Television’s ‘bad boy’, Fabian Lojede has revealed his intense passion to play the role of the charismatic Thomas Sankara, former President of Burkina Faso, on the big screen. The Nigerian actor may not have many well-known roles under his belt but his portrayal of the obnoxious Bola Abayomi in the hit drama series, ‘Jacob’s Cross’ has made him one of the most notorious bad guys on TV across Africa.
As one of the children of the late Chief Abayomi, an oil magnate, battling for Africa’s rich offshore oil resources, Bola is ruthless, unstable, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Love him or hate him, Bola is so good at being bad that one cannot help but pay attention to each word he utters and each calculating move he makes.
Fabian was born in Lagos, but both of his parents hail from the historical and culturally-rich city of Abeokuta in Ogun state, Nigeria. He currently lives in South Africa and has a world of experience from all over the globe. Fabian runs a production company called 1 Take Media, which shoots TV commercials, drama, reality shows etc. He has not only proven to be a good actor when he is really bad, but has been a successful creative in the world of advertising. “I come from an advertising background and I still develop campaigns through my ad consultancy firm, Blujeans Communications”, he comment.
With his Bsc degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria Fabian has worked extensively in South Africa since 2003 on creative development, execution and production of major Pan-African campaigns. He has worked as a creative consultant for a number of agencies and production houses on Pan- African campaigns including velocity Films, FCB Africa, Leo Burnett SA, EXP Momentum Africa just to mention a few.
Jamati Online caught up with Fabian to find out about his career in advertising and acting; his aspirations, his thoughts on Nollywood among others.
How was growing up like for you?
Well I spent my first 5 years with my grandmother in Nigeria, then moved to join my parents in the UK and then came back to Nigeria to complete my secondary school and university education. Growing up, like most children I went through phases, but I think I’ve turned out alright. What do you think?
What kind of education did you have?
A very religious one–in the UK I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. When I got back to Nigeria to finish up, I also found myself in a Catholic school. Luckily we didn’t have a Catholic university in Nigeria then, and even with the advent of private universities I am not sure if we have one now.
When did you get into acting and do you have any professional training in acting?
Well, I have been acting out things since I was a child and no, I don’t have any professional training. Talent cannot be taught but techniques can be taught.
What was the first role you ever played?
Full length will have to be Bola Abayomi.
How did you get the role?
Well I was slightly misquoted on this question once, I never said I didn’t audition for the part, everybody has to. But I was referred to the producers by a very good friend and fellow actor/director, Akin Omotoso.
What is the experience of working on such a popular series like?
Simply put, great, but anything that has to do with cross cultures will always have its ups and downs as certain things can be very sensitive if not handled well.
Did you enjoy playing the role of a bad guy?
I loved it!
What were some of the challenges you faced in playing the role?
Trying not to over act; it’s very easy to fall into that when the character is so energy-charged.
Is the series over?
There are plans to go into the next two seasons before the end of the year
Are you currently working on any other roles?
Yes I am working on a Nigerian feature which I’m writing and another feature to be shot.
What is your opinion of Nollywood production comparing with what you see in South Africa?
It’s just quality really. But the good thing is that’s the easiest thing to correct, with the right budget and hands that can be corrected. We need people to invest in our movies; we need the government to support the industry by providing infrastructure and promoting joint productions with other countries.
Have you been in any Nollywood production?
I am always asked that one. No I haven’t but am working on it.
Which African personality would you be and why?
I love that question man, I thought nobody would ever ask me that. There is only one African I would give an arm and a leg to play; he is the greatest African leader of post colonial Africa, my idol, Thomas Sankara. I will pay producers to allow me to play him that’s just how passionate I am about the man. Not only is his story of great cinematic structure, but it needs to be told, the world needs to know that this continent has produced incorruptible leaders that have truly had the interests of the people at heart. He was a visionary leader but most importantly he had something that most African leaders lack, that is love. He loved his people, and his African skin and heritage. So I would do anything to put the story of Sankara on the big screen, it’s my dream role.
How does your work in advertising shape your acting?
It doesn’t shape it at all, apart from my production company which puts me in the seat of a producer at times, and thus makes me more understanding as an actor with the producers of the show.
You have done a lot of production on HIV/AIDS, what has been the impact of these campaigns?
I like to believe quite strongly our tag line “An HIV-Free Generation Is Possible. It Begins with You”. It seems to have caught on, the rationale behind the campaign is to make Africans understand that they are individually responsible for their actions.
Would you ever consider writing a film or TV script?
I am working on one right now with some friends. I love films with a social, political or historical message, from an African perspective though that’s how I think.
Do you see yourself doing acting full time?
If it pays the bills
Which subjects generally excite you as a person?
Africa, world politics, and history – history of everything from science to the arts. Knowledge excites me, I love to learn and discover new things
Ameyaw Debrah: Who are your favourite actors/actresses?
Sean Penn, Denzel Washington, Al Pacino, Sidney Poitier, Angela Basset
What are your top 10 movies, all time?
That is hard oh. Okay here goes: ‘Midnight Express’ (It is old and it starred Brad Davis), ‘Scar Face’, ‘American Gangster’, ‘Brave Heart’, ‘25th Hour’, ‘Scent of a Woman’, ‘Goodfellas’, ‘City Of God’, ‘Pulp Fiction’
And your Best African movies?
‘Lynx’, and ‘Saworoide’
And your best African actors?
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Joke Silver, Olu Jacobs