A few years back, Larry Koldsweat was a screen delight because of his roles. He has, however, been off the screen for sometime now. Uche Uduma ran into this actor turned pastor recently and he opened up on so many issues.
You have been absent from movies for a while, what have you been doing?
I quite from the industry about six years ago because I have the call of God in my life, I am now a pastor.
When exactly did you realise you needed to leave Nollywood?
It is God that orders our steps; it is not something one can explain to another. It is a personal experience because there are things you will experience then you will know that God wants you to work for him. For instance, when God wanted David to be king of Israel, David didn’t even know; he was busy looking after the father’s sheep while God and Prophet Samuel were holding a meeting on how to make him a king of Israel.
So, when it was time for me to leave Nollywood, God spoke and I had to leave the industry. The biggest thing a man can do is to go back to his creator and worship him. I never wanted to be a minister but from childhood, I knew that I will end up being a minister.
So how was your journey into the movie industry?
We were like John the Baptist, who came and cleared the way for the new artistes to reap where we sowed. When we came into the industry, it was purely out of the love we had for the industry not for the money that comes with it. I think the first role I played was in Chico Ejiro’s film ‘Set Up’.
I played the role of Francis Duru’s father. I was chosen for the role based on merit not what we have these days where artistes sleep with producers to get roles. Everything has time. I have done what I was called to do and he who orders my steps has taken me to the next level of my life.
How would you rate the movie industry now as compared to what was obtainable in your time?
I left Nollywood eight years ago and when we were there, it was not as bad as it is today. In today’s paper, one actress was saying that her boobs give her roles. Who is looking at her boobs to give her roles? Immorality has eaten deep into Nollywood; people don’t fear God anymore; lesbianism is now the order of the day. When we were there, if you plan to be a Nollywood star, people will appreciate you but these days it is not so again.
Do you think Nollywood is fulfilling the role of informing and educating people?
During my time, I can say ‘yes’ because we had the fear of God. This was when the likes of Liz Benson, Victoria Inyama, Sandra Achums were there. When you see them, you will appreciate them but these days, what do you see? half naked girls. Have you seen Genevieve dressing the way these young girls dress? Or have you seen Omotola dressing the way these girls now dress by exposing their bodies. New artistes think exposing their boobs gets them roles but that’s not true.
So, what is the way forward?
Okocha played football and left, Kanu played and left; they can only give advice to the players, so it is with the movie industry. The father of Nigerian Nollywood is no longer in the industry. He is now an evangelist. I’m talking about Kenneth Nnebue of NEC Videos; he is now preaching the gospel.
That means God is going to arrest as many as he has made in the Nollywood to preach this gospel. Zack Orji is preaching the gospel, Eucharia Anunobi is preaching the gospel, Liz Benson is preaching the gospel and so many of them.
Who were the people you looked up to in the industry when you were coming up?
So, what was growing up like?
Growing up was beautiful, I knew from childhood that I was going to be a preacher of the gospel; that is the biggest joy of my life because I came to realise that all these struggles is vanity upon vanity; you will leave one day and go and meet with your creator. They will replay to you the video of your life the good, the bad and the ugly sides of your life.
What is the most embarrassing experience you have ever had as an actor?
It was when I came to minister in a church, a lot of people thought I was coming to shoot a movie. When I shouted, ‘Praise the lord’, they were just staring at me, when I said they should open their Bibles, they were looking at me and it was really embarrassing. Some were even asking if I was truly born again.
What is the difference between your life as an actor and your life as a preacher?
I have been in this kingdom job for eight years and I don’t regret it.
If you were to live your life all over again, what will you do differently?
I will be an actor again, I will be pastor and I will be a Nigerian again but I like to change my tribe I will like to be a Yoruba man (laughs).
Why would you want to be a Yoruba man?
Yes, because they are very receptive; they are the only people that can give you a land irrespective of your tribe. They have a large heart. This is my fortieth year in Yorubaland and God made me what I am today in Yoruba land. I am a Lagosian take it or leave it. This is where my children can call their home, this is where we met God; this is where I made my dream and it is where I met my wife.
So, did any of your kids follow your footsteps?
Yes, my son is a pastor but none of my children is in the entertainment industry.
What do you do when you are not preaching the gospel?
I read the Bible, listen to inspirational songs, go on Facebook to advise young people.
So where is your best holiday spot?
In those days, it used to be Whispering Palms because I lived in Lagos for thirty eight years but now that I have relocated to Abuja, I don’t know many places to unwind in Abuja. So, I stay with my children and share experiences and meditate on the word. But I’m thinking of shooting Christian movies, we want to create our own stars.
So what fashion trend appeals to you?
As long as you don’t wear revealing clothes, I am at home with it. These days, you see some people going to church dressed to expose their bodies. It’s a turn off and really horrible.