Lawrence Onuzulike is a writer, musician, actor, humanitarian, and an activist who fights discrimination against women. He also champions the cause for better lives for African Kids through his Children Africa Foundation. Presently, Lawrence is the founder and publisher of both Nollywoodgossip and Nollywood Angels Magazines and also the CEO of Lurrenzinc Concepts LTD. In a chat with IYABO AINA, he talks about his journey and his plans both in Nigeria and abroad .
Tell us about your profession ?
I have a record label called Lurrenzinc music where I produce young stars. I do movies,act and produce. I publish books and magazines and writing became a passion such that one of my books ‘Lurrence Onuzulike until now’ made it to the White House where I was given Library of Congress number so the book is in every bookshop around the world .Then, there is my new book ‘Know your Nollywood’.
How did your book make it to the White House ?
What happened was that I write articles for different magazines in Europe and America. So, there’s this American publishing company and I didn’t know they’ve been following my articles in different magazines. One day, they called me up and said they have something for me. They flew down to Europe while I was in Sweden, they came to see me and said they have collected some articles they love that I have written and they want to put it in a book and the deal was fine. We put it out there and the book was called ‘Until Now’ and it’s been published for over four years .
How do you manage acting , singing, publishing and producing?
I think it’s the passion I have for them and I like being creative .Like when my book came out, I was in Europe for two months doing promo and my new magazine was being prepared called Nollywood Angels. All my work was being done while I was away with the help of my staff in Nigeria and abroad.
When did your record label start ?
It started in 2004 in Sweden because that’s where I started a lot of things. Now, we have some artistes here in Nigeria because what we did before was record songs here in Nigeria and promote them in Europe but now, we promote everything in Nigeria. The record label was in Europe before but now, we are doing bigger things in Nigeria .
What can you say about your growing up ?
That’s the part I don’t like to talk about because I worked hard to be where I am today. When I talked about my background, people will say no wonder, so I always want to keep it away. So growing up was good . I went to the best schools and my parents think everybody in Igboland know Olimiri Achala in Awka. He’s a big person in real estate .
They tried for me, sent me to the best schools. I graduated from Memorial High School in University of California; Komvux Utbildning, Sweden; The Writers Bureau, Manchester, United Kingdom from there I picked up and started doing my own thing. I didn’t want the impression that my father or mother did everything. They sent me to school but I did the rest by myself. So, I want people to know that it’s not only your background that work for you. I worked to be where I am today .
Did you start your talent here in Nigeria or outside ?
I was born here, so I started here but I left very early because when I was in Apata Memorial High School in Oshodi-Isolo then, it was one of the biggest high schools in Lagos .Then I had a group of three boys singing gospel rap songs and we performed in schools and churches but then, it wasn’t accepted that much because people were saying, how can you be rapping about God?
But now, there are many people that rap about God. In the school, we also performed in the end of the year party and they loved it but above all, I didn’t start here professionally because while still in Nigeria then, I wrote two novels Mother and Loving the Street but they didn’t get published. The albums I released outside, I started writing them here in Nigeria. So it’s just like professionally, it blows off outside Nigeria.
How do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from the environment and the things that happen around me apart from God who inspires. So like I always say, my kind of writing is called social science and its what I’m known for. I write against the things I don’t like in the society like corruption and war and if am doing something and see a story that needs to be written about and the press is not giving it coverage, I try to write more about it. So to me, everything that happens around me inspires me to do what I do .
How did you get recognition in the entertainment industry ?
I got recognition by doing what I love doing because when you come in to get recognized, that’s when you get it wrong. You have to love what you do. When I started Nollywood Gossip magazine, I didn’t know that it will get this far. So, I do what I like doing. People write sensation- Tonto Dike does this; Don jazzy does that; they use it to sensationalize.
I started that magazine for nothing but for people to read facts because readers want hot news. Sometimes, when people read something in other magazines, they come to us and say please, confirm this for us. We became a place where people do come to get more information about celebrities and that way, we made money and we didn’t plan to make money. So when you love what you do, you will surely get there.
What did you study in school?
I studied Computer Science, Intensive English ,Swedish Language and Creative Writing and graduated in 2002. I hope to study more.
What about your magazine Nollywood Angels ?
Yea, I have two magazines, Nollywood Gossip and Nollywood Angels but Nollywood Angels is the first ever magazine to cater more for upcoming artistes, not only in Nigeria but in Africa and I have seen it in U S and Europe but I’ve not seen it in Africa before . So in the magazine, we talk about creating a credible place where up-coming artistes can come and ask questions and get proper information because it pains that an industry as big as Nollywood which is second largest in the world doesn’t have any structure where up-coming artistes can walk in and say I want to do this, how do I start.
Even to buy AGN form is crazy. I know personally more than thirty people now waiting to buy forms. They’ve lost money more than twenty times to register with AGN. They’ve tried to register in different places and they’ve wasted money. Now, they came to me to say, ‘please, where can I get registered because they keep telling me I can’t act without being a member.’ So I was lucky .
I spoke with AGN president Ibinabo and she told me to give her one week to sort things out and it’s been two months and it’s not sorted out yet. That tells you how difficult it is. If a president can’t even find the solution, how can ordinary person do that and that’s why these people are being duped. I also spoke with Segun Arinze and he told me that the registration is put on hold for now because they are putting a structure where they can work with a bank so that people can just pay straight in the bank and get the form instead of listening to anybody.