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I’M IN MOVIE TO SAVE UP FOR MY RETIREMENT

By Ogbonna Amadi
Jim Lawson Maduike
Jim Lawson Maduike

After 20years on radio, Jim Lawson Maduike says

If you were old enough in the late 1980's and 1990's, you'd never have missed hearing the voice of Jim Lawson Maduike as he relayed the network news on the FRCN (Radio Nigeria) news services.

And for the fifteen years, he spent in the broadcast industry and in the service of the nation's foremost radio station, he was the darling of every listener. On retirement, he also had stints with the MBI and AIT/Ray Power before finally pulling out from the profession that made him popular.

Today, Jim Lawson Maduike has also found himself in the movie industry that is not only paying him more in remuneration but in fame. In this interview with our Entertainment Editor, Ogbonna Amadi the Nkwerre, Imo State born says his incursion into acting is to save enough for his eventual retirement from public service and more. Enjoy:

It's a pleasure seeing you today?

Yeah, I'm to meet you too.

What are you be doing here, sir?

I'm taking part in a new movie and as you can see, I' m waiting for the director to tell me it's my turn to do my thing.

Movie?

Yes.

What kind of movie?

It's a normal movie that has to with some family story line.

And what role are you playing?

I'm playing the role of one Chief Orji. Chief Orji is supposed to be an uncle of one character called Annie who eventually disappeared in the movie.

Most of the time, you play the role of a big man or a chief. How come you never get to play other roles?

Who says? Of course, I play other roles. I have played the roles of a herbalist, security man and others that I may not remember. But I have certainly done other roles.

You must be making a lot of money?

I think it's the interest that has kept me in the business. I'm not after the money.

You are a broadcaster, how did you find yourself in the movie industry?

It's a transition, movie is also a part of the broadcast industry.

The real transition you talk about how did it happened?

I had to break some chains in mid way into my career as a broadcaster to be able to move into the movie sector. I tried marrying the two together and it didn't work out well for me. One had to suffer a set back, and unfortunately it was my broadcast career that had to make way.

Are you saying you resigned?

Yes, I voluntarily retired.

You retired because you wanted to concentrate more on acting or what?

Actually, by the time I retired, I hadn't nursed the ambition of becoming a movie actor. But some years after I retired, the idea started coming to me.

It's one thing to have an idea and another to have it manifest. Did somebody talk you into movie or you just walked into it?

Yes, somebody did. He not only spurred me, he made sure I made up my mind.

He gave you the first role you played?

No, he didn't give me the first role.

And after that?

I fell in love with the beauty of the movie scene and I began to enjoy it.

Before your transition to movie, were there people asking you to come act?

Yes, people did ask me but I didn't take them seriously, until this guy put his feet down.

So what was your first movie role?

I can remember vividly my first movie was Her Majesty. It starred the likes of Clarion Chukwura, myself and a few others. And it was directed by Obi Calis.

And how much were you paid?

I wouldn't like to mention it.

But how much was it anyway?

It was peanuts, but at that time it was okay. Right now, if you'd excuse, I wouldn't like to go into that. It's an exclusive thing and it belongs to me and me alone.

So what was the exposure like?

Oh! (Laughter). You know I was never on TV but radio. So when the make-up artiste asked me to come and make-up, I asked him what he meant by make-up? When he eventually started, by rubbing powder on my face, combing my hair and all that, I now realised what he meant by making me up.

The stage was set and I was eventually called on. And before I knew what was happening, I was sweating into my pants with all those lights turned on me I really did my best, I can vow to that.

Were you nervous?.

No, I wasn't because having been on the news on radio where I talk to about 50 to 60 millions of people at that time and I also compere at occasions up till tomorrow where I could spurred a crowd of two to 3000 people and talk to them to feel happy. No I was never nervous.

I'd want to know how many movies you have done so far?

My brother, it's difficult to really be exact. But I think I have gone beyond 150.

What! In a short space?

Yes.

How long have you been in the movie industry?

I would have spent four years in the movie industry come April this year 2008.

And in four years you must have made more than what you would have made as a broadcaster?

In terms of remunerations, well yes.

...More respect?

Yes.

More popularity?

No. My career as a broadcaster really gave me fame. I remember at the peak of my career I was once dubbed one of the best voices on radio.

Which has given you more fame, movie or...?

Radio, and I want to stick to that. You know radio has more listenership than television. NTA claims 30 million of viewers, while radio has more because more Nigerians listen to radio. Radio gave me more popularity because way back in those days TV was not there, almost absent.

It was radio and Radio Nigeria that was the pinnacle of it all. And once you find yourself working in Radio Nigeria or any of its channels or network that means you were up there.

In four years, would you say, you are happy with the remuneration made as an actor?

I think the most important thing is having retired from the civil service, what ever I'm getting now is the final aid to helping one rest in life. I'm still a pensioner remember but whatever I'm getting now helps me to keep body and soul together.

To help you prepare for the final retirement?

Well, yes if you insist.

Are you also saying that what you get in Radio Nigeria as a pensioner is not enough for you to keep body and soul together in retirement?

Well, going by the time that I retired, I'd say it's not enough. The Civil Service of today has really been re-structure and there's a lot of improvement and good thing happening to the civil servant now.

It's unlike our own time when we just worked and worked for nothing, but it's okay.

No, I'm no longer working for anyone, but for myself.

You are working for something?

Yes, something that will sustain me eventually when I finally retire from public service.

You have been a broadcaster and now you are an actor, which would you say is more fulfilling?

Both are challenging. But the radio business is more difficult because I keep referring to radio as a blind medium where you have to develop all your instincts. You have to create a mental picture of yourself before your listeners mind set.

And in radio production, before I could be able to produce a 15 minutes programme, I will have to really work hard, go to the library pick up materials and all that and by the time I finish everything it would have taken me up to two hours.

In acting, an actor is a man who is there to interpret another person's character by bringing up a message that he or she had in mind by the way of make believe. It's challenging also but I still think radio has an edge.

If you have the opportunity will you still go back to radio station?

Honestly, I have always loved the radio.

If you are asked which would you chose?

Radio is my life. I wish radio has the kind of money being pumped into television. As a writer, you can imagine the kind of mental in-put you apply to your work. You are just there thinking about something, creating imagination in the minds of the people and all that, and that's radio for you.

Some people complain that remuneration paid actors is not enough compared to input of work done?
I think remunerations is something that will improve in future. You see some people earn higher than others because in every human endeavour, all fingers are not equal.

But I believe one day my asking price will go up. And until then, I'd just have to do my best until my worth is appreciated.

When you walk on the street, how do people react to you?

I'm beginning to get embarrassed these days. Sometimes I have to disguise my face to move around. I'm appealing to my fans to take it easy with me. I'm only doing my job.

“Area boys” disturb you for money when they see you, but money doesn't come that way. If it does come that way we can always part with something, but it's bad when you don't have, somebody will be pestering your life.

If you have a car it could save you from some of these moments...

I had a car, but I sold it because I want to get something more befitting.

And how do you handle your female fans?

I have to be grateful to God that I have an understanding wife. My wife understands me, she knows the kind of job I do and understands that it's all part of the business.

Now let's talk about the industry, do you think it's come of age?

The industry is trying. You see, Rome was not built in a day. Besides the kind of resources that should go into the movie industry is not there yet. Not there for now because government and the private are yet to identify properly with the industry. I believe that in future, things will take shape.

Does sexual harassment really exist in the movie industry?

Let me ask you this, in your own industry doesn't that exist? I wonder why people are always keen to find out what's goes on in other industries. What is special about the movie industry, if I may ask?.

It's because the industry is front line?

Are the others back line industries? Let's be fair to the movie industry, as a glamour industry, one is bound to expect one thing or the other, but not to the extent to which you are taking it.

But if it does exist who would you put the blame on?

Have I said it exists.

I have not said that, but what if it exists, who would you put the blame on?

Not until it exists.

So it doesn't?

It doesn't.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I want to be remembered for my uprightness and discipline. I cherish it so much in my life. I like everybody to be disciplined, doing the right thing at the right time.

How long did you spend in the broadcasting industry?

I spent fifteen years in Radio Nigeria and three years with AIT Raypower and two years with MBI and that's twenty years of my life.

And how long have you lived in Lagos?

Since 1979.