Aminu Shehu Usman, popularly known as Aminu Mirror, is a popular Kannywood actor, producer and scriptwriter who has been in the industry for over two decades. In this interview with Weekend Magazine, the versatile actor who is now better known as Malam Zaidu for his role in ‘Gidan Badamasi’ shares his journey into the industry and how the industry has evolved. Excerpt:
How did you start your acting career?
My name is Aminu Shehu Usman. I was popularly known as Aminu Mirror in the early 1999s and 2000s. But to my surprise, people now know me more as Malam Zaidu.
I was born and brought up at Kusfa, in Zaria, where I had my Islamic and primary school education. I then proceeded to Alhudahuda College, and to FCE Zaria.
Regarding the film industry, I joined the industry in 1997, and I started appearing in movie in 1999, that is two years after joining. So far, so good. I give God the glory. The industry, since I came in, has been good to me and I am happy we are training the young ones.
Can you remember your first movie?
Yes. I still remember it vividly. The name of the movie is ‘Burin Masoya’ which was produced by Ghalin Money who also acted as the lead actor. I was a supporting actor in the movie where I acted as a journalist. That was my first outing in 1999, and today 2022, if I look back at how it started, the journey so far and achievements, I only thank God for his infinite mercies upon me.
I have seen a lot; done a lot and I’m still pushing in the industry.
Can you tell us the number of films you have acted in so far?
From 1999 till date is such a long time for me to remember all the movies. I also produce movies, you know. But if I’m to chose one, I will go for ‘Gidan Badamasi’. I told you many people have forgotten my name. People hardly called me Aminu Mirror again, which was what I was known as for almost 20 years. In fact, it beats my imagination how people react to ‘Gidan Badamasi’.
So, looking at the wider circulation and views, I can easily select it as my best because as an actor, I must like what my fans like most.
How did you acquire the name Mirror?
I got the name from my paternal grandmother Malama Hannatu Yahaya (Umma Maiwaina) who died in 2020. She said I resemble my father so much. That was why she started calling me ‘Madubi’ which means mirror in English. So, the nickname was initially ‘Madubi’ but was later changed to Mirror. So, the name didn’t come from the film industry as many people thought.
Who is your best friend in Kannywood?
(Silent) I don’t like talking about this because it makes me cry whenever I think about him. My best friend in Kannywood was late Ahmad S. Nuhu. Everybody in the industry knew about our friendship. We were very close and share virtually everything together. He was very kind, honest and accommodating. Even the day he died; we were together before he left. I still miss him a lot. May his soul continue to rest in peace. We acted most of my blockbuster movies together.
In ‘Gidan Badamasi’, you played the character of Malam Zaidu, who is a malam, but you collaborated with your siblings to dupe your father of huge amount of money, how and why?
(Laughs) The series is all about Alhaji Badamasi (our father) who is very greedy; so much that he does not want to spend the money to even feed himself, let alone give to us. You can see in the movie, we are all grown up, and we are not getting what we want from him despite his riches. Another problem is that we are too much, and we are from different mothers. He married many wives. He is undeniably very hard working, but his too many wives and children are coming back to hunt him and deny him peace of mind after gathering all the wealth and at the same time he needs rest. That is the central theme of the movie.
We actually collaborated to duped him. That was what took us to prison. My role is to show divergent character and to show how he married from different tribes and locations.
The series attracted larger viewership; how do you feel?
I feel good. It is always good when you are selling something and people are buying it. I told you how the series personally affected me. It now seems as if I am a newbie in the industry because of ‘Gidan Badamasi’. My name has all of a sudden changed to Malam Zaidu.
Now, people stop and ask me for photograph and even thank me for entertaining them. Some have even given me gifts. So, the movie is really making waves and has changed many narratives. I am happy to be part of the project. Special thanks to the director, my friend Malam Falali Dorayi. He is the one who brought the real message of the movie.
What unforgettable experience have you had since ‘Gidan Badamasi’?
There are many. But one of them, which is probably the smallest, is the one that keeps coming back to my mind.
One day, I went to mechanic workshop. Upon getting in, I suddenly heard peole shouting ‘Malam Zaidu! Malam Zaidu! The thunderous welcome was so huge that I got scared. I said to myself, is this still the Zaria that I was born and brought up in? Why this sudden rise in popularity after more than 20 years in movies? As I entered the garage, the people there, mainly mechanics, who do not have much money started talking about what to offer me as their guest. One of them said since I like ‘fura da nono’ in the series, they should try offering fura. They donated money and bought fura for me. I really appreciated it so much. The fura was not up to N500, but the gesture and love was beyond money. It shows real love from them.
Any message to your fans?
Yes. You see before now, we hardly freely moved around because of the bad perception people have about us. A Hausa film is now more accepted than before, perhaps due to the changing times and technology. So, I will call on our fans to be accommodating and appreciative. All we are doing is towards entertaining them. Character in a movie does not mean the actor is like that in real life.
Meanwhile, we are seeing their love and reactions and we will keep doing our best for them. And when ever they see any mistake, they should not hesitate to contact us. We are always ready to correct our mistakes as we are also humans.