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Industry, fans on their ‘knees’ for Nollywood leading man Victor Olaotan

By Shaibu Husseini
05 November 2016   |   1:24 am
He probably would have been returning home from a movie set when the unfortunate car incident happened. The veteran actor, Victor Olaotan, is not one to keep late nights.
Victor Olaotan

Victor Olaotan

He probably would have been returning home from a movie set when the unfortunate car incident happened. The veteran actor, Victor Olaotan, is not one to keep late nights. The bearded actor once hinted that he doesn’t keep late nights as a policy. In fact, he maintained that “only church activities or industry events” could keep him out late at night.“Otherwise, I will be resting and spending quality time with the family,” he had stressed.

But the Police reportedly found him wreathing in pain at a scene of a ghastly motor accident early in the morning of Monday, October 31. An eyewitness account has it that the Police patrol team had no difficulty identifying him, as one of the officers told the head of the team “he is a well known actor on television.”

The actor was reportedly taken to a medical facility, while efforts were made to reach his family. “He was taken to hospital in a coma. He wasn’t moving or shaking,” said the eyewitness, who claimed on his Facebook wall that he was first to share the news of the incident involving the actor on social media.

In minutes, the news that the long-standing actor was involved in an auto crash had gone viral and bloggers had a field day providing updates on the development.

Some said that the actor was in a “deep coma,” while others said his condition was “critical and required prayers.” His colleagues and fans expressed shock at the development and solicited prayers for the beloved actor, who for seven years breathed real life into the character of Fred Ade Williams on the MNet flagship soap, Tinsel.

However, there has been great relief, as a family source was quoted as saying that the actor had come out of coma and was stable and fine. “He is stable and fine and we just want all of you to be thankful on our behalf. The Lord is good,” the family member was quoted as saying.

The latest on the actor as at Thursday is that he is “recovering fast and responding to treatment.” His well-wishers and fans have since been praying for his soonest recovery, saying they cannot wait to see the actor light up the screen with his endearing and believable performance again.

Born in Lagos in the early 50s, Olaotan studied Drama at the University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University and Rockets University in the United States (US).

A well-groomed stage and screen actor, Uncle Victor, as younger colleagues call him, began his career as an actor at a very young age. “I think I started in early school and took it up as a career when, through the help of my teacher, I joined the Ori Olokun Theatre Troupe at the University of Ibadan,” he recalled.

An accomplished actor who cut his teeth on stage featuring in Ola Rotimi’s epic play, God’s Are Not to Blame, Olaotan, who learnt under the feet of theatre greats, like Professors Adedeji, Wole Soyinka and Dapo Adelugba, had a stint as a footballer and indeed played for the Ibadan, Oyo State-based Water Corporation football team.

But as he was at that, the urge to act crept up. A chance meeting with ace television producer, Laolu Ogunniyi, and Olaotan was on the television screen in Ibadan.

He recalled: “I used to go Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Ibadan to do some acting back then. It was on one of those days that I encountered a producer named Laolu Ogunniyi. He was in charge of a soap opera on television titled, Candle in the Wind. He later produced Wind Against My Soul and gave me a role to play in it.

That is from where I started acting on screen and I was at that until I left the country for the US as soon as I lost my dad.”Olaotan lived abroad for over 20 years and returned in 2002. While there, he got married, had children, worked and got further educated.

He also had opportunities to take part in a couple of stage productions, including touring with the epic play, Sizwe Bansi is Dead and playing Othello in Shakespeare’s play of same title at the Shakespeare Festival.

Always looking dapper, Olaotan said he is blessed with a mother and wife who are fashionstas and so have “good eyes for dressing.” “My mum was a fashionista and I have a wife who is a costumier and fashionista. She won’t let me wear a dress out if it does not fit.

“So, whenever I put on anything, she takes a look at me and tells me if it is okay or not. But I have always loved to dress well and it has become a part of me. I like to appear neat,” he stated.A trained swimmer, who though swims now “just to keep fit,” Olaotan plays the tennis, reads and watches movies whenever he is not on any set.

The star of Opa William’s yet to be released comedy, Three Wise Men, also starring Zack Orji and Richard Mofe-Damijo, said he also finds time to watch over Clean Ace, a laundry business he founded out of his love for caring for garments.

Asked if he has found acting rewarding, Olaotan noted that he has found it professionally fulfilling, but that it has “not been financially rewarding.”

He added: “Oh well, you get recognised wherever you go. People want to assist you. But that is where it all ends. There is sometimes nothing to show for this popularity.

“I have said it repeatedly that compared to our counterparts abroad, we earn peanuts in this industry. I know the industry is relatively young, but even then, what some folks offer us to feature in their works is ridiculous.

“I mean, to make it here, you have to be on location almost every week. I keep hearing that it will get better. I hope it does. I mean, you should be able to pay your bills from the work that you do.”

An actor’s actor of vast credit, Olaotan warmed his way into the consciousness of television viewers playing the leading role in Tinsel. Only a few episodes of the soap that started airing in August 2008 and Olaotan has become a household name.

Clearly, Olaotan brought his training and experience to bear on the soap, and most observers agree that he contributed immensely in giving the soap its acting credits.

However, fans were shocked when the devout Christian quit his role on Tinsel. Olaotan revealed to a popular blog that he left Tinsel because the producers compromised on the welfare of the cast and crew.

“I left because I found out that the company later became less interested in our welfare. They were not taking care of us like they should. So, I quit, and am glad I did,” he said.

He was working on a couple of scripts before the October 31 accident and had mentioned to close colleagues that he has about “five jobs” waiting to be shot between last month and next month.

As things stand, those producers would have to give him a little time to get off what a notable producer described as “distraction.” What is clear though is that the whole industry eagerly awaits his return to that turf, where he is well regarded.

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