Ramsey Nouah is one of the most sought-after and good-looking actors in Nigeria’s movie industry. He has played several roles; from being a lover boy to a general. In this interview with Tosin Clegg, he talks about the movie ‘My Wife and I,’ Nollywood and his greatest moments as an actor
My role in ‘My Wife and I’
Trust me, it wasn’t fun at all. It was very awkward. Every time I have to play that part, I’m always like Errrrg!!! , I hated it. Professional ethics though still demands that you do the stuffs that you’re meant to do. Because you have to get into the character, you know, do what your wife or mom does, what your sisters do, which is very unlike you, you know; there is something about it. You know the masculine pride has a way of causing it and making it seem like “what is wrong with you? How will you be feminine like that?”
This is not the most challenging role I have taken. It’s not mentally demanding; don’t get me wrong. It’s just the fact that the morals were a challenge, and that was why I was having a little bit of reservation but, of course, I still tried to pull it through. This is like comedy, its nothing serious. I could play with it. Besides, it was pretty hard for me to get those gestures and mannerisms, but my colleague, Omoni Oboli, helped me out; she gave me all the insights.
In Nollywood, there have been phases of grace for us
It seems like we started off on a good note, but you got me thinking. It’s not as if it’s not a good note, it is, but good start with an influx of stories. It became saturated. People got tired and everybody thought the ministry had reached its peak. There was nowhere else to go. That point in time was where everyone began to ask ‘oooh, are we growing or we are falling?’ But, here is how it is; we had a bit of performance or acting in the beginning. The performance/acting became saturated because there were too many movies outside. Technically, it didn’t grow from the beginning. It was going to get better but in the middle it got worse. Your technical aspects are growing seamlessly. For you to shoot a movie, you have got to have huge capital; there is the big screen, and you have to get every detail right. So the technical aspects are now good. We’re getting better at technical. And there is a nose dive in performances now. So where we have gotten to now, besides technical, is acting. Acting is a bit better. Acting is getting better as we go on but there is need for that bridge; for technical and acting to have a smooth production of filming. At some point in time, we will bring about movies that will, of course, stand the test of time.
In script taking we all have to be choosy
You can’t take every script that comes your way, because you and I will agree that you are better off choosing characters that will suit you or befit you most. You understand? I can’t just be picking up any story or character that is not challenging. It has to be very challenging.
What I look out for in scripts
Hmmmmmm, looking out for a story to start with, then I look out for the character. I try to match the character I’m playing and the story itself; how important is my character to the entire story? So, story is very key; you can’t miss it. It’s rare that I would reject a script because of a particular actor; it has never happened to me, I have never rejected any script because of that. Except I’m having a dispute with the person, which is rare, maybe I’m not comfortable with the person. Maybe we are having a bit of disagreement; maybe that.
Why I accepted the script of ‘My Wife and I’
I have never done it before. I think I have played that role some years back, but then I was undercover, so I dressed like a woman in year 2000. I tied gele and scarf. But this one is different. And there is a message to this one. And the message is very simple. It’s like, what are the conflicts in marriages? And why are couples always having problems? A situation had to happen; where by the male went into a female body and the female went into a male body, so that they can understand the problem with each other to know where to find their balance in marriages. So, that’s the story. It was quite a challenging story.
Over 40 and looking good
Well, because I have been drinking some vampire blood. Well, I think it’s joy from within. A whole lot of people tend to pack up because of some bad belle and be angry for days. A beautiful smile everyday could take you a long way.
Contrary to a widely held notion, the success of a marriage largely rests on the woman
But these days, a lot of marriages are based on equality. A woman wants to get back from the man 50 per cent of whatever she is giving into the marriage. This has led to the breakdown of many marriages. From time, our mothers used to be the women that held their marriages. They were in charge of the home. Our mothers took charge of everything, but today women don’t want that kind of responsibility. Hence, it is affecting marriages.
Silver screen Vs Stage
A whole lot of people know that the stage is quite demanding. It demands everything. It’s very physical, it’s very energetic, it’s also very brain-tasking because you have to know the lines. Besides, knowing the lines, you have to know all the movements, and you’re not just getting yours, you’re getting that of other actors with you. So, stage people tend to pride themselves that, of course, they are stronger actors compared to screen actors. I kind of believe that because of that. It might be true; they are quite exhausting. It’s pretty exhausting to be on stage, whereas screen is a bit more fluid.
For instance, you don’t have to over-emphasise facial gestures or expressions on camera to show your emotions. But on stage, you have to over express it. It has to be very open. You must be loud and tough with the mannerisms that go with it.
I think it’s when I spend time with my family. When I go for holidays, going places or something; adventures and stuff like that. Professionally, one of my greatest moments was when I shot ‘dangerous twins’ with Tade Ogidan, because it was very demanding. At the time, they didn’t have all the TV technology that we have today. Now, you can see twins and all of that. That time we had to manually do it. So, scenes that had twins in it may be shot for like two to three days; just one scene. It was quite demanding and tasking too and sometimes we had to lock the camera, face it for a master shot, then I will come and address this other figure that is not there. Sometimes, the director says Ok, that’s a take other times he says, try do it again, you got something wrong there.” And when you are done , quickly go change to the other costume and you come back there and then answer and reply everything you said, and after that, if the director says its fine, good. But if he says it’s not fine, you will do another take.
Then, we’ll now cut. We’ll now bring the camera down to medium shots. Then you do it all over again. You do this one, then go back there and do the other one. When it comes to close up, we would do the same thing. Sometimes, we have like two days or one whole day repeating.
In 2006 I think, when a couple of us actors were blacklisted by marketers for no good reason of course, at that moment, there was a turnaround in my fate in the industry. I was like ‘what the hell? Why do we have this?’ So, when the cinema came in, I was very happy to help curb our industry, because we lacked structure and regulation. No regulatory bodies to checkmate certain things. A whole lot of things just went haywire. That was one of my low-points in the industry.
Good place, good moments and it has its down side. A whole lot of people appreciate you. You meet lots of people who tend to appreciate you from different perspectives. You know, they see you around. All your fans, especially here in Lagos to be precise, see you as their ATM machine. Like their good morning and greetings have to be paid for. Like if they greet you, you know you have to drop. So it’s quite a thorn in the flesh.