I had just arrived our scheduled place of meeting for the interview with Samuel Ajibola, but for few minutes I was lost. I met the manager of the place at the lobby, and gave the friendly lady the wrong name. Wrong because I told her I was there to see Samuel Ajibola, and I got a quizzed look from the manager and the receptionist who at same time told me no one there bears such name. Oh my bad, I quickly recollected and told them his name is ‘Spiff’ , and that was when I noticed the lady had a nice smile.
Our dear actor Samuel Ajibola will arrive minutes later and gave me countless ‘I’m sorry for taking so long’ apologies. It was actually worth the wait and before we sat, I threw a quick question to him; “Last year was a good year right, you won the AMVCA and we saw more of Samuel Ajibola’, I asked, “yes it was and also for you too’ he replied, a reply that sent me on a rollercoaster of flashbacks.
I recalled sitting at Native Media’s reception one of those days in January 2017, waiting to be called up for my meeting with Rogers Ofime, Producer of ‘The Johnsons’. A portrait of ‘The Johnsons’ major casts hung on the wall, and there was also a special portrait of the ‘Spiff’ part of Samuel Ajibola on the wall too, smiling. I remember smiling at the portrait, and had a feeling that “Spiff” was smiling back at me; and one year after, I’m in same room having a chat with him.
I waited for few seconds to see if ‘Spiff’ would stick out 3 fingers while two remained bent, but never saw that imbecilic part throughout the interview, which made me ask;
We all thought we were going to be Doctors, Lawyers and Engineers, so how come becoming an ‘actor’?
I actually got into acting as a young boy, he replied. Then in Primary school, it was something I just found myself doing. So later on, I think I just fell in love with it, got used to the idea of just being on set, interpreting characters, it just became part of me. Like you mentioned, it wasn’t really something that I initially wanted to venture into. As a young boy I had so many things I wanted to do, at a point I wanted to be a Vertinary Doctor, I wanted to be a Petro-Chemical Engineer, I wanted to be a Pilot, I wanted to be a banker because my mum is a banker; I just had a lot of things I wanted to do.
Getting to know that he had lots of professions on the table before acting, I asked;
Do you still think you can venture into any of those professions you listed? He laughed, and replied ‘I’m far gone to venture into any of that at this point in my life.’
What are your projects for 2018?
I have so many projects in 2018 and I’m hoping by the grace of God, I’ll be able to accomplish them all. I have some movies I’ve done, that will be released this year. Cinema movies are one of the projects I’ve done already, apart from that, I’m intending to release more episodes of “Dele Issues”, It’s a new production that I started sometime last year. I also have a lot of work to do about my foundation ‘The Samuel Ajibola’ Foundation, which I intend to use to go round the nation, sanitizing young secondary school students to take their careers serious. That’s the best time to catch them, that’s the time they are most vulnerable to positive and negative energies. That’s the time they begin to sharpen their characters, their behavioral patterns, their drive towards life, that’s the time they can become lazy in the future, that’s also the time they can actually be hardworking, that’s the time you can get them to grow up to be successful in life. This is not just because children are my biggest fans, but because if we complain that our leaders are not doing well currently, and then we know that children are going to be leaders of tomorrow, that means on our own part we should make sure that they are prepared for it. That’s just something I want I want to do.
Talking about leaders, you know there is a ‘Not too young to run’ bill which has been passed in 12 states, are you a fan of it, do you think the current President has done well?
Well, my special episode with Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was a campaign actually to promote the ‘Not too young to run’ campaign, that has been going on. If you look at the world today, you will see that a lot of things are changing, a lot of things are happening, we have younger leaders coming out and doing amazing things. We have Emmanuel Macron, the current President of France, Sebastian Kurz from Austria who is also doing something amazing. We call them the ‘Political Wizkids’, and these people are lesser than 40, lesser than 35 actually, so I think the same can also apply here in Nigeria. We have young and well trained people, I have travelled abroad, I have lots of experience and have met people in different sectors that could come in and make sure there is change in this country, I am one of them.
‘I am one of them?’ So are you contesting for any political office?
I don’t know for now, but I am someone that always wants to make a change wherever I am. So if I find myself there, then definitely you will know.
How did you pull off the “Spiff’ Character in ‘The Johnsons’, seeing you’re quite different from him on contact?
It was a couple of things I put up together when I was given the role, and I wanted to make a difference. I’m a trained actor and I’m someone that believes a lot in ‘method’ acting. When I got the opportunity to do it, I just creatively put up a couple of things together, and then the faces from Tom and Jerry; Spiff’s face is actually Tom’s face. It just worked and people liked it. However I will like to give credit to my teachers, people that impacted the knowledge in me; rest in peace late Amaka Igwe. She did an amazing job in my life, and also have a big impact in the way I interpret characters today.
When you started off as part of the cast in “The Johnsons”, there was and still A-list actors in the sitcom, were you intimidated and what’s your relationship with them?
No I was not; it’s something I’ve been doing since I was a young boy. So along the line, 10-15 years later it’s not something new to me. We are all on cordial, friendly, brother, sisterly relationship, most especially casts from ‘The Johnsons’. I haven’t really worked with a lot of people in the industry today because “The Johnsons’ is a very demanding project, but some A-list actors I’ve worked with are hardworking, caring and down to earth.
Susan Pwajok turned a year older recently, and some birthday shoutouts from the ‘The Johnsons’ cast conveyed a message of watching her grow, do you think you guys helped her grow?
Yes, without doubt. Why because, there’s no way you will be on a project with someone since 2012, that’s about 6 years now, and you guys will not one way or the other have some sort of relationship that will rub off on each other positively. We have become one big family, we watched her grow, we appreciated her, we loved her and scolded her; we just became one family that have impact in each others’ lives.
Nollywood scandals, do you think you can handle that?
First of all, I’m a responsible person and won’t put myself in way of things that would allow such things to happen. But however, I know for sure because you’re a public figure, one way or the other, some bad guys will go on smear campaigns, look for nasty things to say about you. It is now a rampant thing on social media, but I’m overly focused. I’m more focused on my visions more than my distractions, so in that way if things like that happen, I will totally ignore it.
Have you had a girlfriend? How do you handle female fans?
Laughs and asks; who at this age will not have had a girlfriend? But currently I’m not dating anybody, I’m single and chasing my dreams. I maybe or might not be searching, but I’m more focused on work. I have lot of projects I need to execute. I also have so many female fans sliding into my DM and it’s not abnormal anyway, but I’m not distracted by it. Yes a fan might slide in and say ‘hey I like what you do’ and I will reply ‘Thank you’, but once the handshake don dey reach shoulder, mehn I just ignore most of them.
What was your experience at Calabar Carnival last year, were you invited and will you like to go back?
It was a wonderful experience and I’ll definitely love to go back to Calabar. I love the development in that part of the country; it’s a very beautiful place with beautiful people. I’ll definitely like to go back there.
So Calabar and Lagos, where will you love to base?
Obviously Lagos, I was born here, grew up here and so It will always be here.
You have friends and everybody must have chosen their career path and all grown too, do you still keep up with them or they think you’ve outgrown them?
Yes, I still keep up with them. If there’s anything I know, I know progress means you may not be on the same level with everyone. If you have to grow from where you are to where you want to be, that means you will meet new people that will help sharpen your life and take you to where you are going; new contacts, new friends, new all that. But I’m not someone that completely cuts off my friends, I try as much as possible to keep up with them. I know the major problem is, I have a busy schedule that will not give me that luxury I want to reach out to them as often as I should, but I ensure I reach out to my real friends one way or the other. We see often, but not like everyone in same place.
Everybody is trying to be woke, atheism is springing up at each turn and then there is religious craziness too. Do you have a personal relationship with God?
I have a personal relationship with God, I’m a Christian, a born again, I believe in God. I won’t drift even though I know the definition of ‘drifting’ can differ, but I don’t think my relationship with God is something I want to drop anytime soon. It’s something I want to hold and cherish forever, because that is what has gotten me this far.
What do you think about the tithe controversy?
People have their own opinion towards religion, and the tithe controversy is a sensitive matter and I won’t just dabble into it. The most important thing is my relationship with God, someone else’s opinion is his or her opinion as it is, but it won’t change mine regarding things I used to do, my doctrine and belief.
Emelogu Favour is a young writer, blogger and biochemist. You may wish to reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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