Oreva, the first son of popular Nollywood actor and President, Directors Guild of Nigeria, Fred Amata, tells ARUKAINO UMUKORO about his father’s acting career
Please introduce yourself.
I am Oreva Amata. I am the first son of Fred Amata. I have a First Class degree in Economics from the University of Kent, the United Kingdom. I am also currently chasing a football career. My dream is to play for my country.
How was it growing up with a celebrity father?
At first, while I was much younger, I did not quite understand why he was famous as Fred Amata and why people wanted to be so associated with him. For example, whenever he went to the airport, people would walk up to him and ask to take pictures with him, and then I would wonder, ‘Why would you want a picture with my father?’ Then, I had thought it was weird, until I grew older and understood he was a famous actor. For me, then, he was just daddy. But as I grew up, I understood better his role in the society as an actor and a role model.
How did that make you feel, understanding that your dad was a celebrity?
It made me very proud of him. He has achieved a lot; he works very hard on his craft and deserves all the accolades he gets.
What are some of the values you have learnt from your father?
He taught me to chase my dreams, to never give up and to work hard at achieving my goals. He leads by example. Dad’s actions speak for themselves. Because he is my dad, he would always give me words of advice and teach me things to pass on his knowledge. At the end of the day, if I did not adhere to what he had taught me, then I would have to re-learn the lesson.
What is one of the best piece of advice your dad has given you?
Dad once told me that, ‘The formula for success is God plus hard work.’ This was at a period when I was going through a tough time during my university days, when I was feeling demotivated towards getting my degree
How would you describe your father?
In one sentence, I would say he is a very creative person. He is very talented too. As an actor, he can adapt to playing any role he is asked to play. As a dad, he is just like every doting dad you know, he fulfills his duties and responsibilities as a father should. He is someone I look up to. He is my role model.
Would you say he is a disciplinarian?
He is not much of a disciplinarian. He is very laid-back and down-to-earth. Literally, he leads by his actions and examples.
How does he react whenever he is angry?
It depends on who he is angry with. But he uses words to express it. He controls himself as a wise and mature man. So, he uses words to correct one whenever one errs.
Did he use the rod in disciplining his children at an early age?
I cannot actually recall a time like that. He spoke to and addressed me as a man from an early age, one-on-one talk. So, that stuck with me while growing up.
How has your dad’s name opened doors for you?
Yes, in some way. But as much as he has created his legacy, I am also very independent and like to work on myself every day. Depending on the place, I also get a lot of recognition when people know I’m Fred Amata’s son. I get goodwill from people simply due to name recognition.
The Amata family is renowned for their different roles in the entertainment industry. How is the atmosphere like when your uncles, aunts and cousins gather together?
It is always a very creative and energetic atmosphere with my family. They absolutely love and enjoy what they do. On a recording set, it does not really seem like work for them, one just sees that this is what they love doing. Growing up and seeing all of them live out their dreams and chase their passion is also very motivating for me. Family time is always special.
Who were some of the famous names you met at home or with your dad?
I am not going to list any names, but they were a lot.
Mention some of your favourite Nollywood movies in which your dad played a leading role.
I would mention Black November and Amazing Grace (by Jeta Amata). Those movies stood out for me because of the effort that was put into them and the fact that we were trying to use them to take Nigerian movies onto the next stage on the global platform.
Have you ever featured in any Nollywood movie?
Yes. When I was much younger, I was featured in the movie, Dangerous Twins. That was a long time ago and I think Ramsey Noah was the star of the movie.
You have a First Class degree in Economics. How come you did not study something related to films/theatre, in following the footsteps of your father? Did your dad influence your career choice?
Not really. He only encouraged me to chase my dreams and follow my heart.
During the last elections, some Nigerian entertainers, including Nollywood actors, came together to rally support for the former president Goodluck Jonathan and current President Muhammadu Buhari. What side of the divide was your dad on?
I think you are asking the wrong person that question. You would have to ask my dad himself. Yes, we discuss about Nigeria and have very intellectual conversations sometimes on national issues, but those are issues he would be able to speak about himself.
What is your dad’s favourite food?
He likes starch and banga soup.
Does he have any favourite drink?
There is none that I know of.
Your dad still looks quite young for his age; he must have lots of female admirers?
Good for him I guess. But how am I supposed to know if he has lots of female admirers? That is another question I think he would be in a better position to answer.
What is the secret of his good looks?
I know for a fact that he likes to keep fit. He plays football a lot. He is very athletic and active in sports, and God blessed him with good looks.
What is his favourite football team?
He likes Arsenal.
What influence did your dad have on your passion for football, knowing that he was also a footballer in his youthful days?
He is a very good footballer himself. Growing up, he would take me to watch him play with ex-Super Eagles stars, sometimes I got to play the game with them too. I guess that was the time my passion for the game started growing and just seeing the pride in his eyes when he watches me play makes it even more special.
You are a chip off the old block obviously. But you seem to want to take it a step further, to play football for Nigeria’s national team….
Yes. I am a hard worker and I really believe in my God-given talent. I would relish any opportunity to feature in Nigeria’s Under-23 team, but if the Super Eagles come knocking on my door; I would definitely answer the call. I just want to play football for my country. In terms of club engagement, I have recently been offered a soccer scholarship in the United States. This was after some coaches watched me play. In the US, I can simultaneously chase a draft into the US Major League Soccer and complete a Master’s degree.
How social would you say your dad is?
He is very social. That’s the type of person he is; out-going, down-to-earth and a vibrant person to be around.
How would you describe his relationship with your mum, Agatha?
They are very good friends.
How did he create time for his family despite his busy schedules?
He would do whatever he could to make time for us. He would visit us in school whenever he could or take us out to dinner. I remember a time; we almost tried eating crocodile in a restaurant. That was a very interesting period and we had lots of laughter as you can imagine.
Who are some of your dad’s closest friends?
He has a lot of friends. He is an outgoing person with a vibrant personality, so it is hard to say.
What are his likes and dislikes?
He likes people that are hardworking and dedicated. He dislikes laziness and lies. For hobbies, football stands out. He likes everything creative, from music, theatre and so on; dad goes with anything that allows him creative space.
Does he have any particular craving for fashion or accessories?
Dad is not a materialistic person.
How does he react to criticisms and rumours in the media about him?
I don’t think he has time for negative energy.
What are some other things Nigerian don’t know about your father?
I would just say he is a lot deeper than most people think. He has (recorded) a song entitled, The Nigerian man; a lot of people don’t know this. I like the song. It is like an Afrobeat song. Dad is also a good fine artist.
You mentioned your dad’s song, ‘The Nigerian man.’ What is it about?
I believe the ‘The Nigerian man’ was inspired by the on-going crises, bloodshed and threat of disintegration, combined with his heart’s desire to speak out about issues in society. I think he also wanted to explore his creative side in music. If you watch the recent Amata movies such as Black November and Amazing Grace, you’ll notice a trend of the movies being a voice for the people. So, I think the song was just another different way of self-expression for him at the time.
Your dad seems not to do much acting these days, what are his plans for the future?
He was currently elected as the President of the Directors Guild of Nigeria. I trust him to focus and give his all in his new role. For his future plans, you have to ask him because I really don’t know.
Nollywood has since grown into a global phenomenon; your dad, like the others in the Amata clan, played critical roles in this. What is his view about the growth of Nollywood in the last few decades?
Nollywood has experienced exponential growth and I’m sure he wants to help accelerate that growth in his new role.
What do you think would be your dad’s legacy in Nollywood?
As one of the major actors who took Nollywood to the next level and made it more competitive internationally