Samuel Ajirebi Olasheinde is the son of Papa Ajasco and Company’s Pa James, popularly known as Ajirebi. Samuel came into the limelight as a child-actor in the late 90s and has, since graduating from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), where he studied law, launched a comeback into acting. The actor, writer and filmmaker in this interview by FEMI OGUNTAYO, talks about how he managed fame while growing up, why he left his law career for acting among other issues. Excerpts:
You became well-known as a child-actor in the movie “Oshodi Oke”. Since you came into limelight, what has the experience?
Well, the experience has been great. The whole hype, recognition and all. But I have come to see them as not being a big deal. I take it as a by-product of doing what I love. The fame, to me, is just an indication that my effort is recognised, not that I am superhuman. It’s been great and God has been helping me to manage it.
In your younger days, when you featured in several movies as a child-actor, who and what made it happen for you?
A lot of factors came together to aid my career from childhood. God, providence, good support structure (my parents, loving school teachers, and ever-willing-to-invest producer and patient older colleagues). These all came together to push, teach and guide me.
You studied law, but right now you are back on set, how would you describe the experience combining law with acting? Or did you actually take a break from acting while studying?
Yes, I did take a break. I have chosen at this time to focus more on my acting than the pursuit of a law career. Of course, sometime later, I could practice some shades of law, but right now, actor lomo!
We all know your dad to be an actor as well, a veteran at that, what was the encouragement like from his side; does he support your decision to return to acting?
Yes, he supports me. He and my mother lend their support to my return to the industry despite studying law. It was difficult, but they still back me anyway.
You do not really feature in contemporary Yoruba Nollywood movies. Just like your dad, you feature more in TV series more instead, is that intentional?
Well, acting jobs show up anytime and everywhere. I don’t think I particularly chose series over the contemporary Yoruba films. However, I know I don’t want to be labeled a Yoruba actor. I want to be as dynamic as I can be.
You also feature in Funke Akindele’s Industreet, what is your relationship with Funke Akindele?
Our relationship is quite good. She is a colleague I respect so much and accord the respect as a trailblazer. On a personal note, I can’t stop being grateful to her over the help she rendered to my dad when he had an accommodation issue. I keep praying that as she goes higher, she will not diminish.
Do you now practice law?
No, I do not practice law, not for now.
In an interview, you named Gabriel Afolayan as your role model. Why?
Gabbylucci is the only Nigerian actor I see myself in. In height, skill, training and even ancestry, it is easy to replicate a feat when the surrounding conditions are similar.
Now that you are back to acting, what are the projects you are working on which we should be on the lookout for?
A lot, series, feature films, short films, etc. I also write and a few of them are making it to the screen.
Looking at the way the industry has changed since your days as a teenager, what would you say are the shortfalls of the present day industry?
Hmmm, I would say, I am still here studying! Well, it is a lot – systemic and artistic. However, I credit the industry for being this resolute. Nollywood is growing and we can only observe how it evolves.
How would you rate the present day Nigerian Movie industry?
In Macaroni’s voice, “We are doing well”
Do you see a new generation of actors taking over the movie screens soon?
Yes, of course. No man owns all the time. Other actors will surely rise. Platforms for expression were scarce and hard to find. But thank God, that is changing.
Do you think the present day Nollywood encourages new faces, especially younger acts, as it was then?
Everyone is now profit-interested, hence the recycling of faces. But truth be said, it should change.
What are your words to your fans and what should they expect from you?
Samuel Olasehinde is back; better and great. Watch out!
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