I Am Married To the Best Woman on Earth – Okechi Enyi
In a chat with Okechi Enyi, a fantastic actor in the Nigerian Film Industry, dubbed Nollywood, he narrated how he started and how he was able to master the skill and overcome challenges that made him what he is today in the industry.
Enyi also opened up on why most intellectual properties are abused, which he concluded was due to professionals not exploring the intellectual laws to protect their intellectual properties.
While chatting with Wale Adegbuyi, he raises the hope of the industry and reassures that our film industry will stand out in few years to come as he said that professionalism is now leading its direction.
Can we meet you?
My name is Okechi Enyi, an actor, voice over artist, model and clothing designer and an entrepreneur.
What led you into the entertainment industry?
Well my journey into the entertainment industry started from a very tender age, when my friends and I used to dance at friends’ birthday ceremonies and school competitions. This continued, when I got the university, where I was the best rapper and best comedian.
All along, my friends and family members kept telling me to delve fully into the entertainment industry as they said that I was wonderful in mimicking and expressions. I formed a rap group called “Rapcrew” with my friends Abel, Charles and Eme, we produced our first demo in 1990.
As God would have it, I was featured in one or two tracks by an award winning make-up artist, “Periwinkle” who also co-produced Rapcrew’s single. I was not really keen on moving into the movie industry because I wasn’t impressed with the industry due to the low standard in the production of films then. So, after so much pressure from friends and family members, I went for my first audition.
Like I said, life has a way of getting you to do what you were destined to do. I got my first audition notice from Gbenga Titiloye, who is a friend and the lead actor known as “Kolade Badmus” on Mnet Award winning series; “Battleground” where I am feature as “Barr Babatunde Owo”. I went for my first audition for a “Zik Zulu” and “Monalisa Chinda” Production; “You and I” in late August 2014.
What have been your challenges since you appeared on the screen and how do you manage your fans?
Well, everything in life has its own challenges. But I don’t really think I have challenges as I see them as learning processes. I told someone that once you make up your mind and prepare yourself before entering or starting anything, the so-called challenges are what make you better as you would learn from them. I remember when a notable writer producer and director I respect so much pointed out to me that I take my lines rather fast and that this was affecting post production. I had to start learning how to slow down my delivery. Yes, it was a challenge, but today it has made me better. The only thing that used to bother me is my complexion. The gaffer always had issues with lighting when I was on set. But I knew that for that not to be an issue I needed to always bring up my game or else I would be relegated. So, instead of being dropped, my ability makes producers to forget my complexion and they still use me. Well my fans, I see them as friends and associates and I relate with them in the most cordial manner I can because without them we are nothing.
As a professional, how do you think we can make the movie industry better than what we have now?
Firstly we need to understand that we are still far from arriving. Once we realize that, we would then be opened to development to better the industry. We should have a body to vet movies from one level to another. We cannot have every one directing movies and expect us to come out with good movies or productions. We should check those that are performing different roles in the industry. By this, I mean we should have a body of qualified production managers, directors, light and directors of photography. We can’t expect a world class movie by using unqualified people for production. Another issue is funding. Banks and or corporate bodies should provide means of accessing funds for movies like we have it in advanced countries. Lastly is the issue of remuneration for actors. It is quite appalling that actors are priced as low as N3, 500 by some producers. This comes after the actor must have gone for audition and someone will have the effrontery to tell an actor that it’s a low budget job and propose to pay him or her N2, 000 or N3, 500.
There’s no way the industry can move or get better with such. I had suggested to the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) to set a minimum wage for actors to forestall all these and bring out the best in them. Everyone comes out better when he or she is well motivated.
Do you think we can actually regulate actors’ fees?
Yes we can. If the body of actors says no actor should be paid 10,000 or less per scene or per episode in a series, it would now become a law and every actor would have this information, I don’t think anybody would price less than that. Then, if an actor decides to collect anything less than that it will be on special arrangement.
As an experienced actor, who had paid his price, do you think our intellectual property is being protected by the law as expected?
It’s simply your opinion if or not intellectual property is well protected under our copyright law. Well, in Nigeria, like we know, we have laws and we as a people are ignorant of these laws. The question would have been do we as artists and entertainers make use of the rights protection law in Nigeria, and I would tell you no. Because if you take a poll of, let’s say script writers that patent their script, you will see that majority don’t. Now, if someone fails or pirates your work you don’t have any locus standi to prosecute or fight the person in a law court. Be that as it may, the government is not helping matters as they do not enforce the copyright laws to the letter.
As an actor, do you think online television and pay television have done well for the industry?
Oh sure. They have helped to showcase our talent and craft to every part of the world. PayTV has definitely done well for actors and for other entertainment sectors like music and sports. This has led to a lot of lucrative deals for our producers. Take for instance, Genevive Nnaji’s deal with Netflix, Ebonylife being commissioned by world class firms to produce movies and series, Accelerate and Ndani TV commissioning projects to be viewed or watched online to mention a few
Where do you see the Nigerian film industry in the next 10 years?
I see the industry going higher. We are coming to terms with our deficiencies and working on solving them. So I see us getting more advanced.
What is your advice for upcoming actors?
My advice to upcoming actors is for them to take things one step at a time and not to be desperate. Always try to develop your skills by going for workshops and use the Internet for a lot more purposeful things. Listen, watch and learn from already established actors, they have a lot to offer. Most of all, believe in yourself and your ability, don’t reduce your worth. In all, make sure you are in the right place and with dedication and hard work, the sky is your starting point.
Are you married? If yes, how do you manage your career and your family?
I am married to the best woman on earth. She is my friend and we have one thing going for us, which is ‘trust.’ She knows what I do is make-believe and as she such doesn’t allow anything bother her as long as I come home to her and sleep with my arms around her.
How do you manage your female fans?
I try as much as I can to be as cordial as I can and tread with caution. Life is made better, when you know where your boundary starts and ends.
What is your opinion about Movietainment Magazine and what are your expectations?
Movietainment Magazine has come to stay and they are going places with their professionalism. And I expect them to keep giving us news and updates, while they bring to light anything that is not going well in the movie industry. Kudos to a great team.