How chance meeting with director revealed my Nigerian roots —Hollywood Actor, Hakeem Kae-Kazim

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Hollywood actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim has revealed how a chance meeting with a Nigerian movie director moved him to reveal his Nigerian roots.

Speaking on this week’s episode of CNN’s African Voices, Kae-Kazeem said the chance meeting made him decide to contribute his own quota to the development of the local movie industry in Nigeria christened Nollywood.

He told CNN; “A director had come over to LA from Nigeria, had seen me work in 24, and said, ‘No one knows you’re Nigerian, you should come back, there are people who would love to see you, they’ll be surprised that you are Nigerian.’ So off the back of that I thought, you know, what a good idea. Let me go back and see what’s going on.”

Speaking further, the actor best known for his powerful portrayal of a Hutu warlord in the critically acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda and for his role in Pirates of the Caribbean, also outlined why he wants to share his knowledge with local movie makers.

“I’ve come back to do some training with actors and people in production so that we can get to an understanding of the discipline really required to produce a top-notch film or television production.”

Sharing his skills hasn’t been the only thing he’s been busy doing since returning to Nigeria, he’s also been spending some time in front of the camera, making his ‘Nollywood’ debut in 2010: “The very first thing I did was a musical film called Inale. I then did a little film called Last Flight to Abuja and that was a really lovely little piece about the airline industry.”

Kae-Kazim explains why he feels passionate about supporting the film industry in Nigeria: “I am very proud of ‘Nollywood’, in terms of what the people have done. They’ve put Nigeria on the map and they’ve done this without any support of any kind and I think they must be acknowledged. I think what has to happen now is that the industry has to expand, it has to get bigger and better. It’s really about upping the technical anti of the film [and] being able to tell stories that are very true to the African voice.”

He describes what he hopes to see from ‘Nollywood’ in the future: “I want to see Nigeria as the hub of African filmmaking, not just concentrating on Nigerian films, but on films that tell you about the African voice from the African perspective.”

Kae-Kazim also offers some advice for aspiring actors: “Just keep loving what you do, but it’s really [down to] working hard, trying to improve not only yourself as an actor but the state of the industry. That also means [improving] the day to day discipline and making sure one is on time and focused when one is at work.”


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