Musician cum actor Bobby Michaels who has featured in movies such as Time bomb, by Zik Zulu Okafor, While You Slept and Blood In The Lagoon, talks about marriage, his three kids, career and more in this interview with Edwin Usoboh.
Was it your dream to become an actor?
I was born to be an actor, it is an innate thing. As a kid, I used to see the way my mother rehearsed some of her movie scripts and ever since then, I knew acting was what I was born to do. The first time I saw the movie, Sounds of Music, I wanted to be one of the Von Traap children, and ever since I saw that movie, it had always been my dream to become an actor. I saw myself in that make believe world and ever since then, I have been working on it. Over the years, it has been amazing. Acting is what I was born to do.
You have a rich theatre background in your family, with your parents being entertainers also. Tell us about it.
I was very lucky to have been born to parent who were entertainers from the very start. My late mum Chief Charry Adannaya Onwuguzo was an actress, singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. She wrote over 30 books for children and adults in her life time and she greatly impacted me as her son. My dad Soj, was a DJ and actor and he also ensured I had basic training as an entertainer during my growing years
Having followed your parents’ career footsteps, is any of your kids following same line?
Well, my daughter Pearl likes to draw and paint stuff. Paris likes to dance, and my son MJ is a footballer. The thing is they are still very young and I don’t know what the future will bring eventually, but I know they are all very well gifted children and I won’t be surprised if they turn to entertainment at any stage in their lives. My twin girls, Pearl and Paris are 13, and my son Michael Jnr is eight.
Were you exposed to any kind of vices as a kid due to your parents’ profession?
Not at all, my father believes in the Bible passage that says, ‘spare the rod and spoil thechild’. My mother on the other hand is very culture-oriented; there are certain things you cannot do as a child living under her roof. There are certain ways you have to comport yourself in public and you have to always respect your elder ones. I grew up with strict parental guidance and I remember that as a child, whenever we watched a film and people were about to kiss each other, my parents would give us this stern look and every child watching the movie immediately knew that you should look away or risk being given a hot slap.
You married at 22? What’s your advice for youngsters planning to follow your footstep?
My advice to young people is to be very careful when choosing a life’s partner. Also, I strongly believe that people must be mature before venturing into a lifelong project as getting married. Getting married too early in life isn’t the best idea. I did that and the rest is history. We must all live and learn.
You were once into music also. What happened? Why did you stop?
My first call as an entertainer was my music. Music is me and music is my world. I took a break from music to pursue my acting career not because I am done with it. I only took a break to reinforce my musical style and come back when that type of musical genre would be very acceptable in Nigeria. The music isn’t over, there’s a planned 3rd album coming in 2019.
After a career break, you returned to Nollywood few years ago. What do you think has changed?
Basically, I didn’t really take a break from acting. I only took a break from acting in Nigeria. I wasn’t living in Nigeria for a couple of years, so my focus was the amount of work I was doing in Europe, South Africa and America, among other places. When I finally came back to Nigeria four years ago, I once again rejoined my colleagues to continue to showcase my talent in Nollywood.
And what projects have you been involved in since your return?
I have done quite a lot of movies since I got back. Some notable ones are: ‘Lagos Cougars’, ‘Devil and The Red Sea’, ‘Kiss n Tell’, ‘ T a i – lor My H e a r t ’ , ‘Grape’, and so many that I can hardly remember. Then I made my debut as a filmmaker with ‘Deep Fever’.
You love to look good. What drives your fashion sense?
I got my fashion sense from my dad. I think looking good is very natural to people in my family. My mum was a very fashionable woman and my dad is perhaps one of the best dressed men I have ever known. Looking good is also very important in this business of showbiz. I take it very seriously and that’s why I am able to stand apart from a lot of my peers. People would sometimes say stuff like, ‘if you want to look good and charming, go look up Bobby Michaels’.
Guys who dress to kill are often thought of as a gimmick to attract the opposite sex. Do you agree with this?
I don’t believe in that. I think looking good is a lifestyle. Why would I want to look bad at any time? The truth is, the way you present yourself to people on first contact that will be the way they will value or look at you for as long as they continue to engage with you at any level.
How would you describe your reception since your come back to Nollywood given the notion that you are more popular in Ghana and South Africa?
Well, Nollywood has been great since I came back, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been very happy with the organization here. There is still a lot of work to be done here to put Nollywood on a bigger scale around the world. I have had my good moments and very bad ones, but in all, I am glad I am here. Maybe with time, there will be positive changes.
Tell us about your latest or upcoming project.
I am currently working on a movie written by my late mum in 1982. I hope to be in the studio filming early February of 2019.
If you aren’t acting, how do you relax?
I travel a lot. I like to view the world. I love to see other people and other cultures of the world. I love to have a good time. People who know me know I am a movie and cinema addict. I don’t smoke or drink.
Veterans are dying as paupers. Does it not worry stars like you?
It all boils down to that adage that says, man shall not live by bread alone. I wish that the veterans of the past had delved into other businesses to support their income and to prepare for retirement. At the time when they were very active, the industry was not a very profitable one. Most people did what they did at that time simply because they had the passion and the drive for it. At that time, it was passion first before anything else, but now, it’s pretty different. If your passion can’t put food on your table, you may have to look for another avenue to support yourself, your family and your passion. I am one of the new day practitioners who are urging the government and corporate bodies to please come to the aid of our veteran entertainers who need financial help because they were the ones who opened the doors for us to have an Industry in the first place. So I think the industry should support them now that they are in desperate need for help.