“I believe its time that Africa should have their own heroes, role models and examples in the movies.”
THJ: Aurelien thank you for doing this interview with The HotJem. How are today?
Obama: It’s my pleasure, well today I feel strong and sexy as usual.
THJ: That’s great to know! 🙂 I’m sure those who don’t know who you are, would like to know who this guy is with the same last name as a Historic U.S. President 🙂 so tell us a little bit about yourself…
Obama: I’m an African from Cameroon who’s an actor, writer, martial artist, cultural promoter, fight choreographer, filmmaker, pan –Africanist and God fearing Christian. As for my name, Aurelien is for my francophone heritage, Henry for my Anglophone heritage and Obama for my Cameroon/African heritage.
THJ: Where do you live and how should we call you… Aurelien or Henry?
Obama: I live in Yaoundé, the beautiful capitol of Cameroon which is known as “Africa in miniature”. Some of my friends call me “THE FORCE” for my martial arts legacy; you can call me any name you wish.
THJ: What got you into acting and how did you get your big break?
Obama: Well in the past I was running an online Pan African Martial Arts magazine called Shiai Magazine and I was also in promotion of Africa’s Super Heroes (ASH) comic book through NGUL Productions. I remember I saw ONG BAK martial art action film starring Tony JAA, a martial art sensation from Thailand with a friend called Joe Ateba aka “The Unbeatable” who was a National Cameroon Taekwondo champion at that time. So we decided that we needed to give Africa especially Cameroon it’s own action/martial art heroes in movies. We did our first short action martial art film in 2005 that we sadly never saw image. In 2006, we did the 2nd one called Moneybag. Then my partner decided to give up action movies to concentrate on other ventures in his life.
It was in 2009, I did my 3rd action short film Lost Brother: Waka-waka man as lead star hero where I showcased my fighting skills which became very popular online. It was projected in short film festivals in Cameroon. Then in 2011 I did another action martial art short film called Triple Threat which was also projected in festivals in Cameroon amd even in USA. I was in contact with Pavel Nyziak from Poland (living in the UK/USA) who made the website of Bolo Yeung (the famous Hong Kong martial art film icon). who adviced me to learn how to act or else I’ll always be a stunt fighter. From listening to his advice I joined many acting groups where I worked with talented experienced actors.
Then in 2012 I produced, co-starred, fight choreographed and co-wrote my 1st feature film ‘Clans on Fire’ aka Slave’s Dream directed by Kmeron Popman. In 2013 I played the lead villain role in a Christian Horror film “Touch Not’ directed by Tanui Paul and I also appeared in ‘Invisible Affection‘ by K.H.C YAYA.
In 2013, I acted the main villain role in Tinted Roses beside Desmond Wyte. In 2014 I played in Return of Beast by K.H.C YAYA. In 2015, I acted in Lara’s Song beside Sende Bende, Chinepoh Cosson, etc. and the list of films go on.
THJ: I see you are also a Martial Arts Master. How did you get that and why?
Obama: I’m a 4th degree( Dan) Black belt Shotokan Karate Master who has also practiced Taekwondo, Sambo, Hapkido, Wrestling, Kickboxing, Aikedo, Jeet Kunedo, Winchuan, Wushu, stretching, bodybuilding and any other form of fighting I could encounter in my path in life. I started martial art since childhood around age 7 years old and I was a big fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme when I was kid and all great names of martial art films like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Jim Kelly, Billy Blanks,Wesley Snipes, and so many more.
I was very weak kid, I had poor health. I had respiration problem. I also started speaking very late. That’s reason why my parents send me to do martial art to be strong but later my dad removed me from martial art school. So I had struggle on my own to study martial arts, so I learnt a lot from street, meeting different fighters who taught me.
THJ: Do your movies have some Martial Arts in them?
Obama: Yes some of my movies but not all are martial arts incline, one of the reason why I’m promoting the concept of African Heroes is because I grew up a lot with Asian and white heroes and very few black heroes to identify as role models. You can imagine growing up as a kid and seeing only negative images of blacks especially Africans in the movies and life in general. I believe its time that Africa should have their own heroes, role models and examples in the movies. I want to show to the African kids across the world that they too can be great and by being Fabulous they can change Africa positively in all aspects of life.
THJ: What would you say has been your top biggest challenge in your role in entertainment as a Martial Arts Actor or should we say an Action Movie Actor in Cameroon?
Obama: Funding is a big challenge, looking for financial support and promotion in the country. When you’re a pioneer in martial arts action films in country, you’re forced to do almost everything! Most of the action movies, I’m the producer, writer, fight choreographer, stunt fighter, casting director, hero or main villain. Other aspects is to convince Cameroonian filmmakers to promote action movies by using my experience in front and behind the camera.
I see how the public/audiences are excited when they see me fight and act. They even call me African Bruce Lee or Black Van Damme. Sadly financial support is not provided and it’s impressive to see many martial artists, actors and filmmakers from different African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Mali, Kenya, Botswana and from other different countries around the world who really want to work with me in their film projects. It’s astonishing and amazing.
THJ: Do you write movie scripts as well or only act?
Obama: In Cameroon if you want to be a successful actor, you need to be able to have talents behind camera be it producer, writer and so forth. Yes since childhood I’ve been writing stories especially African black super heroes, then I evolved into martial art/action films where I had the opportunity to learn how to screenplay stories. Many other filmmakers brought me their stories to screenplay it and many where drama and love stories – not action at all. I’m a recognized writer of the Copyright Guild of Cameroon.
THJ: Why do you think that the Cameroonian movie industry is still not as visible and has not achieved the level of success as its neighboring countries Ghana and Nigeria even though we have talents that are even better than some top Nigerian and Ghanain actors?
Obama: It’s simple. We need to change our mentality. We like anything that comes from abroad or oversees. Look at the music industry in Cameroon. If a musician doesn’t record his/her album or video clip in Europe, they are a nobody. Same for football. Even if you’re the biggest player in first division, you have to go outside the country to be recognized and it’s not different in cinema. No matter how we act, how we direct or produce films we have low esteem as ourselves, as people and as a nation. We need to change our mentality. We need to believe in our potential, in our talents, crafts and creativity. Nobody is going to make Cameroon great if it’s not Cameroonians themselves. Our media (television, radio, newspaper, website, etc.), civil servants and business men reflects the mentality of our people. Don’t get me wrong, we need to be able to be famous everywhere and work any where that there’s opportunities but as they say charity begins at home.
THJ: What can be done to get our movie industry to that Nollywood level of success?
Obama: Once we start believing that Cameroon is great and we can do great things together, there’s the beginning of hope. Yes entertainment should be considered by our government as a sector of development to bring wealth and creation of employment in the country. That private sector should be encouraged to invest and sponsor our film industry and Entertainment in general. Like in Football in Cameroon, the media should engage themselves totally in promotion of our artists and we need an international entertainment TV station where our stars can be valorized. I’m
Marketing and distribution of films and music in Cameroon is almost inexistent, we need to improve on that sector, to fight against piracy. Many people want to buy our films but they don’t know where to buy or where to watch it. Yes recently government and even private initiatives have now been opening cinema halls which were totally inexistent in the country in the past. We can create a system of cinema clubs in different localities where our films can be projected or even sold.
THJ: Which Cameroonian actress would you love to do a love scene with? 🙂
Well there are so many talented and beautiful actresses from Cameroon that I will surely like to do a love scene with but I’ll mention two names; Syndy Emade in Cameroon and Adambi Mbango in USA. These two beautiful talented divas from Cameroon have an incredible acting career and not only would I do a love scene with them, but I’ll also appear nude with them if the right money is proposed!
Hahaha, I’m just joking. On a serious note, these actresses have always wanted to act beside me in an action movie, not only to play a love interest but to play strong female characters be it hero or villain.
THJ: Hahaha you got me there with the nude scene Obama! Do Cameroonian actors (at least the well known one’s we hear about) really make good money?
Obama: It’s a complex question; even in the USA not many actors make good money except those who reach the top of film business and to reach the top you need to be gifted, you need to be hard working, you need to act in quality films, your films need to be available, the media needs to talk about you and so forth. Once you have a name in the film business you make good money. But how do you make good money if you don’t act or your movies are not shown or sold? You need Executive Producers to put in big money to pay you and make the movie to be promoted.
Even top actor will confirm that it’s not in all films that they are well paid but that they need to work to showcase their talents. Lucky ones with their fame are called to do advertisements, commercials, seminars, represent organizations/businesses, Ambassadors for social causes, etc. all of which give them money.
THJ: I agree with you that there is alot that can lead to an actors earning potential and it’s not easy when you do not have investors who are willing to invest and put the money down. But hopeFully, this will soon change for the Cameroonian movie industry.
THJ: Name one African and one non-African actor you would love to work with if you could and why?
Obama: Idris Elba although he’s more of a Hollywood British actor, he’s still an African. His talent is enormous. This guy can play any role. He has screen presence and charisma. He’s able to enter into the shoe of any character he plays.
Samuel L. Jackson is an actor who changes his physical lappeaarance from hair style, dressing, body size and character to portray a role in a movie. I’ve always admired that in an actor, the capacity to play different roles. Since I’m a martial artist I’ll say Michael Jai White; you see him in martial art films and non-action movies. That is impressive as he’s not locked or defined by one genre of movies.
THJ: I see that you recently attended the Red Feather Awards. What was that Award show for?
Obama: Red Feather Awards was the 1st edition to promote and valorize Cameroonian films and actors across the nation which was held at the Hilton Hotel, Yaoundé, Cameroon on December 14th, 2016 and was organized by our pioneer actor Otia Vitalis.
THJ: Thats very interesting! So how many awards have you been nominated for and how many have you won?
Obama: Well in 2012 I was a nominee for Best Uprising Male Actor by Cam Movies Merit Awards in Buea, Cameroon. In 2013 my film ‘Slave’s Dream’ aka Clans on Fire was a nominee for Best Film with a Traditional Cultural Heritage and 2014 still the same festival, I was nominated for Best Supporting Role for the movie ‘Return of the Beast’
In 2016 the movie I took part in ‘Lara’s Song’ was nominated for Best Cameroonian Film and Best Film of Central African Region for Ecrans Noirs Film Festival in Yaoundé. Lara’s Song was also a nominated for Best Movie at the Red Feather Awards. I’m just proud that I’ve been recognized by many film festivals and award ceremony of my talent as an actor and filmmaker. I haven’t yet won but I believe my time will come soon. Essentiallyl I continue to improve my craft as an actor and filmmaker.
THJ: What are your top two favorite movies that you have acted in and/or written and why?
Obama: ‘Clans on Fire’ aka Slave’s Dream which was a 1 hour 45 minutes epic feature film in which I did screenplay with Akime Lionel. I was the film producer, fight choreographer and played the role of Chief Warrior Mandem the great hero. We trained for 3 months, used 50 actors and filmed it in SOA. We had to build some of the location. It was a wonderful experience emerging from short films to feature film after working with others in their own movies. I’ve gained experience and recognition from that movie.
The 2nd will be ‘Tinted Roses’ by L.T NJECK, not because I acted beside big industy names, it was fact that it was the first movie I worked under pressure. That is when I understood I had talent and I took acting seriously as a profession.
THJ: I have to say from your pictures you are very well built. How do you stay so fit and toned?
Obama: I train in martial arts 3- 5 times a week, I do bodybuilding 3 times a week, and I stretch regularly. I walk a lot, I like dancing, drinking water, eating fruits everyday and I have healthy balanced diet (fish, vegetables, traditional African dishes) and I eat meat occasionally. Then of course a good massage for my aching muscles. I read the Bible constantly and meditate over it for mental health. As an actor our body is our business, so you need to take good care of it. Occasionally I do eat junk food and drink alcohol, hahaha.
THJ: Now that’s what I call a strict regimen! What can we expect from you in the next two years?
In 2017 the short film ‘Cracks ‘ in which I star in with seven other talented actors will be projected at different film festivals in Cameroon, Africa and across the world. Also in 2017, I’ll take part in the biggest Cameroonian film of the year called Winds as a fight choreographer and as an actor and will use 300 cast and crew members to be filmed in Batibo in Northwest Region of Cameroon from in February. Additionally, in 2017 a Francophone movie “Immigration Clandestine” where I play main villain where I showcase my fighting skills will be released.
Then a comedy drama TV series “All Ventures” created by Alfred Melow will be broadcasted at CRTV where I play a role. I’ll be shooting “No Time” an action comedy film with participation of uprising young actors in country majority Yaoundé II University Soa students.
With respect to my action/martial art movies career, I will star in the international film Blood Brothers, an Action martial art adventure genre written and produced by Sebati Edward Mafate as Sahili the poacher the African villain in Botswana starring Anton Kasabov (a 3 time USA National Taekwondo Champion, 3 time Taekwondo European Champion and 3 time World Champion from Bulgaria)! In short, many great actors from Botswana like Ricardo Mokwena, Donald Molosi and so many action stars across the world will appear in the film!
My film business partner Yibain Emile-Aime Chah aka “Ancestor” (an award winner Director of Photography) and I will produce ‘Guns and Flowers’ an action drama film about illegal human organ trafficking in Africa where I star as lead hero. Actor Khalil Maasi will be an Associate Producer as well as act in it. There are many other film projects I’m working on underground which I can not yet mention but with time more information will come out about these movies.
THJ: Your upcoming activities for the next two years leaves me breathless as there are many movies lined up that you are involved in! Aurelien thank you very much for giving us a glimpse into your amazing career andTHJ will be on the lookout for your numerous upcoming projects!
Obama: I want to thank you for the opportunity given to express about my profession as an actor, filmmaker and martial artist. God bless you indeed.
THJ: So there you have it! Our complete interview with the Master himself… Obama aka Aurelien henry Obama. As you can see his acting career is very unique and extensive compared to most. Please tell us what your thoughts are about the interview and to keep up with his activities you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram!
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