Enugu-based, fast-rising Nollywood actor Benson Okonkwo is probably the most talked about in the industry because of his daring roles, which many people, according to him, “continue to wrongly associate with his real life personality.”
Here's what Ben said in an interview with Blueprintng.com
- Talking about the movie that brought you out, there is a particular movie about gays which has gotten you more accusations and criticisms than accolades. Could you talk about it?
I have promised myself that I will no longer talk about the movie. It’s really funny that Nigeria is a country where people attribute an actor’s role to his real life character.
If I’m given a role to play and I played it excellently, does that make me that character in reality? Yet, it is the same Nigerians who will be first to point fingers at those actors that do not act their movie roles well.
It’s quite funny that because I played a gay role then I’m automatically gay. So if I played the role of a police officer, does that makes me one? I just have to thank my fans who repose so much confidence in me, that’s all.
- Are you saying that you are not truly homosexual like a whole lot of people believe?
My brother, what else do you want me to tell you. Please, I’m very busy.
- Most of your fans have been asking why you had to star in such a movie, yet you keep denying that you are not gay.
I just told you I was doing my job. Period! Why should I call myself an actor if I can’t play a movie
role perfectly? Tell me!
And there is another issue here: I’ve noticed that so many people, because of their own mischevious and dirty minds, would fail to look past the sexual scenes in a movie when there are way too many morals to learn. Like most movies, that movie you are talking about was used to pass a message across to the public.
But if some people refuse to grab those messages and choose to focus on those things that satisfy their lustful and mischievous minds, then it’s no one’s fault.
- I also heard there is a new movie you just did in which you acted totally nude in a scene. Tell us about it.
The name of the movie is “James Town.” It was directed by an A-list Nollywood director and scriptwriter, Ifeanyi Onyearbor.
My manager, Mr Brown Ene, is a good manager and he called me up and we negotiated and I took the role. It’s a must-see movie.
Now before you start to asking me why and crucifying me, that’s the character I was givien to play. It warrants me to go nude at a point in the movie. It’s a serious movie.
So like I said, as an actor your ability to interpret any role given to you is what makes you a good one. So Nigerians should understand that I was only doing my job. it’s just a movie. It’s a ghetto movie and I was one of the lead characters in it. I also took the role because the pay was so right. It’s coming out soon; I’m sure people will enjoy it. It starred Nollywood stars like Queenth Hilbert, Patience Ozorkwo a.k.a Mama G, Gbenga Richard and musician, Vicko Kings. It will be available in all cinemas.
- You are obviously one of the few actors not afraid to go to any length when it comes to your job. What challenges do you face, especially from the public?
The challenge is nothing more than the regular criticism. You come out in public and when people recognise you, they start to look at you strangely. But I’ve developed a very tough skin to criticisms.
I have come to the realization that whatever you do, even if all you do is just do nothing, say nothing, fold your arms and close your eyes, people will always criticize you no matter who you are, so just do what makes you happy as long as you know you are not hurting anyone.
I will always be grateful to my fans who have been encouraging me.
- How did you join showbiz?
I started modeling at age 16 and started acting professionally at the age of 23. I have always loved entertainment. I used to act when I was in primary and secondary schools.
Even in our church, a Catholic church, I acted every Good Friday. I used to take the part of Jesus Christ.
I also did dramas with friends at home. My mom noticed this talent, called me and said ‘Benson, you have to go into acting professionally.’ She gave me some money to register with Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), which I did in the year 2008.
Since then, I have featured in over 30 movies and I’m still counting. Also, I have modeled for Zain (now for Airtel), Wema Bank, Nestle, Gold Circle Condom, Rainbownet, First Bank, Orange Drugs and many too numerous to mention. I have lost count, but I give God the glory.
- Apart from acting, you also run a boutique and saloon.
Yes, I have love for fashion and beauty. I’m known for looking good. My nickname is Mr. Packaging and I was nicknamed that because of my dress sense. It’s just simply because of the way I combine colours and all.
My salon and boutique are in Enugu; Colectibus Unisex Salon. It’s where my fellow actors come to have their hair done, and also my fans. I went into the fashion business because of my love for fashion and style and to reach out to my fans. It’s an exquisite place for distinguished and sophisticated individuals.
- You are currently one of the candidates for the “Sexiest in Nollywood” contest. Could you throw more light on that?
I was nominated for Nollywood Sexiest Actor both in the Ghana and Nigerian categories. We were above 150 when we started the quest and now we’ve been screened to 20 and I’m on the top five. I thank my fans for their votes so far.
I believe that I’m going to win because I’ve got a charming smile, great height, romantic eyes and good posture and I’m a head turner any day.
Jim Iyke won the first edition and Desmond Elliot won the second. I’m in the top with the likes of Ramsey Noah, Yule Edochie, Van Vicker and John Dumelo. It’s strictly by vote and I believe I’ll win with the help of my fans who have been voting.
- You sound like someone who has got the ladies at your fingertips?
That’s normal. I won’t deny that I’m a lady’s man, but one needs to be very disciplined. My mom taught me to be disciplined and treat ladies well.