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Yes, I can act nude

Posted by By ONYEKABA CORNEL-BEST and ONUOHA OLIVER on 2005/06/23 | Views: 1764 |

Yes, I can act nude


John Njama is one of the quiet young achievers in the Nigeria show business industry. He has his hands in almost all the pies of the industry having trained as a theatre artiste at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

John Njama is one of the quiet young achievers in the Nigeria show business industry. He has his hands in almost all the pies of the industry having trained as a theatre artiste at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

He cut his personal teeth with Chuck Mikeís Collective Artistes before he was advised by the late Professor Ola Rotimi to go into the university and study Theatre Arts. Recently he spoke to Daily Sun about his career and future plans:

Beginning
I am the first born child in a family of five. I had my elementary education at Nigerian Navy Primary School in Lagos before I moved to Methodist College Nzeakoli. From there I went to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife to study Dramatic Arts. I hail from Njaaba in Oru local Government of Imo State. I am an actor and artiste and my work cuts across movie and television. I have equally done some stage productions, which by the way, is my first love because that is where I started.
I started acting at a very tender age, the profundity of the stage is my major attraction. I must confess that I was very lucky to have grown up in an environment where people were genuinely interested in the future of children. People saw the talent in me and encouraged me to go all out to explore the gift in me and went the full hog chasing the goal of realising the dream. I started with a local group called MONIDEX. After a brief stay with the group, I went to Chuck Mikeís Collective Artistes. It was from here we had major productions and went on tours. I was more of an artiste in training and within that period, I was shuttling between stage and television and after a while, I joined the University to study Drama.
My first television production was a children adventure series on the NTA Network belt. It was around 1989 and 1991 during one of my television shows that Amaka Igwe saw me and invited me to be part of Checkmate and after that, she has never failed to use me in most of her projects.

My view of theatre
I see theatre as a mirror to correct societal ills or proffer solutions to problems. It is probably the strongest medium of human communication, be it tragedy or comedy.
I always tell people that life is a tragedy for those who think. I am a lover of tragedy because I think that we constantly need to reflect on our lives to appreciate how tough it has been for us to find the true path for happiness. Comedy is not even really meant to make people laugh. Behind every comedy, there ought to be some pedagogical values, but that is not what is presently obtainable in our society today. Entertainment is good but I insist that comedy should always carry a serious message with it.

Parental support
It was quite tedious back then between me and my parents. Several times I was grounded by parental orders of ĎDonít go here, donít go there! Stay at homeí and all that, but after a while, I started winning awards and my parents from that point started understanding the fact that this was where I am going and they sort of softened their hold on me.

Ola Rotimi stopped me from studying Insurance
I gained admission to study Insurance at University of Lagos and after I saw my name on the board, I went to the late Professor Ola Rotimi for advice and he said to me, ĎHey my son, come over to Ifeí. I have met him several times before but I think why he wanted me to come to Ife was because he saw me at an audition and was highly impressed with my performance and he said ĎLook boy, come over to Ife and letís shape you.í

Role models
I see myself as a role model because I have been able to play very impacting roles on television, stage and movies. People tell me how well I am doing and how my activities affect their lives positively. I donít snob people because for anyone to pick up his or her phone to call you shows how much you are appreciated and I believe it is only polite to show compassion to your fans. In my hometown, I am treated with a lot of respect and much is expected of me and I believe that I been doing my best.

Me and Chuck Mike:
I started my professional theatre career effectively under his tutelage around 1991. He is a wonderful teacher, a psychologist and great director, one who is more like a fountain of knowledge and if you pay attention, you are bound to tap immensely from him.

Fuji House of Commotion
I donít think that several pages in a newspaper will be enough to describe the experience of being part of Fuji House; it is a wonderful experience; it is like a family away from my family. We are so close as a team that we can claim to be a family - each person in the production can easily predict the other, we know what to do as individuals as well as a group to the point of near perfection.
Chief Fuji, our father in the play, is a very wonderful person and the controversy surrounding his having so many wives is what helps keep the comic heat on in our house. You should appreciate that to manage the number of children my father has is not in anyway easy but behind all the strictness of Chief Fuji, you still see that he is a very responsible man that takes good care of his children and wives. Our father is very educated and responsible. The play is not necessarily promoting polygamy; it is a controversy in the first place to marry three wives but for the fact that you have three wives does not mean things cannot go well with you

Choice roles
I love playing highly challenging roles, roles that no one wants to touch; I have a large heart so I go for whatever has the potentials of tasking me to the limit.

Directing productions:
I have directed several stage plays like, Moremi, The Militant Preacher, Behold My Redeemer and others too numerous to remember right now. I am currently unit director of Fuji House Of Commotion and director of Laugh Patterns. I am also a line director for so many other productions and for home videos. I have done quite a sizeable number of movies too, like Wicked Contact, Blast from the past, Dusty love and others.

Nudity in Movies:
I donít see anything wrong with nudity in movies as long as it is used in context to the story. There are stories that require nudity for the message to be effective. I am against people using nudity out of context, if I am faced with a nude scene, I "ll use what I call suggestive realism to tease the audience. I have used it a couple of times and it worked for me. The purpose of censorship is not to axe movies but to rate them for their appropriate audience.

Censorship Board:
The film industry in Nigeria is run by individuals who risk their hard-earned money to keep the industry going. It is sad that people spend so much to come up with a movie and some few individuals come up and axe the movie. When in actual fact the government they are working for has no investment in the industry. If the government is investing in the industry, then the censorship Board can then be said to be relevant. We are so helpless because the board has government backing and we donít. Check and balance is good but it should not be done with vendetta.

Limelight:
For me there is a progression towards limelight after every production. It is difficult for me to say that any particular production shot me to limelight, but I think all my works put together served as the pedestal for my rise. The road to stardom is hardly immediate. Each production, if well done, opens new vistas and with God on your side, you may find yourself at the top of the ladder.

Awards:
My first professional award was a Hubert Ogunde Foundation Award for the best young actor, then in Port-Harcourt. I was given the Most Dynamic Actor Award, I got nominated for the Best Supporting Actor severally and even for Best director and so on. Way back in the university, I have won both best actor and best director respectively.

Being a role model:
I see myself as a role model because I have been able to play very impacting roles both on television, stage and in movies. People tell me how well I am doing and how my activities is affecting their own lives positively. I donít snob people because for anyone to pick up his or her phone to call you shows how much you are appreciated and I believe it is only polite to show compassion to your fans. In my hometown, I am treated with a lot of respect and much is expected of me and I believe that I have been doing my best.

Ambitions:
I have a lot of things up my sleeves that I hope to accomplish in this short life. I hope to be one the best known hands in this industry.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.