The actor known as Femi Jacobs has been a little of so many things in his life. At some point, he ran a local laundry business. That was after he was a drummer boy in a fuji music band. As a student, he worked to see himself through school and after University, he went to train as a pilot in South Africa. He came back with hopes that he would one day raise enough money to fulfill his dream of a commercial certification in flying, but now, some other things took over that ambition, first it was banking and then, he stumbled on acting and the last inadvertently became the first! With the impending release of his first book, titled Rise, Jacobs has entered another vista albeit one that is an aggregation of everywhere he has been and everything he has done. He tells eelive.ng his inspiring story in the following interview… enjoy
It’s been a long journey from your days as a music artiste, an actor and then an author, take us can give a brief insight into your trajectory these years?
It has been an eventful one, and one that I am deeply grateful for. I consider it a high privilege to have experienced life being many different things. Being a music director was probably my first consistent duty ever since I discovered my musical gift. Sharing it with so many people over two decades every weekend was enriching, although it didn’t pay as much.
However, it provoked, the desire in me to find wider and deeper expressions for the gift. This led to recording albums and sharing them. I think when you constantly make more of yourself people are drawn to you. This is the only way I could explain how acting came into the mix. I was invited by my church group to play lead in their faith-based productions. The confidence people say I project onscreen however was learned as a performing musician.
One demand led to another and doors began to open for TV series like Tinsel and then ultimately to my first starring role in a blockbuster cinematic film like The Meeting. Soon after, validation started to come, and I began to win national, continental and neo-global nominations and awards.
Leading small groups over those two decades also meant I had to work with people a lot, especially young people such as myself. I had to be involved in their lives, teach and motivate them to make more of their lives and employ the principles we were learning in church. I believe that this was the beginning of my leadership development career. I did it so long and found out I was enjoying it. I wanted to learn it better. This was how I went to get my life coaching certification.
I guess writing is an offshoot of this sort of learning and practice. Since 2008, I began to consistently share my ideas of success, wisdom and spirituality on social media. This has won me a lot of audience who probably don’t find it too strange that I wrote a book.
I have also started a self improvement brand and platform called SPIRITUALITY, CREATIVITY AND CLARITY SEMINARS and we have held it in Lagos and Abuja. We are adding Port Harcourt to the list this year. The three cities will happen in three weekends in July this year.
What would you say have been your guiding principle all these years?
It started as wanting to survive against all odds, to seeking the purpose behind my existence and then to try to find a way to teach others to find direction, connection and comfort. I also know that we either evolve or we start dying. I get bored quite easily, so evolving is an essential part of my life. I discuss personal evolution in a fairly wider scope in the book.
TC: How did all these happen for you really? Tell us your story, your parentage, growing up etc. Your fans would like to know the story behind the glory.
I was born into a polygamous family, fifth child of seven from my mum. I studied in Osogbo while living with my uncle.
I don’t know how I came about the singing gift, but I remember that when I was a kid I used to be drawn to my mother’s church choir. I was about six years old. It was called Newborn Apostolic Church in Ife and my mom used to put me in front of the choir.
When I got into secondary school I began to sing Fuji with my friends. I remember one guy called Rasheed. I was the drummer and the singer so after school we would entertain ourselves with fuji music and of course we would sing ‘pump up the volume’ too. It was very popular then.
I finished secondary school and started to look for work because I couldn’t afford to go into the university immediately. But I was heavily involved in church. Then I moved to Lagos to take up a music directorship work with a popular Lagos church.
I was being paid a stipend but wanted to go to school. God saw me through. I joined another church. Was able to go to school. Graduated and then proceeded to South Africa to seek a bit more exposure. That was where I got involved with and had my Pilot training. Never stopped working though. Then I returned to work a bit more to raise more money to finish commercial certification when acting began to seize my time. I didn’t give it any thought though, just turning up on set occasionally, because I later got a bank job and went for it. But it never went away. I stumbled into Tinsel and then got spotted and landed The Meeting role and the rest is history.
How and when did things turn around for you?
The turning point for me came in 2008/2009. 2007 was an exceptionally difficult year, a year that I can never forget in my life. It was the year I came back from South Africa. I could barely breathe not to talk of eating. I was mostly sick that year, I was mostly broke that year, but most of the relationships that I made that year eventually paid off.
Between July and October that year was when I got my employment letter from FCMB on the 5th of December 2007 and I started in 2008 with FCMB and I think between that mid-2007 to mid-2008 was when I began to see the world for what it was, because to be honest, I only knew how to work in the church, I didn’t know how to succeed in the world as it were, how to translate some of these exceptional principles that we hear in church.
I think suffering in 2007 actually made me realise that because you come to church and you sing, and you are faithful is not enough. There are some things you need to put in place like diligence, how to translate value into money making that people can relate to, that can improve people’s business and I think that was what I learnt.
So what is happening with your music career?
I am working on a set of content and events for next year that will fuse these elements together harmoniously – music, film and motivation.
Let’s talk about your book Rise, what is the whole idea?
I have read a lot of foreign books on success and personal development. While these books are brilliant and immeasurably helpful, I find that they are low in relatability because their illustrations and worldview do not capture the unique socioeconomic and socio-cultural realities of a typical African reader. I felt we needed a more grounded perspective on how to execute personal success stories and make more of ourselves as citizens of this great continent. This is why I wrote the book.
I really do hope it achieves the connection I had in mind. I hope it shows clearly how to navigate our unique social context and achieve a life of greatness, meaning and success. That would fulfill me greatly.
How is the book being received?
We are only sending the first copies out the week after the gubernatorial elections, so I guess we are going to have to wait and see. But the few people who have reviewed it have said it was impossible to put it down. I am praying that this is true for most, if not all the readers of the book.
What is on the horizon for Femi Jacobs
Events, movie production, more books, international conferences, musical collaborations, and the likes.