August 29, 2014 – Nollywood Yoruba Actor-Turned Nurse Rasak Ajao, Ara Osan Talks About Life In America
A popular name in Nollywood Yoruba genre, Rasak Ajao also called Pefun Ele or Ara Osan in movies relocated to the US from Nigeria back in 2002 and since then, he has been away from his wife and children.
The actor who currently works as a nurse recently opened up about his new life in the United States of America.
Hear what he said:
YOU JUST DISAPPEARED FROM THE NIGERIAN MOVIE SCENE AND YOUR FANS ARE WONDERING AS TO WHERE YOU ARE. WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THE UNITED STATES?
Razaq Ajao popularly known as Ara Osan or Pefun Ele is now a nurse here in America. I have been in the United States since 2002 when I left Nigeria. And I thank God because I am doing great here.
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOUR ACTING CAREER, HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT?
No, I have not forgotten about acting. I still act. You know, one thing about America is that whatever you were doing in your country before you came here, you have to suspend it and start all over again. So, I have to suspend acting for sometime and go into nursing, to be able to pay my bills and meet other necessary needs as they arise. But now, I have some films that I have already produced to launch myself back.
TELL US ABOUT THE FILMS?
They are two; the first is ‘Iwe Igbelu’ (Green Card), which was released two years back. And we just released ‘Babalawo l’America’ (Herbalist in America).
WHAT INSPIRED THE MOVIE, IWE IGBELU?
‘Iwe Igbelu’ is inspired by the problem many of us here in the US encounter before we are granted resident permit. You know, it is not easy to work in the US without a permit. But with your permit you are guaranteed a new lease of life here.
WHO ARE THE ARTISTES THAT TOOK PART IN IWE IGBELU?
I took part in it. Also the movie stars Yinka Quadri, Toyin Adegbola popularly known as Toyin Asewo T’ore Mecca and others.
Rasak and Laide Bakare
DID YOU FLY ALL THE ARTISTES YOU MENTIONED TO AMERICA TO TAKE PART IN THE FILM?
WHICH LOCATION DID YOU USE FOR THE PRODUCTION?
We shot the film in Brooklyn, New York.
WHAT OF THE SECOND MOVIE, WHAT IS THE TITLE AND WHICH YEAR DID YOU RELEASE IT?
The second and third movies are not yet released. Jide Kosoko directed one while Murphy Afolabi and I directed the other. The films are not yet titled. But the fourth one is titled ‘American Psycho’.
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO RELEASE THE THREE MOVIES?
By the grace of God, I am going to release two this year and the other one next year.
CAN YOU TELL US SOME OF THE ACTORS IN THE MOVIES?
We have artistes like Bimbo Oshin, Liz Anjorin, Murphy Afolabi, Yinka Qaudri, myself, and others.
Rasak and Laide Bakare
DID YOU USE THE SAME LOCATION FOR ALL THE MOVIES?
I shot the second and third movie in New York and Maryland. But the fourth, ‘American Psycho’, was shot in Florida.
DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO RELEASE THE FILMS IN NIGERIA?
Of course, I am releasing them in Nigeria. That is my father’s land.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING AS AN ACTOR AND FILMMAKER IN AMERICA?
The problem I had was doing everything all by myself including directing, screenplay, and so on. It is unlike what we have at home where the production process is divided into stages.
IS YOUR FAMILY HERE WITH YOU?
My wife and children are in Nigeria. I am here with one of my children.
HOW DO YOU COPE WITHOUT YOUR FAMILY HERE, ESPECIALLY YOUR WIFE; WHO TAKES CARE OF THE HOME FRONT?
I am coping well. At least, I am here working hard to ensure they are well catered for back home.
WE ARE TOLD SOME NIGERIANS ARE INVOLVED IN ILLEGAL ACTS IN AMERICA, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS…?
(Cuts in) I don’t know about that, but the most important thing is that you should know who you are, and as well know where you are coming from. If you know the background you are from, you will not want to stain it. There is an adage that says, ‘good name is worth more than gold and silver’. To be successful in this country is very easy when you are patient and focused. If you are trying to work at another man’s pace, you will run in the fast track but if you work at your own pace, you will make it easily.
YOU ALWAYS ACT AS BABALAWO (HERBALIST) IN MOST OF YOUR MOVIES IN NIGERIA. CAN WE NOW SAY THAT A BABALAWO IS RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA?
That is why I titled one of my movies that was just released ‘Babalawo l’America’ so as to let my fans know that I am still very acquainted with my Babalawo role in movies. The movie is enjoying a massive patronage here and at home.
CAN YOU BRIEFLY TELL US HOW YOU STARTED ACTING?
I started with Chief Leke Ajao, may his soul rest in peace, we have the same surname but he was from Osun State while I am from Kwara State. I started acting in 1979/80 when I finished from secondary school. That was when I knew Yinka Quadri, his father was selling towels and my father was selling sewing machine in the same area at Lagos Island. Every Saturday and Sunday, I used to go to Yinka Quadri’s house for rehearsals, he had a group then called Adetutu Theatre Group. That was how we started. Bayo Olaleye who worked with NTA 7 then used to write scripts for my boss. Our debut production that brought us into limelight was ‘Olaniyonu’. Then, we acted on stage every week at the National Theatre, Iganmu, because I started with stage acting.
WHEN DID YOU CROSS TO FILM?
We crossed to films in 1985/86. My first film was ‘Odada’. After the debut film, we did ‘Enu Orofo’ for Corporate Pictures and so many others I cannot remember.
HOW DID YOU COME ABOUT THE NAME ARA OSAN?
I got the name from Olaniyonu. I acted as Fadare, the son of an herbalist, in the film and Yinka Quadri’s name was Ifagbamila. So, anytime he says, ‘maso mo’ (don’t say it again), I will reply, ‘ara osan o’ (thunder will strike). He acted as the villain while I was the hero.
WHERE DID YOU LEARN ALL THE INCANTATIONS YOU CHANT IN MOVIES, IS YOUR FATHER AN HERBALIST?
My father is an Islamic cleric. I learned the incantations from the scripts they gave me to read. In most of the stories Bayo Olaleye wrote for my boss, the role I usually get was that of an herbalist. I crammed the incantations whenever I was given such roles and that’s how it stuck.
DO YOU HAVE AN ASSOCIATION FOR NIGERIAN THEATRE PRACTITIONERS, LIKE THE ANTP, IN AMERICA?
Yes, we have organized ourselves and soon we will make people know about us.
[Interview By Tosin Ajirire, The Sun]