Segun Arinze tells Yes International!Magazine why he has six children from four women and many more in this interview
What is your definition of acting?
For me, acting means to live any other life outside your real life and to be able to tell a story in a convincing manner that people will believe you. So, it’s the issue of believability and taking into consideration that life in itself is on four levels – you’ve got the physical attributes, you’ve got the psychological attributes, you’ve got the social attributes and of course, you have the moral attributes. When you blend those four together, you begin to create a character. So, for me, the physical has to do with your physique, your face, your eyes, your nose, your mouth and all that, and your age. And the psychological has to do with the working of the mind of that person, of that character you are talking about, what’s the background, what kind of family does he come from, who is his father, who is the mother and all that. Then, of course, you get into the social and you go into how does the character network…
Alright! What makes a good actor?
What makes a good actor? (Silence for seconds). Talent, first! And being able to adapt and intepret the role you are given. That’s what makes a good actor.
What do you like best about being an actor?
The fact that I can live different lives, I can play different roles and in the process learn. For me, it’s a learning process. Every day, you are learning different, different things because the actor is the most powerful man on planet earth. At every point in time, he plays different roles – he can be an engineer, he can be a doctor and he’s learning things. If the script is well researched and well written, you learn a lot of other things as well.
What don’t you like about being an actor?
Well, what I don’t like about being an actor is that when you get to the fore of it and you become very popular, fame becomes a burden to you, because there are a lot of expectations; people expect a lot from you, people want to see things from you and when you fall short of those expectations, it becomes a problem for you. And particularly in these days of social media. You are looked upon as a role model, so you need to live up to those expectations. But I for one will advise that you don’t be pretentious, you just be yourself, be your real self. Don’t be pretentious and don’t go trying to be who you are not. Be yourself, be real and once you are real, the rest is sorted.
What’s the greatest thing that being an actor has done for you?
The greatest thing that it has done? Well, it’s the platform it has provided for me and for people to see me showcase my talent, tell the world stories in different forms and in different shapes and get to meet people, both high and mighty and at the grassroots level. So, it’s that. The most important thing about the actor is telling the truth. Believing the truth; the truth is the most important thing for the actor.
What would you have wanted acting to do for you that it hasn’t done?
So far, so good. Acting has done most of what I want being an actor to do. It’s done most of the things. You get bored, you get weighed down by being in the public eye. But outside that, I think it’s done a lot for me. It’s opened doors, it’s made me see things from different angles, from different perspectives and so, for me, it works.
Most people attain success in acting, but they lose it along the way. Where do you think they normally get it wrong?
Where they get it wrong is when you start being false, when you start pretending to yourself. You can deceive everybody all the time, but you can’t deceive yourself every time. So, when you don’t deceive yourself, when you tell yourself the truth and when you stay above your game, when you try at every point, at every curve, you try to be relevant, you turn at that curve; you see, it has elbows and so when you get to that elbow, you need to slow down and manipulate yourself through the elbow and get back on the straight road. So, when you miss that, when you get to the elbow and you get too arrogant, you fall off the cliff. So, you need to keep your head level, you need to be humble and you need to learn. You talk less, you listen more and then it works for you.
What’s the greatest mistake that most actors make?
What’s the greatest mistake most actors make? Em…pretending to themselves and living false lives, I think.
What role would you have loved to play, but still hasn’t been able to?
I would like to see people see me in a romantic role. People have seen me play all manner of bad boy roles and all that. I would love people to see me play a fatherly role, which I’ve done. But I would love people to see me play romantic roles.
Of all your roles, which one excites you the most?
Every role comes with a challenge, I must tell you. Every role comes with a challenge and once you surmount those challenges, you are good. Because, really, you are as good as your last film, you are as good as your last movie. For me, I take every role as a challenge. But if you want the one that excites me the most, the one that…There are four of them! Silent Night, where I played Black Arrow, KG in The Return, Atlanta, where I played Otunba and recently, Diokpa Okonkwo in A Place In The Stars.
You’ve been into acting now for 30 years. What would you say has kept you going?
First and foremost, God! My talent, pushing and trying to keep myself relevant and being above board.
What distinguishes Segun Arinze as an actor, what separates you from the other actors?
What separates me? I guess my style. My own way of doing my own thing that works for me. That’s what separates me from everybody…
How would you describe that your style of doing your own thing?
I like doing things differently, my own way, sometimes in a crazy way…I like being mature about how I handle things.
How much of a family man are you?
100 percent a family man. I love my family. That’s the first and foremost thing…
Can we meet your family?
I’m married to a lovely woman called Julie. I have children…
What are their names?
Em…from my wife (Julie), I have Ayo, Femi and my new baby daughter, Victoria Ejiamatu. And of course, before then, you know I had a son and then of course we had Morenike between Ann and I and of course I have Ebunoluwa.
Acting has done a lot for you, what has it not done for you?
What has acting not done for me? Hmmm! That’s a very tough question to ask. What has acting not done for me? I think acting has done everything for me. Seriously! To be honest with you, acting has done everything for me because without being an actor, we won’t be having this conversation today. That’s it! So, it’s done everything for me and I thank God.
Away from work, what does Segun Arinze do for relaxation? What keeps you busy when you are not working?
I like listening to a lot of music, I like reading, I like exploring, reading, particularly on net, where you find everything. Researching, asking questions and I like talking politics a lot. I love politics a lot.
What are your likes, what are your dislikes?
I don’t like lousy people, I don’t like people who treat others with disdain. People who just talk without thinking. I like people who are humble, I like people who are straight forward in whatever they do. I like people just telling the truth the way it is; no matter how bad it is. They tell you so you learn. I don’t also like regretting things because regret weighs you down. So, you only need to learn from them and move on.
Why do actors enjoy swimming in scandals?
Well, will I want to say that I think it comes with the job? It comes with the job, but you also need to keep yourself in check. You also need to ask yourself questions because when you don’t ask yourself questions, that’s when you get into trouble. Nobody just wakes up and wants to court controversy. But if you see trouble coming, avoid it. If you know this is also gonna put you in trouble, just try as much as possible to avoid it and when it does happen, don’t go blabbing, keep your mouth shut and SEEK advise. Honest, God advise.
What’s the nicest thing you’ve heard about yourself?
What’s the nicest thing I’ve heard about myself? The nicest thing I’ve heard about myself is that I’m nice (Laughing). That’s the nicest thing…
What’s the worst thing you’ve heard about yourself?
Em…People say I’m a bit scattered, that I am too fast for myself, that I do things hurriedly. Now they are beginning to understand that I don’t do things hurriedly. I take my time in doing things.
What didn’t you find in your first two marriages that you found in this new one?
No! I’ve never been married twice. I’ve only been married to Ann (Njemanze, also an actress) before this…
How about Efe?
Efe was never married to me. Never! Never ever married to me.
So, what didn’t you find in Efe that made you not to marry her?
There was no discussion about marriage with Efe to start with…
But she had a son for you?
That’s neither here nor there. Yes, she has a son for me, but let’s not even begin to dig into that. That’s my private life. So, there’s nothing. She just had a son, she had a son. Nothing like marriage there.
What didn’t you find in Efe that you found in Julie?
Honestly, if you ask me, Azuh, that’s what I will like to keep to myself. I don’t like comparing people. I hate comparing people. Everybody has their nice sides and their ugly sides and they are nothing to start talking about.
So, what stands Julie out?
What stands Julie out? The honest truth? (Yes!) She’s my wife. That’s what stands her out…
When I was a movie reporter, you were also swimming in scandals…
(Cuts in) – I didn’t swim in scandals, I never swam in scandals. Let’s be honest with ourselves, I never swam in scandals. I never swam in scandals. I never swam in scandals; let’s face facts. I never ever swam in scandals. When you say scandals, let’s begin to define what a scandal is…
Like the time you were having issue with your ex-wife, Ann. It was so messy and…
(Cuts in again) – That’s a normal thing. That’s a normal thing that go on between couples. It was just so unfortunate that it was something that couldn’t be resolved by both parties and we had to move on. And we all have moved on. She’s a wonderful person. But sometimes people are not compatible and I guess that was just one of those things. But that doesn’t change the fact that she’s a nice person, a wonderful actress and a great mother. It doesn’t change that side…
Do you still relate with her?
Yes! Once in a while, we do relate with each other. I mean, she had a daughter for me, so why won’t we relate with each other? And she’s married now; she’s happily married now and she has moved on. I’ve also moved on. I’m happily married.
Wouldn’t you have preferred if all your kids came from one source instead of about four women, like we have here?
I’m not God! It’s God. I’m not God. So, it happened, it happened. We don’t dwell on them, we just move on…
Do you have any regret about that?
I told you earlier on – I don’t regret things. I learn from them. I’ve learnt from them. I’ve learnt not to regret things, because it weighs you down. When you start regretting things, you start going back, you start doing the blame game. This is no time for the blame game. Stop playing the blame game. Just move on.
Romance – wise, is there anything you would have loved to change about your life?
Nothing! I love the way I am. I love the way I am – simple, ROMANTIC and that’s me. I don’t wanna change anything about me.
But people say that maybe because you are too soft and romantic, women tend to take advantage of you?
Well, if because they think I am ROMANTIC and they take advantage of me, well, too bad. Too bad! Now I’m in a place where nobody is taking advantage of me. I love her, she loves me, I understand her, she understands me, we communicate most effectively and that’s it.
NB: First published May 2015