Where exactly are you from?
I don't like being a Star
Nollywood's Mr Love, Ramsey Nouah, Jr, who has featured more than any other actor in romantic movies in Nigeria, might also be recognised by kids in schools as Mr Biges, the brand name of an exercise book which carriers Nouah's pictures. Now, that's being a true star, but the loverboy isn't comfortable with that. He confessed to Chibueze Okereke in this exclusive chat.
Which of your movies would you say you like best?
Well for me I don't think there is a best yet because my best is yet to come but right now, for me, Dangerous Twins was very demanding. Reason is you are playing a dual role simultaneously in the same movie. I mean two different characters and trying to realise those characters, you understand? It's the best of your capabilities. It was so exciting and I like it and I think it was because of the challenges involved.
How were you able to perfect the roles?
Now you are talking about technicals. That I believe you should discuss with Tade Ogidan because he directed it. You should ask him how he was able to put the magic together. Outside that, of course, artistically I put in my best. It was like I said, very very demanding and exalting. I did a lot. We are talking about standing, and having to talk to empty space. And after that you go to that empty space and answer to the other one you've done.
You were commended for your effort in the film that was released recently into the market. How would you describe the change of role. Having to move away from the playboy character?
Well I was a prince in the movie. And there was this director, Andy Chukwu who said to me that once you are good they would even paint you black to act (laughs). So, I guess I am just trying to boost my ego here but I guess they just thought like, "Hey Ramsey has not done any epic movie and all that so let's paint him black and let's see how he does this one."
So how did you enjoy the difference in role?
Well, I swear, God help me, for the life of me I doubt if I will ever go into epic movies again (laughs) because it wasn't easy.
I could Imagine
Yeah, like your body, sandfly biting you all over and they have to put this makeup all over you from morning till night, you are looking black and so itchy and all that.
Imagine youself as an observer, what is your perception of the movie industry?
I see a thriving industry. I see an industry thriving out of nothing. I see an industry growing and having tremendous change out of nothing. It's quite funny how the world is. I mean it's funny how things happen. When God wants to lift you up, there is nothing you can do about it. I mean this industry is growing and we make movies with what? Stipends? Probably the same amount they'll give to an extra in Hollywood is what we make a movie with? And the world is recognising it? O my God, we are geniuses. Now, I'm not saying that technically we are this or we are that. A lot of people are saying what are you guys doing? Why can't you do this and why can't you do that. It's not like we do not have the technical know-how, we do. We are very brilliant people with talents. What we do not have is the equipment.
What kind of equipment?
Technical, you know, to beautify our works because that is what everybody is complaining about. It's either they are complaining about the audio or the picture and all. That's just it, but, outside that, some of the stories are really nice, the acting is terrific. What we do not have is just the material back up but once we do have that the sky is our limit. I mean we'll go places, we'll do new things. We will be so creative that you won't believe what we'll do and how far we can go. So, I'll tell you this for certain, I think the movie industry should be given a chance. Constructive criticisms are allowed but let them give it room.
How do you rate yourself, from where you started to where you are now?
Oh, there has been a tremendous change, a great, great improvement in my life. Like the past year has been really great and good for me in the industry, that is because my basic income comes from the industry. It's been great. I've had a swell time lately for the past one year. I mean 2005. The end of 2005 will be my 15th year in the industry and I've given virtually all I've got into it. Some of my guys are celebrating twenty to thirty years than I am. We just call ourselves colleagues because we are in the same profession but you know I'm doing fifteen years in the industry. I am just beginning to reap the fruit of my labour. Just like a year back now. I think player haters should not just hate, they should just show love, man. I mean, I've given quite a number of my years, my life so to say and I'm just beginning to like reap the fruit of my labour. Come on, guys, you got to be easy on me.
You've paid your due?
Yeah, I've paid my dues man.
We've heard quite a lot of things about you, your attitude, character and disposition towards people. Can you please tell us who is Ramsey Nouah?
A very simple fellow, easygoing, down-to-earth. I'm easy going, I am not arrogant but I can be proud. Okay? Because there's a saying that goes like this, if you take pride away from a man, you've taken everything away from him; he doesn't have anthing else to show. We all have our pride. A man should have pride. Now when it comes to arrogance, that is when it is not proper, it's not right.
You were trying to describe pride?
I said, I've pride but I'm not arrogant. They are two different things. Arrogance is the extreme of pride.
Who is your favourite actor apart from Ramsey?
(Laughs) Definitly it can't be Ramsey? No, no definitely it can't be Ramsey (more laughter) Well, my favourite actor, my most treasure performer, is Al Pacino.
And locally, one person please?
In Nigeria? (laughs and thinks hard) this is becoming a bit difficult. But one person I believe is a great actor here is Segun Arinze. I find him a total embodiment of an artiste. He's a fantastic actor, fantastic singer, does fantastic voice-overs. I think he is a complete artiste.
Your favourite actress, both local and international?
Well in Nigeria I will say Liz Benson. I wonder where she has gone. She has abandoned us (laughs) and over there I think Julia Roberts.
So where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years with the way things are going, if there is no downward slope in my life, I see myself in my own homw with my kids, my family. I just see myself as a good father in the next five years. All I want and wish for is to have a home. Not like I do not have one right now but I do not have a house of my own yet. I am looking forward to having my own home in the next five years.
Where exactly are you from?
My mother is from Ondo State and my father is Israeli
How would you describe your wife?
(Sings) She is the love of my life. She is a sweetheart. When you are talking about sweetheart I mean everything that has to do with sweetness. She's kind, she's patient, gentle, soft, enduring, you know, everything. She is an embodiment of all that. That is what I mean when I say she's a sweetheart.
How do you manage being a star, a father, a husband and being Ramsey Nouah?
(laughs) It's extremely difficult, I will tell you this for real. That is what I actually dislike: the fame. Because the fame is not giving me any room to enjoy my family, myself, to enjoy fatherhood, the fame is not. That is the price you pay. We do not have privacy, that is the big price I've got to pay. And it's unfortunate because I grew up with a single parent; my father wasn't there and I am here with my kids and its like I'm not there. I am everywhere shooting a movie or the other getting things done and trying to make ends meet but at home with my kids and that makes me feel really bad. But that's the price we've got to pay. It's not easy. A lot of people sit back out there and think that you can easily judge to say "Ah Ramsey is married and he is doing this and doing that. They are quick to blame, laying fault, they are quick to always say you are beating your wife or you are shouting and things like that. But the funniest part is that most people do not understand that before we were stars, we are humans and after being a star I'm a human being
Are you sure?
It's not fun my brother
Are you trying to tell me that you are not enjoying it in a way?
It has some of its privileges no doubt but that does not really commensurate to what you give. For me, it's not. Okay what are the privileges, the fact that I give more than I get in Nigeria. Everywhere I go, people are asking of me because they feel I'm a star. In Nigeria people have difficulty giving out, they are quick to beg, they are quick to take off you. They want to take rather than give you. For being a star, everywhere you go, everys top I must give. Once I go now I drive out of this junction the gateman there wants off me. Once I get into the streets, these people hawking out there wants off me. Once I get to the police checkpoint they want off me and when I pull my car over in a multinational compnay, the security guys want off me. I walk through the reception, the secretary wants off me. Everywhere I go they want off me. So, imagine once you go out in a day how much you spend before coming back home. How much do we really have ?(laughs)
Do you still hang out even now that you are married and if you do where exactly?
Thank God for O'jez. O'jez has been able to bring out a good hang out joint here in Surulere that is closer home than anywhere else. So, most times that's where I meet my colleagues, people and friends. I hang out there, you know, quite often.
Yeah, anytime any day.
And what turns you on?
What kind of turning on are we talking about, alcohol? Alcohol turns me on if that is what you mean.
No what excites you?
Well, I get excited by hanging out with my friends and when we are talking all sorts of crazy talk. We yabbing ourselves. I love yabbis. We like to yab, like "Look at you, look at your head" and that is why I'l give anything for stand-up comedy anytime.
And what puts you off?
Liars. Lying puts me off; cunningness. If you are cunning, it puts me off real bad too.
Which is your favourite car?
Right now and all time because there will always be the same car manufacturers?
Well, as matter of fact, you have a point there. But look at the dynamism in cars these days, the change in bodies and outlook. Well, the engine is paramount and you know that therein lies the car. It commands a presence. When a car commands presence, what do you say? It's making you do a double (flipping his head from side to side to give a clearer explanation) BMW does that for me and right now I'm in love with the latest five series. I think it's a great machine. I love those headlamps. The eyes look like spider man's eyes (laughs).
What do you have to say to your fans?
I just want to say thank you. I cannot thank them well enough. Without them I cannot be where I am today. And the fans make the stars. The stars don't make themselves. It is a different thing to know that you have it, it's in-born and when you become it something makes you become it. What makes you become a star are the people, the fans, because they appreciate what you do and what you give. so, my word to them is that God bless them.
And a word to upcoming actrs and actresses?
Well, faith. Never give up the faith because in life you need faith. Unequivocally, without a doubt, we need faith to survive. If you believe in something, you strongly believe in it and know it's for you. The only way to achieve it is faith and that you will get there and trust me you will get there. So, or all the up-comers, the only way I got here is knowing and believeing that I can get there, knowing and believeing that I could do it and striving to get there. The push and my motivation was faith. Som believe strongly and you will achieve.