Nollywood Affairs | 25 September 2011 23:12 CET

Unwanted Guest: Why I didn’t use Iyke, Genevieve or Omotola -US-based producer

By Tade Makinde

US-based Nigerian movie maker, Chuck Ajoku, has shot a movie in his quest to bridging the gap between Nollywood and Hollywood. Taking a gamble though, he did not feature the familiar faces in the movie industry, but rather, he looked the other way when he shot a Nigerian film in the US, using a cast that he technically believed would fit the picture better than any other Nigerian-based actor or actress.

Chuck informed that the cast used were based on the story line. “We have a guy who is supposed to have lived all his life in US, or who has stayed there for a long time, and must be a Nigerian, Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, and must be able to move from our dialect to the American English.

“The only thing that got me into this industry is that we are not trying to make a change, we are trying to polish what we have.”

On 'Unwanted Guest', many have not seen the actor Chuck used, but he says Chet Anekwe is an A-list actor.

“He has done about 10 Nollywood movies abroad and he is one of the few that has moved from Nollywood to Hollywood .

“Every American who has watched this movie has done so because of Chet. He played a major role in Monique's “Phat Girls”. A lot of people were interested in his nationality and personality. He encouraged the growth of this industry. I needed to show Nigerians that this guy is hot in US.”

He told R he bears no grudge against Nigerian-based actors and actresses, insisting that “if Jim Iyke shows up in US today, we will honour him. Same goes for Omotola or Genevieve. I will see Genevieve before I look at Julia Roberts. I will see Omotola before I think of Halle Berry. I encourage my own people. I like them all, but stars do not have to take the industry to the grave

“The reason we are not showing in the American cinemas is because we are using the wrong people as the right cast, and the right cast for the wrong people. If you a Jamaican, and there's a role for a Jamaican in a Nigerian movie, get a Jamaican to do it. He wouldn't force it.

“The movie also doesn't have anything to do with A-list actors, it's looking for a Nigerian family that migrated to the US and what their lives and struggle was all about

“If we keep putting back the same faces everyday in the different movies the we do, without encouraging the young ones who are working hard day and night, what will happen to the industry when these people are no longer acting? They take the industry with them, and that will kill the industry.

Leigh Ann Rose, the lead actress in the movie praised Chuck for the opportunity he has opened for new stars. “It is a new order,” she says.

“When there are no more Iykes, Genevieves, Omotolas, there must be an Ngozi or Bola or Halima,” she adds.

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