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ROTIMI SALAMI: I had to beg for transport from Ajangbadi to Surulere.


Rotimi Salami is a multiple award-winning actor and film maker, who has created his own space in the make believe world. In this interview with OLATUNDUN ELIZABETH, he shares his experience as an actor, his dreams of becoming a politician, among other issues.
Can you share your grass-to-grace story?
Just like every other celebrity out there, mine is not so different. I dreamt of probably being an actor someday in life but I never understood how to go by it. Many years back, 2006/2007, I met with a friend and I told him I thought I can act. I never said I was better than any of these actors but I do ask myself some questions like; Are you good looking enough to be on screen? Do you have the charisma? Do you have the attitude? Can you speak good English? I did a check if all this and I told myself, okay, I think am good to go.
I started and it was never the way I thought. Things got really harder, opportunities were very difficult to come by. There were loads of tribalism back then because we have more of eastern producers who come around and sometimes I thought of giving myself an English name and possibly an Igbo name. The struggle was really tough that sometimes I had to beg for transport from Ajangbadi to Surulere. It was never easy.
There were a lot of friends who stood by me and I’d use this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of them who believed in the dream and were actually supporting what I was doing; those who believed that someday I was going to become Rotimi Salami.
In 2014/2015, I got a call from Judith and she gave me an opportunity to feature as a supporting character in the movie “Just Not Married”. We did the movie just like every other. He bagged a lot of nomination for an award and here we are today.
How profitable has it been?
Hmm…I must confess, when it comes to profit, I’d be quantifying success, achievement, fulfilment in different ways. When it comes to passion, most times, you do not want to quantify achievement or profit by how well you are doing at the moment, but you can quantify with how fulfilled you are or how progressive you are. I must say I’m progressing and am still progressing and I know the sky is a starting point for me. So, when you say how profitable it has been, I will say I thank God things are a lot better than how it was yesterday and I know tomorrow is going to be a lot better.

 What inspired you to start acting?
It’s passion. As a little child, when I see actors in movie, I just know I love them. I was in drama group right from my primary and secondary schools and I’ve been acting. It all started from Abeokuta Grammar School. I had few costumes I took to school and we did a couple of stuffs then.
I moved back to Lagos in 1997. I featured in a couple of drama, so I know I was going to do this but I never knew how to start professionally. So, I would say passion made me start.
Which of the movies you acted in shot you to limelight?
“Just Not Married”, a movie directed by Uduwak Obong Patrick, written by Lani Aisida; co actors were Judith Audu-Froth, Stan Eze and others.
 Are you currently working on any project?
Of course, I’ve got three big projects. I’ve got a TV series am working on “Jack of All Trade”. I also have two cinema projects am working on; “Killer” the concluding part, which I already had the part one on YouTube and “Wrong Number” all at the preproduction stage.
 Aside acting, what else do you do?
I’m a film maker. If I am not acting, I’m making a film.
 In your previous interview, you said you enjoy writing, do you consider yourself a publisher?
Yes, maybe sometime in the future. I would of course write something to publish. Before I can actually say I want to write a book that needs to be published, I would have had numerous experiences. What the book will be about, I wouldn’t know yet. But, I, someday, will write a book that I will publish.
How has it been working on the set of Tinsel?
I think I had two different appearances on Tinsel, though the second character given to me on Tinsel would have been more enjoyable. But when the writer intended to write more scenes for my character, that same period I was simultaneously shooting “Kuti’s Career Palace” season two, the series I had on television in 2014. Though I didn’t tell the Tinsel team it was a personal production I was working on. So, I was trapped with personal project that I did not have time for Tinsel character to continue. So, they wrote the character out. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed much on Tinsel but the time spent with the Tinsel team and management was really fun.
 How does your wife react seeing you play a romantic role?
What most people pray for in life is to get married to the bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. I guess I’m one of the few lucky actors who got married to the bone of his bone and flesh of the flesh. Despite that, she is a woman and would always be a woman but she makes it easier for me when I explain to her that acting is just acting; it’s not real.
What is the craziest thing a fan has done to you?
For instance, when you see a fan who messages you on Facebook or DM and you don’t get to see the message early enough, the same fan comes back to your DM and the next question is ‘Hi, are you there?’ and you still did not see the message, the next question will be ‘You didn’t want to reply me, right? The next thing will be ‘is it because I am not a celebrity? What the fuck do you think you are? Do you think we can’t be great too?’ And when you see them and you are not in the right mood because people forget that celebrities are human too. We can have mood swing and, sometimes, we get scared of replying some DMs because of the manner people sent the message.
The craziest one has seen is when people see me and say, ‘As you fine reach, you no even get sense’ without ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ and you get to check the person is not following you.
How do you handle female fans?
To be candid, I can tell you categorically that I have 85-90 percent of female fans and trust me, what you do in this life and you don’t get people to appreciate it, then that means you are not doing something right. So, I really do appreciate my female fans a lot. I must say they are the ones that made me do more. So, how else would I have handled people who made me feel good? I’ll, of course, handle them with care because I do appreciate their love and encouragement. In fact, some of them tell me they are praying for me.
Do you have plans to venture into politics?
Yes, never say never. Politics, we all say, is a dirty game but if you yearn for change, you cannot do it from a far distance. You have to be a part to make the change. My growing up in Ojo, I always told myself that I wished I could be powerful and influence enough to make certain changes in my neighbourhood. But unfortunately, despite all my effort, it keeps hitting the rock. I’ll never stop trying but at some point I just have to face myself. If politics will of course help me get that voice I have been craving for, maybe in the future, why not!

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