Sixty-five-year-old veteran actor, Chief Olusegun Akinremi, popularly known as Chief Kanran, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, talks about his personal struggles
What have you been up to?
It has not been easy for me in the past six to seven years. A series of things happened to me, but I am a little bit relieved now. I turned 65 on September 3, 2020.
What is happening to your career?
I am into advertising and I have a registered firm called Art Heroes Limited. I stepped aside from film-making because of some reasons. There is politics everywhere and different cliques as well, even in our profession. Some people in the industry see people like me as a threat because I will not do anything that is not professional and that has made some people to be upset with me. Because of this, I diverted to the production of soap operas. The problem I am having now is that my shooting equipment got burnt three years ago. This has affected me negatively. Two years ago, I took a loan and used my cars as collateral but I couldn’t pay back the loan. Therefore, my cars had to go for it. Armed robbers also came to my house about five times. My landlord was based overseas and was always sending goods to Nigeria. The robbers probably felt I was the owner of the goods and this made them threaten my life. This was the reason why I moved out of the building and started living in a church. I couldn’t afford to pay for my accommodation anymore. After this, my blood pressure ran high to an alarming level. There was a day I was rushed to the hospital and the doctors did not believe that I would survive. My blood sugar level also dropped. I am not begging for money to feed, I can afford that. I want to get my equipment back so that I can stand on my feet again and continue with my profession. That is why I am begging for help. I just want people to assist me. Now, I have left the church and now have accommodation.
Did you report to the police when armed robbers invaded your home and threatened you?
The armed robbers were well-armed. The third time they came, they said they were sent to kill me. Fortunately, they changed their minds and said they were in the wrong place. I reported the matter to the police, but nothing concrete came out of it.
How long did you live in the church?
I lived in the church for two years.
How many years have you been dealing with these problems?
I have been in this mess for seven years.
Why didn’t you call out for help at the height of these problems?
I know Nigerians respond quickly and come to the aid of veteran actors when they are sick or have life-threatening ailments. But because I have a name to protect, I put some things into consideration before calling out for help. I just didn’t want to be mocked or embarrassed. Some people may think that I am lying or making up these claims just to get sympathy. I thought I could keep managing the situation. I think something terrible is about to happen to me.
There were reports that you also lost your wife?
Yes, my wife died of cancer. She died about seven years ago.
Did your wife die because you couldn’t afford to pay her medical bills?
Not at all. I really tried my best to take care of her. My first wife had died earlier but we were divorced when that happened. She had even remarried but sadly, she had breast cancer. I did the little I could do for her. I believe my second wife’s ailment was the result of an attack (spiritual), she had lung cancer. We were living together and I tried to the best of my ability. She battled with cancer for two years.
Why didn’t you stay with your children instead of living in a church?
My children are not responsible for my woes; they didn’t put me in this mess. They also have their lives to live. I am an independent father and I love it that way. Truthfully, my children did their bit but I just didn’t want to be a liability to them. They strongly objected to it when I wanted to move into the church but I was adamant. I told them to leave me with my God. The period I lived in the church helped me get closer to God.
So, why did you leave the church and how did you get accommodation?
Some persons got the apartment for me.
What kind of help do you want now?
I am not begging to feed; I am asking for help to enable me to buy equipment for my studio.
In what form do you want this?
If people want to give me equipment or set up a studio for me, I’ll really appreciate that. But if the support comes in monetary form, I will also appreciate it.
Since when have you been in the movie industry?
I have been an established actor since 1970. A good actor doesn’t retire. When you don’t see some actors again, it is not because they have retired, rather some producers just want to render them useless by not inviting them to locations again. When they don’t have jobs to do anymore, it can make them die untimely. It is painful. We see young actors painting their heads and wearing costumes to look old in order movies. Yet, there are a lot of old actors that are capable of taking such roles and performing effortlessly.
What do you think about the movie industry now?
The movie industry is growing, but the Federal Government is not investing in it. If they want to bring any money, it will, unfortunately, fall in the hands of some selected filmmakers.
Some people have accused veteran actors of not saving for a rainy day at the height of their career…
(Cuts in…) In the 60s 70s, 80s, and early 90s, we did not act for money. Rather, we acted because of the passion we had for the job. But things have now changed. Even up-and-coming actors are in the profession because of money. I can say emphatically that any actor that cannot perform successfully on stage to a live audience is not an actor. I don’t want to say much about this issue because this is the root of my problem with some people. A big filmmaker, whose name I won’t mention, once talked to me about this issue. In any case, how much were we paid in the past? We were just happy doing what we loved doing best.
Published September 13, 2020, by PUNCH.
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