#Interview: Actor, Iyke Ndubuisi gives Insight into Nollywood as a Growing Industry and His Evolution as an Actor

Iyke Ndubuisi is sure of what he wants and he goes for it. He faced initial disapproval from family and friends when he quit his banking job to become an actor; taking on numerous roles until he got his big break playing a Psychotic in a movie which is making waves in international film festivals around the world.

“ENI” the movie, shot in 2017 was produced by Ashvin Meshram and shot by Lanre Oliyide. It got screened and won serveral awards in Hollywood film festivals and several other international film festivals across UK, Europe, Asia and the Americas. The movie was shot in a very remote village in Ikorodu, Lagos, Nigeria. It’s currently being distributed globally by international distributors in USA and UK.
He has featured in over 40 movies and television series among which are:
At Your Service, FOMO, One Minute Man, Lovers and Sinners, Tinsel, Eve the series Season 2, Single Ladies, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, , Lagos Cougars, Beneath Her Veil,  Gidi Up season 2, Personal Assistant, Smart Money Woman, Zahra,  Evol, When Love Happens, Ever After, Jenifa’s Diary, Industreet Season 2, The Johnson’s, 3Some, On The Real Season 2, Rejected Stone, Unseen, Chef Dickson, The Present, The Interview to mention a few.
This interview is loaded with so many wise words and insights into the Nollywood industry’s evolution.
I ask Iyke to tell me about himself, how he developed his passion for acting and how he got into the movie business, and he narrates,
As a young child, I was very good with my hands, coming up with ideas, executing some while some never saw the light of day due to constraints. I had always seen myself as someday being in the creative/entertainment space. After obtaining a B.Sc (Hons.) in Psychology from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Oyo State in 2000,  I worked in both private organizations and public institutions and also had a stint in the financial sector.
In 2013, I left my last paid employment for the creative/entertainment industry starting out with modelling where I worked for some top notch brand’s television commercials like MTN, Glo, Indomie Noodles etc. I simultaneously worked as a freelance production assistant for Audio Visual First, a content creation and film production outfit and eventually became their marketing consultant and also featured in their film productions.
When I took a decision to resign from my job, of course everybody thought I was crazy and all of that. But I took the bull by the horn determined to follow my passion against all odds. I needed to explore the creative talent in me, so I began to learn the ropes by attending auditions and eventually got my first gig on Tinsel in 2013 where I still feature till date. I have since remained consistent doing a lot of personal development, attending several training and workshops to further hone my craft.
In 2017, I attended Graig Philips College of Technology, a Monotechnic film school situated in Shonibare Estate, Maryland, Lagos. As the class governor, it afforded me the opportunity of liaising between the school and my colleagues. It was a very challenging and hectic intensive mostly hands-on training program where I supervised, managed and coordinated the production of ten short film projects, shot in ten days by ten groups. I also participated as an actor and production manager in four of the short films. And I have since featured in several other movies, tv series and television commercials and like they say, the rest is history.
On the roles he has taken on so far, Iyke explains,

I have taken up roles ranging from lawyer, doctor, senator, father, priest, titled chief, human trafficker, detective, CEO, psychotic, school principal, business man, police officer etc. I have also had the pleasure of working with some of Nollywood’s outstanding producers and directors like Tope Oshin, Uche Jombo, Adeyinka Oduniyi, Chris Eneagi, Nodash, Senator, Funke Akindele, Mary Njoku, Dr. Emeka Henry Obidi, Emem Isong, Sunom Kura, Lanre Oliyide, Seyi Babatope,  Tosin Coker, Ashvin Meshram, Ben Chiadika, Charles Idonigie to mention a few and honestly they have all impacted my career tremendously!

Iyk Ndubuisi

On his take on how the Nigerian movie industry has grown from the 1990s till now, he elucidates,
Nollywood like we all know has evolved over the years. Things are done differently now, from stories, scripting, equipments, locations, scope, depth, budgets. Even the casts and crew members are concertedly honing their crafts locally and internationally to enable them remain relevant.
There’s been a whole lot of technological advancement in production and post production, so we are gradually getting there, and of course, there is room for improvement.
More than ever before, there has been huge individual, corporate and government investments including international collaborations into the industry. This is evident with the entrant of more international and local content streaming platforms, pay tv’s and cinemas facilitating healthy competition and a level playing ground for the viewing pleasure of its teeming consumers.
Nollywood is fast growing with consumers appreciating more of our local content. I know there’s a bright future for Nollywood. We have only tried to scratch the surface.

Iyk Ndubuisi

On the impact of local and international film festivals such as Africa International Film Festival, TIFF, Cannes, he elucidates,
Film festivals are very important platforms. Their main objective is to showcase content from producers all over the world and then critiqued. Some are selected for screening and even win prizes in various categories. This  helps producers identify areas where they need to develop and improve upon to meet global standards. Film festivals positively impact the industry. If you keep producing and there are no such platforms for your works to be critiqued, then you might just be living in fantasy! They act as checks and balances for producers and they are very good partners in progress.
Iyk Ndubuisi

On his ideal  acting character, he explains,

‘Well, to be honest, there is really no ideal character. To be a successful actor, you should focus on being versatile. The more versatile you are, the more sought after you would be. Because there are quite a number of actors who are stereotyped for a particular role and it limits them because when producers are looking for people who want to play different roles, they don’t go near them, because they already know this is what this person likes to do. So if you are versatile, if you can play the role of a drunk or priest or any kind of role, it makes you a better actor. You get recognised and of course, you get more jobs, more money and fame. So I don’t have an ideal character but I also have my limits to be honest. I cannot go to the extreme in certain roles. I don’t want to be specific, but there are certain things I cannot go to the extreme on. I like to be modest and professional. Most importantly I like to deliver on any character I am given. If you give me a script and I like it, I will deliver on it.’

As regards actors  diversifying into things like movie production, directing as well as script writing, Ndubuisi thinks  it is very important.

‘I  would like to use myself as an example and the benefits I’ve gained from going that way,’ he says. ‘I recently rounded up a film making training with a film school in Nigeria called Phillips College of Technology. It is a monotechnic actually. I actually went in there to brush up my acting skills. I was also given an opportunity to focus on production management, directing and editing. So as I speak with you, I can actually produce a movie from beginning to end. So, I am no longer just an actor. I could also play the role of production manager, I can direct a movie because we were all given an opportunity to shoot a 15 minute short film. We were grouped into a group of 10 comprising 5 each. And we were all given equipment to carry out the project. It’s been a wonderful experience. I think actors should also look at that and it means multiple streams of income. So if you are not getting acting jobs, you are getting jobs as a director or production manager or editor, so it is a good idea.

Iyk Ndubuisi

Lastly, Iyke Ndubuisi gives a word to up and coming actors,
‘My honest advice is, if you wish to get noticed in the industry, go and get trained. Talent is one thing, education is another. Education and the knowledge you acquire from your training adds value to your talent. Yes, I had done some work before the training, but the little I gained from training programs and workshops made me become better at my craft and I plan to further fortify myself. So training and retraining is very key.
You need to be humble, professional, observant and endeavour to read and do research. Most importantly for me is that you need to prayerfully continue to seek God’s grace.
On that note, I want to thank the Almighty God for what He has done for me so far. I give Him the glory!
Iyke Ndubuisi is the CEO of Davcon Limited, an event, content and film production outfit and its subsidiary,  Davcon Realtors, its real estate arm.
He is the founder of Nollywood Films on Facebook, a networking community of local and international filmmakers, artists and enthusiasts.

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