Nwafor Chukwudi Innocent popularly known in the world of acting as De-senator, in this incisive interview with Sunday Trust, reveals how he shunned work just to be in the cast.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
My real name is Nwafor Chukwudi Innocent; I come from the south eastern part of the country, to be precise Nkanu West LGA of Enugu State. I was born and brought up in the ancient city of Benin, Edo State. Born in the early 70s into a family of eight. I am the only son. Had my HND in Accounting in 1999 from IMT Enugu (Institute of Management and Technology) had my MBA in 2005/06 from University of Abuja. By the grace of God I am the CEO/MD Honoured Legacy Productions.
Before you ventured into the movie industry what was your occupation?
First of all I was in the movie industry 1997/98 before I graduated, but it was not on a full time scale. I came to the north to serve in 2000; I served in Suleja, Niger State. After my service, I gained employment with NEPA now PHCN in October 2001 I worked with them for six years before I resigned in 2007.
What is your reason for going into the movie industry?
I have always had the zeal and flair to be an entertainer right from my secondary school days.
How have you managed the transition from being an electricity worker to becoming an actor and a producer?
I will say it was very easy because even when I was working as a staff of NEPA, I was still doing my film business. I could remember a couple of times that I absconded from work just to be a part of a production or feature in one movie or the other. That zeal continued, I couldn't help it. It was like a clarion call, had to quit my job and incorporate a company as a producer.
How many movies have you produced so far?
I have produced six movies; five are already in the market one is in the studio. The movies are; Her Proposal, State of the Kidnappers, the Vision Killer, Home Crisis and the one in the studio is titled the Bull in the Hacker.
Which of the films do you consider to be the best?
Among the five movies I have produced so far that are in the market, I think the best is the one titled THE UNKNOWN.
Why do you choose the UNKNOWN as the best?
The movie is like a satire. We have to go into government, dig out some things. The movie reveals the attitude of government towards its pensioners. It is a very good movie. It starred popular actors and actresses like; Rita Dominic, Alex Usifo, France Emmanuel and my humble self De-senator. It is a very good one and to God be the Glory I made good sales of the movies, I am happy about that.
How many movies have you featured in?
I have starred in about 25 Nollywood movies from 2008 till date such like; Men On Hard Way, Passionate Appeal, Girls Cott and others
Who are your heroes in Nollywood?
If I want to mention names I have to sectionalize because Nollywood has actors, producers, directors and others, but because of time I will mention few. My hero is Andy Amenechi, a director, and the President Directors Guild of Nigeria; he is my role model and hero. Then I look up to people like Alex Usifo, a great actor, Hank Anuku, Rita Dominic, I won't forget somebody like Nse Etim Ikpe a wonderful actress and an icon in Nollywood.
How successful has it been in your venture so far?
I have been in the movie industry since 2008, so far so good the film industry has been a wonderful one. I give thanks to God.
What are the constraints you are facing in the industry?
The major problems we are facing because it's not just me, is the distribution and marketing. This is the reason why some producers have packed up. Because having done a movie for 5million, 12million and at the end you can't boast of reaping your money. Because of this problem, I joined the Media Contents Distributor's Association of Nigeria (MCDAN) with head quarters in Lagos where we have Mr. Blessing Agofure as the national president. With this association, I have been able to create better marketing play ground for my movies and that of my co-producers in Abuja and other states of the federation outside the usual ALABA marketing
What is your assessment of Nollywood?
Nollywood is really doing well; it has evolved over the years. Nollywood is doing so great, but I believe it is going to be better than today, because what we are seeing today is not what it used to be years back.
What do you have to say about Kannywood?
Kannywood is a branch of Nollywood industry and it has also evolved, in the sense that it touches every nook and cranny in northern states. Many people go to cinemas to watch their movies despite the cost. It promotes culture; it's a grass root Entertainment. Kannywood is really growing. We have key actors like Ali Nuhu, Sani Danger and a host of others.
Let's come back to your personal life, are you married?
Coming to my personal life, I think I will decline that question.
I have to decline because I always decline; this is not the first time. I don't like discussing my family matters because people around me might not like it.
How did you come about the name De-Senator?
I came about the name from a role I played in the movie UNKNOWN since then my friends, fans and colleagues call me the name. Most people don't know my real name
Is there any movie you are working on presently?
Yes, the title is Countdown. I am working on it and by the Grace of God we will start shooting by February.
Do you have any regrets for leaving the power sector and joining entertainment industry?
No regrets at all. Like I said earlier even while I was with NEPA I used to leave work to be involved in a production.
What's your advice for upcoming actors and producers?
First, they should learn to persevere, because perseverance is the key to success. It's not usually easy in the beginning. They should also see acting as a profession not as fun, because when you see Nollywood as an industry you will be professional about the way you do your job.
In few words who is De-senator?
He is a loving, God fearing and determined man
Thanks so much for your time
It's my pleasure. You guys are doing a good job keep it up.