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Bimbo Manuel: I stumbled into acting

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Bimbo Manuel is a celebrated versatile actor who has carved a niche for himself on stage, television and film media. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, he recalls with nostalgia how he wanted to be a Disc Jockey (DJ). Excerpts:

 

 

You started as a broadcaster. How and why did you delve into acting?

That is extremely exciting really, because you get to be so many things, you get to be so many people; you get to go into faraway places to live in that world. It is an incredibly exciting world, and it can become an addiction. And maybe that is why they also say the cliché that ‘actors never retire’.

Because that world, once you’ve entered it, and, it is indeed your calling, it is what you are convinced you really want to do, you almost certainly will not want to go anywhere else. I wanted to be so many other things, before I stumbled into acting. I wanted to be a director because I was working on television, OGTV, but before then I was at OGBC. When I was growing up, I was living in Ibadan with my brother. In those days, Ibadan, especially, was where everything in the entertainment was happening. People used to leave Lagos to come to Ibadan. This was in the late 60s and early 70s.

That was where everything happened, and radio was incredible; the parties were incredible; the night clubs were incredible. And there were different kinds of people there in those days, especially in the 70s. You had the Tunji Marquis of this world, Funmi Ogunsanya, Alex Kondi, quite a number of them. I just loved what they were doing on radio, and I thought I could be a broadcaster. I thought I could be a Disk Jockey (DJ). I was in secondary school,and music was incredibly popular then.

There was Soul, Jazz, R&B, Highlife, Juju, but not the kind of juju music we have today. We were listening to Ojoge Daniel, IK Dairo, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Fela, Segun Bucknor, Hakeep Kareem, and a lot of foreign music – R&B, Country music and so on. We used to have notebooks that we wrote the lyrics, and we sang them on our own.

Then what happened?

So, I thought that I was definitely going to be a DJ because I have always loved music and I loved the styles of those guys on radio. I guess, as with all things with young people, other things got my attention. I went to school, University of Port Harcourt, and I later started work.

At OGBC, I was as an understudy for the Duty Continuity Announcer. Also, against tradition, in less than one month, I was left to run my own shows. And that was where I met people like Femi Sowolu, Bola Makinde, Gboyega Adeseye (who read network news on NTA), Ayinde Soaga. Later I transited to OGTV, which was just starting then, and there I was exposed to another world of broadcasting, which I found extremely exciting. I was jittery initially. When I went to the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), I trained as a director. I had a quiet life in UNIPORT, no nightclubbing, no girlfriend…

Can you tell us why?

Because I had a normal student’s life, I was very mature by the time I went so UNIPORT. So, whatever I was doing had to make sense to me. I didn’t have the kind of time on my hands like other students. After that, I came back to Lagos hoping that those directing jobs will just keep coming like that. We had ideas that we wanted to experiment; we were bubbling with energy. But those jobs in reality were few and far between. They were not coming as we thought they would, there were more acting jobs. And because one was also trained as an actor, I started to take acting jobs. And then NTA happened.

Which was your first experience on stage?

It was ‘The gods are Not to Blame’ by Prof. Ola Rotimi. I played the narrator and one of the chiefs. After that we had Hopes of the Living Dead, also by Prof. Ola Rotimi. I was the Superintendent of Police. As I said, when there no directing jobs, we went into acting and even the acting at that time extremely unrealistic. If you had any big aspirations it was clear that you could not depend entirely on acting jobs on stage, because rehearsals of those days, we were doing like three to four months of rehearsals before performance.

You had to get there yourself and so on. It wasn’t making any sense. To augment it we decided to go to NTA, we had friends there – Andy Amanaechi, Bond Emeruwa, Ifeanyi Anyafulu, Zeb Ejiro, Enebeli Elebuwa. The first show featured in was one of those Play of the Week by NTA Channel 10. We did quite a number of those plays and telemovies. I worked with Tade Ogidan, Lai Arasanmi and others. I was in ‘Sparks’; I was also in Village Headmaster, I played role of Councillor Balogun’s Doctor.

Then, Nollywood took off and I was invited to feature in quite a number of movies. So, Bollywood changed entirely our earning power; it provided a great platform for some of us who were convinced about our skills and craft to actually show off a bit. The rest is history.

Which has been your most embarrassing experience?

None.

Why?

You see, when you have lived as young as I have and you have worked as long as I have, some of those things begin to pale into insignificance. You even begin to lose memory of them. I really cannot remember those experiences. Maybe, I will remember some of them later.

Which of the films you have featured in do you consider most interesting and challenging?

Almost all of them, because in the first place, I only take jobs that I know meet all the criteria, the standards that I have set for myself. Usually, they are jobs that I feel have helped me and they have provided good opportunities for me to express myself. So, all of them have been memorable for me. I was away from the stage for about 14 years because television and film got my attention; they were paying a lot more, and they offered less stress. Also, they took less of my time, and I could move on to other jobs. I could devote my energy into doing other things.

But Chuck Mike brought me back on stage with the play ‘Death of a Maiden.’ It is a three-man piece, and it was staged at the then PEC Repertory Theatre, Onikan, Lagos. After that we staged Wole Soyinka’s Lion and the Jewel in London and Manchester. I played the role of Baroka. From that, I decided that I was not going to stay away that long from theatre stage any more. It meant that I was playing on many platforms. I already had radio experience; I have done quite a number radio drama with Irhia Enakhimio, Jide Ogungbade, Yay Mike Nwachukwu. So, I could play any role on film, television, and on stage. And all of that put together helped me hone my craft, and I was able to easily transit across media.

What is your take on developments in Nollywood?

In the first place, I think Nollywood has proven all doubters wrong. I thought at a point that many people were convinced that many things we do in Nigerian movie industry then, as a fad, that it would soon peter out, and people will lose interest and go back to what we used to have before.

But here we are, Nollywood has grown to the level that it is now, but of course, far from perfection. Considering all, Nollywood, I think, deserves a pat on the back. If you look at the kind of works that we are putting out now, even the people who worked have continued to work and have upped their game; they are producing better quality. We can always raise questions about the theme, the acting, and so on.

But it is not exactly the same as we had in the past. Everybody is trying. I think the measure of our industry should be what we are putting out in the cinemas and what we are taking out of this country, whether to festivals of whatever description, they get attention, and I think that is good.

Have you been embarrassed?

The way you carry yourself and the way you make yourself available to relate with people who fancy your work is a factor in determining whether they embarrass you or not. I am naturally a calm person and I guess that may have contributed to the way people had approached each time. It is has usually been calm, polite, very courteous and warm.

You have a project you are working on. What is it about?

I have written a number plays but the first one that I am producing, which is happening in May this year at Terra Kulture, is called Interview With A Prostitute. I wrote the play. It will feature Yibo Koko, Monalisa Chinda, who has also been away from stage for quite a while.

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Arts & Entertainments

Nollywood stars in God’s Vineyard

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Call them legends of Nollywood and you are stating the obvious. At various point in the evolution of the industry, they ruled the screen. Today, many of them now work for God. TONY OKUYEME, LANRE ODUKOYA and ADEDAYO ODULAJA profile these star actors

 

ZACK ORJI

It is not for nothing that Zack Orji is as highly regarded as he is in Nollywood and beyond. An actor noted for his impressive delivery of roles and impeccable diction, Orji has been active long before the advent of Nollywood. Apart from acting, Zack Orji is involved in many things and preaching the gospel is notable among them and people have spotted him in cities such as Abuja, Nasarawa and Makurdi doing the work of the ministry.

Widely known as a gentleman without blemish, many say that must have weighed heavily on his decision to become a worker in the Vineyard of God. Speaking in an interview, Orji, said: “I’m also an ordained reverend, a pastor so I get invitations to minister in different churches both within and outside Nigeria. I didn’t set out to be an ordained reverend. My bishop probably got inspired by God to ordain me.

I worship with Power Line Bible Church under Bishop Lawrence Osagie, and he ordained me in 2012.” He disclosed that even before his ordination, he had been receiving invitations from different places to come and minister. “So when the offer came from my bishop to ordain me, I didn’t reject it. I took it whole heartedly and I get excited when I have opportunity to speak to people, inspire them and draw them closer to God.”

MAJID MICHEL

Many observers of Nollywood and beyond cannot stop being surprised with the case of Majid Michel, easily one of the best actors in Nollywood in the last decade.The Ghanaian actor, who has already been invited to many churches in his native country as well as Nigeria to preach, first shocked people by saying he will no longer accept kissing roles in movies as taking on such roles may affect his new assignment as a minister of God. While speaking further during an appearance on Bryte FM in Ghana, Majid, who talked about being addicted to masturbation before his encounter with God, said the decision will help him take the gospel to the end of the world although he said he should not be judged by the characters he played in movies.

The actor who boasts of the skill set, grit and looks for the Casanova roles for which he is widely regarded, has stressed that he is now truly born again and is a servant of God. His response was in reaction to critics who dismissed his claims of being a pastor as a ploy to preserve his popularity among movie fans in the continent.

Majid, who is now fond of preaching and writing about his new-found state on social media in recent times, said his motive was not to seek the attention of anyone.While quoting directly from the scriptures weeks ago, he wrote via his Instagram account: “Am I now trying to win the favour and approval of men or that of God? “Or am I seeking to please someone?

If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Except there is a drastic change in his ways, it looks like Majid is now solely focused on working for God and spreading the gospel to as many as possible.

LIZ BENSON

Arguably the most notable female artiste yet to be part of Nollywood in history, Liz Benson is a true screen goddess. She used to be the toast of many lovers of Nigerian films and TV series, heralding the stage long before Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade and the rest came along.

Her journey into stardom began with featuring in the popular television soap, “Fortunes” in 1993 where she played the role of Mrs. Agnes Johnson. Apart from “Fortunes” which ran for at least two years on NTA, she acted in various TV serials and movies before hitting it big with the coming of Nollywood. In 1994, she acted in Glamour Girls, one of the blockbusters of the early years of Nollywood. The movie, which also featured the enigmatic Eucharia Anunobi, turned Liz Benson into a star.

Having been a part of movies since long before the advent of Nollywood thus, Liz Benson went on to thrill Nigerians for many years, becoming a part of the childhood of many Nigerians who are now in their 30s before disappearing in late 2000s.

Liz Benson later got married to Pastor Great Ameye of the Freedom Family Assembly International Church. With the church based in Jesse, Delta state, it explained why she went off the radar and not even featuring in a few movies in the last few years has been able to put her back firmly on the minds of industry followers. But being married to a pastor and ordained an evangelist in the church means she runs the church with her husband and makes her busy with the work of the kingdom.

 

SYLVESTER MADU

Sylvester Madu might not be as popular as many on this list but those who followed Nollywood in the last 15 years or more would remember the man who had a reputation for playing tough characters. That was then as the man later quit acting for good to become a full time pastor in a Christ Embassy branch located at Eric Moore Road in Surulere, Lagos. Today, he bears a different toga, one that is very different from that of the bad boy characters for which he was widely known in movies like Sound of Poverty, Power of Trust, Scent of Passion, Margaret Thatcher, Holy Cross and The Sheperd.

KENNETH OKONKWO

Kenneth has been a born again and a pastor for a long time and his journey towards this course started a long time ago as a young man worshipping in Christian Pentecostal Mission (CPM). He later married the daughter of the mission’s General Overseer but the marriage crashed not long after, leading to a divorce. Known for his role in the movie, Living in Bondage, the actor and lawyer won the African Movie Academy Award on a Special Recognition of Pillars of Nollywood among others and he has said not even divorcing his wife has affected his work as minister of God in anyway. He might not be in the CPM where his former father-in-law is the GO but he continues to serve God in different capacities while also remaining active in Nollywood.

LARRY KOLDSWEAT

One of the true veteran actors of Nollywood, Larry Koldsweat, is best known for playing devious characters in most of the movies he acted in. After starting out as a singer who later joined the music band of the Nigerian Army, said he is no longer involved in Nollywood. As a grandfather, he believes he quit when it was time to give way to younger elements, saying: “I quit from the industry (Nollywood) about six years ago because I have the call of God in my life, I am now a pastor.”

HILDA DOKUBO

Hilda Dokubo is arguably one the Nollywood actor who took the art of crying effortlessly to a new height, something the younger ones have not been able to replicate years after. Now based in Port Harcourt, the actor is said to have gotten closer to God as she leads women who go round churches, organisations and areas to preach the word of God. Speaking in an interview not long ago, the CEO actor who is planning to go into full time ministry soon, said: “You know I’m a Christian, I’m born again and I’m a minister (of God).

GLORIA DOYLE

There is no missing Gloria Doyle, the fashionable actress who also sings. The happy-go-single mother of three has impressed with her crazy outfits and hairdo but today she says old things are passed away and everything about her has become new. Being the founder of The Glory of God’s Oath Ministry and Daughters of Shalom, an interdenominational single parent support ministry has not stopped her from saying she would go nude for $20million.

On the confusion her manner of dressing and avowed life as a minister of God, she said in an interview: “I think I know more of the Bible, I’m spiritually conscious, I’m spirit filled, I’m born again, I speak in tongues but that does not make me any less than a showbiz person. I don’t think anyone has ever caught me naked anywhere but I think I’m a very sexy person.”

OKEY OGUNJIOFOR

This is the man reputed to be the producer of Living in Bondage, the movie believed to have kick-started the birth of what is today known as Nollywood. Today, he is no longer active on the movie front but he still calls himself an actor and a preacher of the gospel. With the explosion of the movie, and by extension, Nollywood in 1992, he hardly features in movies now but only appears by special arrangement. According to him, his participation in the movie industry was just a matter of chasing one’s hobby but he is now fully immersed in spreading the word of God and giving motivational speeches as well as being the author of many works of Christian literature.

From Nollywood to God’s Vineyard

Long before Tonto Dikeh came on the scene, there was an intensely controversial actor, a female known as Eucharia Anunobi. Some of the reasons for the controversial stance are the roles she played in many movies including the popular Glamour Girls and her manner of speaking her mind.

That explains why it was with shock that many of her fans received the news that Eucheria Anunobi has become a born again Christian. In fact, story of her conversion remains one of the most-talked about in Nollywood, especially with her standing as a controversial actor.

The ordination of Eucharia Anunobi as an evangelist, which reportedly took place at the Fresh Oil Ministry in Egbeda, Lagos on a Sunday in February back in 2012, was carried out by Pastor Psalm Okpe along with other men of God. The ordination, coming just months after she made the announcement that old things have passed away as she had turned a new leaf and given her life to Christ, was as unconventional as most things that have anything to do with Eucharia are. It does not matter that now bearing a collar has not done much to reduce her nature as a flashy and daring woman.

Eucheria, who reportedly bought a brand new BMW X5 just weeks after her ordination, has had to refute reports that she has abandoned acting for acting. According to her, she has only had to be more careful and choosy in accepting movie roles. Speaking to New Telegraph in response to questions based on this story, she said: “I don’t know why people get the impression that when you are a pastor you are not supposed to have a career.

As far as I can remember, most, if not all, reverend fathers (catholic priests), reverend sisters are all degree and masters’ degrees holders in one career or the other; and they are all continuously schooling, just like I am also schooling as it were. And they have their careers.

“For instance, most Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) pastors, starting from Baba Adeboye, are doctorate degree or masters’ degree holders and they have one career or the other, one business or the other. “So, I wonder why people make it look as if because you are a pastor you would not have a career.

To be a minister in the house of the gospel of Jesus is selfless service. It is not something that you do and should be paid for as a career.” The Abuja Connection actor added: “So, I think it is wrong for somebody to think that because I am a minister of the gospel, therefore I have stopped working as an artiste.

No, I have not stopped working as an artiste. It is a gift from God. Don’t forget what the Bible says in the book of Proverbs chapter 15 verse 16 that ‘The gift of a man makes the way for him.’ It also applies to the woman. When I was called on the 17th of March, 1997, I had already become a mega movie star. So, when my God Almighty, Yahweh found me in the movie industry, he found me a glamorous, wonderful, elegant, beautiful looking woman.

So, I am not going to throw away the gift and the platform he gave to me. As a matter of fact I finished from a movie production about two weeks ago.” Asked if she would have taken part in the movie, Glamour Girls given her present status as a minister of the gospel if she could turn back the hands of time, it was an answer expected of the vintage Eucharia Anunobi. “Yes, I would have done it, because acting is not your personal life, it is your career. I they give me the role of a prostitute; I will do it, because it is a gift from God.

I am not a prostitute, neither am I a thief. I am only acting the role. So, for me, I would act any role, but of course, I don’t believe in undue exposure which does not add any meaning to the movie, that makes no sense. Acting is meant to portray real life. So, I can act any role, but undue exposure, I would not be part of it.”

 

 

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Arts & Entertainments

BBNaija 2018: I only had one-night stand with you – Rapper, CDQ Olowo replies Ifu Ennada

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Nigerian entertainer, CDQ Olowo, has responded to Big Brother Naija’s housemate, Ifu Ennada, saying he only had a one-night-stand with her.

Yesterday, Ifu Ennada had called out the popular rapper, accusing him of dumping her after sacrificing so much for his music career.

She claimed the singer forgot about her after attaining stardom.

According to Ifu Ennada, she was just 17 when she “sponsored” CDQ, gave him money meant for her handouts, school fees, and also gave him tickets to VIP event. Only for her to be used and dumped.

She said it was not about the money but about the sacrifices she made for him.

But reacting to Ifu’s claim, the musician described her as a one-night-stand, asking her to seek for promo the right way instead of talking “bullsh*t.

CDQ Olowo wrote on his Instagram, “I’m a self made. Dm or contact my management if you need free promo not by saying bullshit (sic).

“You were just a one night stand.”

 

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BBNaija: Efe blasts Nigerians who regret voting for him

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Winner of last year’s Big Brother Naija, Efe Ejeba, has lashed out at Nigerians who say they regret voting for him.

Efe, who has ventured into music since the show ended, took to his Twitter page to blast fans who have been criticizing his songs from the EP, ‘AmSorryAmWinning’.

He wrote: “For all those saying they regret voting for me, i entertained you and your money expired the day the show ended. #AmSorryAmWinningEp

“Thank you to those who have been 1000% with me from day one… your genuine support has kept me thus far through God’s grace… keep supporting the music… so we keep winning… #AmSorryAmWinningEp”

Efe won the coveted N25million prize money and an SUV after three months in the Big Brother house.

 

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