Emma Chinedum has been in the movie industry for over a decade. Although, he had been stereotyped to gateman character, the Uli Anaambra state born actor cum filmmaker didn’t let that deter him from churning out good productions. In this interview with SAMUEL ABULUDE, he shares his journey into Nollywood, his heartbreak, new projects and lots more
Tell us more about yourself?
I am an actor and a producer. I produced ‘Tinta,’ a soap which aired on Galaxy TV, online and ABS. After that I did an Igbo series, ‘Ego Furu Uzo,’ but it is not on air. After the millions I invested in the project, I wasn’t pleased with the outcome so I had to pause making it as it was and making plans to re-shoot it.
What really happened?
In the industry, most times, people bring in their acquaintances who do not know how to properly interpret stories. Someone who is not seeing the same vision you are seeing. A director who doesn’t listen to you, does what he likes at any given time and so on. People who forget that when you are shooting a series, there are dos and don’ts especially as it relates to language use.
How did your journey to the industry begin?
I started acting in church, precisely Christ Embassy, as a member of the drama group. After a while, I was made head of the drama department. One day my pastor picked up his microphone, called out my name and gave reasons why I should commercialize my talent. When I got home that day, his words kept ringing in my ears.
At the time I thought Nollywood was one big building, when you go there, you would see good actors like Genevieve, Omotola and the rest. I kept asking myself how I’d start. And one fateful day, I saw an audition poster and calls for registration with N3,000. I went to the bank and paid, then went for audition in Surulere, Genesis Studio. As soon as I got there, they started training us, beginning with rehearsals. It wasn’t funny because I was still working. Luckily for me, I met an upcoming actress who kept loading me with audition information. After one month, the movie was shot. I played the role of a corrupt DPO, alongside Uche Iwuji, Vincent Opurum, Afro Candy. The movie was ‘Destruction Instinct.’ It was a job that later caused trouble everywhere because Afrocandy bought the master tape, went to USA and added porn to it and it was everywhere and people were really talking about it. My pastor called me and asked why I had to be in such a movie so I had to explained what really happened to him.
You mean your first movie was controversial yet it shot you to limelight?
No, it wasn’t. It’s the least that mentioned my name. It is ‘My Kids And I’ that brought me to limelight. It is a movie and series. We just finished season seven of it. It has run for more than three years. The movie featured Bolanle Ninalowo, Mary Chukwu and others.
What are the challenges guys face in the industry?
Sexual harassment is not only on the producers, it’s everywhere. In the private sector, employment market etc. Being too desperate too is another reason our ladies are sexually harassed. If you know you are talented and have what the market needs, no one can ask you for sex even if thousands have failed you, those who mean business would surely call you. For guys, get something else doing that pays your bills. The only challenge you would get is tallying it with your job, but if you are hardworking and persistent, you would pull through. I want to also warn ladies to stop being desperados. Lots of guys now pose as movie producers to gather girls, they will give out to their friends who come in from other countries. Some of them even pose to be lead character and tell you the script says you should have sex with them. If you do that, at the end of the day, you will not see the movie. It was all a set up.
What else do you do apart from acting?
I didn’t study Theatre Arts in school, I studied Medical Laboratory at Anambra State College of Technology, Obosi. I graduated in 2007 and relocated to Lagos in 2008. When I came to Lagos, I started working. Most times, people would say I am in the wrong department. I found out that the entertainment industry is time demanding, medical practices is also time demanding, the only option was to back off from one. I started looking for a business that would give me time and pay my bills. Then, movie wasn’t paying much. So, I had to start up and register a company that deals on medical equipment. I was buying and supplying to people. Now, we have grown to the extent of supplying to any state. We have our medical equipment for tests and laboratory.
How many movies have you done and what are their names?
I can’t tell the exact number. They include ‘Tinta,’ ‘My Kids And I,’ ‘Rufus And Rosana,’ ‘Corrupting The Young Mind,’ ‘Heart Of Gold,’ ‘Fighting Temptation Book 3,’ ‘Nwoke Oma,’ ‘Neglect’ and many others.
What’s your relationship status?
I am not married yet but I have a baby boy. We are making plans to get married. My baby is just one month old. My last relationship didn’t work out which made me almost commit suicide. I locked myself in my room for two weeks, I didn’t come out, I cried till my eyes were sore.
At some point, I went to see my mum who assured me that the most beautiful ones are not yet born. That saying alone, made me wipe my tears and hope for a better partner.
My partner left me for an already made man. This was the same woman I dated for four years without any sexual intimacy. I can swear with my life. From the first time we met in school, till it was over.
What lesson did that teach you as a young struggling man?
I learned that one should only get into a serious relationship when you are ready to settle down because it’s hard breaking when you channel all your resources in someone who’s not ready. The issue I had was that I showed her off to everybody, my parents, pastors, people I respect so much. So, when she got married to someone else, my friend abroad called me and asked what happened.
I had her pictures and her clothes in my house. I also told her to marry and if after two years, it didn’t work out, she should come back to me that I was ready to marry her. But my pastor made me think otherwise. So, after that, I told her to come and pick her clothes or I’d burn them. Which I did.
Those days, when I’m given a script to cry, I would I just flashback to my ex, then tears would start flowing.
What’s your advice to every broken guy out there?
You don’t have to kill yourself. The truth is God sees ahead. Prove the person wrong by achieving more than what you had when the person was around. This is for guys and ladies. Try and become more successful, it would wipe away your tears.
You are tagged Nollywood gateman; how does that make you feel?
I’ve played lots of gateman roles in Nollywood and I don’t regret such roles. It means I do my job well. I have played the role of a gateman over 20 times.
Who are those you admire?
Osuofia, that is Nkem Owoh. He still remains my role model.