Source: nigeriafilms.com
Jim Iyke and Emeka Ike
Jim Iyke and Emeka Ike
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He is not an unfamiliar face neither does he need any introduction.

Emeka Ike, is a man many love to hate but do otherwise. What works the magic for the hunk lies in his acting prowess that has kept him relevant in the industry.

His foray into the make-believe world was not by design but by chance. Having bagged a degree in mechanical engineering from the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) Lagos, he sought out a living with his certificate in hand. He was optimistic. He was lucky enough to get employment as a computer engineer but his office fell below expectation forcing him to seek greener pastures.

Although he led a drama group and youth choir in church in his younger days, he did not set out to be an actor.

His intimidating physique and good looks afforded him a role in defunct soap opera Mega Fortunes. He took it up from there and joined the bandwagon of the fast developing Nollywood in 1993. Deadly Affair, a film produced by Opa Williams launched him into prominence and since then he has consistently maintained the position of being one of the top actors in Nigeria.

The Anambra State born actor has been gracing the screens 14 years. To celebrate his unbroken run, he is planning to roll out the drums in grand style. He will be celebrating with his students and their parents. Students! You exclaim?

Emeka is not all about scripts, location and all those terms ascribed to actors. His behind –the-scene input reverberates at St. Nicholas College an elite secondary school located in the Magodo area of Lagos. While he has decided to take a back seat in the scene of affairs his wife, Emma alongside the expatriate principal see to the physical, mental and intellectual well being of students.

The rationale behind this project, according to him, is "the drive to achieve perfection and create a dummy for Nigerians to emulate. There are several schools out there not living up to expectation and our kids are not the better for it. We need to give them an enviable platform to achieve their dreams."

In less than a year of operations, they are not doing badly. The hands on deck are some of the best he enthused: "We have experts, the woman (principal) you see there has headed big schools like Maryam Babangida's El-Amin in Minna and Caleb College. When you assemble a fantastic team, you get the best result."

Having resigned himself to the background to save the students from distractions, he said, "I am not the one running the school, I don't have anything to do with the school just like I don't visit except on rare occasions like this, even at that you can see I have restricted myself outside the gates." His wife represents his interest.

Though he prefers to keep mum on his financial worth, it is evident a lot of money was sunk into the school project. The highbrow location, the building, the air-conditioned classrooms, the well-equipped science laboratories to mention a few bear testimony to millions that must have been expended.

Reflecting on the past 14 years, he confessed his survival is not his making having gotten this far: "Believe me, it is God and nothing more, if I ever give God's glory to any voodoo, His blessing in my life will cease and I will become a nobody. Even God said 'My glory will I share with no human being'".

Unarguably one of the biggest names in the industry the dark complexioned actor ranks among the A-class actors whose pictures on movie jackets sells. It is often speculated that his meteoric rise is at par with his fees making him one of the highest paid actors.

"It hurts me when I see young actors begrudging big ones for taking big money," he said.

"I don't put my figures in the news but I am good." Pressed further to reveal the highest and lowest fees he has ever received he said: "My range is very high, extremely high. Once Nigerian Breweries invited me for a talk show meant to last 12 weeks, one day in a week and I charged them a bill slightly beyond N12 million.

"I can make more than that in a week from movies. What I charged is conservative enough.

"The last 14 years have not been all rosy," he quipped. "What you expect is not what you get."

He fired a salvo at the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), whom he accused of not being grounded in dissipating their duties, part of which is representing the interest of actors and achieving a balance in fees charged by actors.

He is not a saint when it comes to controversies. He has had his fair share of media bashing and thus developed a thick skin. He reiterates that none of the publications, which he described as malicious, has affected him at the home front. "I am a family man and I love my wife and kids, moreover my wife knows me inside out. She knows I cannot date anybody around our area." He has, however, taken it all in his stride and sees it as a price he has to pay for stardom.

His brouhaha with fellow actor, Jim Iyke, has remained one of the most celebrated in the industry and we raised it with him. Another infamous tale about him was that he hit the sack with a married woman.

Much as he would not want to be drawn into a war of words, he expressed his distaste for the fallacious publications authored by mischief makers going by several names.

"It is a long story, my wife and I know the lady in question and her husband. He used her to get his green card and now wants an excuse to drop her. What makes it painful is that the lady was diagnosed of leukemia.

"Jim Iyke as far as I am concerned is an opportunist who is below me. He is jealous of my achievements. He is working in concert with that man. All their plans are crumbling before them. I don't have to join issues with anybody. Imagine Jim threatening to beat me up on a movie set in America and in my usual manner I was calm about it while he was blowing hot like a dog on heat," he recalled.

He is certainly expanding his frontiers, but make no mistake, "acting remains my first love," he said, adding "my fans should look forward to more movie roles to relish from me."