AFTER HIS ROLE IN UNWANTED GUEST, A MOVIE DIRECTED BY DANIEL ADEMINKAN, CHET ANEKWE’S PROFILE HAS RISEN ASTRONOMICALLY IN NOLLWOOD. ANEKWE’S FAR FLUNG ABODE, NEW YORK CITY, IS NO DETERRENT TO THE RISING ACTOR WHO FREQUENTLY VISIT NIGERIA TO BE PART OF MOVIE PRODUCTIONS. HE RECOUNTS HIS EXPERIENCE IN NOLLYWOOD IN THIS INTERVIEW WITH LANRE ODUKOYA
How did you get a role in Katung Aduwak’s movie (Heaven’s Hell) from your base in the United States?
It was because the script was very good and Katung had told me already while we were doing a movie together (Unwanted Guest) upon which we had a great time in New York City. And after a couple of days, he said ‘Dude, there is something I am working on and I want you to be part of it.’ So after working with him, I had to be part of it and anything he decides to do, movie wise is surely going to be good. So, I said yes before even getting to see the script.
How busy have you been since you shot Unwanted Guest?
I’ve not been too busy, but I have been a little more careful because the industry is not so mature yet. There is a Nollywood movement that is emerging but it is not so big yet. Many are still making the same mistakes that some people have made before, not casting properly and others. So, I pull back a little and go only into projects that I know I won’t regret. I did a movie with Mercy Johnson that is actually out now called Baby Oku. We shot that in the US and I have got more offers, but I take my time to pick the right ones first.
How many works have you done that are yet to be released?
I have done about five to six films right now. I have another one that I did with Emem Isong’s outfit, the Royal Arts Academy, directed by Lancelot Imasuen. They are so professional; great to work with. I worked alongside Chioma Akpotha and that should be coming out soon. Baby Oku came out recently. It is a very funny film. Mercy Johnson is brilliant. I have a couple of other things in the works and I’m trying to see how it goes, but hopefully, I will come back here more.
Aside the movies you’ve had to do or will be involved with in Nigeria, are you doing anything in the US?
The interesting thing is that because I have been doing more work on the Nollywood side, I have done less work on Hollywood side. That is actually kind of normal. There are some other actors like Hakeem Kae Kazeem, Jimmy Jean-Louis who are now doing more Nigerian films. I don’t think we are appreciated as much in Hollywood; we are typecast. We are all going for the same roles because they are so small in Hollywood, whereas, here, Jimmy and I would be opposite each other. We can be cast in the same film. So, I think we are looking to do more films here because this industry is the third largest in the world.
Before your latest focus on Nollywood and Unwanted Guest particularly, how were you faring in the US?
It was actually interesting. I was doing a lot of New York City Theatre stuffs, I was doing TV shows in Hollywood and I did a couple of movies. I had done a Nollywood movie with Genevieve Nnaji that did not get released. It is called 30 Days and directed by Mildred Okwo, the guy who produced, The Meeting and it was a very good movie. She was in LA at the time and that was the first time I flew back to Nigeria to do a film. It didn’t get a wide release but it was a very fine movie. I had also done a TV series with Amaka Igwe which featured Bimbo Akintola but I didn’t come back as often as I should. But it was Unwanted Guest that put me in the eyes of the public.
Where exactly are you from in Nigeria?
I am from Anambra but I grew up in Lagos.
Can you find you way to Anambra?
Yes, I can get to a park and board Ekene Dili Chukwu Transport and then find my way.