By Gold Odenigbo
Scorching Wednesday Sun
In a bush bar taken over by Nollywood itself!
I’m seated alone, under one of the thatch structures- empty table, looking frantically at my watch. Obinna’s taking too long. If I call him again, he’ll blame Lagos traffic again, and I will be upset, so I try to find calm in Tracy Chapman’s thoughtful lyrics. But then I see him and I know calm is working overtime to elude me.
Yemi is seated with other men under the thatch canopy opposite mine- they are drinking, telling stories, being men. But it’s easy to see he stands out- gigantic frame, bulgy eyes, absolute hunk. I had seen him before but a thin sheet of screen separated us, I had fallen for him a long time ago and now he is here- one canopy away. For one minute I think I’ll faint but Nigerian girls never faint without planning it. Then I think of walking up to him and telling him I love him, but I have pride issues, useless pride issues!
Somehow, one of the men notices me. He thinks I’m lonely and can use company and beer. He invites me to sit with them. How can I say no? How can I refuse to sit around the same table with him? How can I refuse free beer in the face of frustration? So I go. I try not to join the conversation. I try to pretend I have the glass in my mouth all the time. I steal careful glances at him and pray he doesn’t catch me. They are talking music and showing off their musical skills (part of being men). Then one baritone begins a song about a girl with her beer glass in her mouth. I look up and it’s him, his phenomenal eyes on me. And only then do I truely begin to understand what teenagers feel for Wizkid or Justin Beiber!
Obinna comes and I escape when my song is over, before I lose it completely. I brag and Obinna tells me we are going to have to interview him and I don’t know what to say.
Yemi, it’s a pleasure meeting you. This is Cruise magazine and as you may know; we are a teeny-tweeny magazine. What I mean is that we have a target audience of teenagers and people in their…
I speak small English (He laughs). So I can figure it out small.
Of course you speak a lot of English, Yemi… That brings me to my first question; Did you school in England? Cos you sound like you did
No, no, no. I schooled here… I believe that if you speak a language, you’re supposed to as much as possible; speak like the owners of the language. And the British own English, so; hey, why not? So it’s not like forming. I be Naija boy. And frankly, I believe that Pidgin English is the real lingua franca in Nigeria, so I speak a lot of it. But, when you need to communicate; it’s relative. What I mean is this; if you’re in the market for instance and you speak this sort of English, it alienates the people. And all the time, they’d be wondering; “What is he saying?” right? And if you do that; the process of communication is not complete… Communication is coding and encoding and decoding and feedback; right? So it’s a circle. So if you encode and the other person doesn’t decode- he doesn’t give you feedback; feel me? So that’s it.
Communication is coding and encoding and decoding and feedback; right?
Many young people look up to you and want to get into acting- what advice do you have for them- is there space?
There is too much space for everyone… But the thing is; they need to know if they are coming into the right place. Cos if that’s not the case, there’s a possibility that you’ll fall by the road side. You need to make sure that you have the talent. Talent is the pivot on which this industry rotates.
When did you decide that you were getting into Nollywood?
That was probably like six years ago… But I always wanted to be an actor. There were no second thoughts about it.
I’m wondering why your name is Yemi Blaq- is that your…?
Well that’s my name. What’s your name?
Why’s your name Gold Odenigbo?
Cos that’s my name.
Well it’s the ‘Gold’ part I’m interested in (laughs)… Well, my name is Yemi Blaq because when I grew up, I met it like that. Tell them, when I said this I winked. Ha-ha. So put it in bracket during your transcription- “he winked” (He winks and laughs)
Winning the Celebrity-takes-two put in some millions into your account. Can you tell us how much you were paid?
Well, it’s a lot. I’m going to leave it at that; it’s a lot.
So how come you won? How did you manage that feat?
Well, I think it’s because I went in there with a winner’s mentality. I wanted to win. I went in there with a winner’s mentality and like they say; never let them see you coming. I came in there with the mind of a go-getter; with the mind of a winner. So I didn’t cut any corners… The only ‘cut’ I did was cut the chase.
Who do you look up to in the movie industry?
Well, I’m not much of a look-up-to person… I try to define myself; and I’m too busy doing that; redefining myself, reinventing myself that I’m left with little time to look up to anyone. God is the ultimate. And he gave us the gift. And in the Bible somewhere… it says that the gifts and callings of God are free… So he gave me the gift; therefore the only person I look up to daily to renew that and to support that- is God.
Are you Married?
Yes Sir. I am.
Do you have kids?
Yes Sir. I do
You don’t seem to want to elaborate on your personal life or talk about it. Why is that?
Have you seen a lot about me or heard a lot attributed to me? That’s the sort of person I am. That’s me. I’m an artist. So the thing- or rather most things that people should know about me- should be about my gift; about my work. But personal life is personal. Everyone has a personal life. They have what they hold dear to them; what they hold close to their hearts. So that’s me. I’m not going to make any noise about where I was and what I did (with my family)… If it’s my job; why not? But apart from that; it’s personal.
For the full interview; grab a copy of the next NoCoolStory paper back edition