In this interview with Urban FM, Tobi Bakre, the winner of the AMVCA’s Best Actor award, discusses his intentions for the future, the impact of Africa Magic on his career, why he was unable to attend the Big Brother All Stars edition, and his excitement for the recently released Slum King series.
You have participated in several Africa Magic initiatives. Please briefly describe some of the work you have completed with them.
African magic has always been a part of the narrative. Actually, MultiChoice as a whole—I mean, I started out on Big Brother, and my very first on-screen role was in Africa Magic’s Hustle. That was pretty much how I started—it was just Dayo, Ochuko, and me. I recall that my first few days of being in front of the camera were quite uncomfortable.
Every time I use the restroom, I ask myself, “What am I doing?” I apologize; did I seem okay the other times I was chatting with the other guys? Then, after seeing a few episodes, I felt like I had acted really badly. However, after seeing it again, I’m like, “Well, there’s something there; just polish this, polish that,” and so I began to tap on the set because I watch a lot of stuff.
I began observing the other guys to see how they were performing; for example, I would read their lines and note that they weren’t delivered word for word. As you are aware, they added something more. I decided to give it a shot and then go back to viewing episodes while appreciating my performance at a later time.
When you first viewed the script for your upcoming film, Slum King, what was your initial thought?
A lot, that is. I was working on a project, and you know, I was provided the script in PDF format. I spoke with the director briefly, but I was unaware of the length of the conversation. As a result, when I received the script, it was perhaps six or seven times longer than the usual script, which is typically around one hundred pages.
It was my first experience with such a large amount of script, and as the main character, I had to read and process everything. The writing was disturbing, but as they say, you can always tell you are onto something worthwhile when something frightens you.
How did you overcome that fear, then?
Thus, having a conversation with the director and jumping right into a Zoom meeting where everyone discussed their characters was incredibly helpful. Following that, I began reading. Since I already knew some of the plot and who the characters were, it was simple to pick up and go.
The fact that everyone gathered together to discuss it is something that really impressed me. really significant. In my opinion, they are aware of it regarding Nigerian films; instead, they believe that they are simply cut and joined to continue the story.
Yes, there are those individuals, but given the current direction the business is taking, it is evident that making the extra effort to produce high-quality work pays off. Many of our producers are therefore ensuring that the job is done correctly, allowing the crew and cast to get together occasionally before shooting to process everything. As you will discover when you step foot on the set, man, it’s wonderful.
What is your current opinion of the series?
I have watched it because it has been so thrilling. Since this story spans a full timeline and features younger characters, you get to watch them develop. Since the younger boys had already completed their scenes, we didn’t really interact when I was on site.
I was watching the first two episodes as an audience member, and it was really thrilling. There are a ton of gbas gbos in every episode, especially the second one, and there have been a ton of positive online reactions.
You’ve established yourself as the leading actor in Nollywood when it comes to action parts, haven’t you?
Yes, I think it’s great, and it also leaves me with more time to accomplish other things. My dream role would be as the villain in a horror film; I think that would be incredibly thrilling. That way, I could try my hand at romantic comedies, dramas, or other genres.
In regards to horror films, I’m not sure how I feel. You might also resemble the actor and the romantic lead in a film, in my opinion.
Simultaneously, as is often the case with the comedic movies I have directed, there is usually a romantic interest present, and the subjects genuinely adore love.
How did it feel to see you at the AMVCA with your plaque, as I seem to recall?
It was just for me, and I was thrilled. Yes, I do believe in hard work, and I preach it to others because even those who claim that smart work requires hard work to recognize it, and since I have lived that kind of life and have been recognized for it, it only strengthens my convictions. Now that I am able to preach hard work to others, I can assure them that they too can achieve success in this kind of life.
Big Brother, why didn’t you make it to the all-stars when everyone knows that’s how it all began for you?
Yes, it was cold, but at the same time, I felt like everything I had going on and the tasks I wanted to accomplish just didn’t fit. At the time, I couldn’t have that in my area.
For you personally, what does a typical script look like?
Well, these days you know it’s a lot like there’s a lot more I’m interested in, thanks to the kind of projects I’ve been on. You know I actually have to really go in and understand the Nigerian audience and our challenges in the industry.
You know you have to really do your work because sometimes you know you love the script but then you get on set and it’s a different vibe or a different story. You know what you read in the script is different from what is shot, what is shot is different from what is edited, and a lot of the audience would not care about all of that, it’s on you the actor.
So I mean, as much as possible, you just need to do your homework, know who you’re working with, know how to work with them, and just put your best into it.
So have you gotten to the point where you reject scripts?
Not reject, not reject. Like I have, I would not reject a script. It might not just work for me at the time, or schedule-wise, it might not work, or maybe we are not able to meet on other agreements, but I do not really reject scripts.
I’m very open because, regardless of everything that’s happened to me, I’m still hungry and I’m still young. I still want to learn, and you know a lot of what I’ve learned on the job, so I know I’m going to learn much more if I keep doing the job, so I’m very open to doing much more work, but at the same time, I have to keep a certain standard.
Africa Magic, I mean, since we started this conversation, you’ve pretty much mentioned them a lot of times, MultiChoice in general. I want to know how much they have impacted you.
A lot. There are so many young, old superstars out there who can, you know, give credit to Africa Magic, to DStv, and to GOtv for the work they have done over the years. I mean, every other year is one show after the other, birthing new stars, you know, putting quality content out; they are just building the whole industry in general.
Because I used to remember growing up, that was all we wanted to watch. That was all. Even now, my parents are on Africa Magic 24/7, and I love the slot they gave Slum King. You know, growing up, I used to love Fuji House of Commotion. It aired around 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., and then once you finish watching Fuji House, you know I have to go and iron my school uniform; it’s time for school; the weekend is over.
So I love that plot; it’s a bit of the last dose of fun or big fun you get for Sundays, and you kind of retire. So Africa Magic has done and is still doing; they are in the business of doing.
I mean, 20 years, that means they are doing something well
Yeah, they definitely are!
Okay, now for Slum King, what would you say to people who have not caught on yet?
So for you guys that haven’t caught on, well, it replays during the week, so you can watch it on Sundays. So the previous episode shows from seven to eight, and then you watch a new episode from eight to nine.
I like that.
Yeah, so you have enough room to catch up and, you know, join the conversation. And just so you know, you can just go on Twitter and search #AMSlumKing or just go online and just check Slum King and you will see all the reviews and all the feedback. You know, episode one was so packed. It was a boom boom boosh.
The storyline is the story of a young Edafe. His parents and family were killed at a very young age, and you know his life changed before his eyes. Now he has a whole new reality living with his grandmom, and you know life won’t stop happening to him. So it’s just that story and how he navigates life and the other friendships, the other traumas—everything he just had to deal with.
So there are a lot of different stories: you are going to enjoy a lot of people, you’re going to hate a lot of people, and you’re going to love a lot of people. It’s like 360 emotions. You’re happy this moment, you’re anxious the next moment, you’re sad the other moment, or you’re scared.
So it’s like a full roller coaster; that’s why I love it, and every episode gives. Every episode keeps giving. Episode one gave, episode two gave, and now even I can’t wait to see episode three because it’s definitely going to give.
Do you know what I like about the series, it’s very relatable it might not be the next person’s story but there is somebody out there who has that story
Yeah, shout out to the producer, Chi Chi; she loves to tell those kinds of stories. You know, the street stories, the relatable stories. I mean, look at the population of Nigeria, beyond the favored one to ten percent—you know, the rest of the people.
Middle class, lower class, you know they have their own stories, and you know, for me, the way I grew up, if you’re showing me the life of the one percent of the one percent in Nigeria, I probably won’t relate to it, but maybe now I can. I mean, the population generally can relate to people from different strata.
Everybody can. They can definitely relate to these stories and enjoy them. You guys are really, really going to enjoy it. I can’t wait for the conversations you guys will have. Feel free to hit us up on Twitter, #AMSlumKing. Let’s keep the conversation going and just tune in.
I’m so happy for you, Daddy the Father! How has that been? How has being a dad and having to come back with your acting been, been, and how have times when you have to be awake been for you?
Yeah. I know God does everything for you. It’s the balance I need. You know, I have enough inspiration and ginger to kind of go out there and do everything I do, and then when I have to leave acting, when I have to, you know, detach from a character, I have a very soft landing.
I mean once I get home and my son is like Daddy daddy daddy, come on, and then I see my small little angel and my beautiful wife, you know that’s all I need right now, I’m in a very very happy place in life.
But what’s the toughest character that you’ve been that you’ve had such a hard time detaching from?
So all of these characters kind of have their bits in me even till now; sometimes there is still Obalola in me, there is still Kala in me; they don’t totally go away. Of course I know my person, and I’m reminded of my person every other day, so I hold on to who I am, but these characters do come and plug in, and sometimes they just linger.
So even Edafe is still in me because I played that character, and because that character just wanted to die, I found myself in my personal life thinking about death way more often, but then I had to realize, okay, that is coming from this character you’re playing.
So the moment I realized it, I just looked at my family and was like, Come on, you are not going anywhere, man! You know, you got to be here for these people till, like 80, 90, or maybe 95 sha.
Okay, so what’s the future for you? Are you ever going to be a director or a producer?
Yeah, my principle with life, pretty much. You know, there are people that dream, have big dreams. Of course, I wish myself the very best in life. But, you know, when you try to navigate life trying do this and do that, it can become overwhelming.
So my principle in life is whatever ideas God has given you to do right now, do it to the very best of what you can do and eventually, it opens doors for the next phases. So that’s where I am right now.
Congratulations on all things happening to you, you are having an amazing year
Credit: PULSE NG