A MORNING WITH MOSHOOD FATTAH
If you live in Lagos and are a lover of theatre, the name Moshood Fattah should ring a bell. With degrees in Theatre Arts from the University of Ilorin and University of Lagos, Moshood has been in the biggest theatre productions every year for the last four years, most recently playing Ela the son of the eponymous character in Moremi the Musical. He has also appeared in The Johnsons but has now set his sights on film with two cinema films and a short film set for release this year. Extremely private and wary of press because in his own words “everytime you read about actors in the papers, the conversation seems to always be tuned towards sex and it makes actors look shallow”, it took two months for Moshood Fattah to agree to do this interview and yes he had a few conditions, the most interesting one being that the interview had to be done in his home, before 9 am!
Interview by Oluwatoyosi Malomo
Photography by Bolanle Onigemo H
OfficialUniqueBlog: What questions do you hate to answer?
Moshood Fattah: Stupid Questions- but one that comes to mind now; “Can we meet you?” (Laughs) like, didn’t you know who you were coming to interview? Get my cane! (Laughs).
OfficialUniqueBlog: Queen Moremi the Musical, Heartbeat the Musical, Fela and the Kalakuta Queens… these are some of the well publicised productions you have played active roles in. What was the major break for you?
Moshood Fattah: Butcher & the Bridge! A Spirit of David production back in 2015! Earlier that year I had done Felix Okolo’s Walking Stick directed by Felix Emoruwa at the University of Lagos. It was the convocation play that year and what’s funny is- Emoruwa had tried to produce it years before with me as the lead while the both of us were at the University of Ilorin but he left to work at Unilag so it was a full circle moment when years later I came to do my Master’s at Unilag just as he was trying to produce the same play, he just threw the script at me and it was that play that introduced me officially to the Lagos theatre space. I did Butcher & the Bridge months later, while still doing my Master’s and it was such a blessing to get a lead role in my first professional gig, working with great actors like Yinka Davies and Kalu Ikeagwu and the super talented dancers I’d go on to work with in other productions.
OfficialUniqueBlog: Describe your acting style.
Moshood Fattah: Research. Research. Analysis. Repetition. Analysis. I like the characters I portray to show intelligence. I want you to almost hear the thoughts in the character’s mind. Subtext is the heart of great acting and you have to do a lot of psycho and textual analysis to get there, but most times, if not all the time, the character doesn’t readily come on you and that’s why rehearsal is important.
OfficialUniqueBlog: What used to and still drives all your stellar performances?
Moshood Fattah: I was raised and trained to give a job my 100% Once you’re in it you have to give it your best, just because! It’s just what it is, I don’t know to perform any other way.
OfficialUniqueBlog: You’ve worked with many stars, which stars have delighted you the most to work with?
Moshood Fattah: Oh wow, now that I think about it, Yinka Davies has got to be on top of that list. To have someone who is so great but still able to effortlessly maintain a gracious persona, she is the sweetest! One time she called me late at night and we discussed everything from music to spirituality and health. She is simply divine! Kalu Ikeagwu is another person I also loved working with because we had a lot of deep conversations and he’s like a big brother. Kehinde Bankole is a class act, so full of grace, the way she relates with people, her choice of words even when she is upset, wow!!! She is incredibily well mannered and a very deep performer, she’s the first actor to make me cry just by looking into my eyes. Uru Eke! Warm soul, she once fought for me to play a role a director was trying to recast, I’m forever grateful to her! I enjoyed working with Femi Jacobs too, by the way he has a very impressive music playlist and the most interesting perspectives on religion and everything in fact but my favourite stars are the performers from BAP productions, those guys are phenomenal, it’s always a pleasure to work with them!
OfficialUniqueBlog: What’s your perception on the recognition of TV & Film over stage plays in Nigeria?
Moshood Fattah: It’s understandable. TV and Film have a bigger reach than theatre and to be honest, there are very few successful theatre production companies in the country. That aside, I think the theatre industry hasn’t understood the importance of looking the part. They don’t even have an award giving body or a relationship with the press that is strong enough to bring more glamour to the craft. Theatre performers themselves don’t give a fuck about appearances, I was telling a friend days ago; theatre performers are more hardworking, versatile, disciplined and carefree than their screen counterparts but that last quality I mentioned is also their biggest problem. You can’t be in this business without having an “image” or “presence”, you have to be in the spaces that matter and because the TV/Film industry is arguably shallow, a lot of the time actors are judged more by their looks than their talent or level of discipline and that’s why we can’t just sit here and watch charlatans take over our table. We need to show up and show out. That said, I’d rather be a billionaire than have 100 million followers, you dig?
OfficialUniqueBlog: Away from work, how do you relax?
Moshood Fattah: I fuck! (Laughs) but really nothing’s more relaxing than being alone in this house and watching TV or reading a book, otherwise I love to hang out with my family and beautiful cats. I also go to the movies A LOT- but then again, seeing a movie isn’t always relaxing, it’s low-key work because at the end of the day I find myself studying, analysing and critiquing stuff!
OfficialUniqueBlog: What was the last Nigerian film you saw in cinemas and what did you think of it?
Moshood Fattah: (Heaves a huge sigh) It was Mo d’Orisa by Kemi Afolabi. You know, I actually saw a late night screening of it and I was pumped because rarely do Yoruba Language films make it to the cinemas and I saw the BTS on TV and they said the entire cast was female. I really wanted to see how she was going to go about it. We had Wonder Woman not too long ago and Genevieve Nnaji’s LionHeart recently, as a matter of fact women ruled at the last edition of FESPACO. With the new light being put on women at the elm of affairs especially in entertainment, I wanted to see how Kemi Afolabi was going to contribute to the conversation. I was disappointed to be honest. Maybe I expected too much but I was looking to see how the feminist rhetoric would play out against a traditional Yoruba background. Yoruba producers always have the best intentions and the most interesting premises but writing and execution are their biggest problems.
OfficialUniqueBlog: Would you be open to doing Yoruba films?
Moshood Fattah: My biggest dream would be to win an AMAA for acting in a film done in Yoruba language but guess what? My Yoruba is shit! I’m not proud of this fact at all. I stutter normally but it gets worse when I try to speak Yoruba. However, with a good director and adequate preparation anything is possible. I’ll be more than ready to bare it all. I’d like the project to be a real drama though, imagine Manchester by the Sea but in Yoruba!
OfficialUniqueBlog: What inspires your sense of style and which Fashion icons do you look up to?
Moshood Fattah: African fabrics and comfort! I believe we should buy more of our locally made textiles, not Ankara o- and also patronise our high end fashion designers as well. Whenever I get to attend Fashion week here in Lagos it’s like a carnival, the cuts and designs are so brilliantly done and I try to bring in a little bit of that aesthetic into my red carpet looks but when I’m not heading out I’m usually in my favourite worn out shirts and shorts, a lot of my casuals actually belong to close friends and family. Comfort is important to me and I also like to feel like I have a piece of the people I love with me everywhere I go, this robe for example was actually my dad’s! My fashion icons… I don’t think there is anyone I look up to per say but if there is one person in fashion I have great respect for it’s most definitely Andre Leon Talley, he is very articulate in the way he expresses his thoughts on fashion and it’s not just because he is well read and widely travelled, he just really loves fashion- I didn’t know of Charvet until ALT name dropped them, now I can’t wait to shop there!
OfficialUniqueBlog: Whose music are you feeling right now?
Moshood Fattah: The new Solange album When I Get Home is a vibe! However I always find myself going back to the classic Trinity; Lemonade, 4.44 and Everything is Love by Jay-z and Beyonce. I relate with them and their music on so many levels, let’s not even get started! (Laughs)
OfficialUniqueBlog: A lot of people talk about going into or being on a journey of self-discovery, are you still discovering yourself?
Moshood Fattah: We never stop evolving. I find that interactions with people help us discover more about ourselves and that’s why the person you dated isn’t the same person you are married to. They weren’t necessarily pretending, they just didn’t stop evolving! Certain events also bring out sides to us we never thought we had. Parenthood might change me, a movie role may change me. The loss of someone can change me, you never know. You just have to live life as it goes.
OfficialUniqueBlog:You are often described as ‘eccentric’; actual truth or wrong perception from the observation deck?
Moshood Fattah: Bullshit, next question please!
OfficialUniqueBlog: Has being an only child ever affected your past romantic relationships? In what light?
Moshood Fattah: Well, I must say- learning to live by yourself, you get to see that you really don’t need to be dependent on anyone to be happy or have fun. I’m single at the moment and one of my fears is having to renegotiate my personal space and present house rules with someone else! I ended many relationships because they got too clingy, or maybe I wasn’t really into them.
OfficialUniqueBlog: What have you always wanted since growing into an adult? Have you gotten it?
Moshood Fattah: I am very grateful for my life. God’s been good.
OfficialUniqueBlog: What place does religion have in your life?
Moshood Fattah: I’m actually Catholic. I’m not the most pious christian but many christian values have stuck with me. My birthday was last month and the first thing I did that day was go to the parish and meditate in the House of God. I try to be a good person but promising and failing God every week was really depressing. I haven’t been to confession in years!
OfficialUniqueBlog: If you could call back one person from history and have them truthfully answer one question, who and what will it be?
Moshood Fattah: I would definitely talk to the first human being and I’d ask him/her how they came to be. The answer will be very revealing and relieving.
OfficialUniqueBlog: When Moshood Fattah suffers a setback, how does he handle it?
Moshood Fattah: The hardest falls aren’t as bad when you have people who love you around.
OfficialUniqueBlog: Advise a young person who is not good at networking and socialising
Moshood Fattah: Ji! Ma sun! The one who knows people is more powerful than the one who knows book o. Do you know my mum encouraged me to attend parties at a very young age? I’m glad she trusted me sha. Now I can go anywhere and strike a conversation with anyone and talk about almost anything! This skill has helped me enlarge my network of friends and expand my horizon. Some friends are a walking encyclopedia, some are bibles, others are just useless (laughs) but really, you get to learn so much from interacting with people.
OfficialUniqueBlog: Are you politically inclined? If yes, what office would you aspire for, what will be your focal point if you attained it?
Moshood Fattah: My father thinks I’ll end up in politics, I swear that man plays too much. I don’t know- there are some things I’d like to fix though but really I’d need to be a military president to make it happen. For starters I’d go on a Bring-Back-Our-Culture campaign. I’ll rename all streets and roads that bear western names. I’ll make students score atleast a B in one Nigerian language to be able to enter the University. I’ll ban wearing business suits in the workplace and stop our lawyers from wearing those stupid wigs! I’ll put a heavy tax on imported fabrics and alcohol & make smoking cigarettes illegal. I’ll also take a special interest in environmental health especially in the way we consume plastic. I once read that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea! The coral reefs are fighting for survival! We use and dispose of plastic indiscriminately and these things end up clogging our drainages and form breeding grounds for mosquitoes! Away from that, people who intend to sire children must be able to set aside atleast ₦2million- which cannot be touched until the death of either parents- for each of their children a year before they are born else they won’t get the government’s permission to give birth. Any child born without that permission will not be eligible to enjoy the state’s medical, educational and financial benefits. Infact such a child will be taken in by the Nigerian military and groomed to be field soldiers! You’re laughing, na you ask me question oo!
OfficialUniqueBlog: The incumbent presidency will be re-inaugurated come June 12. What is your honest opinion about the just concluded tenure? Do you think Nigeria made the right choice?
Moshood Fattah: My godfather explained certain things to me and he’s someone I trust. 4 years isn’t enough to fix this country and really, politics is too complex for anyone on the outside to understand. Every decision has a ripple effect, there are always strings attached. I personally feel we are too obsessed with good leadership but are we actually good citizens? Is the president the one littering the streets, fighting, disregarding traffic lights and selling votes? We really need to do better as a people.
OfficialUniqueBlog: Petroleum and Agriculture are said to be the mainstay of Nigeria. Do you think there are other unexplored or downplayed avenues to be considered?
Moshood Fattah: Tourism! We need more museums! I was at the National Museum recently and it was shit, have you seen the museum in Dubai? Lagos for example has so much history to it! From Da Rocha to Madam Tinubu and Adeniji Adele. You have the great Benin walls in Edo state, there is so much to discover, there is so much to show the world!
OfficialUniqueBlog: Tell us about your current and future projects.
Moshood Fattah: Well, in a couple of days I’ll be going to South Africa along with the cast and crew of Fela & the Kalakuta Queens for a series of shows at the South African State Theatre, Pretoria. We’ll be there for 2 weeks and then come back to perform Moremi the Musical for the Easter season. “And the Winner is” a short film produced and directed by Adebola Ogunshina will be released any minute now and “For Old Time’s Sake”, a film by Uru Eke will be in cinemas in a couple of months. There is another film I’m in that’s coming to cinemas later this year but I’m not at liberty to talk about it yet.
OfficialUniqueBlog: Tell us something we may not know from reading your resumé.
Moshood Fattah: I once ate a live grasshopper.
OfficialUniqueBlog: Can you show us your Zanku?
Moshood Fattah: If you show me your Shaku shaku!
Watch Clip Below:
JJ’s monologue from And the Winner is by Adebola Ogunshina
Starring: Moshood Fattah, Uche Chika Elumelu, Temi Fosudo and Wendy Lawal.
Identity: MOSHOOD FATTAH
Photographer: @oluwabolar / Bolanle Onigemo H
Creative Director/Initiative: @official.unique / Oluwatoyosi Malomo
Graphics: @official.unique/ Oluwatoyosi Malomo
Book Credit: Beyond the Oracle- Temilolu Fosudo
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