Popular actor, Zack Orji has said that he supports his son, Leo’nel’s music career because he believes that everyone has their different gifts which they must utilise to succeed in life. According to him, he didn’t even try to persuade his son to follow in his footsteps as an actor.
In the words of the veteran actor, ‘Everyone has the skill and talent that are embedded in them from God, the creator, and the only way we can achieve the purpose of our creation is by fulfilling the purpose that God created us for, which is to make use of what He has put in us and then bring it out for the benefit of our community. So when my son, Leo’nel said he wanted to go into media, I said fine I will give you all the support as long as you work hard to be the best.’
Speaking on his first reaction when his son told him of his plans to go into music, he said, ‘I welcomed his decision. When he finished secondary school, I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said media; that he would like to study media enterprise. He eventually got admission into the University of Bradford where he studied Media with Television. Even before then, he said when he finishes, he wants to do music. At the end of the day, you cannot force your child to be what you want him to be.’
Hinting that another of his children is also delving into entertainment, he said, ‘I have three children; a son and two daughters. My first daughter is already showing an inclination towards music. In the last Kids Got Talent Awards that was held at the Muson Center, she won two awards: Best Creative Act, and People’s Online Choice award. My point of view is that we should encourage our children to be the best they can be. Whatever it is your child shows a special skill in, you should encourage them because anything can raise a child from nothing to something, and bring glory to the family. The Bible says a man’s gift will make a way for him and bring him before kings.’
On his perception of actors then and now, he stated, ‘We have good actors now just like we had good actors back then. The quality of acting has improved, and don’t forget that some of us are still around.’
On whether Nollywood is paying attention to the technical aspects of filmmaking, he quipped, ‘We are already paying attention, but it takes some time; it is not an overnight thing. Don’t forget that we all have our strong points. South Africa is doing well when it comes to media, and technical aspects of movie production, and when it comes to performance, Nigeria is there. I’m glad to say that an award like AMAA has created a certain convergence of various aspects of motion picture practice to the point that when we see work coming from other African countries that are better than ours, we strive to gravitate towards that level. It is already happening; not only in movie-making, but also in in the music industry as well. I can assure you that we are definitely working towards it.’
When told that there are rarely collaborations between Africans in the movie industry, except Ghana and Nigeria, he disagreed. He said, ‘No, I disagree with you. And that’s because I am one of these who pioneered international feature co-productions between Nigeria and other countries. We started with Ghana as far back as 1998, before moving on to South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Liberia, Cameroon and others. We have been gradually reaching out to colleagues in other African countries and the response has always been encouraging. The good thing about the work we have done so far in Nigeria is that we occupy a vanguard position in all of Africa to the point that a lot of our colleagues in other African countries invite us when they want to do the kind of things we are doing in Nigeria, and that is very welcoming and commendable. The only thing you can say is that at the governmental level, Nigeria has not signed the co-production treaties with other African countries. Meanwhile, countries like South Africa have already done that. When we cross that bridge, it will make certain funds available for feature co-productions.’
On what he thinks makes an award credible, he noted, ‘I’ll say authenticity, and the sincerity of the organisers and judges, as well as an atmosphere of truthfulness such that if a person truly deserves an award, he is given. And if a person wins an award, then he knows that he deserves to win that particular award.’