Since coming into the movie industry, Alexx Ekubo, who doubles as an actor and model, has not looked back. He was the first runner up at the 2010 Mr Nigeria contest. He won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award at the 2013 Best of Nollywood Awards for his role in “Weekend Getaway.” The native of Arochukwu, Abia State, landed his first major role in a movie titled ‘Sinners in the House’, produced by Lancelot Oduwa Omaseun in the year 2000. He recently featured as one of the lead actors in, “Zero Hour”, a movie that stars top notch in the movie industry and shot in Abuja. He speaks with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM in this interview in Abuja.
Describe your first experience in acting? Do you remember?
Well, when I was younger, I got an opportunity to play as an extra in a movie titled “Sinners In the House” by Lancelot Imaseun, who was (and still is a close family friend) and neighbour – so that was my first experience in movie. The experience was awesome and I learnt a lot. I later on got an opportunity to be featured in a soap opera called Secrets & Scandals (Season 3) and was also featured in TV promo ad and Billboard adverts for Chivita. I still currently have a role in Africa’s most popular TV Soap Opera Series by M-NET called “Tinsel”, where I play bartender by name of “Edet”. All these exposures have been great experience to being in front of a camera.
What are the challenges you encountered during the shooting of this movie?
Every movie comes with its own challenges. But in this one particularly, they are trying to achieve a world-class production with limited funds and they are doing the best possible. The producers, the investors are all great. But there is really so much we can achieve in terms of technical and post production.
What was the reaction like when you told your family you were pursuing acting professionally, were they always supportive?
I guess I am very blessed because I have a very supportive family. Both my parents supported me fully from day one. My dad, whom I look up to a lot, has achieved a lot in his life and always encourages me. One of my biggest fans is my three-year-old sister. She just beams with joy whenever she sees me on the TV screen and just jumps with joy because of her big brother. My family has always supported me in this venture. I am very grateful to my family.
What challenges did you and your colleague face in the industry?
The challenges we faced are challenges that any film maker faces in Nigeria. Limited funds, there is so much we want to achieve, there is so much we wish we could do. With what we have on ground, we are trying to do the best we can.
You were the first runner up for Mr Nigeria, 2010. How did that come about and how was your experience?
This great opportunity (like Ladies Men) was also by chance. It was just a blessing from God. One Friday, I was simply chilling with my friends when I received a text from another friend (called Alex Hayble) asking me “Alex, do you know there is a screening being held for Mr Nigeria on Monday”? – I did not know that. The next day being Saturday, my friend, Eric Anderson and his wife, as a favour to me, agreed to stop by the office to inquire if the application for “Mr Nigeria” was available, but unfortunately, they came downstairs to find their car had been bashed badly, thus they couldn’t wait to get the form for me that day, due to the unfortunate incident. The next day being Sunday, I personally went to the office to collect the form, completed it and handed it in like everybody else. The very next day being Monday, I got a call back and the rest is history. The whole experience for Mr Nigeria was wonderful. As all the contestants got prepped for the event, I lived in a house for a whole week with different types of people with different personalities and learnt a lot and made good friends. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.
How do you feel about the African movie industry?
On the bad side, I feel sometimes the poor work ethic is not a good look at all. Sometimes, the nonchalant “I don’t care” attitudes of some actors and actresses can be a setback for all on set. If you agree to a role, just please be on time and not hold the whole set up, and don’t be overly too confident and please allow yourself to be directed. The whole professionalism and dedication by “some” people on set bothers me sometimes, the poor work ethics. On the good side, we have come a long way and have improved in sound and picture quality as compared to 10 years ago.
What changes or improvement would you like to see made?
I would like to see more educated people, who always criticise the industry, get more involved and help rather than just sitting on the side line and continuously criticising. Do something to help make some changes. Everybody who is interested should try and get involved and help the industry – even if it means simply consulting and giving advice for improvement. I would like to see that production gives greater eye for detail to our finished product before it’s put out. There are many minor things that can easily be corrected, yet it is overlooked sometimes (perfect continuity etc).
Where do you see yourself and Nollywood in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see Nollywood, not just maintaining or taking the place of second in the world or being better than where we are today with more investors, I see people who believe in the industry, support the industry, government budget for entertainment every year, more corporation, corporate bodies sponsoring movies, more worthy individuals supporting the industry.
What do you think the government should do for the entertainment industry, especially at this time when practitioners complain of low patronage by the government?
They should just believe in the sector. If you believe in something, you will support it and would want to see it grow and succeed. Hollywood is where it is today because of not just the support they get from their government but cooperation and well-meaning individuals who believe in entertainment. If you look at it right now, that’s from my own point of view, the only sectors that is working in Nigeria are the music and movie industries. It will not be bad to support the entertainment industry because we are the highest employer of labour and also, we generate lots of revenue for the country. So, I think the government needs to support us in any way they can so as to enable us achieve and meet our counterparts abroad.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a couple of projects and in due time, I will let the cat out of the bag.