Ali Nuhu is one of the most popular actors in the Hausa movie industry. A producer and brand ambassador, he talks about his job, his 10-year-old marriage and other sundry issues
Most times, challenges come up when you don’t do your homework the way it should be done. I don’t produce more than one or two movies a year and I do a lot of pre-production planning before going on set. That removes all the challenges.
It seems just a handful of producers are from the north
Yes. There are just a couple of us. The reason could be cultural barriers; people seem to be just contented with what they do and they don’t want to branch out into wider areas.
How did you break into the English movie sector?
When I first started appearing in the English movies, the challenge I had was the perception of my people. Most people misunderstood what I was trying to do. But with time, when the movies started coming out, they became acquainted with what I was trying to do.
At 39 you have already been married for 10 years, why did you have to marry so early?
I was fortunate to meet a wonderful lady when I was 29. I did not want to let the opportunity slip by; it would not have been easy to find another like her at any other time.
Which means as a Moslem, you are not contemplating polygamy?
I am not contemplating polygamy. I know that my religion permits it but then, you don’t just jump into it because you see others doing it, it has set conditions and none of the conditions affect me, so there is no reason for me to practise it.
Is your wife comfortable with some of the roles you play?
A couple of times she told me she was not very comfortable with some actresses that I was paired with and I had to turn down the job. The peace and comfort of my home is more important than any movie role.
In the soap ‘Wetin Dey’ you played Ibrahim, an AIDS carrier who deliberately infected his cousin with the virus, how were you able to relate with the character?
I had to go through counselling before I could take on that role but after the programme, I stopped being afraid of AIDS victims. I now sympathise with them and I understand their situation.
You spent almost two years on that project, was the price worth it?
It was worth it.
How much were you paid?
In movies we don’t discuss our fees.
You were quoted as saying Omotola is your most favourite colleague, if circumstances were different, would you have married her?
I was pretty young when I first saw Omotola in ‘Thorns of Roses’ and liked her performance. After that, when I saw her in ‘Mortal Inheritance,’ I fell in love with her as a person because she gave a perfect interpretation to the character. Of course, if we were both single, I would have proposed to her.
How many phone calls do you receive from fans in one day?
I cannot count them.
Are they up to 1000?
They could even be more than 1000, sometimes. The phone keeps ringing and I don’t want to change my number because it is my contact point. But if I leave it open all the time, the calls could be very distracting. For instance, someone calls and says, ‘I just want to say hello to you.’ Then another person calls and says, ‘I just want to say hello to you.’ Sometimes, I need to work and also spend time with my family. I cannot concentrate and I had no choice than to install a blocker on my phone.
How does it feel to be an ambassador to two huge brands?
They are very caring brands and they deliver when it comes to paying the model.
What determines the way you dress?
I don’t have a particular mood or pattern of dressing but I have designers that make clothes for me. One is based in Lagos and he provides clothes for me when I am in the South. The one based in the North also styles me when I am in the North.
What is your favourite fashion accessory?
I love shoes a lot as well as wrist watches. I love silver wristwatches but I don’t have a particular designer.
What is your favourite food?
It is my local language dish—Tuwo shinkafa
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Kano—in no man’s land. It is a society that consists of people from the South and North. We have a lot of Yoruba, Igbos, the Igalas, Idomas etc. I am sure this is responsible for my perception and the fact that I feel very free in whatever part of Nigeria I find myself. When I go to Asaba, I eat pounded yam and when I come to Lagos, I eat amala and ewedu.
By next year you would be 40, what are going to do before then?
There is the saying that you may make plans but at the end of the day, it is God who determines the outcome and the course that your life is supposed to follow. I am leaving everything in His hands for the moment