‘Sex is an essential ingredient in Nollywood’------Teco Benson
From studying Public Health in the university, Teco Benson who adopted his father's first name as his own surname moved into the movie world where he has successfully carved a niche for himself.
Born into the family of Mr. Benson Okoli who has eight other children, Teco spoke to http://nollywoodgists.com on what he fears most – DEATH, his encounters with female acts who try to seduce him, how he overcomes the temptation and the presence of homosexuality in the Nigerian movie industry.
He expresses regret that sex is no more sacred in the world of today explaining that he was able to overcome the many temptations by being close to God. “Well, I try my best to be close to God. That is what is expected of us as human beings. The main aim of creation of man is to worship God and serve Him in truth and in spirit. Anybody who is not serving God is making a mistake.”
He came into the film industry in 1994 as an actor, later went into script writing, editing and directing. He is from Anambra State, Ojoto to be precise, in Idemili South Local Government Area. Teco had a first degree in Public Health, and right now, he is doing his Master's Degree in Communication Studies. He also spoke on other important issues.
It is generally believed that film makers or movie producers flirt around with actresses. Do you do that too?
Well, I try my best to be close to God. That is what is expected of us as human beings. The main aim of creation of man is for him to worship God and serve Him in truth and in spirit. Anybody who is not serving God is making a mistake. But I must point out that being close to God is not only about staying away from women. Womanizing, like you pointed out is just an aspect. That is the mistake a lot of people make. They think that as long as they are able to stay away from women, they can make heaven. It is an erroneous impression. Simple things like anger, backbiting, envy, jealousy etc. are sins that can deprive one of his/her salvation. So, being close to God means you have to overcome the temptations of the flesh. There is a war going on everyday in our lives between the spirit and the flesh. The flesh wants to satisfy its desires. And the desires include the lust for women, like you said, but there is also the lust to acquire, to be on top, to be worshipped by people, to drive the latest car, to be on top all the time, to run down others.
But is it true really that some producers sexually harass female acts?
Well, you should know that we are in the end time. Sex is no longer a taboo. In those days, sex was a sacred thing, but these days sex has overtaken every other thing we do in life. It is not just in our industry, if you go to the banks, you would be amazed at the amount of sexual activities going on. If you go even to the National Assembly, State Assemblies, government quarters, anywhere you turn to, even if you look out of the window, you see sex every time and everywhere. It is just that we are in the entertainment industry and it shows you that whatever you do, the world sees you because you are in the eyes of the world. So, naturally, every incident of sex, sexual harassment, sexual activities, or illicit sex that happens in the industry is reported in the media. That is why they need to conduct themselves much more properly if they want to have good image. Anyone who denies that fact is not being truthful to himself. Sex is a factor in the industry.
Have you had an experience where an actress walked into your office to seduce you to get roles?
I don't think these deeper issues are necessary for this interview. I don't see how this would help anybody.
It is very important because readers would want to know how you wriggled out of such situations if you were ever tempted?
Well, truth is there is sexual harassment in the industry, if I must use that word. A lot of people are desperate to make it today. And they know it is not easy to get there, because there are more beautiful and educated girls around and since they feel it would be difficult to compete with the more qualified ones because they don't have anything to offer, they throw themselves at you as a short cut to get what they want. Many gullible men fall into the trap. These are things you find everywhere now. It happens, I am not denying that, it is everywhere in the industry. There is even another terrible aspect that has been introduced known as homosexuality. Homosexuals exist, this is the end time, all these things are expected; they are no longer news to me because they are things we see every time.
But have you had an encounter with an actress who was ready to offer you sex for roles?
Yes, I have had the experience, I'm a man and I have had several experiences. But thank God for the special grace He gave me to survive all the wiles of the enemy. I may not begin to give you graphic details of individual encounters but I know that I have survived many.
You mean if a beautiful lady winks at you, showing you green light you won't respond?
Funny enough, winking is elementary seduction; it doesn't have effect on me. I have grown beyond that winking style and that is the truth. Anybody aiming to seduce me by winking has lost it already. The person should better go and investigate and do more research and find out what would attract my attention (laughs). I have honestly grown beyond that. The person would be disappointed because she won't ever get the reaction she is expecting from me.
What is your worst fear?
What I fear most and which keeps me going is the idea of going to hell because I understand that hell is real. I also know that heaven is real too. I dread going to hell. That's why I try my best to be in line with the will of God so that nothing, not even money, or material acquisition can distract me from my journey to heaven. I don't want to make hell. That is the fear that keeps me on the path of righteousness.
What habit do you find hard to curb?
I think it is the fact that I'm too soft. When people come to me with their problems, I carry it on my head. And sometimes, people take advantage of this. This is one thing I know I have seen in myself that I try to change but I couldn't.
You said you don't drink, smoke or womanize, neither do you go to parties. Are you sure you are not wicked as such people are usually classified?
Going through the Holy Bible one day, I was shocked to read a passage that says give beer to those who are perishing, let them drink and remember their poverty and their misery no more. Such people are justifying what they are doing by condemning those who don't. A lot of women also have that impression because I know a woman who told me once when I was in school that the biggest problem she had with me was that I was always conscious of myself. That, for 24 hours of the day, I was always in control of myself. That she preferred a drunk so that sometimes she could dip her hands into his pocket and take large chunk of his money and the man would not know. But that if somebody takes a dime from me I would know because my brain was always working because I seldom take alcohol. That is true of life. When you are wise, people tend to hate you because they know you know what you are doing. I think I have heard that before. I still maintain my stand-I don't drink or smoke and that doesn't make me wicked.
You started off as an actor, assuming you were given roles where you are expected to kiss and smooch, will you accept it?
A good actor is supposed to interpret any role he or she is given. Another school of thought which I belong to is choosing the roles I interpret because I know I'm a role model. I know I'm a Christian, there are things that I would portray that I know would actually affect the life I represent.
Are you saying you won't accept to interpret some romantic roles?
I won't accept.
Does it mean those who kiss and smooch on set would end up in hell?
No, they won't end up in hell.
Are you sure you are not contradicting yourself?
You see, I don't want to sound as if I'm contradicting myself. The truth is because of what I represent, I may not be able to play such roles but that does not mean that those playing such roles are sinners or that they are bad.
They are not sinners?
No, they are not. Acting is about mimicking. If I tell you in the church that prostitution is bad, it doesn't sink into people's heads until it is acted. It would only take a person to act the role of a prostitute and God would not frown at that because you are trying to convey a message.
But will God be pleased with one kissing another man on set who is not one's husband?
Acting is make, belief and you must act in such a way that you must be credible; people should be able to believe you. So, whatever role you are interpreting would not lead you to hell depending on your mindset. But if you are corrupt and you see it as an opportunity to manipulate others and you kiss beyond what you are asked to do, that one is another kettle of fish. But true Christians should just put their lips there while their minds are far away. They just kiss and smile as if they are enjoying it but they are not. The right thing is to do the kissing and take your mind off it. That won't destroy anybody or stop you from making heaven.
What misconception do people have about you?
Truly, a lot of people think I'm proud, some others think I'm snobbish. They think like that because they judge me from my outward appearance. It is wrong to judge somebody from the outside appearance. It is only what is in the inside that matters. A lot of guys make the same mistake by marrying the wrong women. That is why a lot of homes are breaking today. Some men assess women on the face value and walk her to the altar. So, personally, because of my body frame and my face or some other factors which people see that I don't even see, they think I'm arrogant. And maybe because I may not be the type that would always play with people, they just look at my face and feel that this man is unapproachable. But when until you meet me, you would see that I'm different from what people think of me.
But are you bothered with what people say about or think of you?
Honestly, I don't care. I don't have that time really. I have grown beyond that and until you grow beyond that, you may not go far in life. I don't do that. That is elementary. I have outgrown that. I know that people must talk about you, people must condemn you. God knows how we are here on earth. God is watching you to know how you are going to react about those who speak against you, whether you are going to commit suicide or whether you are going to kill people because of that. If you are driving on the street and decide to be very slow so that nobody would complain, people would just finish you that day. Then if you say okay let me speed today, that day you would hear all manner of curses from people. So, the best thing is wind your glass, keep your face straight, even if somebody is saying 'waka' don't look at anybody, just drive your car and that is life for you and that is how I live my life.