With over a decade in the acting game, Chinedu Ikedieze is one of the popular faces on your TV who has featured in well over 100 movies and still counting. He is best known for playing alongside his screen twin Osita Iheme in most movies after their breakthrough in the movie “Aki na Ukwa” which earned them the popular names “Aki” and “Pawpaw”. With passion for his art, Chinedu has distinguished himself with not just playing his popular stereotyped roles but his appearing on bigger platforms. Cornered at the trailer screening of Lara and the Beat, Chinedu spoke with MUTIAT ALLI on playing Big Chi an acclaimed record label CEO, why government needs to support the industry with the creation of more cinemas across the 36 states, Hollywood plan amongst others
From the moment when you were not an actor to when you began to act; how do you feel?
Off course I feel grateful and happy that I am living my dreams so to say; of course growing up everyone had one major thing he/she wants to become in the future. Growing up, I had always wanted to be in the limelight because I did not just want to make money; I equally wanted to be known as well. I can say it openly that I am living my life as renowned actor and I am making my cool money.
18years down the line; would you say the journey has been smooth?
I think I have paid my dues and also deserve some accolades for all that I have done since my journey into Nollywood.
What downside of been actor can you recall?
The only challenge I have which I would not know if it’s a challenge is that the kind of life I want to live, I can’t live it because of my celebrity status. I have always crave for a life where I can move freely and interact with people but been who I today; it’s difficult to go around alone so that you don’t get mobbed.
So what has been a celebrity taken away from you?
Honestly, it has ripped me off my privacy
How has been married been with you?
We thank God, it’s everything as you can see me I am looking chubby and well-fed
You played the role of Big Chi in the coming movie ‘Lara and the Beat’; how big are you in the movie?
Big Chi is larger than live character, when I first saw the script I was amazed and I told myself this is it because I have always looked forward to when I will get a script different from the usual character I am used to playing where we wear tattered clothes and running round the bush and bush path. Already you know I am a part of the popular sitcom ‘The Johnson’ a professionally made production. When I got on set and discovered that all crew members are professionals, I was excited because you don’t need to do much as all you are required of is to bring live to character.
So who is Big Chi?
Big Chi is a young man and the CEO of a popular record label, a talent manager and you can see through the trailer the kind of clients I have. Big Chi is the real deal. With playing the role, it will further open the eyes of my viewers that I can fit into any role rather than the ones I am used to.
A times working with a first-timer on set can be hectic; how was the process for you working with singer, Seyi Shay?
Seyi is a professional; she tried and put whole lots of efforts in interpreting her character. Initially when we met for the first time on set, she was a little bit naïve but as time goes on she became the ‘Lara’ in the movie and I must say she nailed it.
Movie roles usually expose actors to other things; with playing Big Chi you have been exposed to the running of a music label; do you see Chinedu owning a record label soon?
Well I won’t write It off because I am an entrepreneur and a confirm Igbo man; so we will make sure we maximize profit because whatever that will bring more income, I invest in it. Don’t be surprised if the Big Chi in the movie translates to the real life in terms of owning a record label.
Have you also considered producing your own movies?
I have already started that as I have a short film and a feature film that was shot in Dallas connecting Nollywood to Hollywood. There is still more coming from me in terms production but one fact is that I love to take my step one at a time.
The cinema culture at the time you joined the industry was poor and now lots of improvement has emerged; with Lara and the Beat hitting the cinema soon, how do you feel?
I am happy that at the time of the growing transition process in the industry, I count myself lucky to have been a part of the train. From the Enugu/Asaba movies to doing a sitcom that have been running for over four years now. However, this is not my first cinema job, I did one of recent which I appeared in just one scene of the movie and others that includes Rita Dominic’s ‘ The Meeting’, Omoni Oboli’s Wives on strikes and a couple of others and now Lara and the Beats.
Do you sometimes miss those kinds of stereotyped roles you are used to playing?
The truth is those are the kind of movies people want because people want to laugh and have fun; a lot of my guys outside the country usually tell me that those are the kinds of movies they want to watch because they want a movie that will remind them of where they are coming from. When you begin to do contemporary movies, you want to become more American than the Americans they don’t like it but at the end of the day it still boils down to what the audience want.
While growing up, what was that ambition you had in mind?
It’s funny that while growing up I wanted to be so many things from Lawyer to Doctor and an Engineer because that was how hot the brain was because my uncle is a Medical Doctor and I have always wanted to be like him
Are there other new sides of Chinedu that the world is yet to see?
As you know I am an actor, producer and successful business man; probably the new aspect of me the world is yet to see will be seeing me delving into directing because I want to be a total filmmaker because it’s my passion.
Any plan to go to Hollywood?
Definitely!! We have already started that as you can see in this production about three of the camera guys are from America and what that implies is that we have brought Hollywood to Nigeria
What is your advice to the government in the area of imbibing the cinema culture to the populace?
For me I think the government needs to more by creating more cinemas and maintain it; for instance they can build this cinemas and allow private investors to manage it because with this the amount of money we pay to screen our movies in cinemas will be lower so that people in my village would be able to go the cinema. I want to charge the government of the need to put in place six cinemas at least in each state across the federation
When was the last time you visited home?
Oh girl!!! I dey go home oo steady because I just came back to Lagos; my families live in Aba, most time when I am around I visit the village to have quality palm-wine, bush meat and most importantly to take care of my projects.
What is the most humbling reaction you’ve gotten from a fan?
We went to a hospice in Uganda where they keep children affected with HIV. There was this section where they keep people who have lost all hope, people who are just living by the minutes so we (Osita and I) went there and when one of the kids saw us, she stood up. The people told us that for months, the girl hadn’t stood up but she did when she saw us. Even my President, the day I received the National award in 2010, I could see that he was tired after standing to give so many people their awards but when they called my name, I saw the transition on his face. The way the smile came to his face was so clear. That is to tell you that we are created for a purpose.