Oreofe Williams, PhD, is a Nigerian film producer, actor, playwright and author. Popularly known as Awojesu in the industry, Oreofe has scored several ‘firsts’ in his career as a practitioner; he is the first Nigeria actor and filmmaker with PhD in Film Studies to found a Film Village, the first provost of the Theatre Artistes and Movie Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria, TAMPAN, Academy, as well as a pioneer doctorate graduate of the department of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti, FUOYE.

In this interview, Oreofe shares his thoughts on values and virtues that have earned him success in his career. Excerpts:

Today in Nigerian entertainment industry, you are the first holder of PhD in Film Studies who has founded a film village and school; how do you feel on achieving this uncommon feat?
believe so much in determination. Of course, there would be no way you want to get something done that there would not be distraction. But I believe a lot in discipline because no matter how determined you are, if not disciplined, there are things you would never be able to get.

By extension, l believe in loyalty; to be loyal to the people who love you and who have been there for you. Of course, when l say loyalty, l do not mean that you are going to be loyal to people whose intention is to deceive you or destroy you. I don’t burn bridges, l make friends. If l get somewhere and l discover you are not out to deceive me or destroy me, you would be my friend.

I still get in touch with my teachers who taught me in the university in 1991. l believe in commitment and availability for those you love. These are virtues that have helped me over time.

What principles have guided you on your journey so far?

Among many other things, l also believe in helping others to attain their desired goals. l believe it is in helping others to get to the top that l also find myself at the top. These are what l believe strongly in; helping the upcoming ones to fulfill their dreams. And that is what we do at the city of talents; taking people off the streets and helping them.

You also are the first PhD product from the Theatre and Media Arts Department of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti, FUOYE; how do you feel about it?

It has renewed a sense of purpose and we should not forget that an attainment of greatness brings more attention and more responsibilities. I happened to be the first PhD candidate to defend in that department. l look forward to giving back to the society and making those coming after us to achieve what they intend to achieve.

My main goal is to make sure that as many people as are talented and intend to go to school, get help to go to school. So, when people come around me at the film village, l coach them, l empower them, and encourage them to proceed to the university to pursue their dreams academically even after getting our diploma.
That is the first cinema project I just engaged in after the defence of my PhD. You know, for some time, l haven’t had much time. And then ‘Digital Tongues’ on my YouTube channel, Oreofe Williams Awojesu. Another one is the ‘Sky Below the Sea’. These are works that we have been able to put together for our audience across the world.

The ‘Sky Below the Sea’ is a story about a pastor and how he runs his church. ‘Digital Tongues’ is talking about educating the younger generation about our history. That TV series has run for over a year and it is also in the local television. Same thing with the ‘Sky Below the Sea’.

We also have Olorun Merinlokan, which is a new cinema project coming out very soon. It is an exciting ensemble of projects helping also to reach out to the audience.

You were also pioneer provost of TAMPAN, and it is being said in some quarters that you were given huge sum of money while you served in that capacity…

By the grace of God, l had the opportunity of serving as provost of TAMPAN Academy because l was asked by the president of TAMPAN to come and help. He came to our film academy and he saw what we were doing and he wanted me to come and replicate it in TAMPAN

I never collected one Naira for anything done for TAMPAN. I love giving back to the society. l believe that it is not about what you take. Maybe we call this side talk, you know some people just think that whatever we do, we do because of money. I went there for one year and they are interesting students

For one year, we were doing it and, sometimes, l had to fuel my car all through even when the price of fuel got up. l sponsored the young ones among them.



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