By Juliet Ebirim
Daniel K Daniel, aka DKD, is indisputably one of the fastest rising male actors in Nollywood at the moment. In this interview, the handsome Enugu state-born graduate of Biochemistry talks about his acting career, how he has successfully climbed the ladder to the top despite the competition, and lots more.
How and when did your acting career begin?
I got into the industry in 2010 by accident. It was never my intention to become an actor. As a kid, I never had the dream of becoming an actor even though I wanted to be popular and famous. I wanted to be a pilot while I was growing up. I was fascinated by air planes at a very young age. But then, I was diagnosed with myopia (shortsightedness) when I was young and so I started wearing glasses and I ended up not going to the academy.
When I was younger, the movie makers used to shoot in our house in Enugu. I never used to watch Nigerian movies then, because I was petrified by them, so I stopped watching them. That was the era of horror and ritual movies.
Now that I’m in the industry, I feel as if I just came back home because I’ve had the experience as a kid unknowingly. During my Youth Service programme, I went out with a couple of friends for a modeling show because I used to do a bit of modelling in school.
After the show, a friend of mine asked me to accompany her to see someone at a movie location. When we got there, it turned out to be a movie casting session and on entering the hall, the director called me out and handed me a script to read. I told him I wasn’t an actor and that I didn’t come for the casting. He said I should go ahead that it didn’t matter.
I read the script playfully and he asked me to act it out. I did and he was impressed. That was how it started. I would say my first role was practically handed to me. That was the birth of Daniel K Daniel, the actor, not the biochemist, because I studied biochemistry in school.
What movie brought you to limelight?
That’s a tough question because all my movies have been sort of a stepping stone to where I am today. Though there are some that would stand out like the movie ‘Paint my life’. I’ve always played major roles in movies, I’m lucky and blessed in that regard. But ‘Paint my life’ directed by Tchidi Chikere was my first really challenging role. Also the movie, ‘The Child’ by Izu Ojukwu and ‘Ladies’ Men’ was pretty challenging. ‘Ladies Men’ was the first movie I got reviewed for. Those movies pushed me up.
What influences or determines the kind of roles you do?
What matters to me is the significance of the character I’m playing and the storyline. There’s also the financial factor which is important and of course who I’m working with. As much as we try not to admit it, in this industry, it’s easier for us to work with some people than with other people. In order to achieve synergy or chemistry, it helps to cast people that are friends or people that will work well together to get the story out.
So far, what challenges have you encountered?
One of the challenges has been financial. We don’t feel like we get the just reward for the amount of effort we put in. Sometimes, I work till 2 a.m. I’ve shot for straight 30 hours, all day, all night and then the following day. It was crazy. I felt I was going to pass out. In fact, the girl I was working with passed out at some point and they had to revive her. It’s really stressful.
People see it and think we’re having fun. Yes, it’s fun but very stressful and tiring. The biggest challenge for me was trying to prove myself as a virtual unknown. I had to prove myself against the already established names in Nollywood in order to get jobs – major roles. That was the biggest challenge for me. That was then, but now I thank God for where he has gotten me to. I get calls and jobs from all over.
How were you able to prove yourself despite the competitive nature of the industry?
I can’t say I did everything by myself. I’d say it’s grace or ‘Holy luck’. Also, I work hard though I play and joke a lot. I work really hard seven days a week, sometimes 30 days a month. In 2014, I worked all through the year. I barely had a month of rest, it was only during Christmas that I had about a week. So far, this year I’ve hardly had any free time.
For me, it means that I’m doing a good job if people keep demanding to see me in movies. I take it as a challenge to keep doing better. So, I would say it’s God’s grace, hardwork, dedication and effort I put into my craft. I also try to stay fit and stay in shape and to harness my skills to get better. I learn special skills and harness the ones I already have. I just do things that give me an edge over others.
Would you say your good looks is a contributing factor to the success you’ve achieved so far?
I don’t see it as my strength. There are a lot of good looking guys out there. I don’t rely on good looks to get me past any door. I try to work hard. But I think it has worked in my favour.
How do you deal with female admirers?
I try to always be nice and cordial with them. As much as we try to run away from it, the fans are the only ones that validate our work. In entertainment, you can only know you’re doing well through your fans. They are the ones who would demand to see more of you in movies. I am thrilled, happy and humble when I get validation from female fans. These are the people I’m working for and they appreciate that I’m doing a good job.
How far can you go when it comes to playing romantic roles?
The first romantic role I played was with Tonto Dikeh. We were supposed to have a hot make out session in bed because she was supposed to be my fiancee. We had to discuss it to know how steamy we could make it, yet decent. Because we already had a proper conversation as to how far we would go with each other and what our boundaries were, we made it look real and the director was very impressed when we were done. When it comes to how far I can go, I think it has to do with the script and the person I’m working with.
Have you turned down any role in the past?
Yes, I’ve actually turned down roles.
There are a lot of reasons; Maybe I didn’t like the story or I didn’t like my character/role or for financial reasons. I can turn down scripts if I don’t think the story is nice or it has been done severally.
What’s your kind of woman?
First of all, she has to be funny and humorous – she has to be able to make me laugh. I like funny people and I talk a lot. I like someone that loves me and is crazy about me so that when she’s pampering me, I’m pampering her so everything works. She has to be very smart and intelligent. I like a woman who I can communicate with. And of course, she should be beautiful. I’m obsessively clean so I would love a woman that is very neat. She has to be religious and closer to God than I am.
Would you mind dating anyone in the industry?
I try not to entertain the thought.
What if it happens?
Let’s leave it to fate.
Can you recall some memorable moments/high points of your career?
Working with Liz Benson in the movie ‘Mummy Dearest’. It was quite an experience playing alongside Liz Benson. Then there was this movie I did, I was on set for six months titled ‘76’. I was in the movie alongside Ramsey Noah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesima etc. I’ve never spent such amount of time on set. The movie was about the military coup in 1976.
For the first two months, we were doing military drills basically. We had to get into character – walk, talk and act like soldiers in 1976. It was quite challenging because we weren’t allowed to leave the set for six months. A lot of us lost other jobs, missed other things, some even postponed their weddings because we couldn’t leave Ibadan where we filmed the movie for six months. That was quite memorable.
Any regrets so far?
My only regret is, if I had known I would end up as an actor, I would have tapped into it at a younger age when I had it at my disposal. As a kid, these people (actors) used to change in my bedroom when they used to shoot in my house in Enugu. I remember Genevieve Nnaji, Chiege Alisigwe, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Nkiru Sylvanus and the rest of them used to come to my house a lot to shoot movies. Chiege used to buy wafers and biscuits for me and my brothers. If I had known I would end up as an actor eventually, I would have started then. Who knows where I would be now? I would have been a child prodigy who finally became a big actor.
Are there people you look up to in the industry?
Every job is a learning process for me. I try to stay humble. I don’t discriminate, there’s something to learn from everybody around.
How do you see the influx of sexually explicit scenes in our movies these days?
My take is, if it tells the story, no problem. There are different genres, if you have to shoot someone to depict action in an action movie, do it. If you have to make love to someone to depict deep- rooted feelings in a romantic movie, do it, but with decency.