Mr. Lasun Ray Eyiwunmi has been acting since 1972. A proud member of the Eyiwunmi acting dynasty, his two brothers, Muka and Murphy, are also flying the family’s flag so very well. YES INTERNATIONAL!’s JULIET IKEOKWU spoke to him recently…


Your father, late Pa. Ray Eyiwunmi and brothers, Muka and Murphy, are all in industry. How does it feel to come from such background?

I feel honoured, I feel blessed. It’s like coming from a royal family. Even more than that, because it’s not an easy task to be a celebrity. Definitely, you know I will feel fine because I’ve been blessed. I was born into the industry despite the fact that my discipline is Computer Science. When I saw what was happening in the movie industry, I decided to make a move and I think I will have to mention that I’ve been acting since 1972, before the existence of movie making or anything like that. I started with celluloid and optical films. Thank God that the name is still reigning, keeping my father’s name alive and also boosting my own image. So, I feel very great about it.


Can you remember your first movie?

The title of my first movie was Korede. That’s my own personal movie.


While growing up, did you ever think that you will end up as an actor?

No. Despite the fact that I was born into it. Then, acting was too tedious, stressful and there was no money in it. Then, it was stage that was in vogue; travelling theater with my father, late Ray Eyiwunmi, who was formerly leading Ogunmola Travelling Theater, before he founded his own in 1976, Olofin National Theater. Before he founded his own, I was practicing with the Ogunmola Theater . When I started my education, I didn’t want to partake because of the way the industry was. But when I finished my education, I decided to make an impact with my knowledge to improve movie making and to pass a message across to the people. I see movie making and movie makers as the ones that know what they are doing and as second or small god. Because in movie making, you create your own king, queen, etc. Encourage people to do well, and discourage them from bad acts. So, indirectly, I am a pastor and what a pastor preaches and people will be sleeping; when I dramatize, people start crying. So, I’m very happy that I’m doing this job. I’m a director, a producer, a script writer, I thank God that I can use what I do to tell people that it is good to be good, changing people. Some years back, people didn’t allow their children to be actors, but now they encourage them to go into acting.


How can you describe your acting journey?

It has been smooth. Where you are in the present will justify your assessment, which I am grateful for. I can say I’m graduating; my fame, my wealth are increasing as well.


What do you not like about your profession?

I hate the fact that our industry is an unprotected one and the government is not involved. The entertainment industry is the largest in the whole world. This is an industry that is giving Nigeria a good name, so I’m not happy that the government does not help us to protect our work. If the industry is protected, it will improve more than it is today. Already, it’s a discipline in the university, so the government needs to pay more attention to it.


So, what do you like about being an actor?

Acting is a creative job. When you are doing it, you know that you are doing it. No bribe. You don’t know who will assess your work (your audience). When you are writing a story, you don’t know if you are writing about somebody’s life. Sometimes the fans call me to tell me how my movie has helped them. It’s a talent from God and I thank God that I’m using it to touch people’s lives.


Which roles would you say that you like playing?

I’m a versatile actor, any role that is given to me, I enjoy playing it and I give it my best. So, I cannot choose one role.


What’s your take on the Nollywood at 20 anniversary?

There is nothing bad with unity, but things are to be done the way it is supposed to be done. There is no way you will talk about Nigeria without talking about the people that fought for our independence, people that gave Nigeria its name. You cannot say that Nollywood is 20 years, and I said I’ve been acting since 1972. Also, we have Tunde Kelani, Hubert Ogunde, Ogunmola and Adebayo Faleti, these people have been in existence for years. You can’t just wake up and say Nollywood is 20 years, using your experience to judge; you need to research and get information. You cannot write about the history of Christianity based on the history of Pentecostal churches. There are churches that had been in existence before them. They should give honour to those that deserve it, in order not to step on people’s toes, which is why there seems to be division and it looks like some people are disagreeing with Nollywood. But no one is against Nollywood because everybody is Nollywood.


Don’t you think that they are saying Nollywood is 20 based on when the first film was produced on video in Nigeria?

It’s a lie, the person that founded it is Alade Aromire and it’s more than 20 years ago. When you are talking about the foundation of Nollywood, you don’t talk based on when the video was produced first in Nigeria because those videos may not be recognized internationally. But when you talk about world class movies, video is just nothing. Talk of celluloid movies. Those are the movies that are recognized in the whole world. We have Ogunde’s film, 35mm and some other films like that. In Bollywood, they cannot tell you that because Sharakennel is alive, then you should forget the history of Amitabh Bachchan. It’s not done that way. But it is good to be united, have an agreement, accept history and know what you are doing.


Can you tell us about your wife, how does she feel about your work?

I married her as an actor, so she doesn’t feel bad about it, rather she appreciates me more. We have three children, so if she is not comfortable with it, she wouldn’t have gotten married to me.


How do you relax?

I don’t just go out because the roles I play are very challenging. I am a director. When I am working, I don’t have time to rest, but anytime I have, I stay at home. I’m very homely, except I have a function to attend. I go out and see things because that’s what helps me as a script writer to gain from what is happening around me.


God gave you talent and you are using it well, what else do you want from Him?

Yorubas will say kodun, kopo, kope (it’s good, let it be everlasting). I want God to lift me to the end, so that I will have to glorify His name. Because some, in the morning, their star will shine, in the afternoon, it shines, but when it gets to evening, it drops. That’s why I said I want an everlasting joy; I want God to give me the grace to keep passing the message till He calls me home.


What message can you give to ladies that claim to be sexually abused by producers?

While I want to tell them that it is a very wrong impression, because it is not only one producer that we have in Nigeria, the industry is just like every other industry where you have male and female. Definitely, you will have admirers and things can happen if you want it to. I’ve not heard of rape. But even if a producer sleeps with you, he won’t make you a good actress, because it is you that will act and not him and if you are not good, people will know. Don’t have that impression if want to act and if you know that you are good you must find your breakthrough. Everything starts with one. But if the foundation is poor, you depend on human beings; how many people will you want to sleep with? Creative world is a challenge; it’s about what you have to offer. It’s like a driver that doesn’t have legs and hands; how can he drive? If you have something extraordinary that people will appreciate, people will come to you. You will see some people come and make more than the old ones and that means their effort took them there.

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