Some weeks ago HomeVida sat down for an interesting chat with Kenneth Okolie. With no airs and all the charm, the younger actor, model and businessman let us have a glimpse of his world, and then some. Enjoy below the PG version of the interview 😉
Q. Hi Kenneth. Many people know you as Mr Nigeria 2010. Personally I know you as one of the ‘Mr Somebodies’. Would you like to tell us in your own words who Kenneth Okolie is?
A. I am Kenneth Okolie and I am an Actor, Entrepreneur, lover of entertainment. I started acting in Secondary School at St Judes’ Private Secondary School. Hadn’t quite planned to be in the industry till 2010, after the contest.
Q.You started off modelling before becoming an actor. Did the industry choose you or did you choose the industry? Was it difficult for you to break into the acting/Nollywood circle?
A. I chose the industry, and then the industry chose me. Was it difficult to break in? Well, yes but the thing is I always did my own thing. I brought my own flare to it. I am not trying to toot my own horn but throughout the industry you never see an actor in a romantic scene freely showing of their abs.
Q. Since you brought up your abs (and they are nice abs) are you worried about being typecast? Playing the dude with the abs as opposed to the dude who is a good actor?
A. I’ve done several movies in which I didn’t show any abs. For example, my second movie True Citizens with Brian, Uti, Alex I don’t think I showed off my chest. I play a mobile police officer. I am able to separate my acting skills from the showmanship. Even if my abs are on display it’s not like I’m showing off. I try to sync it with good acting. I also try to work on my acting skills as well and better myself. I go back and watch my own movies to see areas I can work on, and maybe not overdo.
Q. Before we get back to the movie industry can we talk about you personally? There is a lot about you in the news. Could you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
A. Something about me that most people don’t know is that before I went for Mr Nigeria I was actually doing business. I love acting, it is a passion but there are times I also work (man’s got to work). I am a director of a Furniture company.
Q. You said “Man’s got to work”. Because you are in the industry you must know. How well does the Nigerian movie industry pay its actors?
A. Well, we are getting there now. The fees are getting more exciting as opposed to way back. At least we are getting more investors in production. It is not that terrible. It’s like a company where the longer you work, the more their people care, and the more your salary goes up. So the more you are in good movies, the more there is demand for you.
Q. So you are saying that initially getting into the industry it is for love but putting in the work, eventually it does pay off?
A. I do it for love. At the same time money is good and money is supposed to encourage you but first of all it’s the art.
Q.As much as good things have happened to you, you’ve had some mishaps, the robbery and being shot and of course the kidnapping. How has that affected your life and your career?
A. (Long pause) If I was not the type of person I am I for don ‘kee masef’. But I am strong willed and believe that any experience I’ve gone through is an opportunity to make myself better. Not wanting to talk about it too much, during those incidents I said lots of last prayers. I am eternally grateful to God for his preservation. After you’ve survived some things, it makes you a much stronger person. And yeah, I have become a more positive person.
Q. You are in the news quite a lot. What would you say is the most absurd thing you’ve heard or read about yourself?
A. Oh my God. Trust me I’ve heard nonsense. Homo, broke ass. It’s so funny. Shit just goes around but I pay no mind to it. Those things just waste your time. People just try to put you down but I just look at it and laugh. I don’t worry too much about what they say in the media. I am a sure dude and I know that whatever they say they can’t say to my face.
Q. Do you have a girlfriend, a wife, a baby mama?
A. (Laughing) I am not seeing anyone. I am single.
Q. What would you want in your ideal woman?
A. Understanding, patient, not particularly a pastor but spiritual enough.
Q. Having acted quite a few movies, what movie did you have the most fun doing/shooting?
A. I would say all of them but the one I really enjoyed being on set of would be Keeping My Man with Monalisa Chinda and Rukky Sanda. It was a long shoot but it was very fun. Then Mrs Somebody with Uche Jumbo. Uche is such a character. She switches like this and that; it is just something else. Another movie I acted which is supposed to be out in November called The Department. I play a totally different character; no romance, or anything. I was a thug like agbero. I was a muscle guy. It was quite fun.
Q. We featured the ‘Choice of Aina’ on our blog which is a movie we think demonstrates integrity and value. However there are a few controversial scenes, full-frontal nudity and some not-so-full-frontal nudity. How did it feel exposing that much of yourself?
A. That was my first movie but being a model made it easier. In acting you are playing a character. You need to be as professional as possible. You get a script to play a role and you need to ask yourself if you can go the whole length to execute the character. If you say yes then you go ahead and do it. It was a case of actor lives in the shoes of the character. Also Kadiatu Kamara who was the movie’s lead actress is also a model, who was settled in the UK and has experience (in her profession) of being in her lingerie so it was much easier for her. Me as well, being a guy, I’m used to being in my boxers. The challenging part for me was actually the character. I play a self-centred, cocky, annoying, and angry Nigerian guy who discriminates a lot but happened to love this girl Aina. It was my first time acting behind the camera so it took me a while executing that character.
Q. Of all the roles you’ve played, which would you say is among the most meaningful in terms of social and moral relevance?
A. I would say True Citizens, Keeping My Man, and the Choice of Aina.
Q. What is your objective opinion of Nollywood?
A. We are really getting there, and fast as well. What we need to work on is creativity story wise. Sometimes I don’t really blame producers. Sometimes it is sponsors that don’t come forth. And then the way you plot a movie in your head ends up not being the way it is delivered onscreen because of financial issues. You might not have the money to buy this particular equipment or hire that Editor to edit as much as you would have liked. Or get the graphics as fine-tuned as you would want them to be. Pre-production and post-production are extremely cost intensive. We could do better but we are getting there. We are building our international network but we also need extra finishing touches here and there but we shall get there. We are doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
Q. Where do you see yourself peaking in the industry? In your head what would be your highest point?
A. I am looking at producing my own movies before the end of the year or first thing next year because I already have stories in the pipeline and presently trying to tidy up financial arrangements and lock sponsorship.
Q. Thank you Kenneth. But before we go tell us five fantastic facts about you this interview hasn’t covered.
A. I am shy. I am a good chef. I can sew. I’m a director at Ausken Furniture. I am a church worker.
HomeVida thanks Kenneth Okolie and his entire camp and we look forward to maintaining relations with them. We are also excited about our future Ausken Furniture discounts…lol. 😉