…Recalls when Yahoo Yahoo Boys ‘attacked’ him
By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Except he’s not somewhere close to the camera, you can’t comfortably classify him as a funny bone. But if he is, then being funny is his second nature.
Charles Inojie is not just funny, he’s an embodiment of humour. The star of M-net produced TV series, ‘The Johnson’s’, Inojie has endeared himself to many homes in Nigeria and Africa at large following his comic roles in movies. A blend of his trademarks as an actor, scriptwriter, producer and director for screen and stage play that makes him the thespian he is today.
But like most actors, one of the biggest struggles for Inojie is to break away from tag of a comic actor.
The actor revealed during a recent encounter with our reporter that he has a challenge with people taking him seriously. Although he does not see himself as a comic actor, he had to live the tag.
“I was trained as an actor and there is no school where they train people to become comedians. To be comic is a natural propensity that one has as an actor. You don’t undergo a training for it. It comes to you very naturally. If you have not seen me playing too many serious roles in movies, that cannot be ascribed to me as a problem,” he enthused.
Inojie said playing comic roles in movies does not make him less an actor. “If I have interpreted the comic roles that had come way well enough to get the attention of the viewing people, I think credit should be given to me.”
Speaking further, the Edo State-born actor said “For me, comedy roles come very natural. And I dare say that comedy is my strongest forte.”
“Even when I’m supposedly angry, people around me still find it funny. It is painful not to be taken seriously. If I attend church services on Sunday, may be as one of the best dressed in the congregation, and one woman would see me and call her son, junior come and see that muo muo man. That’s what I face everyday.”
“From the beginning, it was a very hard pill for me to swallow. This is because I am a very shy and serious person. I like to deal with serious issues. With time, I discovered that this is my life.”
Well known for his ‘pot-belly’ posture, which he readily admits, that because of his character, has given his stomach a larger than life status.
Inojie believes he has given comedy a good face in the country, adding that if he has not been good at what he’s doing, perhaps, he wouldn’t have been where he’s today.
According to the actor, he never imagined from the out set that he would become famous. After graduating from the Theatre Arts Department of University of Port Harcourt, in 1999, Inojie opted to join Nollywood.
He was lucky to have a childhood friend, Lancelot Imasuen who introduced him into acting and prepared him for what he’s doing today.
“Lancelot Imasuen gave me my first opportunity to appear in front of the camera. In 1997, I was in my second semester in my 200 level, and he was producing a comedy titled ‘Year 2000.’ That was my first experience in front of the camera. I played the role of a police man. Upon graduation in 1999, I wrote to him that I have completed my studies and would not want to stay at home. I asked if I could hang around with him on set until I would be able to sort myself out, I wouldn’t mind. But he replied that he was shooting a movie in Enugu. He asked me to come around and I went to meet him in Enugu. The movie titled ‘Exodus.”
“He made me his assistant director in his productions. The very first movie I did with him as an assistant director was in 2000. We were involved in an epic for Louis Merchandise. We also did “Last Burial” for Kas Vid. The success of Last Burial together with “Divine Blessings of God” made the public to recognize my activities,” the actor narrated.
Inojie started out as an assistant movie director before venturing full time into acting and movie directing. And since debuting in the industry, Inojie has distinguished himself as very talented, creative and funny with a high sense of humour. He believes that hard work, commitment and resilience remain his driving force.
“It’s never ease anywhere but when you are resolute in your belief that this is what you want to do you put in everything. And if I am successful , it would only have to be God’s grace that has kept me going.”
Inojie would argue with you that he’s not stereotyped in movies. For him, the issue of being stereotypical in the roles that he plays in movie should not arise. “Why do I say so? Even without being told, I know because it’s something I deliberately do. Virtually, in all the comic roles I have played, I try to distinguish myself from what I did previously.”
“I am not one of those comedians, with all due respect, that you say they are fooling themselves. That’s why you are not likely going to find me funny when there is camera around. I see what I do as work and I do it with a lot of diligence that it requires. I don’t think I am stereotyped,” Inojie maintained.
On audience expectation, the comic actor said he owes his audience everything since he’s not performing for himself alone. “Every script that comes my way, I try to put in my best to the extent that my audience don’t feel disappointed. Audience expectation is very critical that every actor should be mindful of what he’s giving out to his audience,” he added.
Inojie, however, believes that digital platform is not posing any threat to the larger screen.
According to him, whether you like it or not, there is nothing anyone is going to do about the influence of social media. “We should begin to look at how we should benefit from it. Since the advent of social media, no platform has been able to create for anyone the fastest reach to global audience than the social media. To that extent, it’s a massive plus. Produce a movie today and put out the thriller on social media, in the next 15 minutes, it’s all over the whole world.”
Inojie, who said he had never tasted alcohol before, as a result of his strict upbringing, acknowledges what the movie industry has done for him.
According to the comic actor, Nollywood has given him almost a global voice. “It has also has given me the platform to talk on any issue with some measure of authority and with many people listening to me. It has given me a fan-base I could never have imagined it could happen,” he said
Inojie also recounts how Yahoo Yahoo boys came after him on social media following a very incisive comment he posted on AliBaba’s comment session some time ago.
“The comment did not go down well with the boys as they came after me in their numbers with all manner of threats. In a matter of two days, they brought down my Instagram page. They hacked my Instagram page, but I was able to recover my page. That was what happened,”Inojie recounted.