Interview

I Don’t Want To Be Another Actor – Enyinna Nwigwe

Enyinna NwigweYoung, suave, eye candy packed with talent and five US congressional awards, Eyinna Nwigwe speaks with ORUKPE NELSON about his life, career and passions.

What is Enyinna’s background?

I am the last of four kids, two boys and 2 girls, from Ngor Okpala LGA in Imo State. I studied Economics in the University of Calabar. I am very active with sports, I like to think myself a people’s person.

What mischief were you known for in school?

For this prank, I needed a partner in crime. The person would bend over like a stool behind someone standing (without their knowledge). Then they would move forward until the person steps back and flips over the “stool” and falls. I pissed my best friend off because he was always my partner until I did it with someone else and he felt betrayed. It might have been unspoken but I figured I had broken the “bro code”.

How did you begin your journey to stardom?

My career started by accident. We all encounter that person who leads us to discover ourselves. My case was one of such. While in University of Calabar, I met this friend that called me up and said there was a new modeling agency in town and they had been doing rehearsals for over three weeks. He suggested I join them. I had no interest in the arts at the time, but my “activity” person just went along to see. I loved what I saw, good looking guys and girls were on the runway practising and I decided to stand by and watch because I was too shy at the time to do something I had never done before with people watching and judging. But they kept poking me to join them, so I tried it and I liked it. It automatically became my core curricular activity for staying away from trouble; having fun in a productive way and learning something new. I became a model and two weeks after I became a coach along with people with way more experience than I.  Then I met Jeta Amata, the Director, while he was filming in Calabar at the time, for the government and we became fast friends. Over time, his passion for film rubbed off on me and when I put together a fashion show, I invited him over and he came. Then he invited me to his set where he was filming Wheel of change, I went to see how his work went beyond the talk. There was a scene with two guys and he suddenly thought to create a character, a lot of directors do this, he thought he could do with an extra guy to fill up the frame so he pushed me in. when the film came out, I wasn’t exactly impressed but I knew that it was an experience I would love to try again. Over the years, I have seen myself grow, critiquing and criticising myself. I do not like to watch myself but I have to look out for technicalities and ways to improve. So that is how I grew and evolved to where I am now.

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How did your parents take your career choice?

My parents were not skeptical like an average Nigerian parent would be, but it was new to them. We had nobody in that field in our family, but it was a good thing they had seen the passion from when I was modeling in school. Once when I was at home on holiday I was called for a modeling competition and I had to break my holiday to go for it

What was your first big pay and what did you do with it?

It didn’t come at once, it came in trickles but it was solving everything I wanted to do, it kept me going and rekindled my passion for acting. I wouldn’t let the passion drive me into forgetting I have responsibilities, let’s just say I am a money maker.

Who is your role model in life generally?

I have quite a lot of people who inspire me. Jeta Amata of course was instrumental to the start of my career, Donald Duke is a perfect example of who I want to be; correct guy, fine boy, fine wife, relevant in business, politics and in arts, he is a rounded character. For actors, I have had this thing with Denzel, I won’t say his acting style, but he has proven that a black guy out there can do it and hold it strong and he has been really inspiring to actors internationally. Home front, there is Gideon Okeke, O.C. Ukeje, Ramsey Nouah, Majid Michele, all these guys have in one way or the other impacted me in career and business.

What do you think the recently concluded AMVCA has imparted so far on the African entertainment industry?

There is always need for validation as humans and so when the validation comes from a credible structure like the AMVCA with MNET and Multichoice who help push and consolidate the African content, saying we are going to reward and recognise you guys, it helps add value and creates healthy competition among artists, like the last AMVCA, most of my colleagues were nominated in the same categories and they all supported each other regardless of who won. Everyone wants to do better and get an opportunity to stand at that podium and be seen by over 40 countries live and accept their awards. That is how it affected me and a couple of others that I know. We all want to be part of that, spurred up to do more on location and deliver. Being an industry that has a lot to do with glamour, it brought the glam that Nollywood needs, it balances out the work and play, it’s not all work, its showbiz too. AMVCA has brought that touch of class.

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How do you think the social media has imparted Nollywood?

It has imparted it so strongly like everything else. We have a chance now to be seen by the world and even without putting our films out there. For instance, with the hashtags, I can hashtag Nollywood and someone in China goes to Nollywood and sees me there. It has given us that wider reach and visibility. Others can get to see the personal side of actors which draws them to you and makes them feel a lot more recognised by their idol. It creates a platform for interactions and a closer relationship with the people they love in the industry.

What projects are you working on and what sacrifices do you have to make for the job?

My favourite project ever would be Black November because besides being the biggest thing I have worked on in terms of quality and reach; it is also a strong message that was conveyed about what has been going on in the Niger Delta in the past 50 years. From the oil spills to the local chief corruptions to then military administration to the gas flare. It encapsulates everything including the likes of Ken Saro-wiwa. There are many documentaries, but none has given that much exposure to the situation in the Niger Delta. Documentaries could be boring but the movie with a proper plot makes it easier. So it is not just a movie, but a movement which I am passionate about and would love to be a part of. There is Silverrain, a Juliet Asante production that premiered in Ghana on Friday 13th March, and then it will come to Nigeria. It is a fight against class and social injustices. I have started filming with top director, Obi Emelonye, a movie that is very physical and I am shedding weight for. It promises to be a thriller.

What are you most passionate about?

Sports and acting. The movie Black November which was screened at; the United Nations Convention, at the Library of congress, and African Society in USA. I got five congressional awards for it. It makes me sure I am on the right path. Only last year, shell agreed to compensate one of the communities that were affected and I learnt the film influenced the decision. After it was screened at Congress, a couple of congress men headed by Bobby Rush, took it upon themselves to champion the cause. I am sure other communities will get their due too.

What is the Enyinna brand about?

It is a work in progress. A lot is going on in my mind and I need help to contain it all. I don’t want to be another actor, I want to inspire, counsel and help people find themselves. I want that name actor to be seen beyond the silver screen. I believe everything is possible.

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Describe your style

I don’t have a particular style; I go with how I feel. Whether it is right or wrong to the people that judge, I don’t care (in a good way). If I feel good about what I am doing, I will do it without apologies. I could wear colours to trigger a happy mood.

What would you never be caught wearing?

I would never be caught wearing a dress on the red carpet in the name of fashion.

Who is your favourite designer?

For shirts, I love Italian designer Maria Kanuchi. And others depend on the piece.

Best perfumes?

I never wear a particular scent. I always mix scents to get my own unique fragrance.

What accessory brings your entire look together?

It’s my shoes, and they also affect my confidence. My corporate shoes make me feel all business, my boots give me a boost, sneakers, make me feel more agile. They are my alter ego. For wrist watches, I cannot step out without my watch and once I am home, my watch must come off.

What is the most expensive thing you ever bought?

I am not about big names, I just love good quality. I am not comparing your Gucci to my Gucci. A wristwatch saved me in a ghastly motor accident. It took most of the impact even though my wrist was smashed badly. Imagine if the watch wasn’t of good quality. I am going to frame it up in my home, it saved my hand.

What is your favourite colour?

Blue.

If you were stuck on an island and could only take three things, what would they be?

My camping gas to cook the hell out of the island, (I love my food how and when I want it), my running shoes and my laptop.

How do you relax?

I relax when I work out, I think better when doing my power walk. I love adventure, I’m passionate about skydiving, scuba diving; I get a great adrenaline rush from physical activity.

Who is your ideal woman?

We should have conversations freely, a woman I can learn from. She has to stimulate me mentally.

Who is stimulating you mentally right now?

That is really private, so no comment.

Best car?

My first car was a BMW and I think I will always go back there. I can drive any good car.

Best food?

I don’t have any; I eat what I feel like at the time. I can wake up at 2.00am and create a recipe.

Message for fans

You first, and live from your heart. I love you!