+ ‘If they say I’m a gigolo they shoould tell me I slept with his mother’
ACTOR cum model, IK Ogbonna, is just back from the United States of America for modelling and movie jobs. To the contrary, it’s widely believed that the handsome dude was actually on the trip to satisfy the sexual urge of his female customers as a gigolo and homosexual. These and more the role interpreter and businessman denied in this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, October 31, 2013, at his Victoria Garden City, Lagos home.
What is the latest about IK Ogbonna?
Basically, I have been working a lot trying to push my modeling career. I want to do modeling on a higher scale, model for the biggest brands in the world. And I did about two movies there which will be out very soon.
We did one with Vivica Fox and the other one was with people I don’t even know. There are some people in Hollywood that have been there for long and you don’t really know them, but over there they are famous.
The movie you did with Vivica Fox, were you the only Nollywood actor there?
Yes, I was the only Nollywood actor. There were Liberians, Camerounians and she didn’t even really appear in the movie. She did like three scenes, more like a cameo appearance. For the main movie I was supposed to shoot, we had issues with actors and their timing. The movie was supposed to feature Morris Chester, Taye Diggs. We had to shift it to January 2014, so I am going back to the States by January 2014.
How is life as an actor?
Life has been wonderful and awesome. I have said my story several times. I did not know I would be in this sport. I was just doing my own thing, doing my business here and there and the whole acting just stumbled upon me or I stumbled on it. Since then, it has been more of God’s grace and I thank God for everything.
What are the challenges of being an actor?
There is really not much challenge. Even before I started acting and fame came, I have always had love and support from girls in everything I do. Now, it’s in the higher scale. But what some people don’t understand is, there is a level to some things. Some people will just walk up to you and ask for your PIN and number and if you say no, they will start looking at you as a rude person. Or you are out there, some drunk girls will say they want to kiss you. Funny things happen here and there. One of the things I would say is a challenge is the fact that Nollywood is trying to jump to a different level right now. The movies we have now are really different from movies back then. There is a whole lot of development in Nollywood. On my own part, it is not a challenge, but a challenge to the industry as a whole and it plays a role in the fact that I had to be very selective with the scripts I choose. I might get a good script and not be conversant with the name of the director or producer. It is hard for you to know even if the level of production is going to be up to the level you operate. I am only comfortable working with people that I know and have seen their production.
How are you managing it?
If I get the name of the director or the producer, I will probably google their names and other jobs they have done to know if they produce good movies. I also ask questions about the cameras they are using and locations. From the information they give you, you will know if they are willing to produce good movies and I will work with them. But it is very hard balancing modelling and acting. Before, I was in all the modelling jobs here and there. My ears were down for any job before, but now I am more into acting and people call for me as an ambassador and I accept. I don’t really have that time and patience to go for casting. It is more selective right now that is why I am targeting the American market. I figure out that my face can be sold internationally. So, why limit it to Africa? When I can sell it internationally.
It was a double programme. The first one was my idea of giving back. Like I said, I saw some children going to school in the morning with torn uniform. Their bags and exercise books were in a very sorry state. In the evening, if you are driving home you see children hawking pure water, banana, plantain on the street. I began to think about the future of these children. Our future leaders, the foundation is not right. These children can be exposed to armed robbery and all kinds of dangerous things. People can tell them all kinds of nasty things and they would believe. So, I thought to myself if these children watch our movies and they look up to us as celebrities, when we talk to them, it will be more meaningful to them. I called Yvonne Nelson and she flew in from Ghana to support me. Adokiye is a very good friend of mine and she gave me her support too. The second one, an NGO from America, I can’t remember their name, they were doing free medical check-ups, especially for old people and they told me about it and I liked the idea and felt it would be nice to join them. We came down for Tonto Dikeh’s show and Snow White. Apart from free medical check-up, we gave out scholarship to three students.
To what level?
Right now, the scholarship is for a year after which we can review it. There was one other thing I want to do but I was away in the United States for about two months, but by next month I will focus on it. Though I can’t change the whole world, I can only do my bit.
Where did you visit in the States?
I was in Atlanta and New York. I went to the New York Film School to improve my acting. Those little things we pay attention to, I wanted to work them out. I was also in Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, Texas and Dallas. Those were the places I went to. There are many producers in the States too. Some of their movies are sub-standard but they are trying to meet up with Nollywood. I also pushed my modelling career.
Recently, artistes are now showing off their kids, how is your little Mikayla doing?
Mikayla is fine.
How old is she now?
She will be two in December.
I don’t want her to be in the press for now, maybe when she starts singing. Though I am not going to decide for her. Even as a baby she likes dancing but as parents we will give her all the necessary guidelines she needs.
Is IK in a relationship or you are with your babymama?
No, we are just friends.
So, are you in a relationship?
With time you people will know. When I decide to get married I will release a press statement.
The allegation about your trip to the States is that you went to do gigolo ‘runs’, what is your take on it?
I can never tell people what to say. There is freedom of speech which God gave us, which our constitution also gave us. People don’t really know my story. I have heard different things about me. I have heard that I am a gigolo, gay that I have foolish attitude, that I am a snub. But if they get closer to me they would say they did know I am this kind of person. Some people don’t know I had a very rough beginning, even though my parents were on the average. I moved to Lagos alone and I had a very rough time. I slept on the street sometimes. Seven years ago when I moved down to Lagos, for like three years or so, I slept in cars. I had this friend of mine that I used to sleep in his car and burn insecticide at night. I always carry myself well because I know where I am destined to be. I kept on pushing. Sometimes I slept over at the club when there is no friend’s house to pass the night. I was homeless. I had things very rough at a particular point in time. It is God’s grace that is working for me. When people say I am a gigolo, I am waiting for the person that will come and tell me I slept with his mother. If one person can just come and tell me, IK see this woman you are sleeping with, she is my mother and I will admit I am a gigolo.
They also alleged you are gay?
Like I told you, I never thought I was going to be an actor. I was more into business. I am involved in a lot of things. Acting is just something that just came and I loved it. A greater percentage of my money is from business. I am an Igbo man (laughs). I want to get into Forbes and it is not by acting alone. I have to work very hard and be creative with my ideas. Money I get from movies will go to charity. For the gay thing, I don’t blame people, but the truth is I love women. God created man for woman not the other way round. Leviticus 18 verse 22 where the Bible tells us it is forbidden for a man to be with man. I won’t judge those calling me gay or tell them what to do. Gay is a very deadly thing and I am someone that respects God a lot. I try to keep His commandments. I know I am very adventurous and I have a very high fashion sense. You can see me wearing a three-quarter pants, colourful things and thank God for making me a fine boy. When people say I am a gigolo or gay it’s their own judgement. There is no man or woman that can ever come out and say IK has slept with me or a mother that is above age that will say I am sleeping with her and she pays me. When you’re successful people will always talk. They should keep talking and promoting my brand.
Who do you think is behind this rumour of you being gay and a gigolo?
Human beings (laughs). There is one thing about me, people are busy talking about me and I am working, who is losing? I don’t know these people and I don’t intend to know them.
So, when these dirty talks are bandied about, do they really affect you?
No, it doesn’t. The only person I owe any explanation is God. I don’t owe human beings any explanation. As long as I know I am in His good book and my conscience is clear, I am not bothered.
Is it true you’re dating Adokiye?
Adokiye and I cannot date. We are in a position that we cannot even think of dating. We are really close. We are like brother and sister and she knows most of my secrets. We are not dating.
– AJOKE ONITOLO