NOLLYWOOD LIFE

THIS IS HOW YOUR CELEBRITIES OBSERVED INDEPENDENCE DAY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Posted on

Today, Nigeria got a year older since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1960. And to celebrate that, Nigerian celebrities joined the very day people to share their thoughts on various Social Media platforms including Twitter and Instagram. Below [with pictures] are the moments captured for your reading pleasure.  Enjoy, please!

remi

Osas Ighodaro Ajibade went about her Independence Day message all inspirational, writing on Instagram “Through it all; even the storm… We will and always will stand tall!!! Happy Independence Day Nigeria. #God Is Great.”

Tope Tedela kept it simple and short saying “May all be well with her. Amen.”

indy7

Meanwhile, Iyanya prayed a lot, writing-“On this Independence Day, I pray for a speedy recovery from recession. I pray for the safe return of the Chibok girls. I pray for peace and prosperity in our father land. I pray for long life for you and I so we live to witness our dear country achieve her full potentials. Amen. God bless Nigeria. #Proud Nigerian.”

Genevieve Nnaji wrote “That’s how we stay surviving. #HappyIndependenceDayNigeria”. She then added a Nigeria emoji, a palm emotion and a heart emoji. Lots of emojis, girl.

indy5

TY Bello wrote “Happy Independence DAY Nigeria. May we add new feathers… Let it be said that we found new ways to move forward… That we shook off every heavy weight and learnt to fly beautifully again.” She added lots of hashtags afterwards.

Also, Kehinde Bankole wrote “Happy Independence Day Nigeria. You spirit will expel the bad worms eating you up. Ase! Thankful for my motherland…#ProudlyNigerian”.

Others kept it simple, including Enyinnaya Nwigwe who donned a fancy heart with an obvious  Nigerian touch and simply wrote “Nigeria lives in me”. Rita Dominic also expressed hope, writing on Instagram- “A nation that will be great. I believe! Happy Independence Day Nigeria.”

There was also a touch of comedy in the entire felicitations with Falz Da Bahd Guy writing “#istillblieve in a better Naija! Eez juz a mattalov patient.”

A CHAT WITH NOLLYWOOD STAR ENYINNA NWIGWE

Posted on Updated on

ENYI3

He’s been part of Nollywood’s biggest projects, including the highly acclaimed Black November in which he stared alongside Oscar-winning actress Kim Bassinger and other notable greats like Akon and Vivica A. Fox. This year alone, he has nearly six films to his credit among which are SuruL’ere, Couple of Days, For the Wrong Reasons and Hell or High Water, the latter [which] is poised to become a socially-conscious, thought-provoking and perhaps most-controversial Nigerian film yet. So he is apparently so hot right now, and to be frank I never thought it would be easy getting this superstar to agree to an interview. But I was wrong; for not only did he agree to a chat, we talked at length about the funny character he played in Mildred Okwo’s SuruL’ere and other sundry issues bordering on the actor’s life.

ENYI 1

EMMANUEL BENSON: Nice meeting you, Sir. You are arguably one of the biggest names in Nollywood; how does it feel to be a major celebrity?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: Truth is, I don’t walk around with that in my head…I just like to LIVE, so ‘How that feels’ as ‘a major celebrity’ ‎isn’t a question I know what to answer, But how does it feel to be Enyinna Nwigwe as a person? GREAT!

EMMANUEL BENSON: I got to know [through research] that you never set out to become an actor. How then are you able to interpret your characters so well?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I stumbled on acting, true… Fell in love with the art and honed my craft through time, both informally as an actor (on the job) and through daily living, self-development, human interactions ‎and other unconventional (if you like) means.

EMMANUEL BENSON: Let’s talk about your latest role in the Audrey Silver film SuruL’ere. Would you agree that it is the most hilarious role you ever played?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: It is by far the most ludicrously hilarious role I’ve played as an actor; YES!

EMMANUEL BENSON: How did you get the role in SuruL’ere?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I got a call out of the blue from the director Mildred Okwo (Whom I’d always looked forward to working with) She mentioned having a role for me that was like nothing anyone would expect, she ran the character description by me and I was excited about it which surprised her as she wasn’t sure what my reaction would be. So basically I said yes and went on to develop the character using people I had encountered growing up who I thought had a lot of similarities with the character and made up everything else to what became the character GOD’S TIME.

ENYI5

EMMANUEL BENSON: Now considering your status in the industry, do you still have to attend auditions or do the scripts just land at your desk?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: Auditioning is standard regardless of status, Certain directors insist on auditioning talent before picking, But then ‘Closed Auditions’ ‎for the ‘bigger’ actors (Private) And an open audition for general casting calls, it all depends on the process the production decides to run with, Though most just cast directly knowing exactly who they want for what role….Different strokes….

EMMANUEL BENSON: I know a little about Ms. Okwo and from what I know she is one filmmaker with high expectations from everyone she works with. Did you have to put in extra work convincing her you were the right person for the role?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I did! But I was in luck. My choices were very good for her and so it was such a smooth sail working with her….Every actor’s dream.

EMMANUEL BENSON: Who would you classify as the best producer(s) you ever worked with in the industry?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: Too many! I can’t risk listing and leaving any out. The truth is that I’ve had a blessed run so far‎.

EMMANUEL BENSON: And which one of the many blockbusters to your credit would you call your best so far?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: That will easily be BLACK NOVEMBER.

EMMANUEL BENSON: How do you manage fame, sir?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I manage it by not remembering it….Like I mentioned before “I LIVE”…..I try to stay grounded, understanding the illusion that is ‘Fame’.

EMMANUEL BENSON: You know I have to say you are quite unlike some celebrities I know. For instance, I thought it would be difficult getting you to grant this interview but then I was wrong. Are you usually this simple and nice?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I’ll take that as a compliment.Well I guess there’s simplicity in Living….

EMMANUEL BENSON: Do you feel accomplished with your career goals?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I’m very grateful for where I am, but still in the first phase of the journey.

EMMANUEL BENSON: How do you decide which projects to be a part of?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I simply follow my heart.

EMMANUEL BENSON: What has been your most challenging role so far?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I hardly find that I use the word ‘challenging’ for roles cos it usually feels like an adventure through the time, Black November did challenge me by having to put me up against (and to dominate) An Oscar Award Winner (Kim Basinger) An Oscar Award Nominee (Mickey Rourke) ‎Akon, Wyclef, Vivica Fox, Perisa White, Anne Heche… I played the lead male role amongst such globally recognized names and I was just a boy from Nigeria doing that; and it was such a jolly good easy ride…So I guess it did challenge me, but not enough to break me; going by feedback about my performance.

IMG_20160321_164952

 

EMMANUEL BENSON: Nice. So what would be your appraisal of Nollywood?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: Nollywood is growing exponentially, Currently reinventing and attracting international attention, So much I could say but I’ll keep it optimistic and simple by saying we are finally ready for the world!

EMMANUEL BENSON: What is your relationship with fashion?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I have none really, if you’re referring to my fashion sense specifically then, I’d say I don’t really put too much thought into it, I dress according to how I feel‎ but within basic rules….E.g I wouldn’t wear a Tux to the beach.

EMMANUEL BENSON: Any secrets as to why you stay this young, healthy and fresh asides being moneyed?

ENYI4

ENYI6

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I love to workout. And I’M NOT OLD….(Laughs)

EMMANUEL BENSON: Lol. How do you steer clear of controversies?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I don’t create any.

EMMANUEL BENSON: Are you currently working on any projects?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: I’m currently in the US filming ‘When Love Happens Again’ Which is sequel to ‘When Love Happens’ And same time running promotions for my films running concurrently in the cinemas ‘Couple Of Days, Suru L’ere, For The Wrong Reasons & Remember Me.‎ Been a very busy first quarter and I’m grateful.

EMMANUEL BENSON: Any special remarks to your fans?

ENYINNA NWIGWE: Stay living in your truth always, live life on YOUR terms!

EMMANUEL BENSON: Thank you so much for granting this interview sir.

ENYINNA NWIGWE: Thanks for reaching out.

ENYI2

~Emmanuel Benson reporting…

THE GRANDEUR OF THIS YEAR’S AMVCAs

Posted on Updated on

AMVCA2

AMVCA 6
Nigerian sweetheart and this year’s AMVCA winner [Best Actress in a comedy] Funke Akindele

It is arguably one of the biggest award shows recognizing talents in Nigerian and indeed African filmmaking- the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards. Multichoice organizes this award show on an annual basis to recognize excellence in film and television, with the public’s  vote determining who wins and who losses.  This year’s ceremony held at the Eko Hotel and Suites on the 5th of March, and as always it was graced by the biggest names in Nigeria’s Nollywood and beyond.

 

It was a big event, and as always those who are truly deserving of the awards were recognized. Frank Raja Arase won the Best Art Director Award for the film The Refugees, Best Director by Akin Omotosho for Tell Me Sweet Something, Best Makeup Artist in a series by Louiza Calore for Ayanda, the Best Lighting Designer (Movies/TV) award Stanley Ohikhuare for Common Man and the Best Cinematographer won by Paul Michaelson for Tell Me Sweet Something.  Still on awards for people who worked off the camera on major film projects, Jose Guillermo won Best Sound Editor award for the film Cry, while Best Picture Editor award was taken home by Ghanaian Shirley Frimpong-Manso for Rebeca; Best Costume Designer was won by Uche Nancy for Dry while the best award of the night as far as we are concerned (i.e. the award for Best Writer for Movie and TV series) was won by Trish Malone for the series Ayanda.

AMVCA4

 

For the actors, big winners include Adesua Etomi who won Best Actress in A Movie/Drama/TV for  her role in Falling with Daniel K. Daniel winning in the best Actor Category for A Soldier’s Story. Best Actress in a Comedy was won by Funke Akindele for Jenifa’s Diary with her onscreen boyfriend in the same TV series Folarin Falana winning Best Actor. Best Supporting Actress was won by Tunbosun Aiyedihin for Before 30 while Sambassa Nzeribe won Best Supporting Actor for the film A Soldier’s Story. Emerging actress Kemi Akindoju won the highly coveted Trail Blazer Award for 2016.

AMVCA 5

Moving on, the Best Documentary award went to Remi Vaughn for Faaji Agba and Best Movie (Southern Africa) went to Joyce Chavura for Lilongwe. In the same vein, the Best Movie award (East Africa) went to Elizabeth Miachael for Mapenzi and the Best Movie (West Africa) went to Genevieve Nnaji and Chinny Onwugbenu for Road to Yesterday. There was no award for a film from North Africa. The Overall Best Movie award however went to Stephanie Linus for Dry.

There were other categories and a number of merit awards given. We shall now look forward to next year’s ceremony.

For your overview, here is the list of winners in a glance:

– Industry Merit Award : Bukky Ajayi & Sadiq Daba— Best Overall Movie for Dry: Stephanie Linus :

– Best Director: Akin Omotosho

–  Best Actor in a Drama : Daniel K Daniel :

–  Best Actress in a Drama (Falling): Adesua Etomi :

– Best Movie – West African (Road to Yesterday):Chinny Onwugbenu, Genevieve Nnaji, Chichi Nwoko

–Best Sound Editor, Marquex Jose Guillermo

– Best Movie – East African: Elizabeth Michael :

– Best Movie – Southern Africa: Joyce Mhango Chavula :

– Trailblazer award : Kemi Lala Akindoju.

– Best Actress in a Comedy (Jenifa’s Diary): Funke Akindele :

– Best Actor in a Comedy : Folarin Falana

–  Best Cinematographer award: Paul Michaelson:

– Best Supporting Actress – Tunbosun Aiyedehin (Before 30)

– Best Supporting Actor – A Soldier’s Story – Sambassa Nzeribe

– Best Documentary:Remi Vaughan-Richards

– Best Indigenous Language Movie/TV Series – Usekwu Igbo – Paul Igwe

– Best Indigenous Language Movie (Yoruba) – Binta Ofege : Abiodun Jimoh and Jumoke Odetola

– The AMVCA 2016 for Best Local Language – Hausa: Salisu Balarabe :

–Best Indigenous Language Series or Movie (Swahili) – Kitendawili – Josephat Lukaza

–  Best Costume Designer for ‘Dry’: Uche Nancy

–   Best Picture Editor award: Shirley Frimpong-Manso

–  Best Lighting: Stanlee Ohikhuare

– Best Drama Writer: Trish Malone

– Best Short Film or Online Video: Oluseyi Amuwa

–  Best Make-Up for her work on “Ayanda”: Louiza Calore

– The Best Television Series: Ariyike Oladipo

 

 

THE FUNNY SIDE OF YVONNE NELSON

Posted on Updated on

 

NELSON

Yvonne Nelson [the Ghanaian actress] has always been a special one. But this morning she is endearing herself to fans on a whole new level. The beautiful one posted a series of Snapchat videos to her Instagram page in which she displayed all kinds of funny characters to herself. According to her, she was stuck in traffic; something that happened all the time if you drive African roads though. Anyway, she decided to make the most of the stuck-up situation and now people are laughing out loud all thanks to her.

RIVER TEARS

In one of the videos Yvonne is seen crying copious tears, apparently frustrated inside her car. The tears forms a river with golden fish and other water stuff (lol). She then stopped crying and smiles to the camera even as the tears stopp flowing only for her to start again on a whole new level of “tearfulness“. Funny stuff; I lolED so hard!
Please Check her Instagram page and watch the videos in order to understand what I mean…

Meanwhile another Nollywood actress interacting with her fans this morning is Kate Henshaw Nuttal. She has posted some clips of herself in a gym whooping that body of hers into shape. This is something she does every single morning by the way. No wonder she glows always in that killer body of hers.

kate
Nigerian actress Kate Henshaw Nuttal looks so fab thanks to her constant workout sessions and healthy diet.

-Emmanuel Benson

 

 

NEWS IN BRIEF

Posted on Updated on

The-Shampaign

NETFLIX LAUNCHES IN NIGERIA

Netflix has launched in Nigeria and across many other African countries, and already it has seen impressive reception by a wide audience of film lovers in the country who have long been lovers of the subscription-based video streaming company.

Ventures Africa reports that this is a welcome development for Nollywood because Netflix “might begin streaming more African content”, thereby providing the needful visibility for Nollywood films to be portrayed to a wider global audience. Netflix boast 69.17 million active subscribers from across the world, and has often been regarded as the biggest cinema conglomerate in the world.

NETFLIX
Telecoms giant Etisalat has already become the first among its competitors to provide Netflix services to Nigerians with a subscription package called VideoPak. People can enjoy two hours of uninterrupted, ad-free online TV moments with just 400 naira.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE MEETS WITH NIGERIAN FEMALE CELEBRITIES, EXECUTIVE WOMEN

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde was in Nigeria for four days on a working visit during which time she met up with a number of high-powered women in the country. Talk show hostess and founder Ebony Live TV Mo Abudu first posted a picture of her and the IMF boss alongside Nigeria’s Finance Minister on Instagram, writing that “it was in a bid to see how we as women, ALL women can help each other achieve our desired goals.”

ABUDU
credit: Mo Abudu

Meanwhile Nigerian actress and business woman Genevieve Nnaji also met with Ms. Lagarde. She first Instagrammed a picture of herself dressed in a luxury suit which she captioned “#day1 with the madam.” She then posted more pictures one of which has her posed with the French woman with both of them dressed in beautiful gowns. Ms. Nnaji said that she was honoured to be in the same room “with strong, inspiring and impactful women.”

NNAJI
Credit: Nnaji

Nairaland reports that the actress attended the event in honour of Christine Lagarde alongside other business-savvy Nigerian women. It doubled as a dinner and a business event of some sort.

FIRST 2016 NOLLYWOOD FILM SET TO PREMIER

Nollywood has begun on a good note this 2016 with an interesting film set to hit cinemas soon. The film under review is Elephant in the Room, a romantic comedy starring Ramsey Nouah who also doubles as the executive producer. The film tells the story of an aging man with lots of money whose life changes upon a chance encounter with a desperate young woman who is in search of a job after relocation from Europe.

Elephant in the Room stares a former Big Brother Africa house mate Zainab Sheriff, and it is set to premier on cinemas across Nigeria such as Film House Cinema today January 8th, 2016.

Ramsey Nouah has noted that the film was shot in Sierra Leon and that he had immense fun executive-producing it. Let’s hope the film doesn’t disappoint expectations. It should be noted that this is Mr. Nouah’s first time executive-producing a Nollywood film.

ELEPHANT
Meanwhile, also set to screen on January 8th and 9th as in Accra is Shampaign, a political action drama series set in Ghana and featuring some of West Africa’s best actors. Some of the stars in the TV series [including Blossom ChukwuJekwu and Joslyn Dumas] have been promoting the show on Instagram by posting interesting sneak peeks as well as headlining promotional events.

The series was created by Shirley Frimpong-Manso and produced by Sparrow Entertainment. According to http://www.moviemarkers.net, “the political drama series follows the lives of a young political campaign team who work tirelessly to make political history by getting a single mother elected as the first female president of the country while dealing with their own personal demons.”

-Reporting by Emmanuel Benson

NOLLYWOOD FILM OF THE YEAR

Posted on Updated on

In 2015, such Nollywood productions as Dry, Gbomo Gbomo Express and The Visit among others were released to rave reviews and audiences’ delight. But which of these films qualify to be crowned Nollywood’s best of the year? If you have seen any of these films, you will agree with me that choosing the best is a tough call; most controversial especially when appraised from a sole perspective as I am about to. But that notwithstanding, a compilation of influential [2015] films has been made. And using certain yardsticks (especially audience-anticipation/reception, social media buzz, financial success, quality of story/production and award nominations, the best of these films shall be determined and thus named Scripts Mercantile’s film of the year 2015.

o-town-poster-2-400x600
Credit: Fiery Films

Let us first consider O-Town, C.J Obasi’s second feature. There was so much social media buzz heralding the release of this film, and good enough the gangster thriller lived up to the expectation owing mostly to quality storytelling and a lineup of seasoned cast members. Writing for Bella Naija, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo rendered [perhaps] the best Nigerian film critique on O-Town. According to him, O-Town focuses on Peace (played by Paul Utomi) who wants to be king of the streets. But there is an already existing kingpin who he must confront. On this backdrop therefore, the film brings intrigues to the audience coupled with lots of violence which the critic observed may not augur with Nigeria’s already tarnished foreign perception. But then a film is a film, and often times what matters most is the quality of the story told, how it is told and the intentions for telling it. And speaking of Obasi’s capacity as a filmmaker, his brilliance is evident in this film which is my favourite from him yet. But does O-Town qualify as Nollywood film of the year? Well there is no need rushing into conclusions, especially not when we have yet another interesting film to consider- Fifty!

Dry_film_screenshot
Sourced from Wikipedia. Dry’s storyline and actual production positions it as one of the greatest African films ever made.

Fifty was directed by Biyi Bandele who previously adapted Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Half of a Yellow Sun to the screen. Now one of the things most fascinating about this film is the bringing together of top Nollywood actors whose names ring lots of bells- Nse Ikpe-Etim, Dakore Akande, Omoni Oboli and others. Their great performances were all wrapped into this film, executive-produced by Mo Abudu who is undoubtedly Nigeria’s Oprah Winfrey. It tells the stories of upper class, sophisticated and beautiful Lagos women who are successful in their careers yet embroiled in their personal problems ranging from infidelity, quest for love and a life threatening disease. Believe me, this film is classy, and it has to be especially with the huge sums of money Ms. Abudu splashed on it. And its purpose of portraying strong, independent and modern African womanhood is certainly undefeated. Already, it has garnered international interest following a nomination at the British Film Institute where it premiered in October. But is this our film of the year? We shall decide shortly after we consider Gbomo Gbomo Express.

fifty
Credit: http://www.ebonylifetv.com

Like Fifty above, Gbomo Gbomo Express has a lineup of familiar Nollywood faces alongside the newcomers, and I am delighted about this film for several reasons one of which is having a close friend of mine serve in the crew. But could this be a deciding factor you may wonder; of course not! The film’s content indeed justifies its place on this list, and places Walter Taylaur as both a prominent Nigerian screenwriter and director. This film is both a comedy and a crime thriller all rolled into one; record producer C.E.O Austin Mba (played by Ramsey Nouah) is kidnapped by a trio of inexperienced criminals a few nights before the signing of a major contract worth fifty million naira. The criminals earlier stumbled on information about the deal through a source that will be revealed at the end of the film. Meanwhile Austin is kidnapped alongside a rich socialite Cassandra (Osas Ighodaro) whom he meets at a club where he had gone to celebrate the incoming deal. The kidnappers then want the money, and Austin’s partner at the record label who is also the company’s lawyer- Rotimi Lawal (Blossom ChukwuJekwu) is required to get the money for the criminals. But he cannot because as he informs them Austin’s signature is needed for the contract to be sealed. As the plot thickens (and believe me it does thicken), there is much suspicion with a dash of violence and pure comedy. The height of the comedy for me is when Austin and Cassandra almost managed to escape, but she had gone back to get her very expensive shoe only to get recaptured. Austin surrenders himself for her. Super love? Perhaps. Anyway, Austin receives the torture of his life for having masterminded the escape. And to prevent further torture from coming his way, Cassandra decided to contact his very wealthy stepmother instead to get the money. This works, but for the meantime while the main mystery remains about who had tipped the criminals about the existence of the fifty million naira deal!

express
Sourced from Google

Road to Yesterday is yet another impressive 2015 Nollywood release as well as Genevieve Nnaji’s much anticipated production debut. But so are  The Visit, A Soldier’s Story and most especially Dry are equally fascinating enough. Now Dry is the film of the year, and this conclusion was reached after a lot of rumination. Stephanie Linus did give the world a Nigerian film to reckon with; a very-researched, well written and impeccably-produced film. According to a source:

“The film’s theme focuses on Vesicovaginal fistula condition and underaged marriage among young women,[3] narrating the story of a thirteen-year-old girl, Halima (Zubaida Ibrahim Fagge), whose poor uneducated parents marry her off to Sani (Tijjani Faraga), a 60-year-old man, who constantly rapes her. Halima gets pregnant and suffers Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) after child delivery; she’s consequently abandoned by her husband and discriminated against in the society. Zara (Stephanie Okereke), a medical doctor who also suffered a horrific childhood meets Halima; she tries to help her get through her situation and also save other young women under such circumstance”

-Story written by Emmanuel Benson. A happy yuletide to everyone. Be fun.

BEHOLD PAUL UTOMI: THE NEW FACE OF NOLLYWOOD

Posted on

Story by Emmanuel Benson

I came off the hustle and bustle of Lagos streets into the cool ambience of a posh restaurant, the venue of my scheduled interview with a budding actor. And as my eyes scanned through the place, I quickly spotted him seated alone on a table. He was sipping a drink while flipping through the pages of a newspaper. I hurried over, apologizing profusely; my tardiness! It was the traffic, I explained as I took my seat right opposite him and we proceeded to discuss a whole lot of issues ranging from his acting career and Nollywood in general.

UTO
Credit: Utomi

Paul Utomi! Just in case you never knew, he is a major industry player in Nigeria’s Nollywood although he wouldn’t just agree to that. “I honestly don’t think I am” he told me humbly when I mentioned how famous he is. But indeed he’s famous even though he’s been acting professionally for not more than five years. Within this rather short timeframe Paul has featured in a number of productions including O-TOWN, APOSTATES and +234. I asked him if he always set out to become the actor that he is today and his immediate response was a split seconds of thoughtful sigh. “I’m not sure” he said. “But then I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing at the moment.”

E. Benson: Really? But you studied Economics at one of Nigeria’s best universities. You could have made a fine banker for instance…

Paul Utomi: Yeah. I studied Economics. But I realized early on that I was drawn to the magic of movies and I am happy to have pursued that dream. Today I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to thrill audiences.

And thrilling audiences is truly one thing I’m sure he does best. His acting is captivating; pure talent merged with passion. But how is his life as an actor, I asked, and then he flattered me with one of his quick responses- “It’s a constant hustle to get jobs” he said. To this I laughed because Paul Utomi has featured in quite a number of Nollywood productions. This could only mean that his hustles must have paid very well indeed! Yet while this may be the case, Paul reiterated that the journey to the top is never easy. For the benefit of young [aspiring] actors and writers hoping to have their break into the industry, he said it’s never an easy feat. But that is not to imply impossibility:

“I’m still trying to overcome the challenges I face as an actor. It’s more like an ongoing journey; you will have to work as hard as you can, constantly improving and honing your craft… You may also probably have to get used to being disappointed ever so often”.

Screenshot_2015-12-02-14-28-04
On set of the Apostates. Credit: Utomi

Away from his acting career for a while, I asked Paul to appraise Nollywood. And without disappointing, he was as objective as I’d expected. It is an industry constantly evolving, he said. And while he is not one of those that would spend time reminiscing about the supposed good old times the industry had seen, he never hesitated to candidly remind me that “for you to have a clear idea of where you are going, you need to remember/acknowledge where you are coming from…” I also wanted to know if he is one of those advocates of New Nollywood. And to this he responded:

“Well not quite. The only constant thing in life is change. Even the cinematic techniques in Hollywood are always evolving. Same goes for Bollywood and France/Europe. I don’t know about labels and labeling; but art is art. And all forms of visual expressions can coexist side by side and even burrow from each other”.

Screenshot_2015-12-02-13-57-58
#MeetTheActors2015 Credit: Utomi

Moving on, our conversation soon shifted to Paul’s career and personal life. I asked him to pick out the best production he has ever been a part of, and of course it was a difficult thing to do. Instead he told me that all of his work has been unique with their special challenges, but most of all have all meant for learning experiences.

E. Benson: So has your craft brought immense financial success your way?
Paul Utomi: Hahaha… Hardly! We’re still hustling, bro. The industry still has a long way to go.

E. Benson: Really? But the general perception of you celebs is that y’all are quite monied.

Paul Utomi: Hmmmmm. Perception isn’t always reality.

And he was right; the perspective that Nigerian celebrities are money-spinners is false. But then this is not to say that Paul is broke. He has a penchant for being humbled, I noticed. And that’s equally a good attribute which must have contributed to making him the star that he is today. So in the face of his fame, how does he deal with excessive admiration from the girls? “Hahahaha” came his immediate reply. Yea he laughs quite a lot too. “I haven’t actually experienced it, boss” he said , referring to excessive admiration from them ladies. And even though I’m certain he might have chosen to tactfully evade the question, I agreed with him and proceeded to ask him about the most pricey gift acting has given him yet.

Screenshot_2015-12-02-14-29-37
AFRIFF 2015

Paul Utomi: Hmmmm… Probably opening my eyes to how imperfect/fallible I am as a person. It has also helped me in my little understanding of the human condition.

E. Benson: Would you ever quite the profession?

Paul Utomi: Well I don’t know; life’s a funny thing. But…I don’t think so.

E. Benson: Okay. So on a last note, is there someone in the industry whom you admire their professionalism? Would you consider producing your own film someday?

Paul Utomi: There are a few people… Hopefully; it’s an industry we all want to see grow.

E. Benson: So would you date a fellow celebrity or anybody your heart calls out to?

Paul Utomi: Hahaha… Yeah, I would date a fellow celebrity or anyone my heart calls out to.

E. Benson: Well then…it’s been very nice having this sit down with you, Sir. Thank you so much for your time. And do permit me another interview when next I call on you.

Paul Utomi: Most definitely. You are welcome.

Screenshot_2015-12-02-14-30-41
Getting “painted” for the set. Lol
Screenshot_2015-12-02-14-07-17
On the set of O-Town, a film by C.J Obasi