Veteran Nollywood actor, Zack Orji has opened up on his challenges and how he coped with being a father along with his demanding line of career.
The veteran actor in an interview with Gbenga Adeniji described all there is to know about his parenting technique and how he pulled through on both ends; the home and his career.
Read excerpts of the interview below:
How would you describe fatherhood?
I would describe fatherhood as being a father in all expectations of the word; being a father to one’s children not only by words but also by deeds..
I have discovered over the years that action speaks louder than words. Most of the things I have done over the years were things I learnt as a child. Things that I watched my father do; not as much as the things he said but the things I saw him do. I discovered too that parents must be careful in training their children not only by what they tell them to do but the actions they take in the presence of their children. This made me to realise that fatherhood is not an easy thing because one cannot be on one’s guard always. One cannot change who one is in one’s home. If one is a general in the army, one cannot be a general to one’s children at home. One must be a father to them.
What year did you become a father?
I became a father two years after marriage in 1991.
What can you say have been your challenges as a father?
One of my biggest challenges as a father is spending enough and quality time with my children. Owing to the nature of my work, I travel a lot within and outside the country. I go out to work and also socialise with other people. Some of these times, I wished I were with my family. I have discovered that I cannot be with them most of time I wished to be with them because of the exigencies of my work.
Do you wish to correct anything as a father?
There is nothing I would wish to correct as a father. Many fathers do not have enough time for their children due to what I call an irony of life. They spend their lives working hard to make money to cater for their children. Their jobs thus takes them away from their children and families. So, whatever time one has, one should spend it well with them.
Apart from providing for your children, what other way have you been able to discharge your fatherly role to them?
I believe I am a good example to them. They are free with me. We discuss and talk as friends. I always tell them to tell me anything and not be afraid. This has made them feel relaxed to tell me anything. Anytime I am not around and they need anything, they do not hesitate to call me.
Are you saying the Zack Orji who cuts the picture of a disciplinarian in movies is different from Zack Orji the father?
Yes, I am a disciplinarian. I am free with my children at home, but they know that it does not give them the freedom to do whatever they like. We are good friends. But they are also careful not to cross the line. I have never raised a hand to any of them.
How do you discipline them whenever they act up?
I speak to them. I have never found the need to use the rod on any of my children. I count myself very blessed because I have children who respect and love me. They listen to me whenever I talk to them. Even my son, Lionel, when he was studying abroad would call to tell me if he got an invitation to any event. I would only tell him to attend it but to be careful.
Your son is into music. Would it be right to say his interest in the entertainment industry was influenced by you since it is also your industry?
Possibly, but then a lion can only beget a lion. When he completed secondary education, I asked him what he wanted to do and he said ‘media.’ Eventually, he studied Media with Television at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom. He should be going for a master’s degree programme soon.
Did you assist your wife to do domestic chores before your children became adults?
I did domestic chores and I still do. In fact, my son slept on my chest the day they returned from the hospital. For me, a man should be willing to do housework because it is his house.
I wash the dishes sometimes. It is not about showing love for one’s wife or one’s family. I just believe that since it is my house, it is something I should do. Also, when the children see such a thing, they will endeavour to emulate it. It will become a habit.
Sometimes, whenever my children are reading, I will pack my plates myself to the kitchen after eating rather than disturb their reading. We have no house maids. My children sweep, cook and do other house chores. There are no cut-out roles for my wife or anybody in my house. There is no rule that says my wife must cook or do other things. I wash the toilet sometimes since everything one needs to clean the toilet is there.
How do you cope with female fans?
Being a celebrity does not give one a license to misbehave. I try to be friends with everyone even when it is not convenient for me. But because of the nature of my work, one can also say I am a public property. I bend over backwards sometimes to be nice to people.
The smile one puts on the face of someone might be what the person needs to brighten up for the day. If one denies the person such, he or she may develop resentment which may last for a long time.