It is a fact that children of stars have to struggle to forge their own identity.
It was not any different for popular Yoruba actor, Femi Adebayo, whose father is veteran Nigerian actor, Adebayo Salami alias Oga Bello.
After kicking off his acting career on the set of his father’s first movie, Ogun Ajaye, in 1985, the 39-year-old actor did face the usual pressure of finding his own identity with a famous father.
But that is the past. Today, he is one of the poster boys in his industry and was a Special Adviser to the immediate past governor of Kwara State on tourism and culture.
PREMIUM TIMES recently interviewed him at the premiere of a Nollywood movie, ’The Reunion’ where he spoke about his career and other matters.
PT: How do you juggle politics and acting?
Femi: I am not partly a politician; I am fully a politician. I believe politics for me is a divine call, and when it’s divine, it means God is directing me. By divine call, I mean it’s from God. I was called to serve, I didn’t go begging for it, that’s why I said it’s a divine call. So, for you to be slightly different from others you need to tow a different path and the Lord has been good, we have been trying to manage it.
PT: Do you find it that some people don’t take you serious as a politician?
Femi: Because politics is a serious thing compared to acting? I don’t think so. Acting and politics are two different things. People see me differently the moment I step forward to be a politician. But I cannot deny the fact that being an actor and popular helps me get in touch with the grassroots. They also give you a listening ear. I think if you are loved, then you should be the person to be a politician because you will feel the pulse of the people more. They will also feel free to express what they need to you and be able to execute what you think will be of immense benefit to the people.
PT: What projects did you execute while in office?
Femi: To the glory of God, we were able to do the little we can. Of course, it’s still not enough because things have gone really bad. And as a special adviser, you have to seek permission and approval to do so many things. That is why I said to the glory of God, I have done the little I can. What I just did as the special adviser for tourism and culture was to transform Kwara State into a cultural haven. When I got to my state, I realised we had so many beautiful cultural tourist sites and attraction that people do not really know about. So we created a culture and tourism awareness campaign for the people. It also encouraged investors to invest in the tourism potentials and sites and to God be the glory we were able to do that. I also rebranded the cultural and tourist attraction sites and put them under an umbrella and tagged it ‘Our Kwara’. You know the hospitality of our people in addition to the cultural and tourists’ sites make the state tick.
PT: So do you think your law background prepared you for your role in politics?
Femi: Yes it sure did. You cannot rule out the fact that being a lawyer has helped me a lot.
PT: Are you still a practising lawyer?
Femi: You know, I left acting for a while and I was called to the Nigerian bar in 2003. I did practice as a lawyer for about two years. However, it clashed with my acting career. I couldn’t go to court, handle legal assignments (and) still act. So I chose acting and I am very fulfilled.
PT: Did you nurse a political ambition before your appointment?
Femi: Not really. But when I got into politics, I thought there was a need for me to be in it and contribute my quota. This is also because there is that belief that when you are a politician, you are a bad person. So I really wanted need to correct that notion in public.
PT: Are you working on any current project?
Femi: I am currently am working on the sequel of my comedy film ‘ Jelili’ titled ‘Survival of Jelili’ and it is coming out soon. I shot in Ibadan and Ilorin, we are about 85 per cent done and this year, it will hit the cinemas.
PT: Did you retain the original cast?
Femi: Yes I did. So yes ‘Jelili’ was retained for obvious reasons and so was his family, and also got some new cast. We have Toyin Abraham, Gbenga Adeyinka the 1st and comedian Arole.
PT: Did you feature your dad in the film?
Femi: No I didn’t. The storyline did not require it but we have both featured in movies where I have had to slap him.
PT: What movie was that?
Femi: One of the many movies was ’Aseyiowu’ it’s a Yoruba movie.
Well, he is going to encourage you to do that, it’s my job. He trained me and he is my boss in the industry. He has taught me not to fear whenever I come across a bigger actor or someone like him on set. But the moment the director says stop, I prostrate to him and apologise.
PT: It must have felt awkward for you right?
Femi: You see, anytime I am presented with scripts where I had to slap my father on set and I must do it as an actor. I have no choice. He has also slapped me on set too countless times. The moment we are acting, I don’t see him as my father anymore; I see him as a colleague and we both need to interpret our roles very well.