By FLORENCE AMAGIYA & Opeoluwa Akintayo
David Nnaji, a.k.a, Ifeanyi in the series ‘Dear Mother’ has featured in several soaps and movies. Dear Mother has been running for ten years and David is not just a profound actor, but he owns a record label and manages artistes already making waves in the entertainment industry. In this interview, he talks about life and how his journey in the entertainment industry began. Enjoy!
How did you come into acting proper?
Basically, I started acting when I was 16 years old and almost fresh out of high school, but I had been acting prior to that time especially in church, mimicking and miming at home. So I once mentioned it to someone that I was interested in acting and he said there was an audition and I agreed to attend. I went for the audition for ‘Dear Mother’ which had been running for at least 10 years . The audition brought together brilliant Nollywood practitioners and after two months, I was accepted. Ever since then, it has been a coaster ride but a fantastic experience.
Before all these started, how did you know you can act?
I must confess that watching Pete Edochie interpret the role of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things fall Apart’ endeared me to the business as I will always take his lines under my breath whenever he spoke. The church environment cannot be taken out of the equation when tracing the history of my entry into what is now globally know as Nollywood. The church was the very first place that gave me a platform to express myself and grow as an actor.
It all started from the children’s department where I would always struggle to be “Jesus, Abraham” or any of those bible characters. Even as kids in the children’s department, we were encouraged and that gave me the impetus to give it a shot. I soon found out that it’s different in the real business and I have veterans such as Mrs. Lanre Hassan and Pat Oghre to help me and here I am today.
How did your parents see your career from childhood?
My parents have been very supportive and very proud of me.
How long has ‘Dear Mother’ episode been running?
‘Dear Mother’ is ten years and three months old. A year and few months after the Dear Mother began; I got my first call for something else. It was Super story and I have done two editions already, including Edge of Paradise, Family Affairs, Family Ties, and This Life.
Does that mean you do more of Soaps as they call it than original movies?
Well, it would appear that way but quite recently, I have played prominent roles in the adaptation of Isang Awah’s book titled ‘Bent Arrows’. It’s a proper film which features the likes of Stella Damascus, Olu Jacobs, Joke Silva, Desmond Elliot and a host of others. After that, I got a call for something different. I auditioned for it and got a sub-lead role in another international movie shot in Nigeria and the U.K. The movie is still showing in Cinemas in London. So, in a couple of weeks or months, it would be in Nigeria depending on when the producers decide. Since it appears that I have been on Television for a very long time, it would seem that I prefer just the Television but that is not so because as we speak, I have about three scripts in my email and for me to take them out requires specifications because I have some other things on my hand. There are some things I look at before I go into all that and so Home Videos do not really freak me.
Why are you not a Home Video person, is it that Soaps bring the best out of you?
No, I’m not saying that. I’m also interested in movies, anything that makes sense, not just with a story but with the right marketing. I grew up knowing these things and at a certain point, my background in History and Strategic Studies made me go into the study of films for which I have written a few pages published by some national newspapers. I value it so much that I wouldn’t do everything. I’m very enthusiastic about working on set but the enthusiasm doesn’t make me do everything. I carefully select what I do.
You said you studied History?
Yes, I studied History and Strategic Studies at the University of Lagos.
So you were still in school while acting ?
Yes, I was about to leave secondary school and then, I started working on so many other things at a point. My course was supposed to last for four years, but it took me about six years.
After graduating, I sat down and thought to myself that I was already 26 years and really need to start doing things I fancy most. I started a company called DUN Entertainment limited. It is a record label. We basically do business for musicians.
You are not just a manager but have a record label also, how do you cope?
Yes I do, but it’s not just about having it. It’s also about growing it and turning it into what it should be. Before you started interviewing me, you complained about how I look now. It’s a lot of stress to put all these things together but I just take it that I am getting ready for the rainy days.
Are you in a relationship?
I am in a relationship, but l do not want to talk about that here. It is private.
What is your idea of fun?
I love hanging out with close friends.
How do your women fans react to you?
Women react very positively to me in person and through different media forum. I on the other hand respond to them as much as I can and as polite as I can be. Fortunately or unfortunately, the attraction of the opposite sex and even sexual deviance is a part of what to expect in our media line of work and so, the ability to respect all and know who you are and what you stand for is absolutely necessary.
Why don’t we see you at events and awards night as expected?
The truth is, I do not go to places I am not invited and I take my spare time seriously. I can safely say I am jealous about it. If great events such as the AMAA awards and all others are happening and I am invited and available, I always attend. The truth is that when I am not working, I will rather spend time with family and friends or read a new book or do something I consider productive. Appearing at different events every other week unfortunately is not necessary except it is very important or I am working there as host or M.C.
What do you see yourself achieving in 10 years time?
I see myself acting in more good movies, building my business empire, creating employments for the youths in the society and settling down to start a family of my own.