New Telegraph

February 29, 2024

How I was embarrassed for my negative role as ‘Richard’ – Anyamele

Sam Uche Anyamele is an award-winning actor, known for his role as Richard in the popular television drama series, Super Story. He has featured in several other drama series and movies. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, Anyamele, who is currently the Secretary General of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioner (NANTAP), reminisces on the journey so far. He also talks about other issues

You started your career as an artiste at the Assembly of God Church where you played different kinds of musical instruments. Tell us your experience as an instrumentalist at Assembly of God Church. How did you learn to play musical instruments?

I think it is actually right to say that I started my career as an artiste at the Assembly of God Church, where I played different kind of musical instruments particularly. That was where my skills were actually honed. And not just musical instruments, I am talking about the arts generally. That is where I learnt everything from. It didn’t really looked like a career then but it was like we were being engaged so that we will not be carried away by the whims and caprices of the enemy and bad influences. So we were always creatively busy – acting, music directorship, choir, choral and all of that. It was a beautiful experience. I really cannot tell the history of my life without the Assemblies of God Church. I learnt to play the piano there, although I was self-taught. It gave me a good foundation, so by the time started playing for churches, for banks, musical groups, I already had a very good foundation. I remember, at some point Femi Kuti was trying to recruit musicians and I was told to go. I also remember that I played in one of two places and some of us still played in church then. I was just imagining playing for a night show on a Saturday night, maybe with naked women on the stage and you are behind them, and on Sunday morning you are in church carrying the base guitar… My conscience couldn’t allow me to do all of that. But I thank God that today those experiences fortified me, gave me a lot of strength to forge ahead. That was how I learnt to play the musical instruments – trumpet, guitar, bass drum and piano. And I still play a couple of them today. In fact, I am actually the minister in charge of choir in my church today.

It’s impossible, perhaps, to talk about you as an actor without reference to your role as Richard in Super Story ‘No pain No gain’ produced by Wale Adenuga. Tell us your experience in Super Story.

A lot of people concluded that that was my first time on television. But that is not true. I had done a couple of productions before that. In fact, I was in Schemes, a drama series produced in 1999 by Charles Owoyemi, directed by Tunji Bamishigbi. Also, I had been involved in a couple of movies before I featured in Super Story. Interestingly, I cannot write my history without a mention of Super Story. It was my first lead, and by God’s grace, I think it was one of the longest running television drama series. So, my experience was beautiful. It was like destiny being fulfilled. Today, I thank God that even relatively young as I am, I can be referred to as a veteran in the sector.

At a stage you were tagged a ‘bad boy’ due to your roles in Super Story ‘No pain No gain’ as it created a bad impression of you in people’s minds. How were you able to handle this?

It created a lot of bad impression about me. At the time I did Super Story I had not tasted alcohol before, lot of people couldn’t believe that. I had a lot of embarrassment; people were concluding that I was naughty and crazy they couldn’t live around me. People were careful around me. And that was when I got the opportunity to play the role of student campus pastor in the film “Day of Atonement” directed by Teco Benson. I played the role from my heart and it earned me a prestigious AMAA Award, and I wanted to show people this was the real me a church boy, a trained musician and I can’t leave my root. Whatever I am playing is just a script but a lot of people did not believe that when I played that role I was the only actor that was awarded in that movie but we had very strong veterans in the movie. I was able to portray the character people don’t know and people still got that feeling that maybe I was pretending. But the scripture says he that is in me is greater than he that is in the world so I don’t allow it distracts me I don’t struggle to want to convince people because I will end up confusing them and myself. I just want to be who I am and if we are meant to be together we will get along. I have used it to build my capacity in other areas of my life.

Were you embarrassed at any point as a result of this mindset?

Plenty embarrassments. One certain time I boarded a bus I was going to Cele from Oshodi in Lagos State, and this woman sat beside me. I didn’t know what she was looking at, but she was looking at me. And when she recognized me she shouted: Richard! And she started cursing that I wanted to destroy the life of Ronke. She said it in Yoruba. And the next thing she did was that she took off her wrapper and started whipping me. It looked like a fight, and people started thinking she knew me from somewhere. Another time was at Ije barracks at Obalende. I went for a rehearsal, and coming back some people recognized me. They started making noise and people s t a r t e d thinking I was a thief. It was the area boys that rescued me and got me a cab that took me to Ojuelegba. Another one was when I went for brand casting and my picture was seen and the man asked what I was doing there. The man asked them to take my picture away that I was too wicked. Even when they tried convincing him that it was just acting, the man said no that I was too wicked and he wouldn’t want to associate himself with someone like me.

Stage or screen production, which is your favourite? Why?

They are both walls apart but I prefer the stage production because the actors seem to be more professional thoroughly breed actors and you will get an instantaneous response if you are doing well. You can know from the audience attention if you are not doing well because of the reaction that comes from the stage. Screenhas a way of posting one to get more things in life and project one to be better in terms of strength and capacity. There is a lot of technology on the stage also coming with opposition on the stage and the screen.

Would you describe yourself as a ladies’ man? Why?

Yes, because I used to get a lot of compliments like ‘I love your eyes’. Some will say they love the beards; some will say they love your voice, your lips; some will say you have good set of teeth… I tried to put all under control. I even heard I have smooth flow with my words like a Casanova…

Tell us about your experience growing up in Lagos?

I was born in Isolo, Lagos. I had a rough experience there. I attended Isolo Grammar School. Growing up in Lagos added a little bit of influence. I use to do music and I used to play in some clubs like Ikeja Country Club. We open shows for Lagbaja at Motherland, Opebi, Lagos. But I didn’t want a situation where I couldn’t do something outside and I can’t bring them home. That had a lot of touch for me. Music took me around town.

What is your advice for the young ones that want to make a career in acting?

First and foremost, you must be sure that this is the place you are supposed to be. Next, you need to keep your production strong by improving on yourself. Like the popular saying, the actor is as good as his last production. So keep improving on yourself and ensure that you also mingle with people so that you can get information as they pass across.

Any regrets? Why?

The regrets could be that I didn’t push as much as I should push when my colleagues (contemporaries) were pushing at our early stage in acting. But then there are practically no regrets because one of the things that I have been able to achieve, for instance, my education, will take the average actor between 12 and 15 professionally to meet up. So, I really thank God for a balance. I am one of those actors who have been able to strike a balance in their educational and artistic life. So, I have no regrets. One could just wish for a better, but then we are thankful for where we are.

What is your opinion about fake lifestyle?

I detest it so terribly. Be who you are. Those who like you for who you are will show up.

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