Star actor cum musician Segun Aina Padonou famously known as Segun Arinze rarely grants interviews, but whenever he does, it is usually in a no-holds-barred manner.
The multi-talented star that will be rolling out the drums later this year to celebrate his twenty years in entertainment said: “I’m eyeing the House of Reps in 2007.”
I’m going into politics to serve humanity and help alleviate their problems”, he said with all seriousness, during an encounter with AZUH AMATUS.
Undeterred by the murky and dirty waters of Nigerian politics, Badagry, Lagos State-born Arinze, who became a household in Nigeria via his superlative role of Black Arrow in that monster hit titled “Silent Night” , also made it very clear, he is still consulting on his political ambition.
The multi-talented entertainer, also shared his thoughts on a wide range of issues within and outside Nollywood.
Enjoy the interaction.
2004 just ended; what were your major achievements last year?
(Breathes heavily). My major achievements in 2004? First and foremost, I thank God for keeping me alive. 2004 had some kind of low period in my professional career, but towards the end, it picked up. There was frenzy towards the end of the year and I had my hands filled with so many projects in terms of acting, P.R works, voice- over and so many others. In fact, it became a busy year and I found myself choked up.
Can you categorically say what was your biggest achievements in 2004?
The year started for me on a big bang. First, I won Actor of the year award with my role in “The Return.” I later went on to win What A Year Award in Abuja. I also got an Afro- Hollywood Award in 2004. It was a year of awards for me.
2005 is still fresh, what are your plans and also, what should your fans expect from you?
2005 for me is a milestone because it marks twenty years of me being in entertainment. I started this journey since 1985. For me, it’s been twenty years of working assiduously and being steadfast on the job despite the highs and lows of the not too good aspect of it. I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly sides of entertainment these past twenty years of being in the limelight trying to keep afloat with my reputation intact. For me, 2005 is big with plenty of laudable projects for my fans and myself. I also thank God that I’m able to see 2005. So, right now I’m working towards celebrating my twenty years in entertainment. I’ve got lots of plans, which will soon start to unfold.
Tell us more about your twenty years in entertainment. When is it coming up and what are the activities lined up?
Basically, we are planning to have a concert. Right now, I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, because we are still planning. It is also coming up this first quarter of the year. I want to go all the way by show casing myself to the world during the celebration. We are trying to make it a weeklong activity. Acting, singing and television presentation will be on display. I’m trying to use that occasion to bring my television programme, No Holds Barred back on air. In-fact, there will be a live No Holds Barred on stage, with most of my pals performing with me. We also intend to release my new album that very week in the thick of my celebration. We are yet to fix a date and venue for the event, like I told you, we are still consulting and planning. Very soon, we should be out with our programme of activities.
How does it feel celebrating twenty years in the entertainment world?
I must confess that it has not been easy. It’s been a tough one and a tough terrain. It’s not been rosy having to cope with Nollywood, the music industry and every other things that I do. Sometimes, I’m amaze at myself and how I’ve been able to manage my time despite the fact that most people think I’m scattered. They also think I’m not good at keeping appointments, which is a very wrong impression about me. All these have to do with the so many talents that God has blessed me with. I’m very, very organized and knows what I want to do at every point in time.
For good twenty years, you’ve been there; what has kept you going?
God! He has been my strength and my pillar. He has given me the will to continue and forge ahead. He has also given me the will to aspire, be ambitious and face challenges. God has been my stronghold.
Back to your television programme, No Holds Barred. Why was it rested and how soon are we going to see it come back to on air?
No Holds Barred was rested because of the politics and intrigues involved in programming. There was also orders from above to rest the programme because they felt we were two harsh, biting too hard and hitting people. Right now, I’m refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to come back with the programme. I’m coming on air again, but can’t say the station I’m berthing at. I’m coming back very, very soon to put it where it belongs. The truth of the matter is that Nigerians don’t like truth, especially those in high places. No-Holds Barred, was never a witch hunting or mudslinging programme. It was a broad spectrum programme that dealt with social problems with a sole aim of looking at how to resolve them. We discussed issues and not people on the programme.
There is this rumour going rounds that you have abandoned acting temporarily for public relation events?
No! I haven’t abandoned acting; I’m still an actor. I will continue to be an actor till I die. I’m doing P.R jobs on a small scale, because I don’t have the wherewithal to go full blast. I also have the plans of going back to school to study P.R and also enlist with NIPR. Yomi Badejo Okusanya is doing a great job with NIPR. I admire him a lot; he is also a man after my heart. They also said I abandoned music, I did not. I only left briefly but came back when I felt the time was right.
Going down memory lane, your romance with entertainment started in ‘85; between music and movies, which came first?
I started as an actor first on stage. I started with Ayo Orowale in Palm Players in Ilorin, Kwara State in ‘84, but went full blast in ‘85. Along the line, we did late Ken Saro Wiwa’s Transistor Radio, it was not so much of a commercial success. But it spurred me on. I also did Youth Scene on television in Ilorin with Duro Dola-with Late Yinka Dopemu hosting. I was also coming on stage with Kwara State Council of Arts and Culture. I later came to Lagos and joined Anansa Play House led by Bassey Effiong I did Dramatic Arts in Ife, under the watchful eyes of Bayo Oduneye.
Which was your first movie in Nollywood?
I really and honestly can’t say my first movie, because I did quite a lot them. I still remember Vigilante, Eye of Life, there was also Dark Goddess which was an off shoot of Fortunes and Mega Fortunes
Your debut effort as a musician when was it released and what was it titled?
My first album was released in 1992. It was a maxi single titled DREAMS. Premier music released it in June. Its reception then was tremendous. But commercially, it was a successful disaster.
Still down memory lane, your bad boy role in Silent Night as Black Arrow, made you a household name. Looking back now, how does it feel playing that role?
(Laughs heartily). Well, when the movie came out it was shocking to me. None of us on the set of that movie thought it will be a monster hit. We did that movie with all the zeal in us and not the money. Then we were so excited that we were doing an action movie. It was really interesting working with Chico Ejiro, he gave me an idea of what he wanted. In that movie, we were actually looking at Tu pac then in Poetic Justice. I also offered to shave my hair and put on ear-rings. That was the bad boy character I was told to portray. I did not initially know the impact Silent Night had on people until I went to Benin at Hotel De Plaza. There some students were screaming when they saw me. One later came forward and said I should bless him. I stretched out my hand and said bless you. Immediately, he ran forward and started shouting. And in my mind, I said, if you do crazy things like Black Arrow, police will lock you up. Even at Warri, during a show something similar happened.
After that role, a lot of people started seeing you as a bad boy; are you bad and wicked in real life?
You’ve been my pal for many years now. So, let me ask you, is Segun bad and wicked? I’m not bad. But if the public have the perception that I’m bad, it’s rather very unfortunate.
Aside Silent Night, which other of your movies would you say had been very challenging too?
The Return by Kingsley Ogoro was also very challenging to me. I played a very bizarre, psychotic and neurotic character. Vuga and Battle of Love, were also very challenging to me. Blind Trust was also challenging to me.
How do you usually psyche yourself up for these wacky and bad roles of yours?
Every individual in our society has a character trait .So, when you pick up a script as a professional, after reading it you begin to ask yourself questions. You also ask your director questions on the things he expects from you when playing that particular character from four different angles, namely: Physical, social, psychological and moral value angles or levels…
As a professional at the top of the game, what do you see as the biggest problem facing Nollywood today?
Inconsistency, we are very, very inconsistent. Also, we have a lot of commercial actors now. We don’t have real actors in the true words of it.
Most actors can’t even speak good English. The industry has gone to the dogs. It’s now an all comers’ affairs. We now have prostitutes, street urchins, vagabonds and what have you in the industry. We would have gone far by now, if things had been done properly. But thank God Nollywood is growing and making a global impact. We need a lot of discipline and perseverance to remedy this ugly situation. Another problem, is that in NollyWood, everybody wants to a ruler and nobody wants to be ruled. And when everybody in Nollywood is a king, who are going to be the subjects? Some people in Nollywood arrogate to themselves some measures of power and stupidity. We need to get our arses right.
Any title yet for your forth-coming album? Also why did it take you this long to go back to the studios for a second album?
No title yet, we are still working on that. It is also coming out as a full album not as a single. A ten-tracker album I’m also featuring some of my musician pals in the album. I’m working with a team of producers. Albert Kalu, Sammy Okposo, Ojb Jeezreel, Kingsley Ogoro, Tunde Ajijedudun and myself are working on the project as producers and supervising producers. O’jez music is releasing me, they are my label. It’s basically an R&B and hip-hop album combined with ballets. I delayed then because I wasn’t in the mood to sing, but I’m in the mood now (general laughter).
Between acting and singing, which gives you more fulfilment?
Both. Don’t forget that you can’t separate both from each other. They go hand in hand.
If you were not in showbiz today; where else would you have been?
(Thinks). I would have been a lawyer or in the Navy if I’m not in showbiz today. I also look forward to serving humanity and the society in the nearest future.
A lot has been said about your political ambition; are you still going to contest for an elective office come 2007?
(Laughs) Yes, I’m eyeing the house of Reps., Possibly in 2007. But if it is not feasible then, I will rest it and come back later. I don’t give up at-all on my dreams. But I’m not yet a card-carrying member of any of the political parties. I’m still doing general consultations. I’m going into politics to serve the masses and help alleviate their problems. This is my sole aim of going into politics. In due course, I will make my party known to everybody. I’m still observing. Young man, stop asking me too many questions.
Kindly tell us more about yourself and family background?
I’m Segun Aina Padonou, Arinze is my Igbo name and not a surname. My birthday is Septeember 24, but just forget about my age. I’m 20 years in the industry. Soon, I will be celebrating my 20th birthday as an entertainer. I’m from a family of seven with an elder brother not from my dad. We are four boys and three girls, I’m the first child. My mum is half Delta and anambra and that is where my igbo name , Arinze came in . My dad is from Badagry, Lagos State. I have an English name, but I dropped it because I hate English names.
You were once married to a popular actress- Ann Njemanze that did not work. Any plans of re-marrying soon?
Yes, I have had some turbulence in terms of relationships. I will re-marry in due course. Very soon, as soon as I find a soul mate. Love is not about trying or sympathy. It’s all about caring, and compatibility. So, when I find that person that I am compactable with, of course I will walk down the aisle again. As I am talking to you now; I am single, unattached, not searching, relaxed, calm and taking things in my stride. When I find the right person, I will move her to the altar and say I do.
This year or next year?
You ask too many questions.
People are also of the view that love has not been fair to you?
(Laughs) What is fair in love? If it does not succeed, it does not succeed.
If given the opportunity, do you still want to come back to your first wife?
Capital No. A very big thanks from the depth of my heart to all my fans who have really stood by me all these years. I love and will continue to love them. They are wonderful and God sent.
First published, January 2005.