There is no doubt that Desmond Elliot is one of the most prolific actors in Nollywood. Not only is he talented on screen, he is also into directing and producing movies. Just recently, he ventured into politics. Desmond Elliot is planning to run for a seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly come 2015.
We met him at a location in Lekki where he was shooting his latest movie. In this exclusive interview as our Showtime Celebrity he talks about his career, political ambition and more:
What movie are you working on now?
It’s a movie called ‘Clueless’. It is starring Uru Eke, Joseph Benjamin, Blossom Chukwujekwu and my humble self
When is it going to be released?
Maybe before December or by January
When did you get into movie directing?
I started directing movies about 6 years ago
Which was the first movie you directed?
It’s called ’Uyai’, it’s an Akwa Ibom film
What has been the biggest movie you’ve acted since you got into Nollywood?
I think it would be ‘Behind Closed Doors’ ; that was almost 6 years ago
Has directing been more rewarding than acting?
Not financially, but fulfilling, Yes
What is the highpoint of your career as a movie director?
You learn every day. I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten to my peak but you learn every day. Directing means being creative and being creative means you’ve been doing a lot of thinking. And all that is to be put into the film that you’re doing. I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten to my peak yet but I know I’m rising
A lot; you have challenges with actors, insufficient equipment, locations, unforeseen circumstances, a lot.
What has been your highest budget movie in terms of directing?
I can’t tell, maybe ‘Apaye’
What’s your idea of a good script?
A script that has a story that can be captivating, that the people can relate with and that can be slightly daring. This is so because you’re not sure if the people would accept it or not
How has life been since you went into politics?
It’s been okay, it’s been good, it’s exposed me to seeing more and the fact that I even want to give back. Out there, the people are not asking for a perfect turnaround, all they are asking for is something that can symbolise a change in their lifestyles.
Why did you suddenly go into politics?
I didn’t suddenly go into politics; politics has always been a part of me. I’ve been involved in campaigns for some Governors and even the President. I’ve been on the campaign trail for very long time now. Even though I have never sought any elective office before I have always had it at back of my mind as something I would do one day. It is not a surprise at all, it’s a well-thought out action and I came very prepared. I didn’t just sleep one day and say okay, it’s time to go into politics
If you were elected into the Lagos State House of Assembly, what change should people expect from you?
A Lot; First, I’m young, dynamic, very vibrant and fast thinking. I’ve had lots of links with corporate bodies, private bodies and nonprofit organizations. Through me I know a lot can be achieved because of my articulated experience. Just wait and see me in action.
That’s my constituency; I think it’s good I face my constituency for now
Are you going to leave Nollywood if you get elected?
I can never leave Nollywood, I am only going to help in propagating and promoting laws that would help to structure the industry and make it better and improve it from the present situation – that’s it.
Why did the name ‘Olusola’ just come up from nowhere?
Olusola didn’t just come up; I’m in an industry where we have names. Desmond is my first name, Elliot is my last name and my middle name is Sola.
I’m going to a constituency that knows me as Sola so I put it in; it’s not something I just suddenly developed. Everyone is surprised, we’ve gone past surprise; question is what do you have to offer? Let’s move on. Whether I have the name Sola or not, that does not affect my capability to do work
How do you see some of your Nollywood colleagues going into politics; do you think anybody can just wake up one morning and say they want to go into politics without having the potential in them?s
First, everyone is entitled by law to vote and be voted for. Secondly, I am maybe not too surprised that many of Nollywood actors in this dispensation are going into politics. It’s not too far from the fact that there have been a lot of socio-economic changes that have happened to us in recent times.
That being as it may, we still must realize the fact that Nollywood or entertainment as an industry has contributed immensely to the growth of the Nigerian economy and as such, it is not absurd or strange that those who have contributed to the growth of the economy should want to partake in politics to serve. We have a good relationship with our fans which are the public and the grassroots.
Sometimes people don’t just accept it because they don’t understand why somebody who is playing make-believe on TV should want to rule or serve.
At the end of the day, I can’t speak for everybody but what I do know is everyone is entitled as far as you’re a Nigerian to vote and be voted for.
Many people believe that entertainers are getting into politics because of money?
Granted, yes, there’s money in politics but have you asked yourself one question, is it sand that you use to play politics? The answer is No. What you’re playing politics with is money. I’m not so much into what government is going to be giving as allowance, my idea as a fresh mind is how to harness the resources around me and provide for the people.
Because if I just stick with what government is giving, then I am just going to be like everybody else. But when I harness resources from both home and abroad, harness NGOs, harness non-profit organizations, corporate bodies, private bodies, and bring all into creating social responsibility and social development in the people, then I know I’m achieving something that has not been done before.
That is the major difference I’m bringing in; using me and the platform I have to create a lot and to make so many changes. It’s already started.
You said you’re into politics for the youths?
I didn’t say I was there for the youths, I just said I also represent the youths
Do you have anything special to offer them?
Oh yes, in my constituency, I want to make it a point of duty that in the next two years, every youth as long as you’re a Surulere resident, you’re doing some form of tertiary education. Right now as it stands, we have already gotten admission for a couple of people at the Open University to study.
We also have skills acquisition in that same university, we also have things to offer like nursing abroad. All these are subject to funding which I intend to have from corporate bodies and see how we can interface. There’s a lot that could be done which is the reason why I said you need brighter, fresher, renewable minds that are ready to work.
My plan is to make sure I get people to go learn skills, empower them by getting them shops to realize these skills, get even the banking sector into realizing the SMEs, make sure there’s funding, try to get as many people off the streets as possible
Are you planning to provide jobs for youths or what?
I’m not a job maker but I can make sure that I provide the avenue for which they can work. I can influence things when I become a lawmaker.
It’s the party of change, it’s the party to be in, and it’s the party to realize every dream. Its manifesto has said we are giving more than a million jobs to youths; every unemployed youth is entitled to at least N5, 000 a month.
There’s housing and I’m talking genuine housing, low-cost housing for people, the expansion of Lagos State in terms of housing is one of the things we’re looking at. There’s so much, not just promises but things you know they can do.
A simple example is what you see happening in Osun State which is almost like a blueprint where even children are entitled to lunch; they are entitled to one meal a day from the government. Those are the kinds of social welfare we’re talking about, alleviating the problems and the poverty of people.
This is a party that means change; all I’m asking for is people should get into this boat and seize this opportunity to be in this party because it is indeed the party of change. It is diversified in terms of the people that are members of the party, you couldn’t ask for anything better
Which politician do you admire or aspire to be like?
I admire Raji Fashola for his administrative effort; I admire Tinubu for his strong will and resilience, and I also admire the innovative style of Godswill Akpabio and his energetic mind in nation-building. Those are the three people that motivate me politically
Some people believe there’s no difference between acting and politics..?
(Cuts in) There’s a huge difference. Politics is a game, acting is more real. Politics is a game because you’re dealing with people; it’s a game of life. Acting deals with a way of life but they are distinct in their ways, in their approaches
Many people perceive politics as a dirty game; are they right in your own opinion?
I’ve always felt and I still feel that the Ministry of National Orientation has failed as regards this. I mean in giving people the right orientation as regards politics and violence. They have failed in their duty of sensitizing and giving information to people on how they should conduct themselves in a political dispensation. The orientation should be a continuous thing, not just during elections.
If people have been rightly sensitized that violence is not part of politics, violence would have disappeared in our politics.