Veteran Nollywood actor turned Barrister, Kanayo .O. Kanayo, after bagging his degree has been put in tough situation of choosing between acting and his law profession.
In an interview with BBC Igbo, the 58-year-old, who became a certified lawyer after being called to the Nigerian bar bared his thoughts on what is in store for his acting career.
“It’s not easy o! If you say it is, then have a go at it. About 2500 of us were examined. 700 failed. It’s no secret; it’s in the books. Law schools don’t discern between the rich and the poor,” he said.
“You can’t influence results. Up to three people mark a script. So you can’t say you failed because an examiner hates you. You’re expected to attend 75 percent of the lectures.
“Make even 74.99 percent and you’re out. In my set, five people died. There was this young man who read on January first until he collapsed and died. Our exams started on January 10.
“It’s not something you survive only to see people joke about you when you’re back just because they used to see you on TV. If you see lawyers, value them because they’ve gone through a lot.”
“I wanted to read Law but UNILAG gave me philosophy”
On the rationales for his decision to opt for law even after a successful acting career, Kanayo said he applied for the course as a young man at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) but was offered an alternative.
“It’s been a long time since I decided I wanted to become a lawyer. It’s that thing I wanted to study but I was given Philosophy at the University of Lagos,” the legal practitioner recounted.
“I decided that before I enter my grave, I must become a lawyer. Well, it has happened. It has been my intention and it’s what I want to be. What we do in Nollywood is also about speaking.
“Be it to the government or the citizens. We speak for the voiceless. It’s essentially the same thing lawyers do. I will push for solutions to support my colleagues in the fight for truth and justice.
“What we have in Nollywood is that everyone is in their corner. No one want’s to push for policies and legal backings that will favour the industry. Take the National Assembly for an example; a private member bill can be sponsored towards putting things in motion in Nollywood industry.”
Between acting and the law court: Kanayo’s tough decision at 58
On leaving acting for the lawcourt, he said: “Rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners demand that, if you really want to practice law, you must not indulge in any other profession.
“The thing is you won’t be able to do the two professions at a time (acting and litigation). What it means is that I will have to opt for one of the two. And I won’t disclose my decision just yet.
“We’ll all find out in due time. But don’t expect that I’ll become a lawyer and still be active as before on TV. We’re grown. Kenneth Okonkwo is my senior colleague in the legal profession.
“You’ll notice he doesn’t appear on TV as frequently as before. But it doesn’t stop you from supporting the industry wherever acting and litigation unites. One thing I also want people to understand is that I won’t base on litigation and going to court on a regular basis.”
Legal backing for Nollywood; ritual themes
“It is my expectation that the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Producers Guild of Nigeria (PGN), and Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) will engage me on how we can help maximize proceeds in the movie industry and how the government can better tackle the piracy that has been killing us. We can work; prepare documents for the government where we will make our recommendations,” Kanayo said.
Replying critics who questioned his faith and inclination for movie roles involving spiritualism, the actor made biblical analogies and suggested that such persons should educate themselves.
“What’s the link between Kanayo O Kanayo and the role he played as Nicholas? There are certain questions people ask you all the time such that it looks as if these people don’t think,” he stated.
“Let gossipers be. They should go educate themselves. Even among Jesus’ disciples, Luke was a doctor. They all had what they were doing before they were called.
“You take up a role and interpret the script so well, only for viewers to ask if you truly do money rituals. What’s one’s business with that? What people should understand is I have a profession.”