When the name Femi Brainard is mentioned, the image of a veteran suddenly comes to mind, yet he looks as young and handsome as ever. MORAKINYO OLUGBIJI met the versatile actor recently where he tells us what he has been up to for a while now and shares his thoughts on Nollywood.
What’s been happening to Femi Brainard?
Well, the latest I’ve done apart from my general activities of going on set and what have you, was a cancer awareness programme titled “Go Green.” It was done last November with a couple of my friends and it was a big success. The “Go Green” event had to do with encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle by doing what they need to do and know what to eat and what not to eat so that they don’t get cancer. You see, cancer is not funny. I have lost my aunt and other important people to me to the disease. The guy you saw me with before we started this interview just lost his in-law to cancer. We are also planning another event this year on the same thing, that’s this year’s edition. You just google cancer and the result you find will shock you.
I still do regular movies. In fact, I was on a set recently with Isaiah Washinghton. You know him? The guy that acted in “Grey’s Anatomy.” He came to shoot a movie in Nigeria and the likes of Genevieve Nnaji, Stephanie Okereke and I was in it. We shot it in Lagos and Abeokuta. It’s true that I do more of project films nowadays, but I do get many scripts for regular movies. But I will not lie to you; by the time 10 movies in Nigeria come out now, only four will make sense. I duff my hat for the Kunle Afolayans of this world, Tunji Bamishingbins; they are actually pushing the industry and making it look better. What is the essence of shooting a film and I can’t learn from it? They will even give it some funny titles. The bottom line is that if you bring a script to me and I can’t learn anything from it, then forget it I’m not interested.
But don’t you feel that rejecting these scripts mean losing money?
My brother, I will tell you one little secret about this industry; the highest paid artiste in Nigeria now, except it’s through endorsement, gets half a million naira if he’s lucky.
But the reports we hear is that before the likes of Ramsey Nuoah or Genevieve come on a set, the producer must part with at least a million naira?
Just a very few of us can say that we won’t go on set unless we get half a million or one million naira because we know our worth, but not any other person. It was before that there was money in the industry but not anymore, at least for now, because like I said, out of 10 movies that are being released, only three or four will make sense; the rest will annoy you. And they are being shot on low-string budgets like 1.5 million naira, or two million naira. Meanwhile, the equipment alone used in shooting some films are about three million naira and above.
Are you saying the highest paid artistes in Nigeria right now don’t get more than five hundred thousand naira for a role?
No, don’t get me wrong; that was why I said some of us can say we are not coming on a set except we get like a million naira because we feel we are worth it and have merited it. It is not across the board; just a select few can actually stand up to ask for it. I would not lie to you, in Hollywood, a waka pass actor, which are the least paid in any industry by the way, receives nothing less than three to four thousand dollars. So what are we saying? That’s more than some popular stars get here in Nollywood. How much do we even pay waka pass actors here? It’s five thousand naira at the maximum. That’s why we need to sensitise ourselves as artistes and the media also have to help us out.
How can the media help the industry when there is so much disrespect for journalists among the so called top celebs?
The media has its own excesses. I saw a video online tagged “Ini Edo confirms Genevieve is a Lesbian,” but when I watched the video, it was just about the two stars going to brothels to see how prostitutes live and then trying to help them out. I was disappointed. It is stuff like this that earns the media so much disrespect.
There are sure bad eggs in every industry.
I believe so, and I believe we all need the media and we will continue to need you guys.
So, how do you think people can make money from the industry?
I won’t decieve you, there is money in this industry but we just need to do things right. We need a good distribution network first.
What would you describe as your most memorable moment as an actor so far?
It was like seven years ago on Adelabu, Surulere, Lagos. I parked and crossed over to a pharmacy to buy something. I can never forget what happened that day, a school bus drove by and one of them shouted “Uncle Femi!” I turned around and all of them started shouting. There was traffic at that time around the Masha roundabout. Somehow, I don’t know how the kids all rushed down from the bus to meet me; I can say that we extended the traffic for about five more minutes. If you tell me that you know me, I will say thank you, but if children know me I will thank God, because what other glory does one need that can be more than that?
What effect did that encounter had on you?
I almost cried, believe me. But the first thing I did was to get the children off the road. I had a brief chat with them and they said I should come to their school, but I had to say I was sorry because I needed to travel once I left that area. I can’t forget that day until I die.
Did the experience in anyway compel you to be more mindful of your actions knowing fully that you are a role model to many?
I like that question, because as celebrities we need to watch what we say and how we act in public. But one other thing everybody must know is that we artistes are also human. Just two days ago in my area, I was driving and wanted to take a bend. Someone just drove recklessly and almost broke my side mirror if not that it folded in. And instead of the guy to apologise, he said, “But you call yourself a celebrity now.” He was even trying to shift the blame on me. I just nodded and left. Though we don’t have the privilege of acting in certain ways in public, people should always remember that we are humans too. I know at least four of my colleagues that if you mess with them like that, dem go comot their shirts in public and beat you silly. They don’t take nonsense.
You remind me of Jim Iyke.
Well, you said that (Laughs). I even have another one who recently went to beat up a guy inside a police station. He will remove his shirt and trousers and beat anybody silly. So, we try our best to be human but please people shouldn’t try to cross our line. We love you guys.
There is this obvious caste system in the industry whereby many so called big girls and boys in the industry don’t respect those who have come before them simply because they seem to be ‘hot’ at the moment. What do you have to say to that?
We cannot be there forever. What you do is try to bring up someone no matter how small he or she is. In future, they would thank you if they succeed. But when you get there as a young star, don’t go about stepping on people’s toes just because you are reigning now. The one that pisses me off is when you hear some young actress telling their colleagues to call them “auntie.” They try to feel older. That’s ridiculous. There are just too many fake activities, fake behaviours going on in the industry.
Filed Under: Celeb