Jide Kene Achufusi, popularly known as Swanky, is an actor, writer and model. Following the success of the much talked about sequel, “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free” where he was the lead character, no doubt, Achufusi is gradually becoming a household name in the industry. The talented actor shares his experience working with the producer of the film, Charles Okpaleke, as well as director, Ramsey Nouah, the things that endeared him to the script, future plans, his formative years and more, with Azuka Ogujiuba
You act, model and write scripts. Have you always wanted to go this path or you just picked it somewhere along the line?
Well, I’d like to think that we all pick things up along the line. Background, education, and environment, will definitely have shaped all of us into what we are today. So, acting is something that I realised I could do in high school. I could mimick or imitate someone’s behavioural pattern; that is where I started to get the incline that maybe I could be good at this thing.
You were the lead in one of Nollywood’s biggest production, “Living In Bondage the Sequel”. Share your experience with us?
First of all, it was my first time working in Lagos. It was also my first time working in their system or how they do things. You know, I had to be the one person who doesn’t complain, I had to be the one person who doesn’t give a hard time, I had to be the first person to arrive, first person to leave, you know they weren’t going to as much as possible cut you any slacks. Press number one, you don’t even want that happening because, ‘if any person com de talk say e be like say e don de enter him head,’ it’s a big deal.
So I had to be everything at everytime and they were really good as well. So, at the end of the day, it is what it is. The most challenging part was not just doing the film but also having to be the person who doesn’t ask questions. So, basically, when Ebuka of big brother said ‘I took my shot and ran with it,’ that was exactly the hardest part of it, taking that shot.
How was it like working with Ramsey Noah as the director of the movie and a co-actor?
He’s a great guy, he’s gentleman, he’s the guy who sees himself or describes himself as the slave driver. I see him as very compassionate and deeply artistic and so working with him was definitely a bar raiser for me or a bar hanger. I had to bring my A game if not my B+ game because his game is way way up there. I had to bring whatever it is that I had to be able to be in scenes with him and to be visible. It was a challenge and a task, something I was thinking about even before I got the role as well. It excited me because I’ve always looked forward to working with him. With Ramsey, as a co-actor, that was a challenge. As a director, he’s tentative, he’s impulsive, he’s spontaneous so you have to be ready to switch or to go whenever he says go. I guess it was more interesting than exhilarating.
How was it working with Charles Okpaleke, the CEO PlayNetwork, who bought the rights of the movie and is also the Executive producer? We also heard you have been signed to his management, how true is that?
Okay, well Charles is a great guy. He has an amazing persona, he’s the life, the plug, the event guy, he’s the guy that will chase every butterfly down and not get tired of chasing it down. Working with him, as a more experienced hand, not just in lifestyle or in life but also with investment and money and all of that, I’ve learnt a lot also on the business side of things. Being signed into play Network is indeed a great move for me. It’s indeed a great move because I honestly felt it gives me the leverage or the opportunity to be able to explore, more especially now that Nollywood needs to expand and collaborate more. That’s exactly what play network offers me. You know, the chance to see what the influencers are doing, the chance to see what the party boys are doing, the chance to see what they, CEO’s are doing, the chance to see what an entire team looks like, because that’s basically how we can move this to the next level.
How will you define your relationship with the older cast of the movie who acted in the first movie of “living in bondage the sequel”?
My relationship with them was very respectful, cordial, professional and full of support and love from their end to mine. I felt very supported. I felt very encouraged; I didn’t feel like, ‘hey this boy, what are you doing here.’ They took me out to dinners, where, the legends and everything were, and tried to make sure that I was comfortable to do the work I’ve come to do. I can’t thank them enough for their gentility, professionalism, humility, and of course, I don’t know what other big words to use and describe how they were but they were amazing.
What’s your take on the nature of movies Nollywood puts out in recent times? Do you think we are getting it right or we still have a long way to go?
We definitely do have a long way to go. Living in Bondage will start a new era as we believe and its quiet important that we observe the lessons that living in bondage is giving the entire industry. We have set goals and we can do better because, trust me, if we reshot living in bondage, we’d probably have a better throne with the experiences we’ve had shooting the first one. Moving forward, we should indeed bring the world to Africa, not try to phonerize or to take our content to look more like western stuff. You know we can collaborate anytime any day, but like I said, Nollywood is not just about Nigerian films, it’s about the entire continent of Africa. We need to come together; we need to work more with Zambians, Rwandan people, Ghanaians ,South African people, and so on and so forth, we definitely need to collaborate like that, moving forward.
If you weren’t into acting and modeling, what would you have been doing?
I probably would have been a medical doctor, if I took my books seriously, or if I was the type that would read from time to time, or I would have been in the oil business either of the two but then I’m quite happy to explore those industries as well, from here much later in life.
Tell us about your formative years
Everybody has a journey. I’m part of my journey. I was a student, then I became a part time model, then I became a part time actor, then I’ve done a lot of other things in between like organising fashion shows, host events, tried my hands at radio, tried writing a couple of things. I’m a writer. Basically, I just want to say that those years were very important to the final product or the still evolving product you’re looking at right now. All those times were very important. The fact that I live in the East and then this film, Living in Bondage, allowed me show people or give them the nostalgia of what reasonable Igbo boy of our time looks like. Well I’m grateful to be able to put all those my experiences, living in Amobia, Enugu, Ebonyi, schooling in Imo, literally everywhere in the East. It’s down to those formative years.
Give us an insight into your educational background and career?
I’m a geographer, I’m also a meteorologist and I also have a diploma in business. I’m also still in school. I really want to be able to know a little about photography, media, about the business side of things, you know, all those things, getting more things under my belt is very important to me as well. I did my nursery school in Ebonyi State, primary school, in Enugu, secondary school in Imo State, University in Enugu State and that’s it. Basically, my educational background has been in the East.
Can we say you were born with a silver spoon?
Well, as I am a very strong follower of Christ, I’d like to think that, yes I was born with a silver spoon because I’ve always been destined for greatness, but did I have so much money to throw around, growing up? Not so much, not so much.
How did your background shape your life?
A lot. I really said that earlier when I was asked about my educational background. It shaped my life a lot because it allowed me to bring a fresh perspective of things. You know, I’m real, I’m an Igbo boy, I’m down to earth, I don’t see the reason for hanging shoulder. I don’t see the reason for faking any kind of life. You know what you see is what you get. Be natural about everything and people will love you.
What was the best gift you remember receiving as a child?
Well ehmm my mum, honestly every other year that passes, ever since I was like maybe two, three, I usually have time for my breakdown and I cry and appreciate God for the gift of her. Every year, God keeps her in my life, I feel like it’s a new gift, there’s no gift I can be able to think about right now, because once that question hits me. Her name rings in my head. so I thank God for the gift of her.
What was the most difficult thing that has ever happened to you in all your years and how did you overcome it?
Well acne, acne was very difficult for me to overcome. I’m still over coming it, just relaxing more and more effort, washing your face more regularly than you would have, you know. It did a lot for me.
What do you consider the biggest mistake you have ever made?
I don’t know. I hardly ever have regrets; it’s always an experience for me. You learn you get better, tomorrow you wake up on your feet you know you keep going. I don’t. I’ve tried to think about it, so I don’t think there’s any experience in my head that is a mistake basically.
Are there things you still desire?
Of course keys to the good things of life. I want those things. I want to work on my relationship with God. I want people to not only hear, but to see through my life, that a life in Christ is amazing.
What are some of the lessons life has taught you?
Never stop working hard. You literally maybe stopping a week away from that call, never stop. That’s the biggest life lesson I have as of today.
What are your future plans?
The plan is to take over Africa, the plan is to take Africa to the world.
What’s your biggest fear in life?
The day God turns his back on me, hmm which is never gonna happen because if you go to my instagram, I think my very first post in IG is God first and God never lies. Thank you so much.