INTERVIEW: ‘Small but Mighty’ Osita ‘Paw Paw’ Iheme says his size doesnt bother him
Osita Iheme, alias Paw Paw, speaks with ’NONYE BEN-NWANKWO about his career as an actor
Celebrating 10 years in Nollywood
I never knew I would get to this height in life. My intention was just to act and enjoy the career. I had always wanted to be an actor. I used to watch movies a lot and I would say to myself that one day, I would be an actor. In fact, my aim was to become an international actor. Even in my days in church during our block rosary, I used to act a lot. I was a part of the drama group. I knew this was what I wanted to do. I always had the dream. I know that God has always had something special for me and whatever I touch becomes big. When I met my brother Chinedu, I knew we were going to be big. I knew that the combination of the two of us would be a blockbuster. So when the producer of Aki na Ukwa came up with the movie, it became big. That was where we started. It is 10 years now. In everything I do in life, I always believe that God is a part of it. God has a way of doing things. He can turn around any situation. I give glory to God for putting me in the position I am today. In my own little way, I worked hard and I have been focused.
My brother Chinedu (Aki) and I have been producers before now. This is not the first time we are producing a movie. We have produced one movie before now. To ask us why we suddenly became producers is to assume that we have just got into movie production. But it is not so. We have been working on this for some years now.
There is a new project we are working on. We intend to use it to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It is one of the films we want to shoot to mark the day. We have two scripts lined up as well. One of them talks about four children in a family living together before their father dies. The children try to hustle to raise money since their father is no more. One of them is a musician. Another is an actor and the others are in different professions. The message is that you can thrive in every situation you find yourself. Your background should not be an obstacle to whatever you want to become in life. If you are determined, you can achieve whatever you set out to achieve.
Winning a national award
I was happy when I was awarded a Member of the Federal Republic. The award didn’t come as a surprise because many people expected it. I was happy I finally got it after so much controversy. I knew I was going to get the award. It was just that the organisers didn’t want to give me the award the same time they would give it to Aki. The Federal Government may have decided to give us the award one after the other. That was what happened. People were spreading rumours concerning the award. Some said I envied Chinedu when he got his award. Others said I insulted the son of one of the members of the panel in charge of the awards. I was with Chinedu in Abuja when he received his award. We posed for photographs together. I cannot imagine insulting anybody who had anything to do with the awards. But in any case, this is show business and any story can come up. I just had to move ahead even when all the rumours where flying. Within me, I knew I was going to get the award.
Allegations of being a snob
I can never be arrogant. Although I’m a star, my lifestyle will always be the same. I am a very humble person. I come from a very humble background. Fame cannot change my character. I will only use stardom to add value to my life and become a better person. As an actor, you don’t need to limit yourself to one particular character, you need to be versatile. We are not stereotyped. There was a time we were just getting small children’s roles. We didn’t want it to look as if that was the only thing we could do. We had to edit and choose the kind of scripts we wanted. And that was when the adult roles started coming and we started playing such roles. Although we lack the advantage of size, what matters is what we have upstairs. If you put yourself in the character you are acting, you will do it well. That was how we started playing other roles that are not just for kids.
Why I’m not intimidated by bigger people
Everybody must not be the same. Everybody does not have the same height. Some people are tall, while others are short. You can either be tall or short. We are not of equal height. There is no need for me to be worried about my size or to feel inferior. I know that my height doesn’t have anything to do with my brain. I believe that it is not by size, but what you can do and what you can put on the table. I don’t allow my size to bother me. In fact, I don’t even believe I am small. To me, I am normal and I am a big man.
Chinedu got married and we no longer live together as we used to. I miss him. Before, if I was going home, I knew I would see him at home. We were always doing things together. We discuss, chat and share ideas together. It is not really like that now since we no longer live together. I miss him a lot. But I knew we weren’t going to be living together forever. I knew that we would be married some day and have our families. I don’t know when I will get married, but I know that when it is time, everybody will know about it. I cannot tell you this is the time. God is preparing the way for me and I am walking through that path. When I get there, everybody will know. I cannot tell you there is a particular girl now. There are girls all over the world. It is just for me to listen to God when He is talking to me and showing me the girl I should go for. When the time comes, I will pick a girl.
Coping with stardom
Each time I leave the house, I always have it at the back of my mind that I am a celebrity. I know that people will come to me and do all sorts of things out of excitement. I try to be involved in such scenario whenever I find myself in a situation where fans gather around me. I try to always remember that these fans are the ones that admire my work. I always try to keep a head straight and carry on with my fans.
I want to help a lot of people in future. I want a situation where young and talented people can say that Osita Iheme inspired them to be what they are. I want them to say that I was the one that influenced their lives positively. I want to help build the younger generation. I also try to help people in need. I just want people to look back and say that they are what they are because God used me to touch their lives.