OC Ukeje talks about his music career, upcoming film shot in Brazil and Nollywood being close to International standards.
Best Actor AMVCA winner OC Ukeje has granted an interview to Pulse Nigeria.
During the interview, the actor who recently made his music debut with the new single “Potato Potahto” spoke about a career in music.
The actor, who has featured in quite a number of international films also spoke about working in two different markets, and how close Nollywood is to the International market.
Read interview below;
On Music career
Let’s just say that I was fortunate to do the soundtrack for the movie “Potato Potahto.” I guess we can say that it’s a single, but no, that’s not where it stops for me.
But I have to be honest, the speed at which the music industry moves, I may not be able to keep up with that speed because I think that music and acting are two very demanding professions. So it’s very difficult to give equal time to them.
But I’m glad for the response so far. I think that typically it’s about getting the first one out and seeing what the responses are like, and that gives you traction for another one.
So it’s not just an experiment, it’s a door opener. And we hope that from here on some other things can pop up. Maybe I will be able to release two to three things in a year. I’m not going to put myself under pressure, but I will do my best.
On upcoming film shot in Brazil
The English meaning of the film is “Shine your Eyes.” I was fortunate to have been hired for that film because there were a bunch of auditions in London and I was going to fly out for the interview, but they let me do a screen test. And after a couple of Skype interviews, I got picked for the role.
So, it’s an interesting story that involves two Igbo brothers and I really don’t want to have to give out too many details until the movie is out.
I think that apart from the fact that it was specific in terms of the director [Matias Mariani] wanted people who knew the language, who had a sense of music, and of course, who were good actors, I think that I was also very fortunate to get selected for it.
Because there are a bunch of really outstanding actors who are of Nigerian descent and who are also Igbo. But you know, I guess the sun was really bright on my end.
Shooting in Brazil
So we shot for nine weeks, and it was one of the very incredible experiences of my career. I enjoyed every bit of it. The entire team was absolutely amazing.
The difficult part of it was speaking Portuguese because a ton of people weren’t speaking English. But with the film crew, there were a bunch of people speaking English, so it was very nice.
On working in the international market
I think that featuring in International movies is very difficult. I don’t know if it’s a trick, but I guess the thing is to keep these circles open.
It’s why I try to make as many film festivals as possible, and with my team, try to set up as many meetings as possible. You also try and showcase some of the decent works you’ve done, just to get them to see who you are.
Because there’s a ton of people who are professional actors outside Nigeria. It’s easier for them to reach out to people in industries where there is more structure than to reach out to actors on this side.
It’s an uphill task to be an actor based in Nigeria trying to get into an industry where there are more structure and
more people who are even more trained than you.
I think that I have been fortunate. I think there’s a craft, but I also think that it’s about knowing who to talk to and knowing where to go to.
When you stack that on top of each other, they look at what your repertoire of films have been like, then they probably consider you.
On Nollywood meeting international standards
As far as it goes with Nollywood and the International standard, I think that there are certain aspects of the industry that are engaging in world best practises. But I also think that there are other things that we need to sit up on
Because again, it’s nice to create content for the Nigerian market, but I think that when you talk about standards, everyone measures standards not by one market, but by what is globally accepted.
So I think that we need a lot of work in a lot of areas. And I don’t want to say how far we are because tomorrow we can get someone who speeds up legislation that favours the Nigerian market.
The next term, we could get someone who thinks that having cinemas all across in Nigeria is very important and speeds up the process.
~ Salvador Dali