BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
One of the first things likely to strike you about this well-built and massively talented actor when you engage him in a conversation is his intelligence. He obviously knows what he is doing. He knows his art and his art also recognises him.
Femi Jacobs won the award for Best Actor in a Comedy at this year’s Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) and the brilliance, and popularity of the actor he beat to that award – Frank Donga – is an attestation to the fact that his delivery of Mr M was top notch.
The actor who joined the list of those that travelled the journey from the world of Banking and Finance to Nollywood shared his script interpretation routine with TNS as well as what movie character he wishes he played, and more.
What led you into acting?
It was purely by chance. I’ve never gotten carried away. I was spotted, prodded, pushed and then eventually sucked into it.
How do you prepare for a role when you first get the script?
I first learn all the words the character speaks, then find the ones he doesn’t speak to design his thought process. Then I study how all the other characters treat him in order to see how he’s perceived. I pay close attention to his reaction to their perception of him to form my strongest opinion about his personality. Next is to determine what he wants and how he sets himself about to getting it. Going this route eventually plants him vividly in my mind which will invariably make me remember someone I know in real life who is like him. This is very useful in making him believable and real.
Which character has been your favourite to play so far in your career and why?
Hard for me to forget Mr M in The Meeting. I have pondered on that character a lot, especially in retrospect. I see him in many people I meet who are in denial about how things work in the country and play the ostrich until they come face to face with it by necessity.
People have also made it difficult for me to forget him as I meet people literally every single day who keep making reference to him. So, yes, he’s my favourite. Kudos to Mildred Okwo and Rita Dominic for a beautiful film. And of course, props to the writer Tunde Babalola.
What has been your most challenging role so far?
It was actually a production I did for Africa Magic Original Films titled Maid of Honour. I judged the character I played. He was a rapist. Very hard to be him.
Is there a role you can never play as an actor? If yes, why?
I will play any realistic character and I will be part of a good story. Some things are extreme obviously. I try to avoid those.
What’s your favourite movie of all time and why?
The Age of Innocence. Featuring Daniel Day-Lewis. Obviously because Daniel teaches you how to let the story win.
If your life were to be made into a movie, what title do you think it’d have and why?
This is a vanity question. I shall take the liberty to flatter myself. A BEAUTIFUL MIND. Why? Because I think I’m a genius. Ok, that was a joke. I have to say.
What character in a movie do you wish you played and why?
I envied Bradley Cooper‘s character in Limitless. It speaks to my personal fantasy of being an accidental genius. Now, that’s not a joke.
Stage or screen and why?
Screen any day. It caters to subtle expressions and suits my minimalistic methodology. But I’m planning to do a bit of stage for fun soon.
What is Nollywood to you?
I prefer to call it the Nigerian Film Industry. I don’t think even the veterans like this term. It is a goldmine of latent energy. It’s one of Nigeria’s most promising hopes of ruling the world. It is a sleeping treasure of mammoth opportunity. It’s fairing well, but when we eventually get it right there is absolutely nothing we cannot do.
What are the things you’d love to change about Nollywood?
A little less noise, a lot more good work. A little less ego, a lot more value creating and profitable collaborations.
What do you think of New Nollywood?
It’s nothing new.
What would you say to someone who wants to pick up an acting career, especially in Nollywood?
Want it for the right reason. It is business. Be realistic about your chances. The dangerous thing about hope is it runs away from you like a mirage if you don’t give it objective timing. Here in Nigeria, if you’re not getting between twenty to thirty scenes per film consistently, you should find a day job. But this is just me talking. What do I know.
Photos: Femi Jacobs, The Audrey Silva Company