Nkem Owoh’s Comedy of Success

Actor Nkem Owoh

Recently, the African Movie industry has seen a significant surge in the popularity of African films  around the world. This is mainly due to the amazing talents of some of Nigeria’s finest actors. One notable Actor who has made an impact is Nkem Owoh. He has secured for himself a massive fan base from the living rooms of London to the countryside’s of Freetown.  Nkem Owoh is a Nigerian comedian and movie actor. His name, Nkem, means “My own”. He starred in the 2003 film Osuofia in London.

The Nigerian Daily Sun has described him as a “king of comedy”. In 2004 Owoh was one of several actors who was temporarily banned from appearing in movies by Nigeria’s Association of Movie Marketers and Producers, who argued that the actors demanded excessive fees and unreasonable contract demands.

There have been rumors of Nkem Owoh being paid 1.75 million Naira (~$14000 US Dollars) for this film, although in reality he may have earned substantially more than that, considering his popularity and that the movie was filmed across two continents.

He is also known for performing the song “I Go Chop Your Dollar” about advance fee fraud. The song was featured in the film The Master in which Owoh plays a scammer.The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission banned the song. Below is a famous  interview with the graet comedian.

How it has been so far?
There has been the negative and the positive sides. It’s like every other thing in life. I believe once you have the zeal and God gives you the health, you have to forge ahead. Whenever I meet the hill I believe I have to climb the hill and that’s life. So I just take this industry and what God has given me and I thank God for the special talent which I never recognized, until people started recognizing in me. Now, when I look backwards I always feel I have something that people love and I am happy and I thank God for that.

Comedy in Nigeria
Comedy was introduced at the inception of this branch of art as slapstick. At that time, you would come across people putting on funny glasses, like the one I am putting on. I am the only person authorized to wear a sunshade at night. You see people trying to whip up laughter from different situations. But now we have graduated to a level that you can really make people laugh even if you are putting on suit. If God gives you a gift, it is not an easy thing. I talk, you laugh. I don’t know how I do it, sometimes. I am embarrassed.

A long time ago, I was asked to say the prayer at a function and I said in Jesus name and people started laughing. I take my prayers very seriously and I became very embarrassed. You see there are good and bad sides to those things. Anything you say, you wouldn’t be taken serious even when you are discussing serious issues. It hurts when such treatment is meted to you. But I think it is more on the positive side.

Most paid comic actor
I haven’t said that I am the highest paid. It depends on what you mean by payment. I feel very happy as one of the highest paid comic actors, and I am not complaining.

Embarrassing moment
It depends on your definition of embarrassment. What you might consider embarrassing to you might not be embarrassing to me. Except when you begin to go into my failures in life that’s when I get embarrassed. But if you are talking about everyday life, I don’t get embarrassed easily. I might, I don’t know. May be along the line as somebody might do something. I have not seen or heard before and be embarrassed.

Stronger than pain
It went like any other movie. We are not acting for ourselves, but for the people. The critics and viewers’ opinions determined the quality of the film. Acting with Kate Henshaw was fantastic. Kate is someone who has a measure of the characteristics I have. So we blended, it was nice and the film came out fine.

Nigerian movie industry
The industry is very big and heavy. The thing is that we stay here and do not know the weight of this industry because probably every body knows the other person in the industry. But when you go outside the shores of this country even outside your state, you could see the impact we have been making not only in Africa but around the world. I am talking from experience.

Worst day
The worst day in my life is when I will make people laugh too much. I don’t like making people overdo things. I don’t think I have ever had a worse day. I am a person who believes that the world is like that. You go up and down. If I have something people could describe as the worst, I have hope that I can always surmount it.

Between family life and acting
It’s very tough thing to do but by the grace of God we are trying to marry everything together.

The Holland experience
I was not arrested in Holland last year. It was a kind of experience that left a bitter taste in my mouth. For a bonafide citizen of a recognized country to enter another country and people saw him as a second class citizen. I was there and their police came in their numbers about one hundred of them. They came in their ambulance, on air, police dogs and all that.

They told me to end the show. I told the man it’s unfair. I told them that if I was the person they were looking for, they should take me, but should not embarrass the audience. The man said no and that caused my anger. After that, we arranged and staged a demonstration to relate my own side of the story. If that was the option left to us, I don’t think we were wrong in following it. Nobody arrested me the way it was reported.

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