Emma Chinedu has been in the movie industry for over a decade. Although, he had been stereotyped to gateman character, the Uli Anambra state born actor cum filmmaker didn’t let that deter him from churning out good productions. In this interview with MUTIAT ALLI, the father one of one share his journey into Nollywood, his deadly heartbreak, new projects and lots more.
What are your name and your background?
My name is Emmanuel Okonkwo but my stage name is Emma Chinedum. I am from Uli in Anambra State.
What do you do for a living?
I am an actor and a producer. I have produced twice Tinta a soap opera. It aired on Galaxy TV, online, ABS. After that I did one Igbo series Ego furu uzo but it is not on air.
After the millions I invested into the project, I wasn’t pleased with the outcome. I had to pause it making plans on reshooting it.
What really happened?
In the industry most times they bring in someone who doesn’t know how to give a picture of the story line. Someone who is not seeing same vision with you.
A director, who doesn’t listen to you, does what he likes at any given time. When you are shooting Soap or series, there are dos and don’ts that should follow.
Even using of fowl languages because when it’s send to media house, they tell you it is rated 18 unless you convert it to movie. It should be for home use.
Every family member should be able to watch it. The script is still there, I can shoot it any day because the story has never been told.
How did your journey to the industry start?
Did I see it coming? No. I started acting in church Christ Embassy as a member of drama.
After a while, I was given head of drama department. One day my pastor picked up his microphone and said ‘Emmanuel Okonkwo’ why not think of commercializing your talent and continued his sermon. I got home it kept ringing bin my ears.
Which of the Christ Embassy branch?
The one at Ipaye, Iba. When it was led by Pastor Nnanna, he is in New York now. Then I used to think Nollywood is one big building when you go there, you would see good actors like Genevieve, Omotola. I kept asking myself, how do I start?
So, one faithful day, I saw an audition poster and call for registration with N3, 000. I went to the bank paid, and then went for audition in Surulere, Genesis Studio.
I got there they started training us, beginning with rehearsals. It wasn’t funny because I was still working.
Luckily for me, I met one upcoming actress; she 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 titled Destruction Instinct.
It was a job that later caused trouble everywhere. Because Afro candy 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 movie, I explained to him what really happened.
So you mean your first movie was controversial and shot you to limelight?
No it wasn’t. It’s the least that mentioned my name. It is ‘My kids and I, brought me to limelight.
It is a movie and series. We just finished season 7 of it. It has run for more than 3 years.
It featured Bolanle Nino, Mary Chukwu, and the screen divas – 3 little sisters.
What are the challenges of guys 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 a other 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.
Then 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 persistence, you would pull through.
I want to also warn ladies to stop being a desperado. Lots of guys now pose as movie producers to gather girls; they will give out to their partners who returned from abroad.
Some of them will even pose to be the 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 else from Acting?
I didn’t study Theatre art in school; I studied Medical Lab at Anambra State College of Technology, Obosi. I graduated 2007 and located to Lagos 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 I would give me time and pay my bills.
Then, movie wasn’t paying much. So, I had to start up and registered 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, even setting up Medical center. We have our medical equipment for tests and laboratory.
How many movies have you done and what are their names?
Really can’t tell exact number. Tinta, My kids and I, Rufus and Rosana, Corrupting the young mind, Heart of Gold, Fighting Temptation book 3, Nwoke Oma, Neglect, many others.
What’s your relationship status?
Not married yet but I have a baby boy, we are making plans to get wedded. My baby is just one month old.
My last relationship didn’t work out which made me almost commit suicide. I locked myself inside my room for 2 weeks, I didn’t come out, I cried till my eyes were sore.
At a point I went to see my mom, she assured me that the most beautiful ones are not yet born. That saying alone made me wipe my tears and hoped for a better partner.
My partner left for an already made man. This was the same woman I dated for 4 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.
This 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.
When you saw her wedding pictures what was your reaction?
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, Oyakhilome, made me think otherwise. So, after that, I told her to come and pick her clothes or I’d burn them. Which I did.
When you were burning those photos, did it relieve you?
I’ll say crying or dying. 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 role in Nollywood and I don’t regret such role. It means I do my job well. I have played Gateman role over 20 times.
Who are those you admire from far?
Osuofia that is Nkem Owoh. He still remains my role model.