Nigeria’s finest veteran actor, Akin Lewis sure knows his onion in the creative industry having began acting in 1973, the same year he joined a drama group led by Bode Sowande, a Nigerian professor, writer and dramatist.
It is important to note that Akin Lewis graduated with a First Class in Dramatic Arts and also bagged a Master’s degree in same course. In this chat with MUTIAT ALLI he spoke about his booming career, playing the rich man role amongst others
As a thespian, what do you look out for in a script?
There are good and bad scripts, and I am well trained, remember I said that. And I recognize a good script; which must have a beginning, middle and an end.
It must be well defined and must have a very challenging role for me. When all those are there, it will be acceptable to me. This comes with my training and should apply to all actors.
Why is it that you don’t take up any other roles except the rich man?
Well, I might have accepted such role a long time ago. But now I look rich and I am rich. So I guess that is the reason I cannot be given any other role to play.
Professionally, I can act any role, but also in the professional point of view, it is hard for me to be seen or cast me as a poor man. Usually I get millionaire and billionaire roles.
Don’t you feel you are being stereotyped?
No it is not stereotype for me to have money or not to have money. You can have money and be a bad person. There are several other ways, that I can be rich, but in different character.
So why did you leave acting for the corporate world?
No, I never left. I went to the office in the day and then go for movie shoots at nights. And I did well on the job; I never used my employer’s office time for acting. I would shoot movies on weekends, when on holiday and during my annual leave. Apart from the talent, you need to be disciplined as an actor.
Having gone into the business world and sat in the boardroom as a director, I can tell you this for sure.
Having witnessed over four generations of the Nigerian film industry what would you consider to be the biggest difference?
Well, essentially, the biggest thing that has changed is money and it has blindfolded many of the young talented people. Today, you have to give me the script first, I read it, and I like it.
Conversely, we have a lot of instruments these days and a lot of money, though it is too heavy and I wish it is well spent and evenly.
What is the secret of your enduring career?
I’m very diligent, I’m first on set. I’ll come, sit quietly in my space; I do my job then leave. But I guess I have a lot of grace because there are several superstars out there.
Most time you refer to yourself as a premium actor, why so?
Why I say that is because I am informed, and sought after in this profession that I have been doing for more than four decades now: 46 years to be precise.
And everybody knows where I stand, and I am one of the well trained actors in this profession. So people look for and they pay the price.
How have you been able to manage fame till present?
Well, I think it has to do with experience. You know when you start out, you won’t know how to manage it, but as times goes on, you just want to think of the people around you and how it will affect them.
I do solid interviews; I don’t run after interviews for interview sake. Yes, we have been through a lot, but we have been able to manage it.
Is it because you have being in the corporate world in the past, that you have been able to avoid bad press?
Well, I don’t have any scandals or anything to hide. So I guess that is the reason some people stay away from me. And that is the way I want to live my life; scandal free, and neat.
But for actors that live on scandals, I believe it is because they are still young. By the time they get it right, they will know that it does not pay.
Don’t you consider yourself lucky as you are one of the very few active veterans; while we only get to see others when they are in dare need of assistance from the general public?
To be honest I can only say am grateful for life and family; to this end, on this acting job have gotten married on this job, I have children, I live in my house, I have my car and all of that.
I’m saying this with all due respect and not because I am trying to bring people down. Now, actors from my set got trained just for the job alone and unfortunately, most directors just use you and dump you.
I realized this early enough and that enabled me to see the future ahead fast. That made me go into the corporate world, I diversified earlier in my career and I have very good results to show for this.