Kunle Remi is one of the sought-after actors in the movie industry. The winner of the popular reality show Gulder Ultimate Search Season 7, in this interview by SEYI SOKOYA, speaks about how the COVID-19 pandemic added value to his life and his steady rise in the industry.
The entertainment industry is gradually picking up after the hit of the COVID-19 pandemic. How did life treat you during this period?
During the lockdown, as we all know, we were stripped of work and lifestyle, but I was able to survive. We were forced to stay at home, but the whole experience had a good side because it made me had time to relax, learn new things. I as well picked up a couple of courses online. I even had the time to entertain myself and also had enough time with my family. I learned to be more appreciative of what I have.
Are you saying the development has opened your eyes to things beyond acting? What are the new things you do now?
I connected back to school, as a filmmaker. I also learned content making and media influencing. I got connected to my friends in real estate. I just became a jack of many trades because of the lockdown. In fact, I became busier than before, in search of more knowledge and this has indeed helped me to be able to sustain myself even when the new normal comes into effect.
No one was aware that there would be a pandemic. What lesson have you learnt from it?
I learnt that nothing lasts forever, nothing is permanent, anything can happen. We lost a lot of lives, may their souls rest in peace. I learnt that we need to live with the consciousness that the world is evolving, anything can happen, so why not live like every day is your last? Pursue your dreams, knock certain things off your to-do list, try and live more, because we don’t know what can happen. It is a new decade, and it came with its own package. At the end of the day, I am sure everyone has learnt a lesson from this. I learnt a lot, and I am grateful it even happened; the world changed, the media changed, we realised that entertainment is important, we realised that I don’t have to go to the office every day of the week; I can work from home as long as I am working.
Away from the pandemic, it is obvious that you are enjoying the movie industry with your steady rise. How is the experience like?
It is a great experience. This October marks a decade that I have been on TV, and I am grateful to God. I will never trade it for anything, in ten years, I have done stage, TV films, cinema films, blockbusters, shows. I have literally done everything in 10 years and I don’t take it for granted. I am still learning, I still have a lot to achieve, I am still gunning for more, I am still moving, the road to 20, that’s what it is.
Do you recall the exact moment when you took up acting professionally?
I have been passionate about acting for a very long time. I grew up in Ibadan, Oyo State, and right from church and school, I have always had a part in entertainment and film-making and acting was my call, and that is what my consciousness and subconsciousness wanted to do and God just directed me along the path as doors were opening for me. I have literally worked with all the veterans I know and I am still on the right path.
When did you move from Ibadan to Lagos?
I won the Gulder Ultimate Search Season 7 in 2010, but I had been visiting Lagos before then because I was into modeling too. Lagos is the hub of entertainment; I had to be where my work is. So, I moved there and the rest is history today.
Are you saying that there is no regret that you chose acting despite your success as the winner of the Gulder Ultimate Search Season 7 reality show?
There is no regret whatsoever. I don’t believe I will ever have any regret about the career. It is my craft, it is my choice. I don’t think so.
Does this mean you have never experienced any challenge?
Of course, everything has challenges. All the billionaires of this world – Steve Jobs and all other successful people we know – all had challenges. So, if that can happen to them and they still went on to achieve greatness, why should I be afraid of challenges? Getting into the industry, working towards being an actor, I knew for a fact that there would be hiccups, hurdles, but we move, as long as you don’t stay stagnant.
Would you say that is why you are keeping yourself from scandals?
I am not keeping myself from scandals. Like I said, God has just been faithful and I know what I am focused on; I want to be a super filmmaker, I want to be one of the greatest actors in the industry, an influential entertainer, those are my dreams and aspirations, globally. So, I won’t be focusing on scandals, all I focus on is where I am going and that is important for me. As an entertainer, those are the things I want for me, any other thing that happens or falls in line, I will not just give attention or breathe into controversies. I am not a scandalous person; I am a child of God.
But there are claims that the industry is full of camouflage among actors. How will you react to this?
I can only talk about myself, but those that are genuine about it and are true to their craft will always stand out, and if it is something else you want and you are using this as a means for it, good for you. Those that are meant to be here, the thespians, those that take this as their life, as their craft, which is what I do, I am not bothered about what other people are doing. Whatever rocks your boat suits them.
Nollywood movies are often condemned because people see them as poorly produced. Tell us how you intend to change the narrative.
If there is anything I want to change in the movie industry, it is that we should have more investors. The Nollywood industry is a billion-dollar industry. It has created employment for a lot of people and continues to. If we can pay attention and know the value of the industry, investors will come knowing that they are investing in an industry that is growing. Those that see it are already jumping at it. We just need to let more people know about what we are doing.
I have produced about three films and that is because I am building my brand as an actor, I have just focused on everything that has to do with film-making. In film production, I am either an associate producer on a project that I was on or I produce my own film or I work with somebody as a producer. If it is for acting, I do not know how many films I have done. I can count a few that really resonate with me right now that I can actually connect to. I think I have had about 50, that is plus TV films. We churn out TV films a lot of times; I have had a lot of air time on TV. I prefer to work, if I am paid well, on a TV show. If I am paid to be in a cinema project, I will do it. It is all part of my work, if it is a stage, I will do it. As long as I like it and want to be a part of the project, I will do it.
Do you agree that the standard of cinema has dropped?
It is not dying, theatre arts can’t die; it is what gave birth to television movie production. There are always shows in the theatre, too many shows, stage plays, there are auditions for stage plays more than there are for television films. So, it is not dying. It is just being repackaged and reformed. They are two different things; acting for film and stage, it is just completely different, it is not dying; it will be forever.
Who are those thespians that you would always like to work with?
Gloria Young, Nobert Young, Tina Mba, Segun Arinze and a lot of them. The thespians amongst them are amazing, they are the ones that are true to their craft; you have got to respect them and I always want to work with them because I have to learn a lot from them. I recently had a film production in Ibadan, a project called Prophetess, and I have a lot of the Yoruba actors such as Muyiwa Ademola, Sanyeri, Toyin Abraham, and Tina Mba, among others on set and I am always learning and that is the most important thing.
So you know those that are not true thespians?
I don’t know. I just appreciate it when people are true to themselves. I don’t know those that are not true to themselves. If you respect your craft, I will know, the viewers will know. It is going to be obvious, and if you are not, it will show. COVID has made me understand that “whatever you like do” just make sure that you are aiming and moving towards your goal.
Yoruba movies seem to be still struggling to compete with the Igbo and Hausa movies, how do you think the Yoruba movies can thrive?
First, I think they should not be competing. There is healthy competition and very toxic competition. You need to understand the reason why you are doing this, if you tell your stories, do your production properly, you won’t have to compete because you will stand out. It is not about the competition for me. I don’t think any of the rises of the Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo industries are convenient. We should just aim at being better and make sure whatever project we are doing is Nigerian; the culture and you are also true to yourself. The Yoruba movies have strength in storytelling, let’s emphasise it. We have the Yoruba and the Igbo fans, we are just trying to find the balance and tell true stories.
How have you been able to handle your home and acting?
They are two different things, I never mix both up. You just have to find a balance. Like I said, thank God for COVID, we were able to spend time with families that were not forgotten but abandoned due to the work process. It helped us reconnect with our families. Now, I can have a balance, because I can be working and still have time to connect with my family, friends, and mentors.
You are handsome, how have you been able to handle your female admirers?
They don’t disturb me; I appreciate all of them. I have more female fans than male fans because the men even beef me, that’s a joke. In fact, many men that come across me would tell me how much their wives crush on me and I just laugh. I never take it for granted. Let me burst your head, when Jesus was on earth before He died, He had three women around him. Women took care of Him, men supported the mission, but guess what, and you need the support of these people. They are a blessing. Women are on my side and they support me, they do not disturb me.
Are they taking care of you too?
Of course, they are amazing. I appreciate my fans; I do not take it for granted or take advantage of it. This is what they want; to be crowded by female fans. I never take advantage of it, I am grateful for it.
What is your fashion statement?
Simple, easy, and classy! Be true to yourself, like I said. I am a comfy guy. I just want to be comfortable. Whatever comfort means at any point is fashion for me.
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