The Vent Republic Media caught up with popular and highly sought-after Actor, Director, and Human Rights Activist, Yomi Fabiyi.
40-year Yomi Fabiyi, born in Somolu local government area located in Lagos hails from Ogun State, Nigeria. He is the founder of ROCKLAF STUDIO INT’L’, a registered film academy. He also owns Break The Silence Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) modeled to encourage human rights practices.
The thespian spoke on sundry issues, from his career, his personal life, and controversies. Enjoy the first lap of the interview below:
Note: The Vent Republic is represented as TVR and Actor Yomi Fabiyi is represented as YF in the interview section.
TVR: Good Morning Sir thanks for obliging our interview request.
YF: It is my pleasure
TVR: Yomi Fabiyi needs a little introduction for lovers of Yoruwood (Yoruba home videos) but for the sake of others, can you introduce yourself again Sir?
YF: I am simply Abayomi Fabiyi.
TVR: Your first movie is probably ‘Obelomo’, can you tell us your experience in this debut movie and how it was able to nurture your growth in the industry?
YF: It was indeed a memorable moment as it defines the beginning of what we see today. I was practically on a different planet that day as it seems as though it was a dream. To God be the glory.
TVR: Somolu, Lagos resonates with your childhood, Can you please tell us about your growing up years in that community and the time you spent at the famous Igbobi College?
YF: I was born in Somolu, schooled, and grew up in Somolu. The community litters with Street urchins and is known for thuggery. But for my parents, church community that won’t take their eyes off you, I never mixed with the bad egg. Our parents ensured that our play pattern is in parallel with those of wayward children. When we are studying they are watching TV, when they are causing trouble we are made to attend church or house fellowship etc. And of course, attending Igbogbi College was a straight education (Jss1 – SS3). I was an Acting Prefect in ss2 then later Assembly Prefect in ss3. My Alma Mata shaped me academically, socially, and intelligently. I won’t have asked for a better college.
TVR: The way you interpret your roles is a reflection of how grounded you are as a thespian, How did you discover your innate acting talent?
YF: Many thanks for your kind words. Sometimes you discover yourself and in some instances, you are discovered. I never dreamt of delving into the movies because I had long concluded it is out of my reach. Until someone in my area insisted I go find them and find my space. The rest they say is history.
TVR: You were very close to your mum who passed on in 2018. What influence did she have on your career?
YF: For my mother to be my only ROLE MODEL, certainly she must have had an impact in my career and will eternally do. She is about the only person I know inside out and can vouch for her true personality.
TVR: In 2012 you married Fran, a British woman why did it end up in a divorce?
YF: We had irreconcilable differences in where to live. Our agreement was that I like her and can go all out to marry her but not ready to leave Nigeria as my career was just gathering shape. She promised she will take up employment here in Nigeria as her job specifications allow her to work anywhere among other salient concerns. But suddenly she wanted me to relocate to the UK and live with her. We dragged this and since 2014 it is been back and forth until November 2021 the British Court separated us legally.
TVR: Alakada Reloaded was one of the movies that brought you to fame globally. Tell us how you came about starring in it?
YF: I did just one scene there and don’t understand the impact you referring to. But all glory to every work of art that has advanced my course as a film actor.
TVR: You are a movie actor, director, and producer, which do you enjoy more acting or producing movies?
YF: If I don’t enjoy whatever I do, no point to major in any. I value, enjoy, and appreciate the three.
TVR: Congratulations on the birth of your son Akorede, you also used the opportunity to unveil your wife Grace Jimoh to the surprise of many. Have you sorted out issues with Ms. Fran your British wife on this and is she cool with the new arrangement?
YF: Thank you for your best wishes. And as per Fran, do you expect me at this stage of my life to toy with the law? I know Bigamy or why did you think got me waited this long before I can father another child? All that is sorted legally and peacefully. When Grace and I pick a date for our marriage we will inform you. We are blessed with a lovely son and happy together.
TVR: The Theater Arts and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) took a stand on your Oko Iyabo movie and Indefinitely suspended you, have you sorted your issues with them as one of the vocal members of the association, Pa Jide Kosoko even attended your naming ceremony.
YF: TAMPAN’S move is the most surprising. But I won’t want to go into details as I realized lately only a fragment took that decision. I can bet that the entire committee and those involved in that decision never saw the movie. But since I am not a card-carrying member of TAMPAN, that suspension is invalid and not for me. If there is anything that public statement has done, it infringes on my rights of expression and is an attempt to gauge my rights. They violated and used the association to hurt my means of livelihood and brand. It was just a wicked, criminal, and blackmailing move, they misled the government.
No movie association should do that to her members, why want to take food off my table for no reason in spite of the economic hardship, do they have children? We all are colleagues. Even the government-approved regulatory body will not try such criminality. What do they stand to achieve? Whose interest will they be protecting and what will it benefit them? They lied they wanted to reconcile. That suspension is proof of nothing but wickedness but there are peaceful moves towards that ongoing, hopefully, it works as I really have nothing bad against TAMPAN or anyone there.
TVR: You have won several awards; which was the most significant to you?
YF: When I won the BEST ACTOR in 2016 at BON AWARDS hosted by Abia State Government.
TVR: If you weren’t in entertainment, where would you have been?
YF: In Politics, Classroom or doing LAW. I must be in a speaking profession
TVR: It is on record that when Baba Suwe had issues with NDLEA, you were among the few of his colleagues who stood by him and appeared to share a differing view with the social media callout then, you also appeared to be on the other side of the social media caucus as evident in some of your other advocacy moves, is this coincidental that you always appear on the other end of the social media beliefs?
YF: One of the peculiar things and causes for concern with social media is that it never balances stories, it has been hijacked by quacks and some see it as a tool of oppression based on its anonymity and following. Social Media is not a court of law. It is too impatient for serious cases though a good tool if put into good use. For someone who has been raised with the idea of fairness and justice, someone who chooses to dedicate his life to human rights protection, something relatively strange to Nigeria, to be in the same social space with many who are arrogant with ignorance will always be this initial opinion about me. But as time goes on they soon realize they are the problem and not me. It takes a whole lot of sacrifice, endurance, misunderstanding, honesty, and patience to register this personality. People are not used to an actor giving this much for Human Rights in Nigeria, so I understand perfectly. I only make good troubles; I am a very shy individual if you must know.
TVR: Bimpe Oyebade ‘Mo Bimpe’ has a history with you; can you shed more light on this?
YF: The very first notice of her was when she commented on one of my posts in 2016 and was showing her admiration for my movies and until I mentioned Omi Adagun as my first which she retorted she was a fan of the said movie but never knew I also produced that. We get talking and I inquire about her. She informed me she was performing her Youth Service in Benin. As of then I had already finished my audition for my next project AGBEDE MEJI and selected those I am likely to use. I found her attractive then and she met part of the requirements I needed in the major role then. I asked if she has an interest in movies and she said she heard about the audition late and would have applied. I asked her to send me a monologue to check through first. She did respond in less than one hour. I changed my mind that I was going to give her a chance and career even though she said her next pursuit may be to travel abroad as getting a job is not easy in Nigeria. I asked if she should try we see me any time she travels to Lagos for a photoshoot so I can tutor her and guide her with the script and acting. She came twice or thrice. I could remember taking her to Odunfa and one time met her in a photo studio in Ogudu GRA and one studio in Iwaya. I just have the feeling if I give her the opportunity she will grow. And lo and behold I starred her in her first-ever movie AGBEDE MEJI. And since the day we finished the movie shoot in December 2016 I never set my eyes on her till January 2019. And after that 2019 till 2022 I have only set my eyes on her thrice and all on a movie set. And that is how it is. What most need is that first opportunity, you consolidate on it.
TVR: Your human rights advocacy is seen in many quarters as a means to an end, to prepare you for a future political position. Do you have an immediate or future political aspiration?
YF: Call to serve for me must be genuine and around what I believe in and desire for my country, with few or some like minds. I love to serve and make lives better.
TVR: The electioneering period is nigh, do you have a favorite candidate for president and why?
YF: I have but…… (when probed further by THE VENT REPUBLIC reporter, the actor failed to bulge as he was adamant on not revealing his choice candidate for now).
TVR: Are you of the school of thought that the Presidency should be zoned to the South-East or do you believe the South West and South-South too should throw their hat in the ring?
YF: I don’t know which part of the constitution or electoral act you are quoting from. Each political party has ideologies and if that seat well with them and can earn them the majority of votes, so be it. Governance is about the people and an election is about numbers.
TVR: Do you have any relationship with Adedimeji Lateef?
YF: We are colleagues.
TVR: Do you have any relationship with Bola Tinubu?
YF: Nothing personal, I don’t think he knows me by name but I have met him on a few occasions with other colleagues and he attended to us well.
TVR: Kanayo. O. Kanayo recently bagged a law degree, are we seeing you towing that path too?
YF: Almost likely. A school of thought says I will do well in law. If I see a scholarship I will so love it or I save towards it. That is an inspiration from him there. Respect to the senior man.
TVR: One last word to your fans and the rest of the world?
YF: I love my fans, especially those who understand me so quickly. And the rest of the world should continue to do more for Human Rights as that is the surest path to lasting peace, truth, justice, growth, development, and security.