Benson Okonkwo is not just an amazing model, but is in many regards; a consummate actor. Coming from a pretty comfortable background; he isn’t one of those artistes who chose their careers out of desperation to make quick cash. His passion, rather than a vain craze for money or effizy, has informed his dual career of modeling and acting.
In this interview with FLORENCE AMAGIYA, he talks about his childhood, his double- dose passion and his future.
You have modeled for different brands and appeared in a lot of Nollywood productions; if asked to choose one profession, which would it be and why?
I prefer acting because it gets you into limelight and fame. You get to meet a lot of personalities and you are respected. You are respected because everyone sees you as an icon that you have become. These days, you can get to become a brand ambassador and a peace ambassador. Modeling gives you the pay, but not the fame and recognition that you need. But as an actor, you get access to modeling contracts also. It can be said that being an actor gives you access to other paying contracts.
Which of them is more difficult? Movie or modeling
Movies are more difficult to produce than TV commercials because it takes a lot of energy and time! You have to stress yourself as an actor to bring out the best in you. An actor is trained to become the character that he is imitating as though it is real life. Acting requires full concentration; it is taking the fictitious story and making it non- fiction and real whereas modeling is about the brand you are advertising. You cannot do more than the script says.
How far do you want to go as an actor?
Hollywood standard by God’s grace! I would like to act alongside great Hollywood stars like Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolie his wife and colleague.
We learnt you have been on location since January, how have you been coping?
Well, I have been in different productions since January perhaps because these producers and directors saw something in me. After all, there is this popular saying that ‘good wine needs no but’. I bless God for the privilege, grace and enablement to stay this strong. It has been so stressful but it is worth the while. It is fascinating when you see yourself in an awesome performance on TV! Nollywood is a place where up coming actors and actresses work their heads off without the pay. But l suppose life is like that, there will be a day for reckoning. And I use this medium to say thanks to all that believes in me.
What is the most difficult role you have played and how did you manage it?
The movie titled ‘Strippers’ was the most challenging character I have ever acted. In the movie, I acted the part of a girl stripper and the role wasn’t easy at all.
What popular face have you starred alongside with and how was it like working with him?
I have worked with a lot of them, but Jim Iyke is my favourite; I played the lead role with him in a certain movie. The movie was directed by Iyke Odife; Jim Iyke is a pleasant person to work with. He has this swag that I love. We were very close in that production and we rehearsed scripts together before shooting.
What did you study in school?
I studied Business Management at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Did you ever dream you would become an actor as a child?
Well, when I was a child, I usually act in the church’s Stations of the Cross where I played the part of Jesus Christ every good Friday. I was also active in my secondary school’s drama group.
What was childhood like?
My childhood was just there. I am very close to my mum and I love her so much. I have grown so used to her to the extent that I can die for her. She taught me all I know and gave me all l have. She financed and backed me up while I was modeling and even now as an actor.
What kind of family did you grow up in?
I grew up in a home of four boys; I do not have a sister. My parents made us six in number. Love, peace and togetherness were the order of the day in my home. We used to pray together every morning. It was usually fun to witness. There is this love bond in my home. It still baffles me that some families do not have this culture in their homes. How can you give out love when you do not have it to give? I am the third child in my home. I have lots of women as friends since I do not have sisters of my own.
How did your father influence your childhood?
My father made sure I went to good schools and made everything smooth and steady for me and most importantly, he brought my brothers and I close to the Almighty God.
What kind of home do you plan to build in future?
I will love to marry a fair, tall and sexy lady! Most importantly, she must be God fearing. I am an African man; l would also like to marry a woman who also can cook.
Are you in a relationship?
Yes I am! Were you expecting a handsome, young man like me to be single?
What’s your future plan?
I am also a model and know what it is like to be one. I would like to open a modeling agency and a cloth line (Mr. Packaging). I want to give the upcoming models the opportunity to do runways and commercial modeling because I love fashion a lot!
What’s your form of exercise?
My best form of exercise is swimming and jugging. I keep fit and healthy that way.