I am principled, not hot tempered
Some of your colleagues opted for music, maybe as means of survival; do we expect to see you join the bandwagon soon?
Emeka Ike is not an everyday guy; Emeka Ike is principled. I don't do things just because people are doing them. Emeka Ike is a man who tells himself, 'This is what I want to be', and he goes for it. Yes, I play musical instruments, to perfection, I play the keyboard, and I play the bass guitar.
I was a minister in church, kind of, with my hands, with my fingers I passed the messages, but now I am in a different vocation. I started acting and it's been well, I don't know why I dumped music. But, I think I am moving back towards music by opening a studio. We have the picture aspect, the editing suite. We have the cameras. When I travel now I plan to bring in the equipment to up the audio studio where you record the artiste and at the same time I want to invest in music. I want to have a live band in the studio here, where professionals can play cords and where people can rehearse in my studio before you go into the digital studio and do your voicing or whatever.
So if an Emeka Ike wants to go into music today, it is not because people are going into it. That I am not going into music is because I have not heard the call. Before I came into movie acting I have written so many songs. I did my demo at Klinks studios along time ago in 1989, that was before home video started, nearly after Majek Fashek did Prisoner of Conscience, I did Prisoner of Love and I want to tell you that if you ask sir Ebenezer Obey, he is going to tell you that I have performed in his concert before.
But I don't have the call now, you know people like us we work spiritually. Maybe someday you are working in your studio, playing with your equipment and you strike a cord, it makes sense and you play it for someone else and the person says, 'Wow, this is good; that is what you call music!' That is music from the inside. But I am not going to play music because every body is showing that I can do it. No. Maybe, in another ten years, or fifty years, or maybe in my old age or the next two years. But I've never thought about music and I am not thinking about it now.
Talking about the ban, what lessons would you say you have learnt?
Well, I don't think I have learnt any lesson because you have not given me any code of conduct that this is what happened. These things have not been communicated officially. If you tell me that these are the places I erred, that I reneged here or there, then I can look through and say, 'Yes, maybe I actually did this or that,' but as we talk, it is an alien thing. As we talk, it is still alien and we don't believe it is there. We are businessmen.
Some people have said that you have a bad temper, how well do you manage this?
(Laughs) Don't mind them, they are only cowards; they can't face real men. You see they said temper, they didn't say erratic, you understand? An Emeka Ike is a very truthful human being, the man who plays straight to the game. So I hate lesser men, I hate a man who will come around me to play tricks. When I notice that I tell you to step back. I am so blunt that, is my problem.
But, you will never see me fighting. One problem we have is that we don't have managers around us, unlike in America or Europe where an artiste will have somebody keeping away some unnecessary evils, like somebody standing in front of you and saying, 'You can't talk to him now'. You know, someone there to save you when you need your privacy, even when you are on set. You know, sometimes, you might just be in your mood like when you just lost your daddy.
I lost my daddy in February and that very moment I was crying. I drove to a place where no one would see me and while I was crying I got a call and I told the person that can't talk for now. But the next thing was the caller started raining abuses on me saying things like, 'Emeka, who the f**k do you think you are, because I called you, it's not your fault!' Oh my God,
I felt like throwing away my phone for once. But when a man looks me in the face and does something stupid, I tell him, 'Hey, look, this is stupid!'
You were rumoured have slapped a director on the set of a movie in Festac. You were alleged to have been so angry that you slapped the person in question?
No, that is not true. That rumour is baseless, headless; whoever tells you that is a destroyer of good intent. What you are trying to say is what happened at Itua hospital. We were making a movie there and I think the location manger or whoever was involved should have done a proper job before bringing us there.
And I want to take it that we have paid, we run so many things in this town beyond just paying artistes, that the production involved had paid for whatever, the hotel, or the hospital or the restaurant that we are going to use and your artistes and your stars come into the scene and you are still arguing fees and somebody is telling us to walk out of the place; then I was just like, 'Oh, come on, what is happening here. I am Emeka Ike and you don't have to…' You understand what I mean
(Cuts in) You said they were arguing fees. Before you took the script, was there no formal agreement between you and the producer?
This is not about me. It was between the hospital and the location manager who were having problems over money to be paid before using the hospital. I didn't say it was me. I was just helping and everything was turning to an embarrassment because I know how much this person must have collected from the producer involved. So, don't make us go through unnecessary insolence and embarrassment. If you want to be a location manager, a good one, then do it well and people will pay you for that. They will patronise you. But here you are collecting a big project and perhaps you haven't settled and we are being told to get out of the place. For crying out loud, I felt insulted and I told her that you just insulted me lady, and the doctor took it too personal.
He was telling us that, 'I own this place and I don't know you people, even though you might be on television!' forgetting that some of us have structures here in Lagos. You don't talk to us like we are street boys. We are stars. We are in your premises but we are respected beyond your premises. If I want to get angry and I see someone like Sunny Ade or Kwam 1 I will still respect their presence and call their attention to the anomaly and in their person I believe they will sort out the whole stuff. You don't just come and treat us like riffraff.
Who are these people there, I don't care, I don't recognise home video. It doesn't matter if you don't recognise home video; what matters is that we are being recognised worldwide by both the print and the broadcast media internationally. Why don't we Nigerians just give ourselves some little respect? And after all this, I talked to the location person and the doctor still called me into his office to explain why that happened because he is an intelligent man and I told him that a lot of us still shelter people and that we are not riff raff and he felt touched and we called the producer and the location manager and we scolded her and we exchanged cards and I am going to patronise him any day. So whoever is peddling this kind of rumour is a lesser man.
Going back to the ban some of the allegations against some of you guys is that some of you became unruly, that apart from the high charges you sometime don't show up on time on set, some of you are even said to take more jobs than you can handle at a time. How do you react to this?
Well, I am a businessman. I am an investor. We have shot movies in this industry before now and I won't be happy when I am shooting a movie, one artiste is keeping my money tied down because he or she cannot understand what I am going through investing, spending my money without insurance, I understand that angle and if you ask anybody particularly because you don't bring another persons allegation to my table.
Ask any of these marketers particularly, what is Emeka Ike's conduct on set like, many of them will tell you… most of my movies, it is either that I co-direct or I co-produce because I don't do two jobs at a time, I did that in my hey days, that was when I did Death Warrant, To Love and To Hate and there was this movie I did for Shebon, I did all these movies in just one week, all these were years ago. But apart from that Emeka Ike has been reputed to take one project at a time.
Which of your films will you say brought to limelight?
My very first movie, Deadly Affair. People loved me in the movie, and with the name of the character I played, IK, everybody was always like, IK nwam (my child) and from that I've been getting the lead roles.
Your characters most times are often the same. It's either you're playing this poor young, undergraduate who falls in love with a bigger lady and maybe you get to leave the lady for her friend and so. Will I be right to say you are a flat character?
I can only say why they give me roles, not such roles and that is because of my in-depth interpretation. People look at the depth of your interpretation, your imaginative thinking. The market is somehow. The period I did Derico, I was doing a lot of action films. So, Emeka is not stereotyped because if you watched Derico at first, you will be scared when you get to know the personality of the man himself, and that is what we are talking about. We have different marketers; some try me in love films and I try to remember my skill in school of how to talk to a girl and all that. But the whole thing still boils down to in-depth interpretation, to the understanding of the audience.
You are one of those cross -over artistes. How would you compare both worlds in terms of technicalities and the general process of production?
Funny enough, Yoruba movies are fantastic. The actors are personified. They take characters personally. For instance, the girl that plays the role of a witch in some of the movies. I really can't remember her name, God, that girl is good. The technicalities are great because when I was shooting I insisted that they must use medium shots, ask Korede the producer of Eko Wenjele. I insisted that some of the good cameras should be used. But their problem is marketers and producers.
Do you believe that the Yoruba movies sells as much as the English movies. But I think their marketers are so greedy. They employ them as workers and that is what is about to happen in the English movie where the producer/marketer see the artiste as the problem.
You are one of those ardent supporter of Emeka Rollas during the build up for the AGN election which though he eventually. What is your relationship with the new president and how would you assess his leadership so far putting in mind his recent meeting with the president?
Well I have come a long way with Ejike Asiegbu, I believe that is the man you are talking about. Well I was one of those that vehemently rooted for Emeka Rollas. I decided to sponsor him or come behind him when he came to my office to explain his intent. I saw the drive in him and the desire for a change and I felt, well, he seems to have my mind. He was not too crazy about being a star.
That is why I supported him. So far so good I heard that the elections have been held and a winner emerged but what I don't find so good as big as this industry is, nobody is an island. You cannot say because you are the president of the AGN that does not put money in my pocket as Emeka Ike. We the banned actors we have a place in the industry. Our vacuum is still being felt.
People still want us back. When you want to take decisions you just do stand up and do that, you need some sense of discipline around you. Like going to see the president, you go with intelligent people and not mediocre. You go with businessmen that have proposal. Men that will look at what you are going to present to the president before you see him. People that are going to argue and reason points with you, and bring out the objectivity in your propositions and not because you want to go and have a handshake with Baba Iyabo. All I see is that there is no communication in this Ejike Asiegbu team. We've not been getting any letters.
He knows we are banned. We've not been coming out for any corporate meeting because we are not supposed to be involved. But in a way he should be the one making the moves. Calling for meetings, sending out letters. We are not excited; you are not shocking us by going to have a meeting with the president. This could have happened anytime but the crux of the matter is that you bring us together the stakeholders in the acting world. There are men that are respected everywhere in the world. There are men that people are craving to see outside the country. I am going to France next week and will likely be hosted by the Nigerian embassy over there.
How did you meet your lovely wife?
I was editing at one studio, I've said this story a million times and I saw this damsel from the window walking to Tade Ogidan's office, and I was uh, this is nature at its best. You know, I saw that natural thing about her and I sent somebody to her that day but the person didn't have the guts to tell her and for me I lost my defence that day. As a star, you are not supposed to ask a girl out. And at the end of the day, people think you are a playboy. So, I was that heavy, I was shy and the guy came back and told me sorry sir I …and by the time I know it I discovered she was gone. I hated him. Luckily for me the next day I peeped through the same time and the same period I saw her come back I was like, wow. This time I had to do it myself, (laughs) I walked up to her and there were two half-caste lady there, her friend, and I was like please can I talk to you for a while, and she was like, me, and I said no not you but you. That was how we got talking and I discovered what I wanted in a woman.
Can we know her name and your kids'?
She is called Mrs. Mama, Emma, Rero Ituoghene Ike
And what tribe is she?
She is half German and half Delta, that is Isoko, Ozoro. And my sons' names are Michael Chukwuebuka Orevi Ike Nicholas and he also adds batman to his names and the second boy is Master Kelly Oyinye Efe Ike Nicholas.
What lessons have you learnt from marriage?
I've learnt patience, you also have to be very understanding, sometimes you have to play the fool and that is marriage for you because the left washes the right and vice versa. You know we are always trying to prove that ,“Hen you see I am a woman and the man will be like I am the m an here and I pay the bills,” well lets see what happens to your generation. And you might never have a generation to carry your own, you might never have the children. So marriage has taught me to be patient.