Kanayo O. Kanayo
One of Nigeria's most successful actors, Kanayo O. Kanayo has distinguished himself as a thorough-bred actor, politician and a lawyer.
Since he made his acting debut in the pioneering 1992 movie, “Living in Bondage”, the Mbaise, Imo State-born thespian has sustained the tempo that brought him into prominence, becoming a bridge between the old and young generation of Nigerian actors.
At 60, KOK as he’s fondly called by his fans and colleagues has seen it all. He may not have hailed from a rich background, but KOK has definitely worked so hard to change his story. His 60th birthday, which was flagged off on the 1st of March, in Enugu remains a testament to how much the veteran actor has impacted positively on the society with his talent.
In this engaging encounter, the actor shares his thoughts on a number of issues including his career path, growth and assessment of the country’s movie industry. He particularly expressed worry following the activities of those he calls ‘women of easy virtue’ who hide under the umbrella of being actresses to tarnish the image of Nollywood.
After 60 years on earth
We are still forging ahead. We will always thank God that so far, so good, one has remained in good health. We are getting to a point where one is celebrated in an industry where young men and women are exploiting their talents. Being in the forefront of it all has been something fulfilling for me. And to God be the glory.
My journey as an actor, politician and a lawyer
One can say that it’s been a robust journey in every sense of the word. It’s not about how much cash one has accumulated over the years, but the impact one has made on the life of people and the industry. Having said that, when you look back in several areas of the entertainment industry and academia, definitely, one can beat his chest and say ‘it’s worth its while because you mapped out things for yourself. I have always wanted to be become a lawyer and in the end, I have become a lawyer. It’s a great achievement not forgetting my calling in the entertainment industry. Marrying all these things is an interesting journey for me.
How I kept myself motivated
Keeping myself motivated all these years is adapting and adopting some philosophies of life. That’s when you begin to acknowledge the fact that there’s no particular age to stop educating yourself.
You say to yourself that the best way to remain young is by reading because readers are leaders, that when the story of your life is being told elsewhere, the younger ones get empowered and encouraged. Some people see the glory but they don’t know the story. So, when you share your story it encourages the younger one and that’s what it has been as a journey for me.
My biggest takeaway so far
I will look at life over and over again. And at 60, whoever said life begins at 40 was not honest enough. For me, life begins at 60. This is because I have a whole lot of experiences on how things can be done and mature enough to advise in terms of leadership and academics . The biggest takeaway for me is that life gives you what you pluck in.
If you choose to live life on a fast lane, that’s what life will give you. If you choose to work hard and live happily, that’s what life will give you. If you wake up and you are always unhappy, that’s what life will give you. My biggest take away is that what you pluck in is what life gives you. If you want to be a happy person, you will live happily and in good health. There’s no need to be on the fast lane. There is no need for anybody to worry about tomorrow that much. I have learnt that if I drop dead at 60, my children would continue their studies. It’s high time people begin to learn that life is easy to live.
Celebration of my 60th birthday anniversary
My 60th birthday which came up on the 1st of March, 2022 , was kicked off with a thanksgiving service at a Catholic church in Enugu. At 8.am I granted interviews to Radio stations in the coal city. And you want to ask why the choice of Enugu? I started my primary education at Central School, Oboma in Mbaise, before I moved to Enugu to live with my elder brother.
While in Enugu I continued my primary education at the now Army Children Primary School. After spending one year at the school, we were moved to New Haven Primary School to round off our primary education. So, in celebration of my 60th birthday, I organized a football match between the New Heaven Primary School and Army Children Primary school. In the course of my visit to the two schools, I found out that the schools are still using the black board.
So I donated the master boards for the schools. I’m still going to my village school in Mbaise to find out what I can do for the school. My 60th birthday will be marked throughout the year as there are a lot of unfolding events. There will be the launch of Kanayo O Kanayo Foundation, which will take care of education. I have so much interest in education because I am not from a very rich home. I don’t like to hear that my people are dropping out of school. Also, I am going to unveil a law series as well as a book written in my honour which will be launched in the course of the year. The celebration will be wrapped up in Lagos, with a grand event to be attended by friends, colleagues and well-wishers.
Build up to relaunching my political ambition ahead of 2023
To be honest with you, I have lost so much interest in politics. There’s so much deception across the board. It’s a process of gearing up for politics. For me, the political landscape is fraudulently designed. Politics for me has become too fraudulent an activity.
My take on the state of Nollywood
At my level, I can’t be talking about the rot in the industry. There are certain industry issues I would like to talk about. But for those who want to exchange sex for movie roles, it becomes our problems. The only disturbing issue is the statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, where he threatened to ban films that have ritual contents. That statement was authoritarian and something that shouldn’t have been said. For me, the minister went too far to indict Nollywood. It should not be. Films are sent to the censors board for classifications, that’s why we have content for people who are 18 years, 15 years and 13 years. You can’t ban content. This is because Nollywood remains one of the biggest exports of this country.
Also, on the issue of sexual harassment in the industry, it’s very unfortunate that we have many ladies of easy virtue, who came into the industry because of fame. Sadly, most of them end up becoming Instagram stars and not real stars. They are popular in the beds of the men who sleep with them and not popular on the screens. It’s most unfortunate that most of them don’t last long in the industry. They have nothing to offer to the industry. They are empty intellectually. It will be very bad for me to dedicate a time to talk about them because they are persona non grata as far as I am concerned.
Measuring success and failure
Success can be defined in many ways. For someone who has money, he’s successful. Success means getting to the apex of your career. But to some people who don’t have so much money in their bank accounts, they have failed. To some people, when they are not meeting up with family responsibilities, it means failure. In all of this, success and failure can be defined based on who’s affected. For me, being an actor and a lawyer, I am successful. I don’t have to have all the money like Dangote or Otedola or Adenuga. They are billionaires in their own rights and that’s what success is all about.