Q: Welcome to Levile, the home of film! We are pleasured to join you today for this interview. Oc Ukeje is an award winning Nigerian actor, model and musician. OC Ukeje, has won several awards including Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA), Nollywood Movies Awards (NMA) and much more.
How are you doing today?
OC: I’m grateful for all else that’s happening andI think I’m doing fine so far.
Q: In one sentence, describe your job.
OC: Hmm. I think my job requires for me to give perspective to people’s stories whilst remaining who I am supposed to be after all is said and done.
Q: How did you become THE OC Ukeje?
OC: I’m not sure who THE OC is but I know that I worked hard to be true to myself and to be good at my job. I think those two elements have helped me maintain my personality so far. I think I did my best to be honest with the projects I picked (I didn’t succeed with them all), and after that, I have continued to do my best to remain as human as I can afford. I also had an idea of the kind of actor and person that I wanted to be and I have tried to check in per time to see if I’m still on track. I think a combination of these elements have made me who I am. And I have generally enjoyed a lot of goodwill as well.
“I think it’ll be most crucial to know for a fact that this job is what one is cut out to do and they’re gifted for it too”
Q: What does film mean to you?
OC: Film, to me, is a very strong language. And generically speaking, it’s a language that everyone can understand, especially because we all relate to the characters and their journey and we relate to their states of mind per time. It’s a clear language that speaks to everyone and film has that sort of power.
Q: If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?
OC: Hmm. Tough question really. Well, locally speaking, if I could change one thing, it’ll be the ease of distribution and circulation of our films. I’d like to change the quality as well, but I think that’s already happening internally. The former is very crucial. Internationally speaking, I’d change the access minorities get in mainstream filmmaking.
Q: Who was your favourite actor or actress when you were growing up?
OC: While I was growing up, Wesley Snipes was my favourite actor because of the movie ‘New Jack City’. And Scarlett Johanssen was my favourite female. No need to ask me why.
Wesley Snipes in New Jack City
Q: As an actor what would you say the greatest challenge you face today?
OC: I think the greatest challenge I face today is crossing over into a bigger market. I don’t think the skills are the issue. Clearly, there’s more room for growth, but it’s a different market and there are hurdles to cross to get in the door of the big production spaces. Immigration laws, the general structure of getting hired, the specificities that come with being hired all add to the challenge. But I’m on top of things anyway.
Q: What is your favourite role out of all you’ve played and why?
OC: This question becomes increasingly difficult to respond to as one climbs up in his career. I have attachments to several roles. I think I fondly remember my character from the movie ‘Confusion Na Wa’ though. I play one half of a duo of educated street urchins trying to make it in a difficult world, and on a broader level, the movie shows how six or seven independent characters are innately connected by their respective actions and how these actions affect the progression of their lives.
Q: Your work has taken you internationally, where has been your most favourite place you’ve visited and why?
OC: My favourite place didn’t have to do with work. It was a personal trip. Second to that, though would have to be Cape Town. I was lucky to have been part of a trip with the South African Tourism Board. It was packed with too much fun to list out. It was AMAZING.
Q: This is a tricky one but you must answer honestly: Nollywood, Hollywood or Bollywood and why ?
OC: If I’m to answer honestly, I’ll go wherever the job is. But deep in my heart, we all know that Hollywood beckons. It’s simply because it’s the ‘fastest’ channel to either go way up (or to tank as the case may be).
Q: If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
OC: I think I’d be doing music for sure. Justin Timberlake-type behaviour.
Q: What historical figure would you be interested in portraying some day?
OC: I think it’d be an honour to play Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
OC: Well, I think it’ll be most crucial to know for a fact that this job is what one is cut out to do and they’re gifted for it too. I’d advise that they determine the kind of actor they’d like to known for or they’d like to become and then they can work from there forward. And I’d advise that they work extra hard at what is more important per time, and in a matter of time, what needs to give way will.
Q: And finally what is your message as an actor to the world?
OC: I think I’ll just say pursue peace with all men and we will have a better understanding of one another.
Thank you for you time and we wish you all the best with your exciting future ventures! We will definitely keep up to date with your fantastic work and achievements.