Sunday 4 November 2018

Nollywood actor Ik Ogbonna reacts marriage break down rumours - I am still married to my wife!

                                       Ik Ogbonna

The Excess Baggage star has been plagued with rumours of his marriage breaking down in recent times. With his wife leaving the country and removing his name off her social media handles,the rumour mill went agog that the actor and his beautiful wife had indeed called it quits.

In a recent chat with Punch,the actor objects to those reports,he claims that he is still married to his wife and the rumours are simply baseless..

He also shares on his journey into Nollywood,education,movie roles he loves,how he overcame stammering and lots more..

Tuck in!

When did you realise that you had an interest in acting?

At some point in my life, I knew I wanted to be in the spotlight, impacting lives and doing something positive. It was not about becoming a celebrity really, I just wanted to be able to affect lives on a wider scale. In 2005, I attended auditions for the Amstel Malta Box Office television show in Abuja. I decided to try it out, not knowing if I could act or not. I went to Abuja for the audition and I was picked. So, I came for the other auditions in Lagos and that was what necessitated my coming to Lagos. I thought it would be an automatic entry for me into the industry but it was not. So, I focused on the modelling aspect of my life because I had been a model for many years.

How was your journey into the movie industry?

I met Elvis Chucks who gave me the opportunity to present two shows on TV, Amstel Malta Legend and Musical Vibes. He always knew I had something in me that I wasn’t exploring. He cast me in a few of his TV series such as Secrets and Scandals for two seasons. At that time, I was doing it because it was an opportunity to do something and not because it was what I wanted to do. I was more focused on my modelling career. Then, in 2013, I met actress, Rukky Sanda, at a club, and she decided to feature me in the movie she was producing at the time. When I got on set, I developed a cold feet; I gave an excuse to run away but she still called me for another movie she produced. My output in the movie wasn’t really good because I had cold feet.  My confidence level was very low but I did what I could do. I acted as a model which increased my fan base.  After that movie, I got another one and that was how my career kicked off.

What movie brought you to stardom?

I cannot really say because so many people love me for the different movies I have featured in. I can’t point to a particular movie that gave me fame. I believe people love me for my roles and personality because you can relate with me as an actor or as a person who is full of mysteries. I think I got a lot of female fans from the first movie I did which was Lovelorn, produced by Rukky Sanda, even if my acting was not as good (as it should have been). I was always taking off my shirts in the movie. I focused on my appearance in that movie and all the girls that like fine boys liked that one.

More when you continue..

What are the challenges you faced starting up?

I was a very chronic stammerer; I had to hit my foot on the floor before I could complete a sentence. I worked on it so much that you can hardly tell now when I talk and I thank my father for that. It affected my confidence level and how I related with people. Back then, when I saw people around, I kept quiet because I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  At the time I started presenting on TV, I had worked on myself so well that people couldn’t tell if I was a stammerer or not. However, there are still days it comes and I find it difficult to control myself. But some directors that know me well just give me a few minutes to calm down.

How much were you paid for your first movie?

I was paid N50,000 and the title of the movie is Lovelorn by Rukky Sanda. I won’t say how much I charge now but I am well paid as an actor.

What are some of the challenges you face in the movie industry?

Funding is one of the major challenges we face in the industry, coupled with the chain of distribution houses. I think that the structures should be reformed. There should be some kind of sensitisation in the industry because most actors are not well paid. Very few of us are actually well paid but most of the actors are underpaid because when producers invest their money in projects, they don’t get it back. Sometimes, if your movie is not going to the cinema, it will rather go to an online platform where you either sell exclusively to them or the TV houses. There are limited platforms to distribute movies which affects the budget of a movie because if you go all the way out to produce, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. That is why some producers have one big name in their movies and a few other up and coming actors. Or he can decide to have all the big names in his movie because he will be going to the cinema. I also thank Nigerians because they are beginning to support Nollywood. When you go to the cinemas, you see people watching more Nigerian movies than foreign movies. The industry has really grown because the quality of movies produced then is totally different from what we have now.  We just need to have more community houses and cinemas.

What are some of your aspirations?

I take each day as it comes. I have a big picture of what I want for myself and my family. I want to live a fulfilled life and build people as well. I want to create platforms where I can make more millionaires. I can’t sit back and say it is the responsibility of the government because if the government is failing, we, as individuals, should not do the same. As a producer, I want to be able to make movies that will compete with international movies and as an actor, I want to be able to work alongside people such as Denzel Washington and Brad Pitt, who are great actors and businessmen.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

It is really difficult to balance a career that is flourishing. You have to be out there because if you take a break, it will affect you. You have to keep working; yet, you have a family that needs you. Most successful people have their families suffer for their career and I must give credit to my wife because it has not been easy. Sometimes, you might be on the road all day. Right now, I am in a hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, because I got off set by 2am and I can’t drive back to my home in Victoria Island. If my wife was in town, she would be at home while I would be in a hotel. I also have to travel back to Enugu to film and after that, I will move to Paris; then, Malaysia. As a celebrity, your life is basically on the road. Sometimes you just have to say no to a N2m job so that you can give that one week to your family. It is a constant hustle but thank God for those spouses that understand.

Having married a foreigner, did your family oppose your marriage?

Nobody has a say in my life. I live my life for me and my immediate family, which consists of my wife and son. That is what matters. I respect my family but ultimately my happiness lies with me.

Is there really crisis in your marriage?

Well, I don’t want to talk about what some of these blogs are saying. If they are good journalists, they should investigate things before bringing it out to the world. They just post things because they want traffic to their blogs.  If my wife and I are divorced, people will know because we won’t be single and acting married when other hot singles are out there looking for attractive spouses. I am still married to my wife and that is what matters for now. Every relationship, whether it is marriage or courtship, experiences good and bad times; so, mine is not devoid of that. I love my wife and she loves me too; so, we will definitely have our good and bad times. What is important is the love we have for each other.

“My wife is gifted; she is a very intelligent woman. You cannot sit down with her and not learn something; she is very expressive, she expresses herself regardless of what people think or say. It takes two people to make things work; on her own part, she does her best and she will keep doing her best. Being married to someone like me is very difficult because my career takes a toll on me. I am hardly around and available to give her enough attention as a woman, but I will keep trying.

“Most of the time, for a marriage to really work, it takes two people, but the woman has to be patient. So far so good, she has been doing a great job and I will give her all the credit.

“Any celebrity out there hardly has time because we work round the clock but whatever time I have no matter how little it feels, I spend it with my family. It is within that little time I go out with them and take pictures with them; that is when I go for events with them. I go to events with my wife, not to flaunt her but because in the little time I have to be in that event, I’ll rather be with her than go alone. It is never enough but I will always like to give it as much as I can,” he said.

Ogbonna accused some of his followers on social media platforms of not having genuine love for him, saying, “Some followers are there to hate, some get inspired, some are even there to do ‘eye-service’, and some of them are there as the press, just to pick things to gossip about. I have had a lot of people that come to me and tell me that following me has inspired them greatly; these types of feedbacks give me joy.”

“In my little way, I try to show people how to love and treat their family and be better people. I might not be right all the time with the things I express, but people can still learn from them,” he added.

Ogbonna also talked about the roles he enjoyed playing the most, saying it was challenging for him to play feminine roles in movies.

“My best movie roles are the challenging roles – disguise – where I had to act as a woman. It looked like it would be difficult but surprisingly, it turned out well. I play those roles not considering people’s opinions because at the end of the day, you can’t please everyone. You have to do the needful as a professional. I don’t care what people say about me because they don’t put food on my table, they have nothing to add to my life.”

The entertainment industry is used to celebrities flaunting their wealth and material possessions on social media platforms, but for Ogbonna, it is not something he likes doing.

“I don’t flaunt my material belongings because I feel that if I do, it means I am giving that brand free publicity. If I flaunt the expensive brands I wear, it means I am giving free publicity to a brand that didn’t pay me for that; after I paid so much money to acquire the item.

“Material things can diminish at any time, it is not what I stand for; I stand for impacting people’s lives’ positively. I do this through some of the messages I post on my social media platforms. The greatest legends in life never showed off material things, like Fela Kuti, Nelson Mandela and Michael Jackson; they were busy thinking of how to change the world rather than to be chasing material things,” he said.

The actor has maintained a steady physique and flawless skin over the years and when he was asked about how he maintained his physique and flawless skin, he attributed his good looks to his parents’ genes. He equally added that he tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle by doing things in moderation.

“I got my good looks from my mother and father; they have very good genes. I hardly have skin irritations. I don’t react to things easily; my skin stays the way it is. I can stay a year without using body cream or lotion or whatever. I got my flawless skin from my mum, she has a flawless skin.

“I got my physique and height from my dad; I have not worked out in the past three years and my body is still very fit. I give credit to my parents. On my part, I just try to control what I eat and drink. I don’t smoke or drink in excess. I make sure I take multivitamins and lots of water. I try as much as possible to take a break from alcohol.

“If I notice I drank a lot in the past weeks, I will probably not drink in the next (few) weeks. If you have too much alcohol in your system, it makes you look old; it does its own part in ruining the skin,” he said

How do you feel when people tongue lash her for dressing in certain ways?

 I feel that nobody has the right to insult another person irrespective of how they dress.  Even if it is out there in the public eyes, it doesn’t give anyone the right to talk or insult her. She dresses appropriately for every single event. If you feel comfortable wearing agbada in a pool or beach, then that is your business. Even when she is going to the club, she doesn’t dress provocatively; she dresses appropriately and I am not bothered. I love who she is and I definitely love her dress sense. Other people’s opinions don’t matter.

Where did you school?

I studied Sociology at the University of Jos. Then I came to Lagos to chase my dreams. I am not really an office person. I don’t think I can do a 9 – 5 job. I just feel that the whole schooling think was to fulfil all righteousness.

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