Failure in Mathematics aborted my dream of becoming pilot – Saka spill

Renowned actor, comedian, and lecturer at Adeniran Ogunsanya University of Education in Lagos, Hafiz Oyetoro, affectionately known as Saka, shares with EMMANUEL OJO how his journey in the world of acting has influenced his life.

Reflecting on your 60 years of life, how would you describe the journey so far?

Well, this year marks my 60th milestone. It’s truly a blessing from above. Honestly, I don’t have any special secrets for maintaining a youthful appearance; it’s simply divine grace. I lead a simple life – sleep, work, and carry out my daily routines. Perhaps, my contentment in pursuing my passion contributes to my physical well-being. I’m fortunate to have found fulfillment in my chosen profession and to enjoy a harmonious family life without any marital issues.

What ignited your passion for acting?

My interest in acting wasn’t initially part of my plans. Originally, I aspired to become a pilot. However, during my schooling, I found myself consistently chosen for acting opportunities by my teachers. As I progressed to secondary school, my involvement in the drama group heightened my popularity, and I realized that pursuing acting felt right, especially upon discovering it was a university course. This led me to apply for acting at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University.

Did your natural talent in drama steer you away from your dream of becoming a pilot?

My proficiency in science subjects, aside from Physics, was lacking, particularly in Mathematics. Struggling with the subject, I visited a friend’s school with a well-equipped laboratory and realized the disparity with my own school’s resources. This, coupled with my struggles in Mathematics, led me to reconsider my career path. Ultimately, I chose to pursue the arts, aligning with my inclinations and practical considerations.

Have you noticed that I tend to appear more frequently in comedy roles than in other genres in movies? Is that intentional?

Allow me to elaborate. Every profession typically involves a specialization. For me, comedy happens to be my area of expertise. Currently, I’m completing my doctorate in Stand-Up Comedy and hope to obtain my PhD by the end of this year. While I possess a wide range of skills in theatre arts, including writing, directing, and various roles, my proficiency lies in comedy. This stems from my extensive training and experiences in theater, from undergraduate to postgraduate levels, particularly in Nigeria. Directors often prefer to cast actors who excel in specific roles, and given my aptitude for comedy, I’m often chosen for such parts. However, I want to emphasize that I am versatile and capable of performing any role within the realm of theatre arts.

How did you come up with the name ‘Saka’?

Saka originated during my time hustling in Lagos. Although my given names are Hafiz and Adebimpe, the nickname emerged from the challenges of surviving in the city. It was during a collaborative effort with my friend Gbenga Windapo, a university lecturer, on a television production that the character of Saka was born. This led to the production of “House Apart,” where I portrayed Saka, a role that gained significant popularity, marking the beginning of my journey with the name.

In what year did that occur?

I believe it was around 2004.

Was that your initial role?

No, I had appeared in numerous other films prior to that.

What was your debut film?

I can’t recall the first one specifically, but one of my earliest roles was in “Irawo,” a Yoruba film shot in Ibadan. I don’t remember much about it now.

Do your students perceive you more as a comedian or do they take you seriously during lectures?

They’re theatre arts students, so they understand the distinction between performance and reality. While they may initially address me as “Saka” with excitement, once the lectures commence, they recognize me as Hafiz Oyetoro, not just the character “Saka.”

In university, we were trained to separate our personal identities from the roles we portray. If you meet me outside of the stage, you’ll find that I’m reserved, quiet, and easy-going, unlike the boisterous character of Saka. I transition into Hafiz once I step off the stage, which is crucial for navigating roles effectively.

Sources: Infotrend.com.ng