Akin Lewis is a household name in the make-belief industry in Nigeria, having made some monumental impact since he started out in the ‘70s.
Till date, every producer and director strive to get him on set due to the sterling professionalism he brings to play. But then, the soft-spoken actor in this interview, made some eye-opening and breath-taking confessions, not hiding his feelings one bit. This is a must-read!
You are over 60 years old now. How would you say the road has been for you in your career?
In one word, it has been awesome and that really encompasses mountain top experiences, valley low experiences and all of that. Having spent as long as I have, things have really happened, and that is why I said ‘awesome’.
If you weren’t an actor, what would you have been today?
I probably would have been an ambassador because I love travelling a lot. The truth is that even now, I am an ambassador of some sort.
Did you have rich parents while growing up?
My parents were what you called in those days, senior civil servants. We seemed to have all, and that enabled me to live in houses on top of the hill with white men. I went to expensive schools and had a large compound, but with just my sisters to play with. If senior civil servants were rich, those days, then my father must have been rich. Today, all we have in the society are the rich and the poor.
You started out in the early ‘70s with a group owned by Professor Bode Sowande. Can you recall that experience?
It was really an eye opener. I had always wanted to do this while I was in secondary school. A late friend of mine then introduced me to Prof. (Sowande).
Forty-five years after, what has changed between what used to be the case and what we have now in Nollywood?
There is not a lot of discipline like we used to have back then. I don’t know what they are teaching them right now in school. The standard of education has really fallen. I can also say that 45 years after, there is a lot more money around. People do this not for the sake of the arts any more but for money. Those of us that were trained back then still have the passion for the arts. Money is the last thing we will discuss with you. Everything has to be right from the scripts to the characters, but today, everything has to be about money.
In contemporary times, what movies would you say shot you into the limelight?
I would say it is Madam Dearest. I would also say Mind Bending, Dynasty, Alantakun, Were Alaso, and the rest.
What kind of person is Akin Lewis off camera?
I am an easygoing person. It takes a lot to get me angry. I like my space but if you get into it, then you will get to know me. I love watching movies that would challenge me to do more than what we do normally. I also love sitting with my boys and having a nice time.
Which actresses do you like being on set with the most?
I have really enjoyed working with Joke Sylva. I also enjoyed working with Bukky Wright, Jaiye Kuti and Omotola Ekeinde. Those are professionals I have enjoyed working with.
How would you assess your impact in Nollywood?
Well, truth be said, I am one of the most active actors, directors and producers. With all my experiences, I am a premium act within the industry and that is what I bring to the table. People recognise that. Some of the directors you see now maybe were not even born when I started. They respect me for that and I respect them too.
Does it bother you that promiscuity and sexual scandals are predominantly characteristic of the industry?
No, it doesn’t bother me because nobody has said it is me, and it can’t just be me. If you say that about me, people will tell you that it’s not me. We deal with life and it is all about love, sex, family, etc. We are used to these things because they are everyday phenomena.
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Have you ever been fingered in any sexual scandal, since your career started?
None whatsoever, from either young or old. I don’t do that. I am not that kind of a person. It doesn’t get to my work. I have never been in any scandalous act.
You have been married twice and both marriages failed. Why didn’t any of your two marriages work out?
You will probably need to ask the women but I think they were just being greedy, they didn’t understand their roles as wives. But if there are other reasons, they will have to explain themselves. That’s what I can say about that. I think they were selfish; they wanted it all and do not understand what it means to be married to somebody like me.
As the man here, don’t you feel any sense of guilt that you probably didn’t manage the relationships well?
No! See, we all make mistakes because we are not perfect, but my people say that cutting off the head is not the cure for headache. That is why I said they were selfish; they wanted it all without thinking of the implications it would have on family. In management, we usually say that you make the error of judgment in employing someone. That is probably what happened. The error of judgment was mine.
What would you like to change about your past, if you have your way?
Still about those marriages, I want them deleted. Yeah, I would like them deleted because it is not funny when you give someone all you have and they take it for granted.
Is that to say you still nurse that as a form of regret, till date?
Well, it won’t be good to regret; but answering the questions, those two, I don’t want them in my CV.
How much of satisfaction are you finding in your present relationship?
Certainly, I am enjoying it, that I have to keep asking God why He allowed me to wait this long.
How did you meet her?
I met her in my friend’s office.
At what point did you know you were going to marry her?
Well, it took a while. She gave more commitment to the relationship and that is what I know. You can easily compare, having gone through two before.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are wrapping work on a project I just shot in Ibadan. It is a novella. Another one is on the way too, but I can’t divulge more information on that.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Really, I would like to be remembered for a man who came, gave his best just to help people enjoy themselves; someone who was probably misunderstood but still gave his best. That is what I will like to be remembered for.
You have won lots of awards. Which one means so much to you and why?
That would be the awards I got before this new generation. I am proud to say that I started getting awards since I was in the university, and before I later got to the NTA. I am a first class graduate. All of these awards mean so much to me. Before this era, these were the awards I really appreciate. Today, every Tom, Dick and Harry gives awards and that doesn’t have any meaning again. And the process through which these awards are given, I don’t miss not getting any award today. I really appreciate the ones I got, way back.
How do you unwind when you are not on set?
I go home to rest. I live in a very quiet environment and it’s deliberately so. I spend like two days eating, resting and then get to see some friends, and get set for work again.