Who exactly is Charles Okafor?
(Smiles) Charles Izuchukwu Okafor is a simple, humble Nigerian from Umuleri, Anambra East Local Government Area (of Anambra State). A career actor by virtue of my academic training, and like you know, I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts (UNIPORT), I hold an M.Sc in Political Science (UNILAG), with a special bias in International Relations. I wonder what else you want to know about Charles Okafor? Okay, maybe I could just add that I am in the forefront of using dramatic arts as a vehicle for social commentary and change. In other words, I view a professional artiste as a social commentator because Theatre Arts is just a segment, or a section or a branch in the larger world of art. Art is total. Art is the coming together, fusion, amalgamation or whatever of all the essences of life playing out variously. We have music, we have pantomimic dramatization, we have choreography, which is the science of dance, we have mime, a contra-distinction to pantomime; now, we have costume. Costuming is an art. We have make up, we have set construction, we have painting, we have sculpture, etc. What I am trying to say in effect is that all these are forms of art, but the important thing to note is that art captures the very essence of life.
You omitted your age while telling me about yourself?
It’s known. I’ve always told you that, Azuh. My age has always been an open thing. I’ve never hidden it. I was born on July 23, 1970.
I will like to know what your ideal woman should look like or your kind of woman?
Let me first surrender the choice to the Almighty God whose wish in this regard and in every other regard (voice rises) will remain my command. Now, as a living being, I see humanity as a play thing. I might sound stupid to some people, but that is the way I look at it. The reason there is no peace in the world, economic turbulence, social upheavals, political instability, etc., is because we are taking this life too seriously. God did not intend it to be so for mankind. God created two dogs and each time they play, they wag their tails, they fall for each other, okay? And finally, they stride home together. That is figuratively speaking, what an ideal human setting should look like. And as a person, my ideal woman must be my playmate. Somebody I will wag my tail against hers, somebody I will fall for and she will fall for me and at the end of the day, we stride together into the future with our kids. She must be humble, she must love me for me and she must respect my profession. Above all, I must see my mother in her. I want her to scream at me like my mother does when I begin to be too petty, tell me to kneel down without insulting me and all that.
What motivated your quitting your job with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to embrace acting fully?
There is what we call artistic muse (demonstrates with his hands). I see myself as one who has been imbued with the latent sensibility for dramatic life. Putting it in a very simple way, people will say you are a born actor and all that. So, I will say that a point came when the muse could not be held back anymore. It propelled me into taking that painstaking decision. And that was that.
So, how has it been since you took that decision?
To God be all the glory. One has not found any cause to regret so far, but I wish to use your widely read magazine to say that the Security and Exchange Commision (SEC), which is the apex regulatory institution of the Nigerian money market, contributed to my growth, my outlook, my horizon, my perception, my vision, my attitude towards the next man. The SEC shaped me to be able to come to terms and grapple with the peculiar Nigerian society and its various shades of human attitudinal dispositions. I will never cease to be grateful, neither will I tire in speaking about the SEC everywhere I go in the world. A few people stand out very clearly and I remember them in my prayers everyday: Mr. Wole Adetunji, Mr. Daisy Ekimeh, Mr. Ladokun, Mr. Akpan and Mrs. Falade.
Can you define acting?
Yes! Acting, to me, is the representation of life or life’s vicissitudes by transposing yourself into various characters for the purpose of making that representation seem as though it was the real thing.
Can you recollect your happiest day?
(Thinks) Let me just put it this way: everyday I sleep and I wake up is my happiest day.
What about your saddest day or days?
And day I sleep and I don’t wake up to see a new day will be my saddest day.
What’s your phobia?
(Exclaims) Heights and a large mass of water!
Which of your roles do you consider your best?
Every role that I have had to play in my career, I give my all. Every role comes to me as an artistic challenge, so no one is bigger than the other.
What about your worst role. Do you have one that you don’t like?
There is none. I may not have interpreted all my roles optimally, but so long as the message is conveyed above average, I still consider it as being worth my while.
Mind letting us know the highest fee your have ever collected?
It will be professionally criminal for me to divulge my remuneration because no amount of money can consummately equate what God has deposited in one as a gift. It is sickening when I read my colleagues lying about what they receive in movies. So, it is like they are committing twin iniquity by divulging in the first place their fees, which is unprofessional and secondly, lying about what they are being paid.
What about your lowest fee?
No! I can’t. That’s what I was taught in school. In fact, very soon, we shall begin to investigate the industry with a view to fishing out the Buharis (Salisu, disgraced Speaker, House of Representatives), with their bloated and falsified academic and other antecedents. You see, the only way we can contribute our humble quota towards making our great nation the Nigeria of our dream is by first and foremost purging our ranks of all these.
Do you drink?
I neither drink liquor nor smoke. Basically, I want to make it clear to my colleagues in the industry who are still into drinking and smoking that the actor’s major tools are his voice and body. You need to exercise the body to keep it in form, to keep it fit. You need to drill your voice, and cigarette smoking and alcohol do not complement these exercises. That is if you want to take acting as a professional calling from which you will earn your living and attend to your socio-economic needs.
What does Charles hate about himself?
What do I really hate about this me? I think I’m blunt to a fault. I wish I could do with some diplomacy given the fact that most people don’t like to be told the truth to their faces. And it has earned me one or two uncomplimentary remarks from people in the past. However, I dare ask: can a leopard change its spots?
What would you have been doing if you were not acting or if not an actor?
If I was not acing, I would have been dead by now (laughs heartily).
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