By Ayo Onikoyi
Since legendary Nollywood movie-maker, Amaka Igwe passed on, Tuesday, many top actors have been coming forth to reveal what impact the woman played in their careers.
For the former Special Assistant to Governor Peter Obi on Creative Media and now Ambassador for ‘Sound Oral Health in Nigeria’, Amaka Igwe was a woman that would remain unforgettable as she paved the way for the actor to become what he is today.
Hear him: “I met Amaka Igwe in 1989 when as an undergraduate and the National President of the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Students Association, (NUTASA) I travelled from my school, University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State to University of Nigeria Nsukka,Enugu State to check their level of preparation for the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival which the school was billed to host the following year,(NUTAF ’90).
After my visit to UNN, I stopped over in Enugu to see my parents.
I met the then Amaka Isaac-Eneh who had come to Enugu to conduct audition for her upcoming television soap opera, Checkmate.
I attended the audition and passed. I was cast as Richard Haatrope in the pilot episode which was shot in Enugu and Udi,her home town in December of 1989.
Towards the last quarter of 1990 they invited me for another audition at PEC Repertory Theatre in Onikan, Lagos.
Thousands attended the audition including the late Francis Agu who eventually played my elder brother Benibo in the drama series. I was again successful at the Lagos audition and retained the role of Richard Haatrope.
I also met some other members of the cast there. They included Mildred Iweka (Ada), Bimbo. O. Manuel (Nduka)Edith Jane Azu,Tunde Euba(Akpan),etc.
Checkmate was mainly shot in Moving Movies camp in Ikorodu,Lagos State.
It hit the airwaves in April of 1991 and was an instant huge success! It ran from 1991 to 1995 and has not been rivalled ever since!
While still on the set of Checkmate,I was spotted by Kenneth Nnebue, Chairman of Nek Video Links who invited me to be part of a movie titled Living In Bondage. It was shot and released in 1992.
The success of Living In Bondage led directly to what is now known as Nigerian film industry (Nollywood.)
By God’s grace, I credit Amaka Igwe with providing me the platform that elevated me to a celebrity today in the entertainment industry, worldwide, with lots of awards to show. She was a star maker!
There was never a dull moment around her,whether during movie production or not. She was a gifted writer, storyteller,hard worker and a core professional. There will never be anyone like Amaka Igwe nee Isaac-Eneh” he narrated.