where I was a hardened criminal but that
was in the past. The truth is that when a producer sees a script, he
already has a mental image of who can act the role perfectly well. That
is why most times when there is a role for a quiet person, they invite
me. When the movie Owoblow was produced, I was not a saint in
the movie. I remember I was in the hospital and it was the first time I
ever had typhoid in my life. They brought the script to me in the
hospital and when they saw that I was ill, they went back to tell Tade
Ogidan that I was ill and might not be able to act. He ordered that the
movie be postponed till I got well. When I heard that, I asked the
doctors to discharge me so I could go and shoot the movie. I promised
that I would always report back to the hospital at night for my
treatment just to honour Tade Ogidan. After shooting every evening, they
always took me to the hospital for my injections before they dropped me
How did you meet your first wife?
We were in the same theatre group and I
admired her a lot. I saw her and I was interested in her. I told her
that I would like to marry her and she agreed. I later married another
wife but I believe everything in life has to do with destiny. I vowed
that I would not have a second wife because I never fancied polygamy but
it happened and I believe it was for a reason. It is God’s doing.
When you told her you wanted to marry another wife, how did she react to the news?
She felt bad and I begged her. May God
give us a good wife; if I had money I could have bought a hummer jeep to
beg my wife but I am not that rich. I made her understand how it
happened and that regardless, it would not change anything between us. I
begged her to please accept it as our destiny and I appreciate her for
But some women will either pack out of the house or make it unbearable for the man. Did such a thing happen to you?
Not at all, she did not do any of that. I
asked my younger brother and two of my sisters to help me beg her. When
they begged her, she said she believed that it is destiny.
What is the atmosphere in your house?
One thing I like about my first wife is
that she encourages me to help people, especially my family members. She
always makes sure I satisfy them if they need my help. When my mother
was alive, she took good care of her. God is the only one that can
forgive us our sins and I pray that he forgives me. I also pray my wife
How did you venture into music?
It has always been a part of my family heritage. I released an album titled Appreciation
in 2009. I did it in America and I found out that it was well accepted,
so I came to Nigeria to do the same thing but the marketer ran away
with my N2m. After a while, I decided to produce another album and I am
grateful to my fans because the feedback has been great. The acceptance
of the first album encouraged me to do another album. I did not make
money from the first album but I was happy with the feedback that I got.
Not many people believe you have delved into music…
It is not really music, it is chanting, praising people in the cultural way through what we Yoruba call oriki. It is infused with music to make it melodious.
Do you have plans to quit acting to pursue a career as a musician?
No, I am not going to do that. They both
involve entertaining people and that is what I am all about. I can
never leave the entertainment industry.