JOKES APART, I'M NOT AN IDIOT....VICTOR OSUAGWU
He came into the movie industry about 10 years ago, and has been widely applauded as an actor and comedian. Yet,Victor Osuagwu remained in the background until he featured in the movie Our Daily Bread, which gave his image as a Nollywood actor an instant boost.
“The movie projected me more than any I had done before. I was the only actor on the poster. I was just coming up then. I think that film sold enough. It made me what I am today,” he said.
Another movie, One Dollar, complimented that effort and catapulted him to another level, making Victor one of the sought-after comic characters.
He recalled, “Producers started calling me for roles each time they wanted to do a comedy movie. I was no longer looking for roles, they were now coming to me.”
Victor believes he has made a lot of progress in the 10 years he has been in the entertainment industry. He told Spectacles, “The way it started is not how it is today. Publicity-wise, we are everywhere. I can go out of this country and be recognised. They (foreigners) know you and appreciate you. That is the progress we have been able to make.
“We have been able to produce some works that are sound in the international market. I wouldn't say there is no problem in the industry, but we have moved away from where we were before. We are now on the international scene.”
Talking about the international scene, Victor will likely not forget the first time he stepped out of Nigeria as an actor.
“I must tell you, I have watched on the TV how people revere Michael Jackson when he is on tour. I have seen how people kill themselves just to touch him. That was how it was the first time I travelled out of Nigeria for a tour of Europe. It was a festival.
“We landed at the airport and people were already waiting for us. We enjoyed a red carpet treatment. People carried our pictures in a show of love and solidarity. That was exactly what happened.
“I wouldn't have known myself if I had not gone to that place. I realised that people really appreciate what we are doing.”
The experience made Victor to work harder.
He said, “I realised that I was no longer what I was before. That encouraged me to work more so as to be appreciated by the same people. You should always think of how to progress beyond the point you are.”
Victor is known for humour, but he insists he is not stereotyped.
“I really have to correct that impression. I am an actor. An actor is expected to interpret any role that comes his way. But most people think it is only comedy that I do. I do some other jobs as well. The latest movie I did was an epic where I played the lead character. It wasn't a comedy. There are many other roles that I have played as well. I don't feel I am doing a comedy show because I am a comedian. I am interpreting a role because I know how to do that.”
Versatile as he may be, Victor says he has remained in the comedy line because it brought him to the limelight.
“Comedy came at the right time,” he said. “There was a time nobody reckoned that we could say a word off a script. And then, God so made it that comedy came to me and I was able to interpret the roles. Now, I am an actor; a total actor.”
Those who think Victor is an unserious illiterate because of the roles he plays, are wrong.
“I am a graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Port Harcourt,” he declared. “I am not a roadside actor. English language was part of my major courses. I don't know why somebody would see me as an unserious person. Do I look unserious? I am a very serious person, especially when it comes to the kind of thing I want.
“I am not a mumu (idiot). I am very normal. But remember, the average man is a mumu. Is it not a mumu (man) that a girl would tell she has lost her phone, and he would quickly go and buy another one for her when he or his mother does not have any?” he asked.
Victor says his family is comfortable with his career.
“My wife does not see anything wrong with the roles I play. She sees me as doing my work, knowing that what I do there is nothing to do with her husband. She does not see me as a mumu. When she watches me in films, she sees Victor Osuagwu, her husband.”
As a popular artiste, Victor has experienced many embarrassing moments. But he says he does not allow those to bother him. Rather, he learns from experiences.
“As an artiste,” he told Spectacles, “you are bound to experience embarrassing moments. Some people shower encomium on you while others embarrass you. It is left for you to absorb what comes to you. We know it must come. When you have reached the height where people hail you when you go on the streets, you should know that you are exposed to a lot of things – embarrassment, joy and every other thing.
“Any time somebody embarrasses me, I turn it to a joke. I transform the experience into characters I need to learn from. Each time I am embarrassed, I look at the character that is embarrassing me and ask myself what could have motivated him. You must have the temperament to condone most of these things when they come.”
Victor remains one of the few actors who don't appear to have scandals trailing them in spite of their popularity.
“There shouldn't be any scandal in my record. My name is Victor, not 'scandal,” he said jokingly.
“I try as much as possible to manage myself. I try to manage my image as an artiste, because we are exposed to ridicules and funny write-ups that can cripple one's career.”
The habit that usually brings scandal to a male artiste is infidelity, and Victor says he tries as much as possible to watch his steps in this regard.
“I have tried to curb that habit. I have tried every possible means not to allow myself to be involved in that kind of thing, and I have succeeded. I am married. I need to respect my marriage. Even if I want to do anything, I shouldn't be so stupid to make it a scandal. Once in a while, a man can be stupid; but you should try as much possible to remember that you are a role model. When people see you, they would want to emulate your character. So you must be able to give them a good moral standard to emulate. You must be an evangelist. We are pastors. We are crusaders. We ought to teach the people out there good things.”
So he 'chases' women but tries not to be caught? Spectacles asked.
To that, he says, “No, I don't womanise at all.”
He says he is as good on stage as he is in the movies. “I was trained on the stage. Once you are trained on stage, you won't be able to leave it. It is the sweetest part of entertainment.”
He does not see himself as Nigeria's Eddie Murphy. Actually, he says he hopes to outshine the Hollywood actor.
“I am not competing with him in any way. But I know I am going to do more than he has done. That is my desire, and I know I will get to that stage.”
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