Ejiro Okurame: Representing Nollywood
Nigeria has been producing films since the 1960s and the industry has grown into a $250 million dollar operation, producing over 200 home videos per month.
It has become the third largest entertainment industry outside of the United States and India. In just 13 years, Nollywood, which has taken its cue from Hollywood and Ballywood, has grown from obscurity into an industry employing thousands of performers. One such performer is the talented and charming Ejiro Okurame. Ejiro hails from the Delta State region of Nigeria which is under the local governance of Isoko South.
Although Okurame acquired her degrees in Sociology and Public Relations, her dream was always to go into entertainment. The buxom actress began her career as a body model which unlike America's fashion industry, does not require women to be reed thin.
It wasn't long however before she followed her true passion and auditioned for the role of a good girl in a movie entitled “The Schemers.” She won the role and launched her career as a film star. Ejiro has never looked back. “I started acting in 2004. My first movie was “The Schemers” directed by Nollywood veteran Andy Chukwu. I played the sensible friend of the two central characters. Nigerian notables such as Rita Dominic, Bimbo Akintola, and Keppy Bassey also starred in the film,” said the young ingénue.
Ejiro went on to perform in “Woman in Power,” directed by Adim Williams, co-starring Gloria Young, Mama Gee and Liz Benson. “I played a young girl attending school. I wanted to get married and settle down but I had problems in school with my lecturers who were trying to harass me sexually. It was a major role for me and one in which I felt I interpreted well,” added Ejiro who shortly afterwards found her fame had spread.
She began working non-stop, performing in such well received films as the comedy hit, “Last Order.” Ejiro was hilarious as the nagging abusive woman married to a police officer whom she berated and physically abused. “This role was rather demanding, “explained the Nigerian star. “It was really tough having to physically beat my co-star. However, once I got into it, I began really beating him,” explained the burgeoning actress. “My director, Dickson Iroegbu, jokingly told me to make sure I didn't take the abuse off the set and start beating my real life boyfriend at home,” chuckled the exotic film artist. This amusing project featured comedians Mr. Ibu, John Okafor and Victor Osuagwu.
Although she wasn't in the Jackie Chan version of Rush Hour, Ejiro did appear in a Nigerian cultist film directed by Afam Okereke, entitled, “The Rush Hour,” alongside Nollywood stars Nonso Diobi, and Oge Okoye. She went on to appear in “Pride of A Woman” with Nigerian actors Clem Ohameze, Patience Ozorkwor (a.ka. Mama Gee) and Oge Okoye. In her next film, “Apostates of Hell” directed by Obi Callys Obinali, Okurame found herself acting in a supernatural movie with big named Nollywood stars such as Justice Esiri, Zack Orji and Charles Okafor. Another of her films, “Desperate Sisters,” directed by Adam Williams, featured Omotola Jalade Ekeinde and Tony Umez. By the time Ms. Okurame appeared in “Temple of Justice,” directed by Adam Williams and starring Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Nonso Diobi and Chinyere Nwabueze, she had built up quite a loyal fan base. Her film “Dangerous Gambling,” directed by Willie Ajenge was shot on location in Ghana and starred Ghana film stars Van Vicker, Nadia Buhari and Stephanie Okereke. Ejiro lent her considerable talent to “Marriage Apart,” co-starring Muna Obiekwe, Ngozi Ezeonu, and Emeka Okoro and to the film “Final Point,” starring Desmond Elliot.
Since her film debut 4 ½ years ago, Ejiro has appeared in over 50 films. Ejiro's schedule is so full she hardly has time to rest. Signed with Tuff Gig Entertainment, owned by Hardy Jimbes who is also the CEO of Save Africa Concerts Foundation (SAC AIDS) which is set to honor esteemed individuals who perform humane service within their communities, have a deep commitment toward insuring HIV/AIDS continual education, awareness and prevention both nationally and internationally, Ejiro traveled to New York to be a presenter at the event. Patti Labelle, Princess Florence Ita-Giwa, and Owelle Rochas Okorocha are slated to be among those honored on Saturday, September 6th at the Apollo Theatre. The event is hosted by Stephanie Okereke, Francis Duru, Ini Edo and Nenna (America's Next Top Model) with a live performance by Mama Gee.
“Education and awareness has helped so much in changing the views of people in Nigeria concerning HIV/AIDS. At one time, we used to be so scared that if you were around or ate near a person with AIDS, you would contract it. Now, we understand that you cannot get it simply by being in the presence of someone with AIDS. We have accepted that AIDS is present and we must eradicate it. I believe the best way is abstinence and education,” remarked the Nollywood star.
With each movie, Ejiro continues to hone her craft and develop techniques to make herself better in order to fulfill her ambition of becoming a great actress one day. She would like to direct movies in future, thus is eager to learn all aspects of the entertainment business. Appreciative of her success and not one to think only of herself, Ejiro would like to give back to those who have supported her through the years and open opportunities to aspiring thespians. It is Ejiro's hope to one day create a foundation which would allow her to invest in others. The foundation would give young actors the chance to learn acting, directing, editing, and scri pt writing as well as all phases of the entertainment business.
Ejiro Okurame represents the face of young Nollywood. She plans one day to bring Nollywood to Hollywood where she can give Americans a taste of her considerable talent and movie star appeal.