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How my gay controversy brought me fame – Benson Okonkwo

Some years back, the name, Benson Okonkwo, wouldn’t have meant anything to quite a number of people, but not now, when the gangling actor is one of the fastest rising stars in the movie industry. Though, Benson, fondly known as ‘Mr Packaging’ by his fans, has all it takes to make it in the competitive world of make-believe: looks, talent, the attitude and probably the X-factor. But it would be none of these qualities that brought him to limelight. What actually clinched it for him was the gay role he played in the movie ‘One Dollar’ and the controversy it generated.

According to Benson, the role generated so much controversy that some people actually labelled him ‘gay’, failing to understand that he was only playing out a script.

Hear him: “You know one thing with Nigerians, when you play a role and play it well that’s what you are.  I have done three gay movies, and I starred in a gay movie titled ‘One dollar’, I incurred the wrath of many movie fans. At the time, my critics were asking questions about my sexuality in real life.Unperturbed by the outrage, I also appeared in another gay movie ‘Pregnant Hawker’ and ‘The Strippers.’

But, I have 50 movies to my credit, I am unhappy about the negative reactions that trailed my decision to star in those movies. I insist that the public is ignorant of the fact that actions in movies are not real.

Benson-OkonkwoAlthough these movies sparked off controversy about my sexuality, I make bold to say that Nigerians are hypocrites. They secretly enjoy watching porn movies, yet when they see Nigerian movies that contain suggestive scenes, they secretly watch them online and then drop anonymous comments. I am only acting and doing my job.

Although I have acted as a homosexual three times, I am afraid of being tagged a stereotyped actor. Despite the fact that the gay controversy has brought me fame, I want people to remember that I have not starred in only gay or adult films. Contrary to what some persons think, I have never been sexually harassed by homosexuals. I am not a homosexual.

Notwithstanding the negative comments, it took much willpower to get into character. It was hard for me to accept the role at first, and it took a lot of convincing and support from the director before I could play the role.

The ‘pay was right,’ I enjoy the support of my loved ones in spite of the criticism. “My family understands that I am only acting and the roles have nothing to do with my personal life or character, that’s why they stood by me and continue to stand by me. I believe that versatility is one thing any actor must possess, that way, he or she stands out.

Maybe not being in any relationship with the opposite sex is another reason why the ‘gay’ idea about you persists?

Being in a relationship will not convince people that I am gay or not. Some have this mindset from the movies they have seen and the roles I took, so that’s it for now but I don’t want to talk about my relationship anymore. I have decided to keep it private

What would you consider your best film of 2013?

The movie I will consider my best of 2013 is ‘James Town’ which featured stars like Mama G, Star musician,  Veeck kings. Gbenga Richardson, Jegede and all, it’s a must-see movie coming out this year February.  It’s a ghetto movie and I was one of the ghetto leaders and I know my fans will love it.


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