Talented actor, model and former Face of Johnnie Walker, Daniel Lloyd, has etched his name in gold. Recently, one of his movies, Stripped, got him international recognition. He also won Best Actor award for a film shot in Nigeria but adjudged by foreigners. The ex-manager of Timaya opens up on his career and challenges. Excerpts.
How did acting begin for you?
I wouldn’t know if I chose acting or if acting chose me. I was in a church drama group back in the day; we did a couple of productions after which I left for Enugu State University. I was fortunate enough to do my first movie in my final year in school; it was called ‘Tempted To Touch’ with Desmond Elliot and Monalisa Chinda. After graduation, I became Timaya’s manager. I was Timaya’s manager for four to five years, and this took me away from acting. Three years after I left Timaya, I went to do something on my own. I got the privilege to work with Tricia (Esiegbe) in Bold Faces. I did a movie with her entitled, ‘Prada’. I played a major role in the movie and it was premiered at Silverbird Galleria, where we had the likes of Emem Isong and other big producers that came to see the movie. They liked what they saw and I got invited to some productions. So, it’s been movie after movie from that day.
How did Timaya feel when you left him?
Timaya is my brother and he is still my boss. It wasn’t that I chose to leave him; I think life just has a way of making things happen. At some point, it was like its time to leave and do something else with my life, which is acting. And since then it’s been glory upon glory. The journey has been amazing.
How do you see yourself different from other actors?
I am a deep actor. I am a guy who gets a script and takes it personal because it is work. Besides having fun and getting paid, acting is work for me; it is something that has taken me round the world. So, when I get a script, I take it very personal, I take it to be something I need to interpret and make people believe.
So, what makes me different from others is maybe my skin colour. I am dark or chocolate if you like, and knowing where I come from, Bayelsa State, I am always on the move, always trying to do new things, trying to make people believe that I am born to do this.
Have you had any challenging role or difficult script to interpret?
I got a script a while ago where I’m supposed to play half nude or nude basically but I found it difficult. Though, as an actor, I’m supposed to interpret any kind of role, Nigerians are not that enlightened for such things, so I turned it down. I owe my families and friends the responsibility to represent them in nice ways. The money was really tempting but I can’t act nude. I owe my fans a lot and I feel I am responsible for what I put out there for them to see.
Have you had any embarrassing moment?
I have had lots of embarrassing moments. I was at an event and they mistook me for another person; they called the person’s name thinking it was me they were calling to come and pick an award. I mounted the stage and was forced to say something as a cover up. It was quite embarrassing. But as an actor, I had to do it.
Are you in a relationship?
I am not in any relationship. Yes, I was, but it got to a point when she wanted me to choose between her and my job. And my job is quite tasking; I’m almost everywhere. I was not prepared to give up what gives me joy. Yes, relationship compliments you as a man but I wasn’t really ready to give up my job, because that’s why people love me everywhere. I was not ready to give up what people love about me for a relationship. Yes, I loved her that much but I was not ready to let go of my career for anybody. So, right now, I am not in a relationship.
Who is your role model?
The guy I admire so much is Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD). He is the reason I am an actor today. I love what he did back then in ‘Checkmate’. Jim Iyke is another guy I love; despite the rumours around him, he keeps doing what he’s good at. In the international circle, I admire Denzel Washington a lot. He is an icon. I watch his movies every now and then and I want to be like him someday. In fact, my dream is to feature in the same production with him.
How do you handle stress?
Regardless of how busy my schedule is I try to create time for myself everyday. I create 30 minutes or an hour of relaxation for myself because in this job you don’t know when it is Sunday or Monday. I don’t even know when it is Sunday to attend church. I go to church a lot but I feel bad when I don’t know it’s Sunday just because I am working.
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Let me tell you a little bit of my life story. I am from Bayelsa State, I come from a poor place, and it’s a place that is rich in resources but poor in reality. But if I can get to where I am now despite my humble background, then you can be whatever you want to be in life, if only you can believe in yourself. And most importantly, believe in God. That’s one thing we fail to do these days. If we believe in ourselves and believe in God then anything is possible, it’s just the mindset. I have not seen a big actor coming out of Bayelsa State or Niger Delta, I want to be the first, I want to be the guy from the South South that will represent the people and make them believe that everything and anything is possible if only they believe in themselves and believe in God.
I am just two or three years old in the industry and some people have been like 10 or 15 years, yet they are not as popular. I was in London recently, I was at the train station and a little boy ran up to me with his mother and said they just watched my movie. The little boy said: ‘I would like to be like you when I grow up’. I was moved. So, wherever I am right now in my life is the grace of God. Anybody can have that grace if you think right. People say I am humble? Really? Look, growing up, Hilda Dokubo told me something and it got stuck to me. She said: a disciplined actor is better than a talented actor. So, no matter how talented you are, if you are not disciplined and humble, you are going nowhere.