By BENJAMIN NJOKU & ANOZIE EGOLE
Joseph Benjamin is not a greenhorn in the entertainment industry. Apart from being the host of the popular MTN Project Fame, he is also into acting. The tall and handsome dude has become more famous with his latest movie titled, “Mr. and Mrs.” where he acted the stubborn and uncaring husband to renowned actress Nse Etim-Ekpe. In this interview, Joseph for the first time, talks about his personal life experiences as an actor: Excerpt.
Between MTN project fame and acting, which one would you say brought you into limelight?
I have been acting before I started hosting project fame. And I can say that project fame gave me the boost that my career needed. It was a very good platform for me and I leveraged on it. MTN Poject Fame re-launched and re-introduced the brand, Joseph Benjamin into the industry.
What are your greatest achievements so far?
My greatest achievements so far are the awards I have been receiving in recent times. Also the fact that I have been putting smiles on the faces of the people, and seeing that they love me in return.
Has your usual corporate disposition helped in getting more corporate endorsements?
Of course. It is beginning to reward me. Recently, I got another endorsement from MTN. So, my corporate disposition opens a lot of doors for me.
MTN endorsing you after about two years when your last contract with the company expired, would you say it came late?
MTN has never done that before now. It is not a brand that endorses faces. This new development just started this year. That is why I am not claiming that I am the only person on that platform. MTN doesn’t just endorse people without subjecting them to rigorous test.
It is called Experiential marketing. And that is why it takes time before the company endorses faces they will use in pursuing their marketing goals.
Your role in Mr and Mrs?
It is amazing. Do you know what I tell myself? Sometimes, I tell myself that it is amazing that Mr. and Mrs. has made me more popular than any other movie I have done over the years. I still find it to believe that everywhere I go to, the movie follows me there. Even when I go into the mall, people call me MR and Mrs. I get positive comments following my role in that movie.
And it’s nice working alongside actress like Nse Etim-Ekpe. It was a pleasurable experience for me and I enjoyed everything about the movie. She was equally humble. I am really very glad that we were able to interpret our roles excellently. You know, it is one thing for you to have a script and another to have people who can interpret the roles very well.
Are you surprised by the sudden break you had in the industry after the role you played in Tango with Me?
I wouldn’t say I was surprised by the big break I had in the industry after the role I played in Tango with Me, where I acted alongside Genevieve Nnaji. I knew from the beginning that the film was going to be a turning point for me because it was a big- budget movie for Nollywood. I’m grateful to the producer, Mammod Ali-Balogun for believing in me and also, giving me the opportunity to star in the film. It really boosted my acting career.
So far, people believe you are the hottest in the industry. Does it reflect on your pocket?
That is a compliment I get everyday from my fans. As for whether it reflects on my pocket or not, it is personal.
Who is the next person you would like to work with in the industry?
I would like to work with Rita Dominic. I would also like to work with my sister from Kogi State, Mercy Johnson, Omotala Jalade and Stella Damasus. And talking about the people I have worked with, I have worked with Nse, Genevieve, Chioma Chukwuka-Akpotha , Ini Edo among other top rated actresses.
For male actors,I would like to work with Pete Edochie, Olu Jacobs and many others.I have also worked with Desmond Elliot and Justice Esiri.
What is your driving force?
My driving force is to surpass every standard I have set for myself at every point in my career. I am also driven by the goal to achieve excellence that always pushes me to go beyond my limit. I always like to push myself to the edge.
Do you see yourself as a sex symbol in the industry?
I do not want to see myself in that angle. I want to be seen as somebody who is thorough, principled and likes maximizing his craft and not as a sex symbol. But such notion goes with the job because everybody will start saying I’m hot and will think that I’m a sex hunk.
To someone who doesn’t know you, how can you describe yourself?
Well, I am simple and easy going. I keep it simple but, classy.
What makes you fell bad in the industry?
We still have a lot of work to do.I know we have been doing fine but, a lot more can be done in the industry to put things straight.
We should try to elevate the standard. When I was in London for the Nollywood award , I was thrilled at the way they arranged security for their veterans. I want the industry to emulate that. Sometimes, some of our veterans could fall ill and there will be nothing for them to fall back on. These are some of the things I want them to bring into the industry- a situation where actors and actresses can have value for themselves.
Looking back from where you started and where you are now, what do you have to say?
Thank God for where I am now and I am happy for that. I hope to achieve much more. Looking back, it is a big leap for me because, what I have been able to achieve within this short period of time would have only come by the special grace of God.
Your job goes with a lot of temptations, which of them have you been able to surmount?
Everything is temptation. Even the money that we desire is a big temptation, that is why the Bible says we should not love it so much. Basically, what you are trying to say is how I handle female advances.
I will not shy away from the fact that they are real temptations but actually, I love my female fans. They constitute a lot of my fan base. I relate with them accordingly and also, try as much as possible to draw the line where it’s necessary.
How often do you get strange calls?
I get a lot of strange calls from my fans. Some will call you and tell you they like you. Some will want to hear your voice. But I wonder how they get my number.
How many friends do you have on your facebook account?
Actually, I have two facebook accounts. The second one is being handled by my publicist. I do not even know what is happening there. I have a lot of friends there.
What does marriage mean to you?
Marriage to me is ‘work.’ It is a big journey which can only be accomplished by two people who agree to come together for the journey in love. Love for me is beyond the word, it is an act.
It is a journey and you have to totally understand the second person you want to embark on the journey with. For me, I am not available for now.
So who is the woman in your life now?
Nobody. All I know is that choosing the right person can never be a problem for you when you are ready.
Who is your ideal woman?
For me, an ideal woman is somebody who has the beauty right from inside, not really an outside beauty. I mean one who understands life and who has passion for God. I do not like a woman who is materialistic but she has to look good. I’ m not really carried away by outside beauty but it is an added advantage.
How often do you get passes from your female fans?
As far as you are a man and you are good looking, there must be advances. And I handle such advances very well. It even happens on set but, you have to be very professional in handling them.
If you want to be carried away then, how many will you be carried away with? It is something that happens every time while I’m on set. So, you have to apply professional approach to all these things and that is what I do. I focus on my work basically. And when I’m done, I’m hardly seen around again.
How will you feel if a woman walks up to you and accuses you of impregnating her?
Well, I will be shocked.