YOUNGER ARTISTES NEED PATIENCE TO SUCCEED – VALENTINE AGWULONU
Valentine Chima Agwulonu is a script writer, producer and an actor. He said that the role of Nollywood is to proffer solutions to societal problems. Agwulonu hails from Mbutu Mbaise area of Imo State and studied Business Administration at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Agwulonu has always played prominent roles in movies because of the grey hairs which gives him an advantage over others.
He advised young artistes to be patient if they are to make it in life. In a recent chat with us Agwulonu spoke about his acting career, his female fans, assessment and improving Nollywood, among others.
I first featured in Journey to Hell alongside other popular artistes in 1993. I played the role of an uncle to one of the female artistes in that movie. Today, I have well over 150 movies. Some of the movies include 666, The Church on Fire, End Time, War in the Church, Stolen Crown, Million Dollar Sister, Emotional Blackmail, Capture, Fishers of Men, Bus Driver, Jadon, Wind of Faith, Attonement, The last Queen of Aso Rock, Political Control, Serious Issue, End of Discussion, Women in Action, Money in the bank, Statement of Account among others.
I attend auditions and based on my performance, the producer or director usually gives me a role. The role could be of a chief, reverend father, a pastor or lawyer depending on what is prescribed by the scripts.
In the private or public sector, every renumeration has a grade. I came into the industry as a green horn because I didn't study Theatre Arts in the university. With my talent and interest, I learnt very fast. I would say that what I earn now is different from what I used to earn when I started. Some people get over excited because of the payment but all I can say now is that I am earning an equivalent of what my colleagues earn in other professions.
I always do things that God wants me to be because I take one step after the other. I am working so hard and if I end up owning a private jet, glory be to God. Whatever level that I find myself, I accept it in good fate. I also want people's expectation not to be too high compared to what my income can afford.
I always want to work against embarrassments. I should be embarrassed when I don't do my job very well. Since we work on a tight schedule, everybody wants results at every point in time. A director may not be patient with you to get your lines or accommodate any mistakes. In order to avoid embarrassment, I ensure that I work very hard by studying my scripts very well, I internalize my roles and make analysis of who the character is. I also try as much as possible not to forget my lines.
Experiences on different locations come in various forms. An artiste could have the risk of not being accommodated if the hotel space is so limited such that he/she would have to share a room with other artistes with different lifestyles. Sometimes, there could be shortage of food and one would have to fend for one's self. But generally, locations are enjoyable when necessary logistics are on ground and everything is well planned.
In the industry, an artist is expected to be liberal. I am strictly on business, I still acknowledge the greetings of my female fans. I am always cautious that I don't go beyond their greetings. When they smile at me, I would smile back at them. I don't allow the excitement or euphoria to take over me. Sometimes, when I walk along the streets, some female fans say hello to me that they like my roles in movies.
Nollywood is doing a great job and it is growing as our artistes and movies are being accepted globally. In Nollywood, we treat issues such as moral decadence, widowhood, child abuse, religion in the society and Nigerians have accepted all these whole heartedly. Artistes are not jesters but are intelligent and educated people who derive joy in teaching morals and entertaining the society.
But government has neglected the movie industry which generates income through the Censors Board. Government should help the industry by providing allocations to the industry and sponsor good movies. People should not look at artistes as never-do-wells or unserious people in the society because Nollywood has brought joy and happiness to a lot of homes in the country. I would like people in authority to formulate policies that would assist Nollywood which in turn would increase the revenue base of the country.
Advice to young artistes
The problem with upcoming artistes and youths is that they are too impatient. They want to out smart popular artistes but at the end of the day, they go into all sorts of negative things. The younger artistes should be patient, and take things easy by learning on the job. They should also learn other crucial areas such as costumes, make up, set designing, props management etc.