It is better for me to do just one movie and do it well than to do 100 stupid movies— Chikogozie
Chikogozie Zeal Atuanya is one of the most promising faces in the Nigerian entertainment industry today. The multi talented actor cum singer has featured in good number of Nigerian movies. Chigozie as he is poppularly addressed by his many admirers is also a model, script writer and producer. He recently lunched his first musical album titled “Oruola” in collaboration with his kid brother Onyeze Atuanya.
The Anambra state born and former Delta soap model has been in the entertainment industry for more than a decade now and claims to be influenced into acting by Ebube Okafor. In this chart, Chigozie talks about his passion for acting, why he is still single and why he has decided to go into music.
Can you tell us what you do apart from acting?
I am also a model, producer and a singer.
How do you joggle all these together?
Well, I handle them well, after all, Will Smith is a movie actor and a singer so if he can handle them well, I see no reason why I can't. Though, it's quite tough but I handle them very well.
What is your family background and your growing up like?
I'm from a family of seven including my parents. Though, we were nine in number but later lost one boy and the only girl we had. So, we are all guys in the family except my mum. My parents are still alive also. I have some nieces whom I treat them like my biological sisters. I find it really hard to maltreat any girl that comes my way because I don't have one and it's a constant pain in my heart and for that reason, I'm always very careful with the way I treat ladies. Growing up was fun, my parents always give you the support to follow your dream in life, they don't impose a profession on you as long as you are okay with it, they give you their blessings.
Who must have influenced you into all these professions?
I watch films a lot and I have some role models that I look up to. I see them on Hollywood, Nollywood, Mtv base and many more. Over there in abroad, a movie star could turn out to be a musician and no qualms about that. But in Nigeria, people always raise an eyebrow when they hear that you are a movie actor and at the same time a musician.
It shouldn't be so because entertainment is entertainment depending on the angle that you are coming from, if you are talented you are talented, all you have to do is to be focused, to be the best in whatever you choose to do. So basically, I'm influenced by a lot of people in the entertainment industry. I watch Will Smith, he is an actor and a musician, I watch Jay Z, he's an actor and also a musician. All these people influence me one way or the other. Also, I influence my self. I'm young, single and I can do anything good to get money. If I'm asked to pull off my shirt on a set and the pay is right, I will do it.9 I can do anything to make money as long as I'm not cheating or stepping on another person's shoe.
So which of theses do you love most, the acting, producing, singing or the modeling?
I love modeling so much but recently I'm adding too much of weight so it is really telling on me. Though, I'm still working on it because now I have a modeling contract with an agency abroad but because of my recent weight, they are kind of complaining now. So, I'm really working on it. Acting is what I cannot deny because it's what made what I am today so I can't underestimate acting in any way.
But at the moment, I'm kind of slowing down because when I seat down to watch some of the stupid and nonsense films I did in the past, it makes me feel really bad. So what I do now whenever I'm given a script, I go through it and if it is not worth it, I forget about it. It is better for me to do just one movie and do it well than to do 100 of stupid movies. So in acting, I'm still there and I love acting.
How long have you been acting?
I can't remember but I started with rattle snake part three and that was a long time ago. So it's more than a decade now. I acted as Ebuka in rattle Snake.
Which of these brought you to limelight?
I think it was the Delta soap advert I did that brought me to the limelight. Because after the Delta soap advert, calls started coming in and that was it. I can't really say this movie or that movie brought me out, it was after the advert that I had the biggest break through. But I must say it here that I love acting and I'm actually working on one at the moment called “A brother”. A movie directed by Ifanyi Onyeabor.
Who must have influenced you into acting?
I can never forget that young man, Ebube Okafor. He came to me that I can do very well in the movie industry and I said to him please let that be, I'm not interested. But after much pressure from him, I gave in and the rest is story. Though, I have been doing stage drama in church before he came to me, but basically, Ebube Okafor was the person that influenced me into acting and made the person that I am today. Some people say it's God that made them who they are, but God cannot do that except through man and for me, Ebube Okafor was the man God used to bless me.
What about the music, who influenced you?
The music thing is a family thing, it runs in the blood. My father was a renowned musician in his time. He had his own musical group, my younger brother that I did this new album with, has been in music even before he travelled to the United State of America and our last born is coming up with his guitar, piano etc. So, music is one thing that has been running in the family and I feel combining music and acting is not a bad idea.
Looking at the movie industry in Nigeria, how would you rate it compare with Hollywood?
The difference is much, it's not the same at all. And I'm sure that is the reason why the Government is trying to come in. The government and the marketers are trying to come out with something and I pray it comes out good because what we have around here is not the best at all.
Talking about Nollywood and Hollywood, there's a big difference because Americans have everything that you can think of when it comes to entertainment. They have the equipment, the studio, movie set and all these. But, Nollywood has none of these, if they have a movie to shoot, they move from one house to the other begging people to use their houses to shoot a movie but America is not like that. So Nigeria movie industry cannot be compared with Hollywood. But I'm happy because, we are growing and I pray some day we shall get there.
How do you handle your female fans?
I have fans and I also have female fans. But I don't take advantage of girls because of my status, I treat them with respect and I say kudos to them.
So why are you still single?
I'm still single because I haven't seen the right woman yet. As soon as I find her, I will tie up the knot.
Have you had any high moment?
Yes, in Gambia where I went for Miss Galaxy beauty pageant and I was given a standing ovation including the Vice president of Gambia.
They shouldn't make me angry because I'm kind of temperamental but sometimes when I find myself in that dull mood, I take a walk from the scene.
To your fans?
Follow your dream, don't allow any one to talk you out. And make sure you listen to Oruola, every morning before you leave your home. It is very inspirational, listen to it and it will change your life.