I wore fake wedding ring for years –Yomi Fash-Lanso

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Yemi Fash-Lanso, a popular Nigerian actor in this interview with ‘Nonye Ben-Nwankwo shares his experience in the movie world

You have stayed so long as an actor, how do you feel each time you see your face on TV?

It has been hard work all the way. I have been focused. It is just a product of hard work and really, I don’t have any regret at all. It has paid off. If at this stage I have my name everywhere and my name opens doors for me or precedes me, what more am I looking for? It is just for me to make sure I guard this name and preserve it so that it would be a platform for my children to ride on.

Are you saying that even in your sober moments, you don’t regret being in the eye of the public?

No, aside from what we witness everyday where some crazy fans go above board. But then, it is peculiar. So apart from that, I am very comfortable and I love what I do.

Have you always wanted to be an actor?

Yes. I didn’t just stumble on it. I grew up with my brothers and cousins and going to the cinemas was the in-thing then. We had passion for such. They used to carry me to the cinemas then because I was very small. From that stage, I developed the passion and I knew that I would join the profession and be like one of the people I saw. Along the way, I developed myself by studying film- making. I read books on film-making and I also went to seminars and workshops related to the field before I eventually came into the field in 1995. I really trained myself over the years.

Did you have the support of your family?

To be honest, I didn’t tell them what I was going into. In fact, I even lied to them. My mum even called me one day and said she saw me on TV and I told her I was not the one she saw. Till tomorrow, I didn’t tell her I wanted to be an actor. I didn’t need to make announcement about it.

But how do you cope with scandals?

Film-making comes with a lot of razzmatazz because you are in the spotlight. You have to be very careful of what you do and where you go and how you talk. What you do on set is not who you are in real life. You have to separate the two characters. What gives most of us problems is that we cannot separate the two characters. I am not a singer, I am an actor. The way you see me on set is certainly different from the way you see me in real life. Because of that, I have been able to live a life without scandal.

You love women so much in movies, are you saying that is not how you are in real life?

It is different. But then, I love women and I respect them. I find them interesting. I tend to learn a lot when I discuss with women. A 20-year-old girl will have a deeper understanding than a 30-year-old guy. I tend to relate with women more to get some certain facts of life and how they think. If I win a lady, I have captured everybody in her house.

So how were you able to settle with one as your wife?

I had made up my mind to get married when I saw her. The normal process of ‘how are you’ started and she responded. I ‘toasted’ her. After my analysis of her character, I felt she was the lady I should spend my life with. I didn’t tell her but I prayed to God and told Him I would want the lady to be my wife and He did it. We have been together for 10 years.

You must have dated so many people before you got married?

When you talk about marriage, it is all about emotions. Because I knew I wasn’t ready for marriage, I went and bought a wedding band and started wearing it so that ladies would think I was married. I wore that band for many years. I would meet a girl and tell her I liked her and when she asked about my wife, I would tell her my wife was abroad. If she wouldn’t mind, we would date. If another girl saw us together, that one would be wondering if the girl was my wife. It made life easier for us. I wasn’t ready for marriage then. I knew marriage was a different thing and I didn’t want to make mistakes. I ran away from girls then because they were just too ready for marriage while I wasn’t. They would tell me their father was ready and that we should get married but I just didn’t want because I wanted to be the man, I wanted to be the head of the home.

Did your wife agree to marry you because of your fame?

No. In fact, when I was ‘toasting’ her, she gave me three different wrong house addresses. I eventually saw her in front of her house. I had to turn and meet her. I knew that place was her house going by the way she was dressed. It was early morning and she was doing some laundry. I drove off and I later came back. She didn’t want to see me. But with the help of a woman in her compound, I was able to woo her. But then, she wasn’t into watching movies then, so she didn’t really know me. Even when my name was mentioned, she said she hadn’t seen me before. In fairness to her, she would come back from school and she would be in her room reading or sleeping. She wasn’t glued to films. I was the one that made her to start watching films since she got married to an actor.

How does she cope with being married to an actor?

It would be a difficult question for me to answer but I can tell you that from her reaction, she doesn’t feel bad. I know she understands what comes along with my profession. She is the manager of the home. We just go out there to make money. She points out the mistakes from some of my movies. She doesn’t attach sentiments to certain roles I play in the movies. She knows the person on set is not her husband and if Yemi Fash-Lanso comes back, then he is her husband. I really commend her for that.

Why do you feature in just Yoruba movies?

I do Nigerian movies. We are not Europeans. We have our languages that are peculiar to us. I cannot do Nigerian movies in English because I am not an English man. It is not a sin to borrow another man’s way of life and ideology but don’t lose your identity in the process. Even if I am invited to act in English movies, I might not agree to take the role.

Why haven’t you produced your own movie?

Must everybody be a producer? There is no structure in the industry yet. We need to come together and have a formidable association in the film industry. I am canvassing for a national association that would represent everybody.

How was growing up?

It was memorable. I was discussing with somebody the other day. Our children really don’t really have any enjoyment now because of technology. We had so many games to play including ten ten, boju boju, and so on . Now, you see children together, they are not communicating because they are busy with their phones. If only I could go back to my childhood days. I would call my father a comedian. We always looked forward to his coming back from work. We had great fun. I never saw my father angry. I learnt a lot from him and my mother. I thank God for making them my source of life.

Are there movies you featured in that you regretted being a part of it?

Yes, so many of them. That is why I talk about sentiments. Friends may call you to come and feature in their movies. When you tell them that the script is not tight, they would beg you to just ‘manage.’ For the sake of friendship, you would want to do it but deep inside you, you would know you shouldn’t have done such movie. I thank God that a lot of good movies overshadowed those ones.

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