Any actor that I discipline and he refuse to listen won’t go far in the industry — Taiwo Hassan spill

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Despite decades of experience in the movie industry, veteran actor, Taiwo Hassan, also known as Ogogo, shows no signs of slowing down as evidenced by his recent stellar performance in the blockbuster movie “Anikulapo”. In this interview by SEGUN ADEBAYO, Ogogo expressed his unwavering dedication to his craft and hints at more projects to come from him.

You’ve been in the business of acting for a long time and you don’t even seem to be getting tired. If there is one thing that has kept you going, what would it be?

I’ve done a lot of Yoruba productions, both modern and cultural because culture itself has a category. There were times when I got to the location before I had the script and I put myself immediately into the character. As an actor I put myself into action because I don’t have another job; I have to deliver. As a professional actor, you can’t afford not to give it your best shot all the time. I don’t think there is any special thing that can keep an actor in the game other than discipline and commitment to your craft

But not all actors are disciplined. Is this why some of them don’t stay this long on the job?

It is not peculiar to acting alone. It is applicable in every facet of human endeavour. You must not just be committed to your craft, you must be seen to be doing it well and add discipline to it. Recently I read somewhere that what you go through to get to a level is not as important as what you need to keep yourself on that level. They are two different things entirely

How hard has it been managing fame and staying relevant?

It is not hard as far as I am concerned. When you know what you have signed up for and you know how to apply all of your professionalism to it, it becomes easy and the passion will certainly keep you moving on. You can’t be lethargic and expect to be on top of your game. It doesn’t work like that. My craft is mine and I know it very well. I am also willing to learn and unlearn. I am not shy to learn from you. Once you tell me something or teach me how to do it once, you will not need to tell me or teach me again, just watch me turn that thing into something exceptional in your presence. Just give me a script and tell me, camera rolling, action. That’s it. I will give you what you want.

It seems like there are two worlds currently rocking the movie industry. The old world, which comprises the veteran actors, and the new world where the young generation of actors including skit makers are making the moment count for themselves. How do you feel about this development?

We are all actors. We are all in the industry to make a living and do what we love and have passion. I don’t have any problem with the young and new actors. We are colleagues. I want to learn from them. Even if you give me 10 years old kid to act with me, I will give you what you want. Acting is acting.

You starred in Anikulapo; how would you describe the experience?

Let me just say that Anikulapo is a movie or series you don’t want to miss an actor. Imagine you were invited to be part of the project but for one reason or the other, you could not meet up, you will miss that experience for the rest of your life.

If there is something special that Kunle Afolayan brought to the game that helped you to deliver your lines better, what would it be?

He’s a fantastic actor whose understanding of his craft is mind-blowing. I have experienced it before, but what he pulled with Anikulapo and how he managed to bring everyone together on the project is so unique and tells a lot about his ability to get his job done using everything available at his disposal. Once he says I know you can do this, it means you are going to do it and do it better even if there are 100 people who could play the role. There is something he sees in people that we are yet to understand. He’s simply phenomenal.

It seems the Yoruba movie industry is rising back to its spot in the movie making business in Nigeria. For a long time, you and others appeared to have given up on stepping into the big league of movie producers who can break the box office. What has changed suddenly?

Well, I first I want to appreciate the good work Afolayan and others are doing to make sure movie making in the Yoruba movie industry reclaim its rightful place. The truth remains that people know what we are capable of doing when we come out united and make great movies. The records of such feats are still there but we are now coming to the realization that we have the capacity to do more and better. Some of us were scared to invest millions into a project that would swallowed by piracy that will force you into a roller coaster of debt.

So you and other veteran actors are back at your best now?

We have always given our best but we just didn’t want to invest so much into an industry that is not well structured. Now that the structure seems to be in place and big investors like Netflix and others have been approaching our people, encouraging them to go all out, you can see how our movies have been dominating the cinemas. This is just the beginning. I said it to someone days back the biggest movie project in Africa will emerge from the Yoruba speaking side of Nollywood. The right type of cultural movie, putting everyone together created an exposure for us because we started seeing each other again like the old times. I am particularly happy to witness this beautiful development. People should still expect more