Van Vicker

By Benjamin NJOKU

Ghanian actor, Van Vicker is a reader’s delight any day. Despite his tight schedule, the sexy-looking  actor made a brief stop-over in Lagos last weekend, en-route to Ghana to grant an interview to Saturday Vanguard. Modest and friendly, he speaks passionately about his  flourishing career, his happiness, pains, regrets and undertakings  and most importantly, the effort he’s making  to unite Africans through the big screen amongst other issues raised.
He speaks…

Abandoning locations.
It’s not true that I have been abandoning locations as you put it. And if ever it happened, it was just once.

There was a clause in the agreement I had with the marketer that allowed me to travel to Ghana on a particular date.
But when it became evident that I couldn’t finish my part of the production, I had to sacrifice three extra days on location to ensure that production was completed and this was after our agreed date had expired.

We were supposed to start shooting in the early hours of that day and to round off later on same day but my colleague on the same set, was nowhere to be found. Under that situation, I had no choice but to return to Ghana to attend to my personal needs. Part of the agreement was that we also agreed that I would return from the United States on a particular date to complete the production. I returned from the United States as agreed to complete the job. Tell me if all I have said is worth all the noise that was made in the media.

Perhaps I may have stayed longer on set if I hadn’t discovered that the lady who was paired with me had abandoned her role to go attend a wedding. And more so, since my trip to Ghana was also important I had to leave.

How I got involved in Chez’s movies production?

Before I was invited to join the Chez movie casts, I was in Nigeria and working on other locations. Initially when he approached me to be part of the cast of his new movie, I turned down the offer because l wouldn’t be disposed enough to do his job, but he wouldn’t let me be. He kept troubling me and luckily for him the movie I was supposed to do in Port-Harcourt was not ready at the time I got there.

So I returned to Asaba and obliged him with my service. Before I finally put the pen to paper, I had to ascertain if he had not given my role to some other persons.

When he assured me that nobody had been contacted for the role, I accepted to do the job. But I made him understand that I must leave the location on a certain date and  this he agreed to. There after we signed the agreement.

Do I spend more time in Nigeria than I do spend in Ghana?

Van Vicker and wife

Yes, it’s true, I spend more time in Nigeria and the United States than I spend in Ghana. That’s the truth. It’s because I get a lot of jobs here, in Nigeria. And in the United States, I do a lot of charity works. That’s why I don’t spend so much time in Ghana as much as I would have loved to.

But the arrangement is really not working out well for me. There are jobs in Ghana, and the producers want me to be part of their productions. Although their budgets are small, the militating factor against Ghana producers and directors is their inability to understand my work schedule.

They have chosen to act ignorant when it comes to my schedule believing that because I’m a Ghanaian, they could have me at short notice. They need to give me prime notice and enough time to be part of their production team.

Back in the days when I lived in Ghana, a producer can book me on short notice. But today, it doesn’t work that way anymore. My schedule is really very tight. I must admit that a few of them have come to terms with my new ranking and things have worked out between us.

I shot a movie last year in Ghana, but it’s not released into the market yet. I was contracted by the producer between June and July last year, and the movie was shot in November of the same year.

A few Ghanaian producers had tried to book me in advance but owing to one reason or the other, it didn’t work out. So it’s not true that I turn down jobs nor have I have abandoned my root. It’s impossible.  Ghana is my homeland.
My family lives in Ghana.

Yes, my family resides in Ghana and that’s where I also call my permanent abode, that’s where I live.
Frequent absence from  home affect  my relationship with my family!

Well, it’s the  price I have to pay. I can liken myself to the proverbial pregnant woman who knows that come rain and shine she’d give birth to her baby at the end of the day. She also understands that she’d go through nine months of trouble and pains. That is the price she has to pay to deliver her baby.

I’m working for my family and I’m enjoying what I’m doing for a living.  It’s one of the prices I have to pay for not being there at home for my family.

Succumbing  to temptation  from the opposite sex?

I’m not denying that, and nobody is perfect either. There are temptations that always come to me every now and then, but I’ m very faithful to my wife and family. My female fans know better.

Playing romantic role  in  movies

Yes, I play the role of a lover-boy in movies, but it doesn’t make me a lover-boy in real life.
Once I play a character in a movie, I revert to being my real self.

For me, every character I play on set remains with the movie because if I try to incorporate the element of that character in me, I will be changing who I am. I don’t think I’m ready for that change. If I do my job well, I have done my job well, period.

It is said you have acted some of your movie roles in real life. For  instance, you were once accused of going out with Nadia Buari after romantic roles you  played  with  her in a movie . . .

That’s impossible. If I play any romantic scene with any actress, I’m simply doing a professional job. I’m supposed to make people believe in the character I’m trying to portray. A few people have asked me about Nadia and I assured them that there is (was) nothing between us.

I’m not the only person who had suffered the same accusation, Ramsey Nouah and Genevieve had been subjects of wicked  rumour that linked them together after some romantic roles in a movie.
Because they have been paired up a few times or more in movies, people started insinuating all sorts of rubbish. My own roles have remained simple professional romantic roles.

Any relationship  with Nadia

We are friends and colleagues. I call her a few times to ask inquire about the industry, and she likewise calls me too. The same thing is applicable to Jackie Appiah, Chika, Mercy and the rest . . .

Other prices I have to pay

I’d have always wanted to be with my kids, to attend to them,  take them to school and to interesting places. For me, it’s the greatest price I have paid so far. Although I travel round the world, what I come across don’t count; the fact remains that my heart is always back home with my family.

Am I paying kids with what, my father paid me with?

There is no room for comparison. That my father was not there for me as a child has nothing to do with his not wanting to be with me. He wasn’t there for me because he passed on when I was just six.

If he had been around, I’m certainly sure he would have been there for me. It’s not hereditary or a pass on an attribute. No. I have my family totally at heart.

Handling my female fans . . .

My experience with female fans is really not a big deal. I have more female fans than male fans. I try to be nice to them and it ends there. I remember a certain occasion when I travelled to the United States.

An American female fan who had seen me arrive, rushed to hug me unexpectedly to a point that I almost collapsed to the ground with her. And this happens all the time.

Relocating to Nigeria with my family!

We have thought about it,  I and my wife but for the fact that my three kids are under aged and  in school we would have given it a positive action. I don’t want a situation where changing environment for my kids will affect their education. More so, the company that employed  my wife has no branch in Nigeria.

So for now, it’s impossible now for me to relocate my family to Nigeria.

My experience working in Nigeria

I try to do my best in terms of working cordially with everyone. Of course, every now and then, we all step on people’s toes whether  intentionally or not. That doesn’t mean I should pack my bag and baggage and run away from the country.

It’s a matter of tendering apologies and we move on. I think, working here has been a total experience for me.
Invasion of Nollywood  by Ghanaian actors’ allegation  and  how  it affects my working relationship with local actors/producers!

I’d rather not use the word invasion, instead I will prefer to say, Ghanaians are uniting with Nigerians to make for a better movie industry. It has been uniting people around the world. Music does the same thing. Today,  Nigerian music is played in every nook and cranny in Ghana. For me, it’s another way to unite the people.

Uniting my brothers cannot be called an invasion. That’s not the whole idea. If Nigerians unite with Ghanaians to do better movies, Liberians will follow suit and soon the entire continent will come together. I don’t know what they see, for me I see a bigger screen.  The word invasion is not appropriate because it has a negative connotation.

It’s justifiable if we are coming here to cause commotion and social disorder. Fortunately we are only here to be part of your movie industry and we come in peace.

What it takes to get me on set
It takes the normal thing any producer or marketer will do to get an artiste on a set. Make the phone call and you will see me come to you in person to discuss scripts and terms of agreement.

I’m always curious to know if the script is ready and if it is, I’d ask for time to study it. Thereafter, if I like it, we go into negotiation and agree on date of production and of course, finance.
Number of movies I make in a year.

On the average, I make two to three movies in a month. But to say this is the number of movies I do in a year, my brother, I have lost count of that. I cannot speak for other actors, for me, I’m always working.
Do I have time to myself?

Yes, I try to find time for myself. I need time to unwind and stay sane especially after some of my romantic roles.  When I do find time to relax, I prefer to hang out  in a cybercafé to browse or play snooker and attend to my kids. It’s important I create time for myself.  Otherwise, I’d break down.

Does my fame influence my attitude toward people?

Being humble is one attribute that doesn’t come easy. And I think it’s one attribute I possess regardless of the height that I have attained in life. I don’t look down on anybody, especially those aspiring for success. And whatever I have achieved today is a blessing from God, coupled with my hard work.

Truly, being famous has not in any way, affected my sense of reasoning and it has not gotten into my head. My attitude to life is to stay humble and simple, while getting the job done.

What I don’t like about the Ghollywood movies?

The recent incursion by Ghana producers into soft porn is worrisome. Although I’m not against it, I also not in support of the new trend. I don’t know what the strategy is, with regard to the recent trend. But it’s a concern that we must all show to arrest the new development. I can’t tell why it’s happening, but funny enough, the soft porn as they call the movies are selling in Ghana. I don’t know if that’s what is sustaining the trend.

Did I meet my wife while on set?

I met my wife while she was in secondary school in Cape-Coast in 1993. And that was the first time we were meeting.  And I started acting on television series in 2002.  My acting career however took off in 2004. I dated my wife for ten years and we wedded in 2003. I think I did three movies before I proposed marriage to her. My wife inspired me into acting.

Can I swear my wife is the only woman in my life?

Yeah, she’s the only woman in my life now and forever. I’m a faithful husband and I will so till eternity.

Does she react negatively when she sees me kiss on screens?

Infectious kisses, you call it (laugh . . . ) It’s not a pleasant feeling, but you know, kissing and making love is divine. It’s something that should happen between two lovers, especially married couples. You don’t share such moments with another person. Unfortunately, acting in movies exposes one to kissing, which I do professionally.

I know, it’s tough for my wife, but again, it’s a price she has to pay for marrying an actor husband. It’s tough for her, but she takes it, knowing that I’m only doing a job. She’s a very strong woman emotionally.

Maybe, if the table was turned and I’m in her shoes, I may not absorb the scene the way she does. And thank God, it’s not the other way round. Maybe God knew I’d be in this profession. And  that’s why he gave me an understanding wife.
Not having a University education . . .

It doesn’t make much difference to me anymore. If you look back in history, some of the greatest  men on earth never really went to school. And the fact that I didn’t acquire University education does not mean I should not send my children to school.

It’s regrettable it didn’t happen for me but I have since moved on in life. I’m advancing in the profession I found myself today.

A  global citizen

Yes. I see myself as a global citizen. I’m a hybrid of three backgrounds. My dad is Dutch,  my mom part Ghanaian and part Liberian. That mean I’m quarter Ghanaian, quarter Liberian and half Dutch. Whenever I find myself in Liberia, I tell them I’m from Liberia.

And in Ghana, it’s a known fact I’m a Ghanaian. When I’m in Holland, I’m Dutch automatically. I can’t run away from these facts because they have become part of my being.

What prepared me for what I’m doing today?

Nothing actually prepared me for acting. In fact, I’m an actor by accident. That I am in the entertainment industry is also an  accident.

My wife who was my girl friend before we got married, alerted me about a vacancy she saw in a newspaper, inviting prospective television presenters for interviews.

She encouraged me to go for the audition, which I did. And today as they would say the rest is history. As I said, nothing prepared me for what I’m doing today. I want to believe that it’s destiny.

My status

I’m comfortable. The word “rich” is very relative to an individual. It’s also subjective.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.