Tobi Elegbede is an actor, Master of Ceremony (MC), and On-Air Personality (OAP). The Pharmaceutical Technology graduate of Ogun State College of Health Technology, Ilese-Ijebu has featured in a number of movies both English and Yoruba and he is also the facilitator of an annual concert tagged, Lockdown with Tobi Omo Elegbede. In this interview with FLORENCE OLUGBODI, he speaks on how he combines the different roles.
You are in the entertainment industry rather than in the laboratory mixing drugs. How come about this?
Yes, I studied Pharmaceutical Technology and practiced for a while with different pharmaceutical stores and I was one of the best drug prescribers as people still call me to prescribe drugs for them. However, the passion to do more for myself and impact the world positively informed my leaving the pharmacy store for the entertainment industry.
How are you managing being an actor, which is the top of your career, with that of MC?
Acting is the top of my career, it is what brought me out to the world generally. I featured in a Yoruba epic movie that gave me lots of recognition. And MC jobs are only for weekends, none is affecting the other. They intertwine and I don’t have any problem managing both together. We did more of going to location on weekdays, giving me the opportunity of having weekends to myself.
What do you think is more important for an actor, talent, or training?
Talent alone is not enough. Your talent must be brushed up for the outside world and not for yourself alone. Lots of people have talents, but many are not prepared for the outside world. It is not only talent that helps those people that are on top of their game, but the training they go through as well. Talent is never enough, when you train with your craft you will become boss in it.
Who do you consider to be your role model as an actor and whose career you would love to emulate and why?
I have a lot of people that I look up to when it comes to acting. There are lots of talents on screen. We are quite blessed on this continent. So bringing it down to Nigeria, actors that I always look up to are the likes of Richard Mofe Damijo, I will love to work with him one of these days in order to learn from him. I also love Odunlade Adekola, he is so good. Lateef Adedimeji; Ibrahim Chatta; Frederick Leonard, are all vibrant and dynamic actors. There are lots of them that I look up to on the screen.
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Can you tell us the most difficult character you ever played?
There was a particular character of a detective to be played by Ayo Olaiya but the producer said I should play the role. Then the director on set was expecting me to start pulling the trigger as if I have been at a police training. He gave me a tough time, probably because the producer said he believed in me and wanted me to play the role. It was a challenging one but it was successful.
Another tough time I had was in the epic movie where I acted as a herbalist. I played the role of a very strong man, chanting incantation, disturbing the community. Acting out that role was quite challenging. Playing the two characters was tough for me because I have not done that before. But I gave my best and the two movies were successful.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor?
I give God all the glory, the year I started professionally has not been up to four years, but the recognition has been massive. I am no more the boy that sits in the pharmacy store without any recognition, I have started building my own brand. I have been conferred with the award of integrity by the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro. I was invited as an actor for a brilliant, intelligent, and talented programme to assess people based on their acting prowess. It was a very wonderful experience for me, being called on set and paid is part of an accomplishment for me. We are getting there.
Would you say you have progressed in your career as expected?
Yes, I have, I don’t have to be an ingrate. I have worked with the likes of Odunlade Adekola, Segun Ogungbe and received recognition from them. For me, it is something big. God has been faithful as I am making progress.
How have you been able to cope with ladies who may be flocking around you?
Ladies and entertainment are like twins. From what have I seen, ladies are always attracted to guys that are talented. There are many ladies, however, I am always careful not to allow that to get into me, but rather concentrate and focus on the real deal. I love them, they are the greatest fans one can wish for. A lot of time, ladies have chatted me up to give me a job. For me as an entertainer, they are needed and what is important is to define the relationship with them.
In which area would you like to improve in your career?
I must say it is publicity. The talent is there and I have been training as well, but the publicity aspect is very poor. I believe that I need to improve on my social media presence.
What is the concept and/or aim behind your show, “Lockdown with Tobi Omo Elegbede”?
I started the idea before the lockdown that happened in the world last year. The idea was to organize a concert in Abeokuta where people would sit down, stay glued to the stage and enjoy themselves. I did not know what lockdown truly mean until the coronavirus pandemic came.
I have been organizing the concert for the past two years. It started in 2019 with lots of artists, comedians both at home and abroad. And since then it has become a yearly concert. It will surely hold this year as well.
So as an MC, what has been your biggest audience?
My biggest audience is 3,000. Getting frightened when you want to perform is normal, but by the time I pull up and speak out something sweet with confidence, I am good to go. Standing in front of 3,000 people was another feather to my cap career-wise. From hundreds to thousands.
What sort of acting roles will you be seeking to play in the future?
I have many that I would love to play, like a romantic, family man, and crime. Roles that the character will be so rugged.
Is there anything specific you are working on now?
I am currently working on a project of my own titled, “THE PHARMACIST”. I have never produced before, although I have people I brought into the industry that have produced. But I believe it is not how far but how well. I am also working on this year’s edition of Lockdown with Tobi Omo Elegbede.
As a creative person, how do you like to encourage creative ideas in others?
By supporting the idea. One of the biggest things you can do to any creature is to support their idea. Unfortunately, people don’t have enthusiasm for creativity again. There was a time I wrote a script, a very wonderful storyline, all about drug abuse, etc. I tried to reach out to some parastatals but nothing came forth. It was a very painful experience. I have been supporting creative ideas and I will continue to do so.
Would you encourage people to go into the entertainment industry and why?
I will 100 percent. It is the best way you can utilize a talent. There is no point in trying to discourage anybody. I advise people to sharpen their craft and monetize it.
What advice can you offer to youth out there and other upcoming ones in the entertainment industry?
My advice is that that the youths should be on top of their game, sharpen their craft very well and do things with excellence. They should not engage in things for doing sake, but rather stretch themselves to bring out the best. Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well, particularly as we don’t know who is watching us.