INTERVIEW:Nigerian movies would compete favorably with foreign movies—I see that happening in five years,says Greg Ojefua
Gregory Ojefua, an actor popularly referred to as Greg “Teddy Bear” Ojefua has delighted movie lovers with his unique acting prowess. from commercial modeling back in the day to recent times of basking in the euphoria of his recognitionㅡowing to series of movies he has feature in, Ojefua has risen steadily and quite fast up the ladder and he is still going up, and does not plan to stop.
He is a graduate of Business Administration from Adekunle Ajose University who loves life, loves to have a healthy conversation with people around him, enjoys what he does and lives by a Self-coined mantra which says; Live life simple,it makes life simple.
In this interview, Ojefua, who is also a voice over artist, and an event compere, speaks with Godfreytimes on his journey so far, reasons for entering Nollywood, and take on Nollywood and bad scripts.
Interest my readers with your journey so far
well the journey for me started from my childhood. I always loved to be the center of everybody's focus. Way back when I go to parties I sort of dance so well and do the whole Michael Jackson break dance and I always got a lot of money and accolades from people and so it sort of like birthed that passion in me to want to keep entertaining people. I went to school during the period where we still had Ghanaian teachers and I had a Ghanaian primary school teacher who loved the arts and made us do a lot of reading and I read a lot of Shakespearean classics and he made us enact them as plays in the class and acting out those wonderful stories also sort of encouraged me more to like the arts but then you know acting, arts generally was not looked upon with much gladness from our parents so I was quickly discouraged. I was told to face a more professional course and I decided to be an accountant like my dad so I stayed on that course till I lost him sometime in life and that for me killed that zeal and I stopped reading accounting. I tried my hands on other stuffs before I went back and finished up business administration. Somewhere along the final lap of that journey I got on a show called don't forget the lyrics where I was able again to thrill the audience to a point where I quickly had my clip as part of the thriller of the show and I became sort of like a mini celebrity and that sparked up that almost forgotten passion in me and I said to myself we need to do this so I got back into the industry that same year 2009. The first audition I went to I got a cast to play three roles which I did but had to go out for further studies and I came back in 2013 where I told myself that this was it, I would face my passion. I started going for auditions,it wasn't easy. I could go for a number of auditions and don't get a call back or get to play little roles and all that and you think your potential has not been reached or not being tapped but being patient and persevering and consistent in your struggle really goes a long way and it did for me, it still is because I have by the grace of God, risen steadily and quite fast up the ladder and I am still going up, I do not plan to stop. So I would use this opportunity to say thanks to my friends and family.my fans, you are my friends and family. The journey is still on, I ain't stopping, greg says so.
What was your reason for entering Nollywood?
Like I said earlier I got into Nollywood because I love acting, I love entertaining people. I am really sure that I was made to entertain, I have the gift of entertainment within me so its only wise that when you discover your strength, passion or the purpose of which you were created, you key into it and do just that because in so doing, you sort of like achieve a sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction, might not necessarily mean you make all the money in the world and gain all the material possessions the world has to offer but just feel a sense of inner peace, satisfaction and contentment with whatever state you find yourself basically. so yeah that's it.
What is your take on Nollywood and bad scripts?
Well as regards Nollywood and bad scripts I wouldn't say its a peculiar occurrence. This happens in every industry you find yourself in the world. You have bad products, cars that have been made and the companies actually asked that they be recalled for repairs and you have bad practices in the banks, police force and others so yes every industry is saddled with their own bit of problem and for bad scripts in Nollywood it is a problem that will always be there so it rests on the shoulders of the directors and pre-production team to go through the scripts they plan to shoot and make sure they are shoot-worthy. Make sure errors are corrected and if really its too shady to be corrected, it should be thrown out and another one re-written to avoid such occurrence because if bad script is written and allowed to be shot in most case, it means you will end up having a bad movie and the industry has evolved far too much to continue to allow poor shady productions of sub-standard movies. In addition, I for one will never agree to jump on a story based on a bad script. I always make sure I get to read the full script of any movie I am being asked to feature in, even if am just to play a scene, I want to read not just the script pertaining to that scene but the full story itself so that I don't find myself being part of any shady productions and I believe if every actor continues to do that, refusing bad scripts, script writers and producers would be forced to only produce or write good scripts and good stories so our movie industry will continue to grow positively. So I think this change will only come to bare if all actors and all film makers continue to reject and refuse to be part of making a bad script into a bad movie.
Where do you see Nollywood in five years?
In five years I believe Nollywood would have become much more enviable because there is a fast rate of growth and development technically, even in terms of financial input and knowledge-wise we have a lot of people coming into the country to bring in fresh ideas. We have a lot of investors from outside and within the country, brands and organizations are seeing the potentials that entertainment holds and they are really keying into to the movie industry. Even the actors are upping their games, and all that so there's so much in store for Nollywood in five years. In five years I see a much more vibrant industry, I see a lot more money being pumped into it...I see a lot more box office movies, I see a lot more successful actors because now they basically, I make bold to say almost every actor isn't getting half or quarter of their worth. Art is actually something not what you can put a cost to, so I believe maybe in five years we should be getting our money's worth or reasonable money's worth and generally the film industry would be far much more attractive to the Nigerian and international audience because these days you still see Nigerians having preference for foreign movies. The trend is changing and am sure in five years the trend would have changed a bit more and get to a point where Nigerian movies would compete favorably with foreign movies. I see that happening in five years at the rate we are going.
How do you think Nollywood can grow better?
Nollywood can grow better with more funding. we need funds to be able to do right and not only do we need more funds, we need this funds to meet the right people who will use this funds right because there have been one or two programs where the funds was released to some people and they were mismanaged and the feedback wasn't too encouraging and this programs were stopped. So we need a way of injecting funds such that they are properly managed and they get to the right people and yield the right result. We need government support, utmost support in every way because sometimes you go to film and you have area boys threatening you. You have the problem of power, you have insecurity, there's just so much. You have some security officers harassing you, asking where did you get the equipment from, are you really an actor? when they see you with certain props, when I say props I mean maybe toy guns that is meant for the movie and they try to make a big deal out of it even when you show them a permit to have such props on you. Its just very crazy sometimes so we need the government's full backing in such that the industry becomes more recognized and less of all this occurrences come to play. We need to love our own. Nigerians generally tend to have preference for foreign goods, foreign sports , foreign movies. You see Nigerian football lovers arguing about foreign clubs here and you wonder if they are actually Nigerians or they belong to that country of the clubs in question. I have actually witnessed fights between Nigerian brothers over foreign clubs and we don't show that love to our own home grown clubs here. Call a nigerian, an average Nigerian and tell him to name ten players on a Nigerian football club team and he would have a problem naming just three and four but tell him to name all the players that have ever played in one of the popular foreign football teams and he would give you even the family member names and all that. So I think we really need to continue to grow Nigeria, support our own , yes it might not be or definitely it is not comparable to what we have abroad but the truth is, it started this way abroad but the support they got from their people was what they used to grow and evolve to the point where it is now. So if we do not support and grow our own it will continue to remain at this point or will improve at a slow rate but the more support we show to it, the more acceptance we give to our own, the faster at which it will evolve to that point where we can now beat our chest and stand side by side with the industry abroad basically.
What is your current project presently?
I am filming a couple more skit for the anti corruption campaign tagged corruption not in my country. We are on set filming that now and am also back on tinsel as the crazy Igbuzor doing my thing. Then am moving into set in about a week or so to shoot a major series, a very big series featuring about one South African actor and a Ghanaian actress. Its going to be on netflix titled Jelili Badmus, its star-studded. Its a major production am looking forward to and am sub-leader on that one as Jelili Badmus. Yes eehmm what else? that's what am working on now. done a couple of stuff in the past few weeks but for now that's what's going on.