Broadcaster and actor per excellence, Patrick Harry Doyle’s foray into showbiz is as interesting just like his childhood days. In this interview with The Nation, Doyle spoke about his life as a broadcaster, his foray into movies, his new found love and sundry issues.
SO tell us about your new love?
I now write position papers, speeches, and the like for visible/public personalities aka politicians.
Having said that, I would like to say that there are 2 things that make a nation a nation; it has to have a prophecy, and also a policy. And prophecy is really the very essence of that country, the articulation of the essence of the country. What does it stand for? Or if you want to go spiritual, what did God create that country for? Bearing in mind the fact when you create an entity, you create it for a reason. So the prophecy is what that nation stands for. And policy refers to the different ways you want to achieve the prophecy of that country.
Politicians for instance form the fulcrum of the people who articulate policy, and implement it so that prophecy is achieved. For instance in a country with well over 300 ethnic groups held together by intangible things, in Cross River state for example, there are Efiks in the south, Ogoja people in the north (who are linguistically and culturally closer to the people of Benue state), in the south are also Ibos (who are closer to the Ibos of Arochukwu). However, they all exist in one state. This country is a test case that the world can live together as one.
So what is the prophecy about Nigeria? It was articulated in our first national anthem (… Though tongue and tribe may differ, in brotherhood we stand). We are not a nation without a purpose, and place in the sun. But all the crises we have had in the country have been to attack that brotherhood. But to lose that battle is to lose the very essence of our identity as a nation. Allowing extraneous forces to threaten that brotherhood would make us vagabonds. Unfortunately, the politicians we have consistently churned out have been completely unmindful of that prophecy.
Just as Israel lost its homeland, and dispersed into the nations of the world, when it failed to live up to its mandate, that is what will happen to Nigeria if we allow people, who put on the garb of politicians to continue the way they are going, Nigeria risks losing its place and identity. I have found that my awareness of this information makes it incumbent on me to make my voice heard.
You have been a broadcaster, actor, and compere, how did you make that transition?
I have only been one of those things you mentioned. I am a broadcaster, in the same way one can be a doctor and feature in a movie once in a while, neither does the ability to write a few court processes make you a lawyer. It would be belittling to a noble profession to say that a doctor who acts is an actor. Some people went to school to study acting, some have dedicated their lives to it, and the fact that I was given the privilege to interact with them artistically does not make me actor.
You have also been a compere, or what was once called an MC?
That is within my brief as a broadcaster.
So what do you do at present?
I now practice what I call narrative management. In times past, it was called Public Relations perception management, which is to articulate policies (albeit from the background). I write position papers, speeches, and the like for visible/public personalities aka politicians.
From broadcasting to narrative management, how did that come about?
Broadcasting involves giving voice to policy, advocacy issues, to articulate policy/views for debate/discourse. It all emanates from the same place, which is communication. Narrative management is a function of communication. Broadcasting is also communication, so both are in the same family.
You are no longer active in Nollywood, is that why?
No as a matter of fact, in recent times, I have done a few movies, but I consider myself a special child of circumstance. Acting is serious business, it is not to be trifled with, and if I cannot give 100 percent to it, then I should not stand in the way of people who can. But once in a while, when I deem it fit, and I am invited, I consider it privilege to act.
While you were active in the industry, did your faith affect your decision to choose any role?
I don’t know that I’ve ever been active in that sense; I do it at my convenience, and could pick and choose what I wanted to, without compulsion. But it has never been a primary source of income for me, not because it can’t be, but just that it is not. I am not holding it in contempt but I do not want to insult the professionals. One should recognise the professionals in the industry; people like Olu Jacobs.
Does that mean that your faith has nothing to do with it, because some actresses will tell you they can’t act roles that require nudity, either for their faith, or other reasons?
I don’t consider myself a professional actor, but I am professional enough to know that my personal opinion about a role or character is not important to telling the story. Every movie must have a protagonist, and antagonist. It is like saying, “I will only be a protagonist, and never an antagonist”, when you hear people say that, if you check properly, you will discover that they are not professionals. They are probably people like me, who are smuggling themselves into the industry. Someone who went to drama school, and studied theater arts won’t have that orientation to say “there is something I can’t do”.
How was growing u like for you?
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a happy man. Growing up was fantastic, I enjoyed myself, in spite of what might seem to be odds. Unlike most people, I grew up with a single mother (not because my mum did not have a husband, but because her husband died, four months before I was born). So I grew up with a fantastic mum, who never remarried. There are seven of us, and all of us turned out well to the glory of God. I think I am the least well behaved of the seven.
Last born children are usually pampered, was that the case with you?
That was not the case with me, because the rest were much older, so I was usually left to my own devices.
You are married to a popular actress, how has it been?
Fantastic! She is the best woman in the world. Words cannot begin to describe how valuable she is, not just to me. I have seen her mothering people I don’t even know, and I know that she is held in the highest esteem across board.
I remember coming across a statement she made about you being the one who taught her everything she learnt in the industry. She came across as very humble as she described herself as a gofer girl back then.
It is true. Again, she has since come to her own. Her gofer days are over. She is now a madam in her own right. The roles have changed, I am now the mentee.
Are there things in your background that encouraged you to go into movies, albeit part-time?
I will put it this way; I consider acting an extension of my primary skill; communication. I see myself as a broadcaster by nature, probably because my mother (even though I am not sure she had secondary school education) was probably the most knowlegeable person I ever met in my life. She was a voracious reader, spoke exceptionally good English, and was extremely articulate.
Probably because she went to school in the glory days of the Nigerian educational system.
Exactly! But more than that was the fact that anybody who knew her would tell you that Ma Doyle was very articulate, so I think I got that from her. Acting just happened, I was working in NTA as a continuity announcer, and so I came across a rehearsal of an NTA drama, I asked the producer (who was my cousin) for a role, and he did, and that was it. But I did it out of curiosity, and being in the right place at the right time. But it is still an extension of my core area, which is communication.
So, you consider yourself a communicator.
So where did you grow up?
Eko-Ile, Suru Lere. I grew up in Suru-Lere. I am a Suru-Lere boy, just like Fashola is a Suru-Lere boy. There are many of us about. Donald Duke is a Suru-Lere boy; we grew up in the same neighbourhood. Yes o! So you can see that it was not an easy place.
It is said that you guys know how to have fun.
Dangote is also a Suru-Lere boy. He moved to Lagos when he was twenty years old, and lived at Modupe Johnson Street, off Adeniran Ogunsanya. So also was Femi Otedola. There are quite a lot of Suru-Lere boys about, and they are doing well.
What is your opinion of the Nigerian Entertainment Industry Health Scheme?
Anything to do with the well being of a group of people; be they farmers, goat herders, whatever, is a welcome development. I wonder why it took so long for the entertainment industry as an industry to cotton up to the fact that the Health Insurance scheme has been on for a few years, and it is a testimony to the discordant voices, that did not deem it fit to start prior to this time.
Are you signed on to it?
I am. I signed up prior to, but I intend to sign up a few people.
How does it work? Is it deducted at source from every movie or?
Everyone is responsible for their future. As a contributory scheme, the individual has to take the time to contribute; also the premium is as low as thirty five thousand per annum. Nigerian actors are not salary earners so I believe so it is the individual’s responsibility to pay up.
What advice do you have for young people just starting out?
There are over seven billion people in the world, everybody is different, is wonderfully made, and has a different trajectory, so there is no one cap fits all advise. But, there are universal conventions of conduct. I believe that everyone should respect the general conventions of conduct. Avoid malice, do unto others as you would have them do to you, obey the rules of your locality, be charitable, and above all, have charity. As a man of God (Bill Winston) once said, “Your faith walk is only as good as your love walk”.
Did you plan to be a broadcaster?
I was very rascally as a child, but I have always been articulate. In primary school I recited during Christmas nativity, in secondary school, I was chief speaker of the Literary and Debating society for three years (from when I was in Form four), at St Finbarrs College. It was a natural progression. When some of my friends from school went into broadcasting a year or two before me, the likes of Jacob Akinyemi Johnson, Osaze Iyamu (who is almost like family), it just happened, so it was a function of Osaze, and Jacob saying “Patrick, what are you doing?”So it’s something I found myself doing.
You were still relatively young when you became a widower, how did that experience affect you?
I don’t know if it is a plus or minus, but my mind does not process old things. I have forgotten how it felt. It has passed away. I am sure it was traumatic, I vaguely remember that it was traumatic, and there were all kinds of stories woven around it, but “Whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are lovely, think on these.”
You also lost a son to the same ailment, how did you deal with that?
That one is harder to come to terms with. It is . . . I’m sorry I can’t talk about it.
If you were not a broadcaster, or had not gone into acting, what do you think you would have been doing?
The same thing that happens to anyone who does not match up with destiny, I would have been a vagabond.
So in essence, you have found your destiny.
By the grace of God.
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