FAVOURITISM SHOULD BE DISCOURAGED IN NOLLYWOOD...GENTLE JACK
Gentle Jack joined Nollywood in the 90s and since then his profile has been on the rise. His macho physique has earned him many bad boy roles. He speaks with us about his life, his career and Nollywood
You seem to have preference for dreadful roles. How do you feel acting such roles?
I feel very comfortable acting any role. Right from my early days, I have passion for action movies. A lot of producers believe I can really deliver on this aspect. So, whenever they think of any action role, they think of Gentle Jack. Unless the producer cannot pay me.
You played the lead character in the movie,Vuga. What was it like?
I felt good. It was a serious challenge because the director gave the idea of what I was going to act. So I got into the gym and worked a lot for like a month and when I got back to the director, he said I looked bigger than what he wanted me to be like. At the end it was challenging because a lot of running the bush, the forest, carrying big logs of wood. But even at that, it was still interesting. Let me just say it's God. Before we started the movie, many people were listed to play Vuga but at the end of the day I was chosen to play the lead role. Like I said, it is because of the skill I possess. A lot of people saw this in me and came for me. I never knew what was happening, it was the director, Simi Opeoluwa that called me up and said I would act the lead role. That was my first time because I got into the industry in 1997 and in 1999 I am playing the lead character. It was quite difficult then because they check you out for your inputs and every other thing before you are given a role to act.
What is Vuga all about?
It is about being a hero. They took what belonged to me and I had to go back to retrieve this thing. So at the end of the day it came out victorious and now we are hoping to shoot the Part 2.
How did you ge into the industry?
My friend (Basorge Tariah) and I normally went out together and it was one of our outings that he told me that I have what it takes to act. He later told me that there was an audition at Zeb Ejiro's office. But I dismissed that idea but he insisted that we go that moment, so I obliged and we found ourselves there. So we got there late but at the end I got a role.
Which was your first movie?
It was Blood Money. It was shot in 1997. Since then it has been a success story and God has been merciful in keeping me to this level.
Is Gentle Jack your real name?
That is my real name. My name is Gentle and my surname is Jack.
You won the 2005 and 2006 Abuja carnival king, how did you feel?
I felt very great that I could also excel in other areas apart from acting. It all started when the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Rivers State called me up to represent the state. The Festival Carnival King is the biggest title in the carnival. It is the overall title. It was a great honour for me.
What do you think gave you the edge?
When I act, I don't know where the spirit comes from. I am a different person entirely. When I got into the costumes during the carnival, I felt like a king immediately. I have a short cut when I want to act. I think about the character and immediately I digest the moves, lifestyle and facial expression of that character. When I thought of one King Bokasa - he is late now - his regalia and carriage, I started carrying myself like him. I looked at people as if all of them were my subjects at that particular point in time.
But there is something I don't like about this: How can the Commissioner for Culture of a State, go behind to collect my award? Because as I speak to you now, I have not seen the crown, whether it is green or red.
You attended the AMAA awards. What is your assessment of the event?
AMMA is something else. It was spectacular. Bayelsa is an interesting state. I give kudos to Bayelsa State Governor, his Deputy and everyone that initiated the event. The founder, Peace Fibiresima, has done a lot for this industry. I am totally satisfied with the awards and the recipients. The judges were very excellent and everything went on smoothly. I am really happy that Gabriel Okorie won the best makeup awards because I was involved in that awards. He was the make-up artiste for Azima. When the award was presented to him, he gave me credit for having aided him to win that award.
What movie would you say brought you out?
The movie that brought me into limelight was Vuga
What's your own assessment of Nollywood?
Nollywood is growing fast. There are good standards now and people are being cast for the role they can play. But what I frown against is the issue of favoritism in the industry. They should leave favoritism alone and actually look at the inputs of some actors in the industry. There are some very good actors out there who are still very well relevant and can really deliver.
Are you working on anything for now?
Right now, I am developing a script of my own. I am going to give it to someone to screenplay for me. I would still prefer to keep the title of the movie secret because I don't want to let the cat out of the bag.
What has acting brought you?
Acting has brought me a lot of fame. People recognise me on the street and when I get to police checkpoint, they are so happy seeing me instead of checking me out they just allow me to go. But I know I have the appropriate particulars.
Apart from acting what else are you engaged in?
I procure and sell fitness equipment. I am a fitness instructor.
Who is your role model in the industry?
When I was growing up, I like Olu Jacobs and Pete Edochie because I used to watch them those days. But above all God is my greatest role model
What kind of training did you undergo as an actor?
When I got into the industry, I started going through little training through other colleagues. I actually learnt a great deal from directors like Simi Ope Oluwa. I am also grateful to God for endowing me with talent that has kept me on this far.
What challenges did you encounter as an upcoming artiste?
There were many challenges. There are times we had to trek long distance for auditioning. There are other times there won't be money to go home and so we had to also trek some distance before boarding a bus. Those were the challenges then, but I think all that is over now because we are all relaxed and enjoying our job.
How would you describe your upbringing?
My growing up days was very interesting. It is different from what kids experience these days because I had enough fun while growing up. I hail from Abonnema in Kalabari kingdom of Rivers State. I did my nursery school in Lagos, primary school in Port Harcourt and because my parents were always on transfer, I did my secondary school in Port Harcourt. I later went to Ogun State Polytechnic. I left there after some time and got into the fitness world where I enrolled into Hellymag fitness school and I did Fitness and Nutrition. I later became a body therapist. After that I got into the industry through a friend and brother Basorge Tariah Jnr and Johnson Davidson. While growing up on Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, (Lagos) we had a lot of kids around and after school hours, we would come together to play. So I never knew I was building up myself