By Ebirim Juliet
It is not often you come across a publicist who has the title ‘Ambassador’ attached to his name. But then Cornel Udofia, celebrity publicist and events co-ordinator, has managed the biggest names in the industry and that hasn’t happened without having your name writen in gold as Ambassador Udofia’s name has been in several cases. In this chat with Ebirim Juliet, he talks about his life as a publicist, experiences, challenges and successes.
How has life been as a publicist?
It has been fun, great and an eye-opener being a publicist, an image maker and events coordinator.
Have you always wanted to be a publicist or you just stumbled on it by accident?
Right from my school days, I had always wanted to become famous. I engaged in various special activities.
What’s your clientèle like?
For now I don’t have any problem with my client base. I won’t say I am making all the money right now. But the thing is, after making a name, money must come in. We started with Idris Abdulkareem in 2005 when he released the song ‘Nigeria Jaga-jaga’. Then we were just trying to make a name, we thank God that right now a lot of people are coming to work with us.
You are an ambassador, what informed your being selected as one?
What informed my selection is my consistence in the media and entertainment world and adding positive values to humanity. I have always been an initiator of peace, settling disputes among actors, musicians and even in the media.
So you have been like a mediator?
Yes, you know in the entertainment world, artistes usually have conflicts. In 2009, when I was selected alongside Tuface Idibia, Sammy Okposu, Kefee and others, I was very happy because I know I deserved it and I have worked for it. Nothing good comes easy and one has to sacrifice a lot to get it.
Being in Nollywood this long, have you ever featured in a movie?
No, I want to correct an impression, I always have this problem with my friends and colleagues, they always put Nollywood first. True, i have a special bias for Nollywood, but I want to set the record straight here that Cornel Entertainment is not all about Nollywood, we are into music, modeling, comedy, fashion, dance and media – all forms of entertainment, so I don’t want to be limited to Nollywood.
So have you featured in any of the movies?
I have actually been called upon on few occasions to feature, but I prefer to remain in the background doing what I am doing, because the truth is acting on its own is very challenging. I’ve been to locations with some of my clients, it is not easy. But what I’m doing is also acting because as a showbiz gladiator, you always act to make things happen. So I believe I am an actor by my job and what I do.
Dealing with stars is never easy, what has your experience been?
The experience is enormous in the sense that you can’t stand out without actually understanding the people you work with. It has been quite challenging and exciting. I study the artistes because they all have their different styles. So I try to fit into their styles to be able to penetrate.
What has been the most memorable moments of your career?
It was when I received over 20 awards in two years. In 2011, I received 11 awards, in 2012 I received 13 awards, making them 24 awards altogether. I also derive joy seeing people rejected by the society like Nero Sexy who wasn’t given any chance as a dancer, but today, he is a household name and so are many others.
What are some of the awards you’ve won?
My first award was from MITV-Star FM as the Publicist of the year in 2007, organized by Teens Resource Centre after which I won another as the showbiz entertainment Ambassador from the Akwa-Cross Indigenous Film Foundation which comprises of all the artistes from Akwa-Ibom and Cross River, the showbiz man of the year by Exquisite Magazine in South Africa, the Best Publicist of the year by Nigerian Events Awards, the PR/Publicist of the year by Classic Magazine (2007), Most Outstanding Publicist of the year by AVC Magazine alongside Tuface, Uti Nwachukwu, Aki & Pawpaw, these are some of the awards I won. I also use this opportunity to thank all those who made it possible.
Any regrets so far?
I don’t have any. One thing I believe is whatever you are doing in life, do it well and besides people are watching. I feel happy with where I am today and I know I will get better by the grace of God, I have come to stay.
When precisely did you begin this career?
2004 to be precise.
What is the future of entertainment publicists, do you see a bright future for aspiring ones?
First and foremost, to be a good publicist, you don’t have to belong to a particular media house. Quote me, a journalist cannot make a good publicist, when he has a special bias for a particular newspaper or magazine.
Did you start out as a journalist?
No, I’m a writer. I enjoy writing, promotion and packaging.
Do you see a bright future for publicists?
The future is very bright but we need to put our acts together, because a situation whereby publicists are becoming Personal Assistants (PA’) to artistes is something I don’t support. You must take a stand and let people know you for what you do, then the job and the respect will come to you.
If you were to choose between being an actor and a publicist, which would you choose?
I believe that what I’m doing now is part of acting because to package an artist despite the difficult terrain is challenging and the artists themselves don’t see the need. Most of them are their own managers, fashion designers and so on. I tell them “why don’t you concentrate on your talent and leave the rest for us,- the PR people, publicists and managers. Don’t get it all mixed up”
So you prefer what you do to being an artiste?
Yes. To be frank, I have gotten a couple of scripts from clients to do some acting job, but I’m still studying the terrain.
What does it take to be a publicist?
It takes determination, enlightenment, talent, having a nose for news and being on top of your game. It requires a lot of talent and guts.
Has your career brought you fulfillment?
Yes, for now though I don’t have all the houses and cars, but adding value to humanity, giving a platform for young talents to express themselves and shine is what I enjoy, because as the bible says “what you sow, you will reap. So, I am happy with what I am doing.
Where are you from?
I am from Akwa Ibom
What did you study in school?
I read Mass Communication at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko in Anambra State.