Posted by Nigeriamovies.net on
Kalu who features as Jeny, a loving and very supportive husband to Ada in the TVsoap Domino, currently showing on AIT every Sunday, came into the country from England less than a year ago. Hear him: "A friend of mine who is a banker here in Nigeria encouraged me to come home and get involved in Nollywood.
So, I planned to come to Nigeria just for two weeks to network and arrange for my final home coming."
Ever since he arrived the country, Nigerian producers have been inviting him to feature in their movies. Following his debut movie, For Real by Emem Isong, in less than one year, the debonair actor has established his presence in the movie industry.
Beaming smiles, the talented actor says he would love to be appreciated not just for his good looks but his potentials.
He also spoke about his acting career, his fees, coping with female fans, the future of Nollywood and much more in this interview.
My name is Kalu Ikeagwu. I was born in England. I returned to Nigeria when I was nine years old because my father wanted me to get closer to my culture. I had my primary education in England and Zambia and my secondary school and University here at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka before I returned to England.
My father, who died two years ago, was a lecturer and a very good man. He was very strict too. Being a very academic man, he used to encourage us to read. My mother lives in England at the moment with the rest of the family. We are seven in number - two girls and five boys. I am the third child and the first son of my parents.
I read English and graduated in 1991.
My father had wanted me to study Medicine but I couldn’t do it because I wasn’t very good in the sciences. I developed the love for Literature and when it was time to go to the University, I chose Literature much to his disappointment.
In my first year at the University, we had a drama to present. I was not really interested in it, I just wanted to go there and play about. Later a man came and made me read the script and before I knew it, he told me to pick up the role. It was hard work for me but I just found out that I enjoyed it. And ever since then, I have never looked back. I continued to act on stage throughout my stay at the university so much so that people thought I was a Dramatic Arts student. That was where it started from.
I came into the country last year and featured in three home movies before I was invited to take part in Domino. The first one was For Real by Emem Isong; the second one was Darkest Night, but the third movie is not yet out.
Picking the roles
A friend of mine who is a banker here in Nigeria encouraged me to come home and get roles in Nollywood. So I planned to come to Nigeria just for two weeks to network. So when I arrived, I did not know they had already fixed me up with an agent who linked me with Emem Isong. So I went to see her, she asked me to read something for her. That was how she gave me the role.
For the role in Domino, I went for another auditioning at the National Theatre, the then producer of Domino, Biodun Aleja, just saw me and told me that they were actually looking for new faces. So that was how I got the role.
Most challenging role
So far, the most challenging is the role I play in Domino. Moreso because I am usually more comfortable as a bad guy. But it is difficult acting a good person, you have to be disciplined enough in order not to overact.
However, I really don’t want to fit into any role, I want to be as flexible as I can. As an actor, I think my responsibility is to express everything a human being can express to an audience, so I should be able to handle any role that is given to me.
Acting in England and Nigeria
In England things are a bit easier above all, more time is given to interpret roles which was quite a challenge. On arrival, I think that is the major difference. I also saw it here that they are not expression oriented. In England, the main thing is to make it as real as possible, it is more internalized – the way you talk, your eyes, body language, those are the things that are considered more important. I think we will still fit in, it is just that if we can have more time to do our work, it would be a lot better. Because our movie producers are in a bit of a hurry. Another thing I have observed is that the Nigerian movie industry is after quick profit.
Nigerian movie industry
In terms of recognition, Nigerian movie industry is rated high. Concerning quality, we have a lot of potentials. We are doing very well but we need to get rid of the short-term profit syndrome. I think that is what is affecting us at the moment.
Initially I thought we were nowhere. But working in the industry, I have seen many directors who want to bring out quality work. Also our Nigerian audience are very critical of what they see.
Nigerian movies abroad
It is funny because we have a much larger market outside than we have here. But the strongest factor is that of nostalgia. People rush out to buy Nigerian films just to have an impression about the country. For instance, Osuofia in London, people watched it over and over again and they liked it. Africans and West Indians in London watch Nigerians movies because of the content. We should start gearing towards international recognition where our films can be shown at international festivals. If on the other hand we refuse to do that, we’ll crash out of reckoning.
One of the people I look up to in the industry is Kate Henshaw. She is a very humble person, and highly intelligent. As for RMD and Segun Arinze, when they read their scripts, it just sticks. I do not know how they do it. I like Stella Damascus-Aboderin. I have not worked with Stella but I have worked with the other people.
I am idealistic. I love having fun. I love God because he has done so much for me. I love people, but sometimes I do not have much patience. I can be moody sometimes. I am not that kind of nice person that people think Jerry in Domino is. I do not have Jerry’s patience. I like singing, but I also like to write.
How I unwind
I like to read and travel. I love driving but not in Lagos. I don’t like driving in Lagos.
Most enabling moment
I have never had stage fright. But there was this day I was on stage, at a point there was black out. But it was not my first time on stage. The first time I acted, it went smoothly. I was on stage playing Ezeulu, the Chief Priest in Arrow of God. I have been rehearsing on a much smaller stage. I have never been on the big stage before. So when I came out, the stage was so huge that I did not know how to go about my movements. I just stood there frozen. I just saw a whole sea of faces staring at me. Honestly, I do not know how I managed to get through that.
I would love to work in Nigeria and overseas as an actor. I don’t ever want to see myself as a good actor. I want to see myself as someone aspiring to be better. That for me will be a tremendous success. At the right time, I would love to produce my own movies and make an impact on what I think about life.
Yes, I am engaged. I have a fiancee who lives in Kaduna. She is from Abia State and a wonderful lady at that. There’s nothing for my female fans who may want to take it beyond being fans. If they come close to me, they would realise that I am not that much of a catch.
Well, it could be better. At the stage that I am, I believe that it could be better. But actors in Nigeria are still poorly paid compared to other countries.
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