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Exclusive: Spiritually, Some Roles We Play As Actors Affect Us Negatively – Jude Orhoha

Nollywood actor/producer Jude Orhoha, is a creative talent that has carved a niche for himself through discipline and hard work. He became popular with his character as ‘Gbenro’, in the now rested family drama series, ‘Fuji house of Commotion’ where he played a deaf and mute character. Jude speaks more in this interview witt Samuel Onyekwere

You are a consummate thespian. Why do you think on screen actors are celebrated more than stage actors in this part of the world ?
I also believe that some stage actors are screen actors. The social media has gone far to the extent that whoever puts up a content there is seen more and not all stage actors like to go on screen because it has a way of killing talents. On screen and actor does too much, take 1, cut and and all that. But when you are on set, it’s one take and your creativity.
You have to give enough respect to the stage actors that is why before they go on stage, they take time to rehearse for a month or two depending on the weight of the drama.
It’s simple, the reason why on screen actors are more popular is due to phone and social media.

You have been an actor for close to 35 years. Do you think there are roles actors play that have spiritual implications on them like “Baba alawo” ?
Yes. It does. We actors are very popular and easy target for anyone and so we need to get closer to God. It’s important we pray, before we take up any role no matter how small that role is. It’s very important that we pray so that what affects the character we play, does not affect us in real life.
In all my years of acting, I have experienced one or two attacks because of the character I played. It taught me a big lesson that no matter who you are, you must get closer to God. No matter the character or how little the character must be, it’s important you pray before going on set. I agree that spiritually, some of the roles we play affect us.
In the soap opera ‘Checkmate’ and later ‘Fuji House of Commotion’ you played the role of ‘Gbenro,’ deaf and dumb. How has this character influenced the way the public perceived you and the way other producers cast you?
Before I got the role I was auditioned for it. I was living with my mum in the compound where the Landlord’s son happens to be deaf and mute. Also, all through my years in Mende Maryland, I had already taken it to heart that I must observe everything happening around me so that it will be easy for me to put it into character. I stayed in that house for close to 10- 11 years.
So when Amaka Igwe called me for audition which was in 1990, she said, Jude imagine you are an actor how would you react to this and that. Till tomorrow some people believe that I am deaf and mute.
This goes a long way to show that I had enough time and I also have to put in my creative ability and people still try to make sure I am not deaf and dumb. People still look at me as a comedian, but I want to show that am a creative actor. So, over the years, I have been doing some challenging works.

We’ve seen less of you in Nollywood movies. Is this a deliberate act to focus more on stage production?
Why you have seen less of me in the movies is that social media has taken over and they will tell you they cannot call you for a role unless you have 100,000 to 2million followers on Instagram and I am gradually stepping up to that. I am not against it because everybody is doing their business.
Whatever it’s they are trying to side track the old actors. Look, there is nothing like old or new Hollywood. When the old actors move with time, it’s equally good that is why I have to change my orientation gradually I stepping up. When the producers don’t call you, you have to step up, package yourself; go on social media, upload your pictures and do your video. Then make sure you have an IT person who does all the publicity stunt and people will start calling you. I do other things, I anchor events, I am an event planner, I do voice overs and adverts too.

What’s your responsibility as the Special Adviser on Violence and Harassment in AGN?
My role is to provide expert guidance and policy participation, to prevent and address violence and harassment in the work place. My job include conducting investigation into cases of violence, provide support to the victim and recommend appropriate actions to forestall such thing from happening again.
Additionally, I deliver trainings to raise awareness among actors on the need to recognise and respond to violence. Overall my role plays important part in the aspect of promoting respect and inclusivity

Incidentally, I can’t recollect anyone being prosecuted or punished for sexual harassment in Nollywood. So, what will you do differently?
When someone is accused of violence or other social issues, it’s only proper for us to address the issue and the appropriate step is to suspend the actor depending on the magnitude of the offense. The individual will require some training in behaviour and ethics to prevent such things happening in the future. There’s also a session to create a good working environment for all actors and taking firm actions against such vile act.

Tell us about the most intriguing experience you have had on stage. Which play will you consider your biggest stage production and why?
The first one was in 2004, a state production ‘The Bridge’, written by Don Pedro Obaseki and directed by Carina Johnson in 2004, in London, which is one of my greatest plays because it was a two man character .
I have done series of shows but why this is the greatest is because that was my first time and I enjoyed it because it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I have been used to performing in Nigeria and I have not been out of Nigeria, but my visit there gave me a different perspectives to how theatre operates. For me as an actor, every production is big no matter how small it may look

We have seen little of your wife both in soap operas and movies. Has she quit acting and if no, what’s she into currently?
She has not quit. She is still actively involved, it’s just that she does more of stage productions than TV. They call her once in a while for performance. She has a stage production this weekend.

You have been married for 14 years and the marriage has been devoid of controversy. What can other celebrities learn from the way you have kept your marriage away from public scrutiny since both of you are celebrities?
We are not just husband and wife, we are best of friends and so we understand each other. For the records, we have been together for 18 years. I paid her bride prize in 2005. We have come a long way. I met my wife in 1995. We try the much we can not to bring our relationship to the public . I am the out going type. She rarely goes out and the most important thing is that we pray as family.

35 years in the industry and still counting, what’s your greatest achievement as a thespian and is there anything you are yet to achieve?
It is important to ingrane in up and coming actors the need to be more displined and focus. I have followers, I have people that I have mentored and by the grace of God I can beat my chest and say this is my product. One or two of them will say,’ Bros, if not you bro, I will not be where am today. That’s atmosphere for you to know you have people that are loyal to you

Take us back to your early days as an actor, can you recollect one silly thing you did just to get a role as an actor?
All my jobs have been based on credit. I used to go for auditions back in 1989-1990. The one I could remember is the CMC, Communication for Change in 2009. I was asked if could ride Okada and I said yes, I can; but the truth is that I did not know how to ride okada and I have to go and learn.

You are also a producer. Tell us more about some of the works you have produced?
Most of my jobs I did not produce alone. My first job was with Mr Walter Macron. He was the executive director. There are also: Two Good Friends, Famous Academy and The Needle among many others. They are many. There’s also House Alone, still airing and trending and then Jude and The Gang. I think they are up to 20.

What is your biggest challenge in Nigeria, as a creative person?
The biggest challenge as a creative person is support. Even if we have, we still need more support from the federal government and the state because without it, the creative industry will die. It’s more like motivation to do more once we have support. Though we have also be getting some in recent times.

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