Nollywood star actor Lari Williams recently featured in popular MTN show, ‘Who Deserves To Be A Millionaire’ where he managed to take home one million naira courtesy of his celebrity friends.
In this exclusive chat with Sunday Extra, the actor said after winning the whopping sum, he is still unable to find a roof over his head.
See excerpts of the interview:
Can you let us into your background then?
My name is Lari Williams. I’m an actor, a poet, a lecturer and a playwright. I studied journalism at the London School of Journalism, Park Lane. I proceeded to Morley College to study English where I developed an interest in drama. I then went to study drama at Mountview Theatre School, London. In order to become a professional actor, I went to Stratford E15 Acting School also in England.
I set up a group named Calabash Artists in England. My academic career was wrapped up at the University of Iowa, Iowa State, USA. I produced my first full-length play titled ‘Colanut Junction’ in 1971. I employed the likes of Olu Jacobs, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycet, Dele Jegede, etc to work on the play. We also did a production at the London Commonwealth Hall. I consider that as one of my biggest achievements.
Quite impressive, Chief. Then, when did you come back home?
I came back to Nigeria in 1977 after I got an invitation from the FESTAC ’77 committee as a musical poet. I decided to remain in Nigeria after FESTAC with my family, and I also started teaching arts at the National Theatre. I also got roles in soaps like ‘Village Headmaster, Ripples, Mirror in The Sun, etc.
So how have you been faring?
Things have been difficult because even though we were pioneers of this industry, most of the acting roles did not pay enough. We were just doing arts for art’s sake. I also practice as a journalist and I have had a column in the Vanguard newspaper called ‘Stage & Screens’ for over 28 years.
I have no option, in spite of health challenges; I need to do so as to be able to keep body and soul together.
In essence, do you mean all these efforts bear little rewards?
Rewards you said? (Shaking his head) I am presently homeless and I do not want to blame anybody for not helping out. As the first president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, I am sure my colleagues must have heard about my condition, coupled with cataracts – my eye problem, I cannot see very well again, but help cannot be forced out of anybody.
CREDIT: Edwin Usoboh, Sunday Extra