‘Romantic Scenes Are Difficult to Do’

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Popular Nollywood actor, Okechukwu Ukeje, better known as OC Ukeje, who recently featured in a movie titled ‘Remember Me’, a film produced by talented Nollywood actress, Uru Eke, in this interview with Mary Ekah, talks about his role in the movie and the challenges that come with being an actor, among others

Why did you partake in the production of the movie ‘Remember Me’?

Let me start by saying that I liked the fact that the script was written with a lot of dialogue. And it was good as well. On top of that a personal friend was producing her first film. So I was going to oblige Uru Eke, who happened to be the producer of the movie ‘Remember Me’. It was cemented by the fact that Izu Ojukwu was directing which would be the second production with him since 2007.

You played the role of Michael in the movie, is there any similar qualities you share with the character?

I honestly don’t think we are similar in any way. I think I used more external influences than anything from my personality.

Are there any of your past jobs in any way like ‘Remember Me’?

I think some of the works I have done have their own unique messages. The themes are generally different. So I can’t say there’s any film like ‘Remember Me’. However, I think that the weight I feel this film has, is also the sort of weight I have seen in films like White Waters and Confusion Na Wa to mention a few.

You have been part of recent blockbuster hits in Nigeria. Do you think we are finally getting it right?

I have to commend how far we have come but I also think that there are elements that need work. There are more trained practitioners getting involved in every level but there are also more famous people posing as actors. There are glossier pictures but there are still sound issues. There are still proper scripting issues, we are still battling with the distribution problem. Nonetheless we have been tremendously helped by the social media age especially because our work seems to travel well. It may not always account for Naira and kobo but it is helping. So we are still on the journey.

At the past Headies Awards, you presented a category with Lilian Osoro and you made a joke about ‘not having to kiss her again in movies, since she got married’. Was that just a line for the acts or do you really enjoy the kissing drafted in your movies?

What people do not know is that romantic scenes are difficult to do. It isn’t fun and games. A lot needs to be in place. When it isn’t a proper (closed) set, there are tons of people in the room anticipating the kiss and trying to judge if you’re a good kisser or not. So you just want it done and over with. You are also being conscious that it has to be a good screen kiss. So that it is tasteful. You have to worry about hygiene when you want to do those scenes. So much as it seems like some level of enjoyment, it has its sides that are tricky.

You have been on the front of the screen for quite some time now. Are you ever going to feature behind the scenes as a producer or director?

I intend to produce at some point. I think it is necessary to ask the right questions about it though. And I’m trying to do that now. So, yes, in due time.

How is life as a responsible married man?

It is a tall order to stay responsible especially when you do the kind of work that involves all sorts. But I think that God has helped me so far. I think that I have also tried my best.

Let’s talk about money and figures, what is the least and most amount you ever got for your job as a thespian?

What you get paid varies. It depends on a bunch of things; time, location, relationships, mileage and sometimes you do some jobs at no cost. So sometimes I have no lower limit. As far as upper limit goes.

Was it easy deciding you were going to be an entertainer? What were your parents’ thoughts about such?

I thought I’d be a medical doctor. But I knew that singing was something I knew how to do and I did it to the point that it opened the doors to acting and other avenues. So, I didn’t have a choice per say. And my mum has been supportive from day one actually. She let me do all I wanted to do.

How fulfilled are you thus far?

I’m very contented with what I do. That’s the highest level of fulfillment. I’m at peace with what I do now. And I have gone past wondering if it is what I’m supposed to be doing. The other things that tie to money and influence are very subjective.

How many scripts do you get in a year or per week?

Oh my days! It is nonstop. I don’t take note of how many. I just know the feeling based on the fact that I have to read them to know if it is work I want to do. So, I’m pretty blessed to be getting a lot of potential work.