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An Insight Into Nollywood: The Akume Akume Interview

Keeps: Why is it difficult for your fans to see you play a lead role? Be opened to us, what is going on? Akume: People ask me, why you don’t play lead roles but I play a couple of lead roles Keeps: In what movies? Akume: Not With My Daughter, Kabila and a handful of movies like the new movies I’ve just done. In Vanished directed by Emeke Hills, I am the male lead character, I did a story on Governor of Niger State, it is called Chief Servant, in that I wasn’t the lead character per say but I was the only young guy with a major role. I was the lead character in The Fifth Wife, me and Ini Edo, directed by Rufus Raji. So, I have done a couple of movies, maybe because my movies are not the everyday movies, like that. Keeps: Why don’t you do the everyday movies? Akume: I’m not really based in Lagos; I’m more of Abuja / Jos person. Between late 2011 and early 2012 I’ve done about seventeen movies and out of the seventeen movies, I think I played the lead in almost nine. Keeps: As an insider, can you tell us…is it too difficult to break into Nollywood; there are so many talents out there who don’t know how to get into Nollywood? Akume: There are a lot of factors why it seems like people can’t really brake in… first of all, for those of us who are based in the North, we don’t have enough producers, we don’t have enough people producing but meanwhile in Lagos, Enugu of yesterday, Asaba…I think that is where most of the movies are been churned out from. A lot of people have asked me, why I haven’t moved to Asaba, there is no day I get to Asaba that I don’t get a job. Keeps: What’s that thing in Asaba that keeps movie making alive, why is Asaba good for movie making? Akume: The marketers. Onitsha is not far from Asaba, the marketers are willing to come to Asaba and shoot, even most of the marketers in Lagos are shooting in Asaba and Enugu right now. And another thing, for you to brake in, you must be willing to move. Especially with the experiences we have in the northern part of the country, the BH thing and all the crises how many people will be willing to throw their millions… Keeps: You are passionate about unity.

Akume: I’m passionate about unity especially for some of us who come from the kind of background I come from Keeps: What background?

Akume: Multi ethnic background, my mother is Yoruba, with Ghanaian and Brazilian ancestry, my mother’s mother is Efik in Bakassi part of Cross River. My father is Tiv with Fulani ancestry. And me, my wife is from Plateau. My sisters are married out… I have Igbo cousins. Keeps: What movie gave you the big break? Akume: Oh I really can’t say but I realized there are movies that make me super star, there are movies that sold me, there are movies that I think are my best movies: Not With My Daughter, Sweet Money directed by Andy Nwakalor, it was a hit, a real big hit, it sold me, it has cross cultural thing, Hausa guy marrying an Ibo girl. I also did Sweet Money 2 directed by Emeka Hill, it launched me as a comedian. I never had male fans, most of my fans were females, but after Sweet Money I started having male fans, soldiers, police men barrack boys, when you are an actor and you have mechanics hailing you then you know you are a star…the market women can identify with you…so when I started doing movies with comic tunes my fan base increased, and that was one of my first comic movies Keeps: What’s your educational background? Akume: I went to some of the best schools in the world, I went to Corona Private School. I went to Kano Capital, I went to Command secondary School and I went to university of Jos, I did a diploma in Law.

Keeps: How does your wife cope with your job? Because everywhere you go, so many girls will be like, that Nollywood actor! Akume: My wife understands, before she got married to me, she knew I was an actor, I model, I am a designer, I make clothes too, with my kind of vocation my career, my wife knows women come around me naturally. I’ve learnt something; don’t play with your career. My wife got to know about all these before we married. Keeps: Is there any Nollywood actor that you like based on how he goes about the craft. Akume: There are a lot of people I love, my colleagues, I love RMD , my big brother, but if you ask me honestly there are two or three people that I am madly in love with. Keeps: Who are they? Akume: Genevieve, she is my friend, I love her growth, as far as I am concerned Genevieve is one of the few stars that we have in Nigeria, maybe Africa. I love Genevieve a lot, secondly Emeka Ike, because he inspires me a lot, he is a business man like me, I am a poultry farmer. Keeps: Wow! You can never be broke. Akume: (Laughs) I hope so, he is a business man like me, he thought me a lot, whenever we are working he encourages me, you can do this apart from acting, so I sing , I design, I am farmer. Keeps: Who is the third person? Akume: The third person that inspires me even though we are not very close is Nkem Owoh, because he is one of the highest, if not the highest paid actor in Nigeria. That is why I love him; he is making a lot of money. Keeps: I guess acting pays well Akume: It varies, what I might call good pay, another person might not call it good pay, it’s relative, but I’m sure a lot of artists those who have gone beyond the average level in status are doing well. Even if it is fifty thousand naira you make per movie and you get three jobs a month… some of us get two fifty, three hundred and when you are doing jobs that are projects like when I was on BBC, like the Chief Servant job I did and a few other jobs I did that are projects, you can’t pay me two fifty now, we see close to five hundred thousand , seven hundred, it depends but that is not my basic fee, what I charge right now is about two fifty, three hundred. But people come and beg me, can you do it for me one hundred thousand? Even fifty, you understand? Keeps: Mr. Akume, you are very open and that is good. Akume: The Nollywood’s created jobs, some of our stars wouldn’t have dreamt of driving the state of the art cars they drive now if not for the industry. Keeps: So what is your take on the Ghanaians in Nollywood; now I know Van Vicker, Jackie Appiah…? Akume: Good for us, the marketers like enigmas, they don’t like people they know finish, they don’t like ‘’see finish,” when they finish seeing you, they use you, they dump you. I’m not trying to bad mouth anybody we have a complex in Nigeria, anything that is foreign we are tripped about it. The truth is, even Ghanaian viewers in US and UK, especially in London, when we travel most times our fans say you people just take only fair people from Ghana. Ghanaians are not known to be fair. Half of the actors in the home videos that are Ghanaians are always like half- caste, name them, there are a few of them that are dark .Ghanaians are complaining in the UK. But in Nigeria the finest person for an Ibo man must be yellow; if you are not yellow you are not fine, you understand. But for me, I no dey black belle any Ghanaian actor, I even love to work with them because it boosts your image. Out of the over sixteen new movies I’ve done, I’ve done about six with Frank Artus, he is the hottest Ghanaian actor now. I don’t have a beef with them, what is mine will always be mine. Keeps: What should we be expecting from you in future?

Akume: The future is already here. Like I said, I have sixteen movies coming out very soon and for those people who think Akume doesn’t play lead role – watch out for my lead role movies…and we are starting a new project in Jos, it is called Good Christian Movies, so watch out for Good Christian movies. Keeps: One last question, who is the director that brings out the best in you? Akume: Wow! lovely, I have a lot of directors that bring out the best in me, whether mentally, psychologically, physically, emotionally, financially, but I can tell you at least four of the directors that are my best, Emeka Hills, Andy Nwakalor, Izu Ojukwu, Rufus Raji and my big daddy Andy Amenechi it’s wonderful when I’m working with him I’m not nervous at all.

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