Most reality TV show contestants go into oblivion after the show is over. Just few maintain relevance. Melvin Oduah has remained relevant in the entertainment scene after participating in the 2009 edition of the Gulder Ultimate Search. He proceeded to do Mr. Nigeria Beauty Pageant and emerged the runner-up. All that was before he participated in Big Brother Africa Season 8. Since then, Oduah has been a top flight entertainer. He speaks with Chinedu Ibeabuchi on the secrets that have kept him relevant, his drive and views about the industry
2018 in retrospect, what can you look back to and say you were grateful for?
What can I look back and say I’m grateful for? It has to be life. I’m grateful for life. I have food, I have clothing and shelter and what more can I ask for? And besides, my career has obviously been on the rise and I’m grateful to God for that. I’m not where I want to be but I’m definitely not where I used to be and things are getting better and I’ve got to be thankful for that.
Your formal education wasn’t in art. How and when did you develop interest in modelling and acting? Or did you stumble into art?
No, I did not stumble into art. I have always had passion for it. I started acting as far as when I was in the nursery and primary school. Then I used to engage in those acting stuff and I always knew that I would still come back to entertainment, even during and after I finished my university education and my youth service, I always had it in mind that I was coming into entertainment and give it a shot.
From outset, did your parent support your career choice despite studying different courses
Yes. Immediately, I told them that this is what I wanted to do, this is the path where I see myself. They supported me all the way like 100%. They didn’t try to talk me out of it.
Before participating in Gulder Ultimate Search, who was Melvin Oduah?
Before participating in GUS in 2009, I was just Melvin Oduah that has finished his youth service and I was a model then.
And fast forward to 2019, what has Melvin Oduah become? Living your childhood dreams?
Melvin Oduah has become a name in the entertainment industry and as regards living my dreams, well! I like where I am, I’m very happy where I am and I’m actually doing what I enjoy doing the most and making money from it. So, if that’s your definition of living my dreams, then I’ll say yes, I enjoy what I’m doing and I hope to get higher in my career.
Several talent show contestants go into oblivion after the show. How have you been able to maintain relevance so far?
First of all, it’s grace. I can’t say I am the most hardworking guy that has gone for a TV show, but I also think my hardwork and determination counted. I’ve gone for different reality TV shows and I did not just hold back because I didn’t win. No, I kept pushing. I think it is my determination, my drive and tenacity. I just knew that this is what I want to do. So why should I slowdown? It is paying off today and I’m grateful for that.
What makes modeling fascinating?
It’s a natural likeness. It’s just the same way that people are so much in love with different things in life. This is part of me – entertainment and acting – There’s no reason per say on what makes it fascinating; it is just me; it’s just what I love.
Huge and attractive male models naturally draw women attention. How do you cope with female admirers?
I don’t know. I just cope. I think it’s just being nice to them. They are your fans, they are your people, they are your admirers. You can’t help but to be nice to them. Whether you like it or not, they are part of the people that are supporting you and making your career what it is today. If they didn’t support you in those contests or in your career as a whole, you’ll probably find it difficult. So, they are my supporters, they are people that have helped me and supported me. So, I just have to be nice to them. I think that’s the way I cope with my admirers.
From your experience, how will you rate the Nigerian modelling industry?
The modelling industry in Nigeria has a lot of improvement to be done and we hope and pray that improvements come-in every time. Financially, I think they can do better in paying the models especially those ones that have decided to take it as a career. It needs to be structured better than it is.
How do you balance acting and modeling?
I balance it well. It’s entertainment so I don’t have qualms. Many entertainers don’t just plant themselves in one area of entertainment. You can diversify. There’s acting, there is modelling, singing, comedy, event compering, TV show hosting and stuffs like. So, it’s just a matter of just identifying the areas in which you have interest in and I’m sure you can combine them quite well.
Which is most lucrative?
Right now, it has to be acting because that is my major hustle in entertainment. I’m an actor. So acting is this is the most lucrative for me.
Movie lovers still berate Nollywood for its shallow story-telling and continuity? What’s your assessment of the industry?
I’m really proud of the growth of the Nollywood industry. I’m proud to be part of the Nollywood industry. People still berate Nollywood majorly because of our old movies; those kind of movies that we were shooting in the past but it’s a growing process and we have actually grown. If you look at where we are now and twenty years ago, there is a big improvement. We are doing quality movies now and you can’t be comparing us with Hollywood that has been there for several decades. We are just starting. Come on! We are getting there. We are not there yet, it’s a gradual process and I’m very happy with the growth. And please, anything that anybody, individual or government can do to support and help us grow stronger and better, please, such support would be appreciated.
If there is one plug that needs to be fixed to grow Nollywood, what do you think that would be?
It will be investment. A lot of movie makers don’t have huge budget to put into a movie. So, easy access to fund is paramount. People have great ideas, very massive movie projects in their heads and the ideas are there but funding is the problem. Just like the way government helped Hollywood and Hollywood helped the government. Our government can actually come in; we can help each other grow.
Any award yet?
I have a couple of them. I have awards from my modelling days. I have awards as an event host and I have awards as an actor. These include Achievers Award, Most Promising Model of the Year 2010, TAVA Award 2011 for my role in Happy Family, Lagos Fashion Awards as Most Fashionable Male Personality of the Year (2014) and others. I thank God for these.
Several rumours have linked you in the past to romantic affairs with other celebrities. What’s your relationship status? And should we expect wedding bells soon?
Rumours will always be rumours and rumours will always go round. As far as you are a public figure, there will be rumours. I am not searching. And as regards wedding bells coming soon, let’s see how it goes.
Can you marry a co-celebrity? If no, why? And if yes, who is your crush?
Can I marry a co-celebrity? Why not! I mean if the bond is there and the chemistry is there and if the two of you complement each other, then why not! My crush will always be Jennifer Lopez. Please, if you can get her for me, get her for me now and I marry her. Thanks (Laughs)
How would you describe your love life? Fortunate or any sordid experience to share?
It has been interesting. It’s not the best and not the worst, but’ it’s been interesting.
Divorce is like a normal thing in Nollywood. Would you describe this as a syndrome or free choice? What’s your view about this?
I don’t think anybody will go into marriage and expect to get a divorce, to the best of my knowledge. Anyway, I know that sometimes different things happen in marriages that we don’t pray for. But there are differences that can come out from nowhere and these differences might be irreconcilable. Domestic violence is one of those irreconcilable differences. I don’t wish everybody divorce but if it gets to that point where domestic violence is involved, I actually don’t think any woman should still remain in marriage before she dies from abuse someday. If your husband or wife assaults you, because it’s not only men that beat women these days, it’s could be the other way, I don’t mind saying you should get a divorce. I don’t wish any couple to divorce but if it gets to that stage, then I think he/she can go ahead.
How do you unwind?
I love to have fun. I have siblings and friends that are fun to be with. I like to share quality time and fun moment with them. That’s the kind of person I am
In 2019, what should we expect from Melvin Oduah?
Expect a lot from me. I’m not going to spill anything right now but my brand is definitely getting bigger this year. Different things are going to be happening. So watch out for this space.