30.05.2007 LISTEN

So how did you come into acting and the movie industry?

It was part of me when I was in secondary school.

Some people may say it's inborn, but in the secondary school, I was a leader of the Atilogu dramatic society in the school within that period. That was it, until I left school.

Until one beautiful day I came back from Port Harcourt, that period I was a registered contractor with NAFCON, so I came back to my house in Aba and met a letter dropped by one Christopher Kolon inviting me to Wilcox Memorial Secondary School in Aba for an audition.

I went there and on getting there, I saw the likes of Ndubuisi Okoh who incidentally was director of the movie, it was titled 'Lost Kingdom', and Ikenna Igwe, the writer and producer of that film, and other top artistes that you can think of in the movie industry as at that time

After the auditioning, I got a role in the film. And it was a good thing for me playing side by side the likes of Pete Edochie, Enebeli Enebuwa, Larry Koldsweat and others. These were men who had made serious impact and name in the movie industry of Nigeria before that time.

So it was a real privilege, it was challenging, it was everything really. I agreed to go along with them. There were challenges and intimidations. Though I never allowed that to bear on me, because I came to do my best and I was so determined, that whatever cropped up that period, I never took it to be anything serious. I kept forging ahead and I thank God for that.

So 'Last Kingdom' was your first movie?


How was the experience?

Like I said, there were challenges, for somebody who was in a new environment, a new experience. meeting these men of the tube for the first time, it was really challenging. And at the end of the day, the film came out a real bombshell and I liked it.

Between then and now you've acted in other films?

They've been so many.

So how has it been between then and now?

Like I said, that was the first experience; I've come a long way. I've had different experiences, challenges and what I initially called intimidations.

There have been confrontations and open war.

My experience has grown to a point where I developed a shock absorber within me. But one thing I promised myself was that, whatever ugly experience I had from the people before and around me from then, up till now, definitely I will not use it against those coming my way.

Because, if I am not the kind of person I am, I would have bailed out of the movie industry, based on people's attitude. But I kept moving and I thank God for that.

Do you have plans of being a producer or director in the near future?

For now I am a registered member of AMP (Association of Movie producers).

That is just one thing I have at the back of my mind.

I'm working towards standing on my own and producing films anytime, any day. But directing, no. I think that is one thing I will never go into.

Are you in Lagos to shoot a film?

No, I'm here to do a political jingle connected with the elections.

So how do you see the movie industry in Nigeria presently?

In fact, I'll rate them first in the world. This is an institution whose practitioners have never had formal training in this aspect.

The good directors you see today never went to directing schools, but so many of them have made names and gotten awards in the movie industry. Even recognized by those foreigners.

This is an industry that uses discarded materials, and equipments. It's only few that can say they purchased new cameras and equipments. But a lot of what we use are refurbished cameras from abroad, yet we are able to produce the best pictures. The best of its kind.

Our actors are also the best, because they have the gift. The expatriates have even testified to that. A situation in which an actor is called upon that there's a job for him to do, you give him a script, within one hour he has it at the back of his mind.

And when he's taking his lines, you'll think he is the person who wrote it. That's one thing that marvels the expatriates, when they come to locations where we work.

So given the opportunity for training and to use the best of equipments, they'll do wonders.

They are the best the way things are now. If they have the equipments they'll beat the Indians and Americans at it.

Which day or event in your life, would you regard as the happiest?

There's this thing that happened in my lineage. My late father was a polygamist. Because he did not have a male child by his first wife, he went on to marry again, first, second and even third.

He went as far as adopting a male child, which did not survive. When I got married, my wife gave me three female children. The first twins, and then another female.

When I came back from a journey, my wife had gone into labour. I went to the maternity where she was and she had delivered a bouncing baby boy.

I said that is to the glory of God. And I thought if there is anyway the devil had wanted to push me into doing the same thing my father did, that is polygamy, it was cancelled on that day. Since then I've been blessed with two other boys, making them three boys and three girls.

Which was the saddest day in your life?

The day I lost my father. That's a man I thought would live long to reap the fruit of his labour. He was always there for me when he was alive, making sure I lacked nothing. That was my worst day in life, when death snatched him away about fifteen years ago.

What would you describe as your most embarrassing moment?

Well, I don't really consider it as an embarrassment again because it was a moment of fulfillment and conviction for someone else.

There was this day I was passing through Ogbete market in Enugu. I greeted the women there who were waving at me, and went on.

There was one old woman who was eating moi-moi with her bare hands. Unknown to me as I was going, she came from behind me and put her hands which was still stained with the moi-moi all over my hair.

She said she wanted to confirm whether it was actually grey hair or I had rubbed white chalk on my hair.

She said they've argued over it several times and she sometimes lost money which they betted. So she wanted to see for herself.

She kept apologizing and said 'my son I'm sorry but I had to confirm, please come let me wash it with pure water.

You know, I could not even say anything. I just took a taxi from there straight-home.
So you see, it may have been embarrassing for me, but to her it was a moment of conviction and fulfillment.

There was this other time I was in Port Harcourt. We finished shooting very late and I was very hungry. I went into the only restaurant that was still open and they said they had only rice left. So I ordered for it.

Unknown to me, a small crowd of people had been following me, and they came into the restaurant to greet me. As they were surging forward to shake hands with me, they hit the table and the stew fell down.

So there I was, hungry, with my food on the floor, and they were saying sorry, sorry, but all still trying to shake hands with me.

After some time I found my way back to my hotel but they said they did not reserve any food for us because they thought we would not come back that day. But that they have water, and I could have that if I want.

So what are your future plans?

To have something on the ground for my children, because I know one day I will join my ancestors. I wouldn't like the children to suffer. My struggle is to make sure they are comfortable, even while I live now and when I go there would be something for them to fall back on.

And then, being in the movie industry, I don't think I'll go out of it, rather, I'll make money and invest in the movie industry by becoming a successful producer. After that I'll make a move to approach the established marketers and see how they can either accommodate or show one the way out.

It's such a huge market that has not been tapped it's like an open field with so much space. But unfortunately, there seems to be a cartel for now holding onto what has not really been fully discovered yet.

But with time, the people will relax their hands and possibly accommodate others.

Because right now, the process of entering the movie marketing industry and accommodating new people is so scary.

But I know with time, they will open up and possibly give others shelter by accommodating them to put food on their table.