AKI & PAWPAW: WHY WE’RE NOT THINKING OF MARRIAGE NOW
*Launch NGO for children
THEY are the enfant terrible of the Nigerian movie industry. Without mincing words, they have held the sector spell-bound, thanks to their physical outlooks and how they have been able to exploit such deficiencies of sort to their full advantages. Today, they have several movies to their credit. Yet, producers are dying to get them to partake in their films.
Several myths have been peddled about them. Some have said that they are married while others cannot reconcile the fact that they play both adult and children's roles. The duo who visited Vanguard, Wednesday, to intimate the world about their new NGO, Aki and Pawpaw Child Care Foundation in this brief chat, provide answers to some of these puzzles while setting records straight in other areas.
Osita Iheme says: “As you probably already know, I am the last of the family from Ohuba, Ubommiri, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo state but I grew up in Aba, Abia state. After secondary school, I always knew I wanted to act and prayed for the opportunity to present itself. I joined some drama and theatre groups in Aba to see that my dream was actualised.
One day, I decided to take a trip to Enugu where the acting soup is prepared. It was on one of those days that I ran into Chinedu at Macdavos Hotel in Garki Awkunanaw, Enugu and we have never separated ever since.
On his own part, Chinedu Ikedieze told this reporter that “I am the first son of my family. I hail from Uzuakoli, Abia state. I had other sisters before me. I went to the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu where I studied Mass Communication and graduated in flying colours (laughs). You see, acting for me, has been a life-long ambition. It was even because of this that I went to study Mass Communication.
“It was while I was still in IMT that I started hobnobbing with actors and other artistes. We usually met at the Presidential Hotel (Enugu) for auditions and as you know, one thing led to the other and we're here.”
How they met
Both of them agree that they had been hearing about each other before they met. But the meeting at Macdavos Hotel is forever etched in their subconscious. Says Chinedu, “that day is the day I will never forget because we caused a spectacle for everyone. I felt like my lost brother had been found. I couldn't believe it at all.” For Osita, “at least, I felt that I was not different after all as I have a friend with whom to share my woes. Do you know that ever since, we have never been far apart from each other? That is what tells you that this friendship is made in heaven.”
The film, Aki n'Ukwa
Chinedu explains: “That was the name of the film that brought us out as real actors. It was from there that Aki and Pawpaw cliche started. Let me tell you something, it was Amayo Uzo Philips who wrote the script of Aki n'Ukwa and cast us in it. It was an instant hit. He had told us that the day he saw us hug each other as long lost brothers, the idea had come to him to do the script which became an instant hit.”
What about education?
Osita: “I have enrolled to do a diploma programme at the University of Lagos. I have also done some other courses.
Chinedu: “Like I said before, I studied Mass Communication at the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu.
Playing adult/children roles
According to Osita, “that you see us playing those roles makes us the professionals that we are. As far as those movies are concerned, the Censors Board always classifies the movies. Is it very easy to transit from one role to the other? Rather than criticise, they should congratulate us for trying our best.”
Chinedu discloses that “I started as an actor playing kiddies' roles. When we met, someone saw the uniqueness in us and wrote a script which looks like an adaptation of Problem child. When the film was released, it blew the people's minds and this is Nigeria where whatever anyone does right attracts all others.
“So, other script writers, producers, directors followed suit. It was far too early to start rejecting those roles because we needed to survive. As a young graduate, I wanted to make a name and of course, the money to take care of my family members because I am the first son. But even if I were not the first son, I have always had the intention of taking care of my responsibilities and helping my siblings.
“Such films also come from Hollywood. The first time I saw Gary Coleman in a film, he was playing the role of a child. He was 29 then. I felt he was a kid until someone called my attention to the man. I have even played a 40-something-year old man; Osita has also played the role of an old man. We are actors who are capable of playing any roles and that is what we want to prove to all. You may have seen Osita play Jadon and you must agree that the character is elderly.”
“It is the fear of God and the understanding we have that has kept us going ever since we met,” says Ikedieze. “I often tell people that this is friendship made by God, so nothing would ever cut it. We met where we went to shoot a movie in Enugu.