Why I am the bad guy in movies–Alex Usifo

Why I am the bad guy in movies–Alex Usifo

Monday, February 27, 2017 2:06 pm


Alex Usifo

Alex Usifo, an actor, PhD holder and lecturer at Babcock University has revealed why his roles are about looking mean, a bad guy which portrays him as stereotype but which critics regard as lack of versatility.

He said: “I am not bothered about versatility. I don’t think people who are not knowledgeable should be talking about versatility. You were not the one choosing the role, you were auditioned for the role and you fit into the role and they give it to me. And it is not impossible for 20 producers to do something similar; this is what you do a living, for God’s sake. When you talk about versatility, it’s when producers step out to say ‘stop, I want this person to play so role.’ If I am unable to interpret that role, then you can say that I am not versatile. But you can’t judge my versatility when I have not had the opportunity to play such a role. So I don’t care what people think about stereotype.

“ I have watched a lot of intellectual movies and the people are stereotyped. Even in Nigeria, you will see some people playing love roles; is that not stereotype? Some tough roles are not very easy for people to play, so at the end of the day, some producers go shopping for people to play such character. They cannot actually look for those that can’t actually interpret such characters as much as Alex Usifo would.”

On his clean shaven hair which gives him a piratical panache, Usifo replied: “I actually carve out that identity as an actor. But don’t forget that even as an actor, I am still a human being; I am still Alex Usifo, so I have decided to keep that identity.”


Here is the full interview published by The Nation:

Alex Usifo Omiagbo has featured prominently in Nollywood movies as a bad guy in almost all his entire roles. He took a break to go back to school for his PhD at Babcock University, the same university where he now lectures. In this interview with Omolara Akintoye, he said every role he has played has been challenging and how his negative roles have portrayed him as stereotype, among others.

Do you see acting as something you desired or you stumbled on it?

I desired it, I did not stumble on it. I started as a little boy in Ibadan in my primary school, Akintola Methodist School. In my secondary school, we formed the Literary and Debating Society, including the drama group. Even while I was at the University of Lagos, I also took part in productions. I was in Larry Williams Play House. I did not stumble into acting and that is what I have just explained in a nutshell.

You have not been acting lately, what is happening to you?

I went back to school to do my PhD at Babcock University on Information and Resources Management. I specialised in Knowledge Management. During the period, I was still going out to shoot movies. What you can say is that I have not been featuring frequently. I had my convocation in June last year. I have been shooting. I have other scripts that I am studying right now; once I am done, I will go and shoot.

Tell us a little about your childhood and growing up

I was born into a Catholic home. I attended a Catholic primary and secondary schools. My father was a staff of Kingsway Stores. I am the second of two boys and two girls.

What was the first paying job ever that you had?

It was work as an Operations Assistant at NTA Benin (camera/audio manager)

What other jobs did you do outside acting?

I sold insurance policies with Crusader Insurance in the early 1980s.

What made you go into acting and when did you start?

The flair for acting (an innate conviction that I could act) started in 1984.

Who were your role models in those days?

Ogunmola, Duro Ladipo, Pram And Prem Chopra (Indian) and Bruce Lee.

What was your first role in theatre, TV or movies?

On television it was The Return of the Natives, as Mr Davis. Then in theatre, in Awero as Pa Jimoh. Moving to movies, I did Mission to Serve, as Mr President.

What was the major breakthrough role in your career?

It was the TV series Ripples where I featured as Talab Abbas.

How many films have you been involved in as an actor to date?

Innumerable; I have starred in Silent Night, Sanctuary, Captive, Innocent Tears, Fugitives, to mention a few. I get motivation from the love of acting and the desire to make people happy and the fact that they appreciate what I am doing is my motivation.

You have featured in more than 50 movies. Which do you consider most challenging?

There is no role that is not challenging, because they all involve acting. You have to understand the script, you have to get into character, you have to get your lines, while the director is on set with all the instructions to the actor and you keep on repeating a scene all over and over again; that on its own is quite tasking. Even as small as the role is, it is more difficult, because people are watching to see you. They want to see that your role is well interpreted, so it is a bit nervous on your part. So I want to believe that all roles are very challenging.

Most of your roles are about you looking mean, a bad guy which portrays you as stereotype. Does it mean that is the only role you can act better? An actor is supposed to be versatile.

I am not bothered about versatility. I don’t think people who are not knowledgeable should be talking about versatility. You were not the one choosing the role, you were auditioned for the role and you fit into the role and they give it to me. And it is not impossible for 20 producers to do something similar; this is what you do a living, for God’s sake. When you talk about versatility, it’s when producers step out to say ‘stop, I want this person to play so role.’ If I am unable to interpret that role, then you can say that I am not versatile. But you can’t judge my versatility when I have not had the opportunity to play such a role. So I don’t care what people think about stereotype. I have watched a lot of intellectual movies and the people are stereotyped. Even in Nigeria, you will see some people playing love roles; is that not stereotype? Some tough roles are not very easy for people to play, so at the end of the day, some producers go shopping for people to play such character. They cannot actually look for those that can’t actually interpret such characters as much as Alex Usifo would.

Your fans have come to identify your clean, shaven hair as an identity. When you were away, did you allow it to grow, or you only shave it when you are going on set?

No, I did not allow it to grow, I kept as my identity. I actually carve out that identity as an actor. But don’t forget that even as an actor, I am still a human being; I am still Alex Usifo, so I have decided to keep that identity.

Were you having a clean, shaven hair, looking mean, like a bad guy, when you met your wife?

(Laughter) Yes, I was doing all those things. I had my hair very clean and I was still playing the bad guy. When she met me, she did not know that I was an actor. She was not even watching me on the television. It was after we had met that she now realised that ‘so this guy is an actor?’ I think she was in a salon where people were talking about me. I was interviewed in one of the magazines and she saw a copy of it. So, that was how she knew that I was an actor. She did not marry me because I was acting, but she just fell in love with me. I think she will be in a better position to tell you why she fell in love with me.

Veterans usually end up directing their own plays; do you have any plan for that?

Yes, that is a good one. I have a lot of things drawn up, especially in the area of production. About three or four years ago, I produced a soap in Benin titled Hard strings. We produced about 32 episodes. I was the producer and artistic director. I also produced for somebody who came from Bahamas; I am a member of Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN).

Your advice to upcoming artistes

They have to look inwards; they don’t have to do it because others are doing it. They have to search themselves properly, if they can actually do it. There are people in this industry that do not actually belong to this industry. If they have something to offer, then they should hold on to that thing. And they should be very diligent, discipline and must have confidence in themselves. They must have confidence in God. We live in a society where those who are going to audition you, people who know that you are qualified, may not give you that opportunity. But as you continue prayerfully, God will certainly direct you to the right people. But they should not go about it desperately.

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