Chukwuebuka Onuma is an up and coming film director, actor and producer in Nollywood. He spoke to IFEANYI NDUKWE and PAUL NWANKWO on the issues surrounding his career and the industry. Excerpts:
CAN you tell us how you began the journey into the world of entertainment?
I started acting at a young age. I have always had passion to act. This informed my decision to join an acting crew back in the schools days. Since then, it has been great all the way. Back in those days, directors were very choosy especially on physical features e.g. body size, complexion, etc . These inform their decision to give acting roles and made it extremely difficult for upcoming stars to feature. Regardless of this, I always found favour to be given a role.
How long have you been in the industry?
(Chuckles) 19 years now. Officially, I came into the industry fully in 1999 and have remained steadfast to the course.
Can you mention some of the movie projects you have featured in?
Recently, I do more of directing than acting. I had featured in G4, Father Dibia, A thousand words and a host of others. Right now, I m working on a project and its going to break box office.
What kind of movies do you prefer to do?
A movie director must endeavor to be dynamic; the ability to interpret any script per se. For example, Teco Benson is mostly known with action movies but he surprised everyone by directing a romance story, Mr and Mrs 2, which hit box office standards. Same applies to me. Every director should be able to do great by interpreting a story and give his best. You must not be known with a particular type of story. Challenge yourself to direct something beyond the ordinary. Thus, flexibility is the key to success as a director. Personally, I admire family stories and would always love to do those.
What movie brought you to limelight?
I can’t remember anyone in particular. Every project I do, I put in my very best in ensuring it beats the last project.
What were your challenges on your way to stardom?
Every man has a story. Sometime in the year 2014, I took a bold step to be a movie director after spending much time on the acting field. I went back to school to train and equip myself to the fullest potential. The stereotype amongst producers’ criteria for being a director requires the person to be huge, thick, plump and the rest. Nobody believed in me because I was young, slim and had nothing to show as an evidence of any maiden directorial except my certificate from the film academy. However, I kept my faith strong and persevered. Today, the case is different as I have jobs on my beacon.
Did your family support your decision to join the film industry?
Not at all. As a graduate of Public Administration, my family members especially my father keeps pressing me with the words,” go and use your certificate and get a white collar job.”(laughs) I did enjoy studying but acting and directing is where I feel fulfilled. This is God’s calling to me.
Why did you choose to direct instead of acting?
Personal reasons. Firstly, I understand that my fans are missing me on screen. But as an actor, you lose your privacy any time you pass through a busy environ but directing provides you a platform to stay within the circle and yet avoid being noticed.
Secondly, I learnt a lot from the crew team; those that work behind the cameras. I got interested and decided to focus on that angle and I have not regretted my decision for a moment. It has been from one level of glory to another.
How do you handle your fans?
It’s not easy. When you don’t handle them well, they feel bad and this might scare them away so I try as much as possible to balance it. My focus is on my career. The female fans, particularly want attention but I try as much as possible to handle everyone on equal basis, professionally.
Your final words to aspiring actors?
Nothing good comes easy. Stay focused. Keep your faith high and grace will find you.