Handsome Collins Onwochei is one of the easily-recognizable faces in Nigerian entertainment, having starred in a handful of flicks and excelled at pageantry and modeling.
The filmmaker, from his peace project geared towards achieving One Nigeria, to producing and starring in the controversial Room 027, has been busy.
In this chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the hunk opened up on his career, the One Nigeria project and how Room 027 got him suspended from church.
What’s new, what are you working on currently?
Thank you, a lot has been happening in the entertainment scene, Nollywood and the polity in general. We are all just recovering from the rush and panic that trailed the elections.
Thank God it’s over and we are all eagerly waiting for May 29. Back to your question on what am working
on currently. I have never been so busy as an actor and a film maker. Right now, am working on the peace and one Nigeria campaign, and the Nollywood Christmas Family party.
Tell us more about it.
Early this year, I was appointed the Chief Operations Officer of Alpha Global Network, a global entertainment outfit with a base in the UK and Spain. Primarily, we are into global entertainment, events, concerts, brand and product activation with a strong passion for campaigns that will promote the unity and continued co-existence of the Nigerian people. The peace and one Nigerian campaign involves the participation of every true Nigerian and it kicks off from the second week of June 2015.
In December, we have the Nollywood Family Christmas Party, bringing every celebrity and stakeholder in the entertainment industry, captains of industry, leaders in government and the ordinary people under one umbrella to celebrate Christmas with carols, music, drama, comedy, and dance.
Hopefully, we will have City Choral and their full orchestra, Frank Edwards, 2Face Idibia and other great performers at the events. Alpha Global Network ‘s world press conference, to unveil the peace and One Nigeria Campaign, The Nollywood Family Christmas Party, and the Rugged cross Foundation is slated for June 5 at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
What is the idea behind the project and what are the objectives?
After my appointment as C.O.O of Alpha Global Network, I started developing media creatives and Programmes that would help consolidate on the grounds covered by the peaceful elections. The world thought Nigeria was going to burn, but we are still here. So, basically, the Peace and One Nigeria Campaign is to consolidate on the victories of the just concluded elections and to sustain and promote the continuous calmness, oneness, prosperity and progress of the Nigerian project.
The Nollywood Family Christmas party is in December, which promises to be the biggest event of the Christmas season. Let me quickly mention that the Rugged Cross Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Alpha Global Network, primarily to help the needy while pointing them to Christ. I believe that every man has a right to good food, shelter, education and healthcare but I strongly feel that all of these are useless, without Christ in our life. I’m on it, you should be too.
How did your journey as an actor begin?
For me, I never dreamt of being an actor or desired it, even though I have been involved in showbiz long before Nollywood became a serious platform.
From being Mr. YabaTech, to first runner up, Mr. Ultimate Nigeria, What you call Mr. Nigeria now, we were among the first set of Nigerians who qualified to represent the country in the Amateur Category of Mr. Universe in Warsaw, Poland. I was into big time modeling and event organization.
However, at the peak of my modeling career, I came into acting when I visited my sister, Josephine Onwochei on the set of Evil Passion. Ngozi Nwosu took a look at me and said “Hmm Mr. Macho, as I was so muscular at that time, make you come dey act with us na…’ That was how it all began.
At what point life did you realize acting is what you’d be doing professionally?
After Evil Passion, I got another role in Circle of Doom then another. At that point, it became clear that acting is one of the things I will like to do professionally, but basically, I had a strong root and training in general
So far, what would you say your career has been like?
Like I said, I strolled into my first movie role and have never stopped till date, acting and producing films like Memory of a Madman, Dangerous Vow, Traffickers, Hidden Issues, a talk show, and lately Room
027. I never aspired to be an actor or film maker, but here we are. Popular, yes, but not Famous yet. Striving to be financially stable but nowhere near rich at the moment, I am hopeful though to succeed because my best days are still ahead of me.
Would you say you have achieved the goals you set out for yourself?
Looking back, I’ll say I did a few things wrongly that affected my brand and didn’t help achieving my goals. But guess what, it’s never late to know better. I have always said that the difference between success and
failure is our thinking pattern, belief system, positioning and consistency.
You come from a family of filmmakers. Is there sometimes any tussle for bragging rights?
No, not at all. I have a very cordial relationship with my elder brother, Francis Onwochei, a legendary actor and film maker and my elder sister, Josephine Onwochei, a great thespian, who is based in the UK and married to a Briton.
Let’s talk about Room 027, would you say the outrage that trailed the movie is justified?
Different strokes for different folks. I received the outrage with a lot of calmness and learnt loads of lessons from it.
You said some time ago that the movie was a ‘mistake’. How’s that?
Room 027 is a creative masterpiece, a simple true Nigerian story. A few scenes in the movie which promoted nudity was completely misguided, uncalled for and out of place. This is Africa, not Hollywood. The film
would have made its point without trying to spice it up by giving it a pornographic tag and coloration. To that
extent, I think that was an error, no excuse, it was wrong. We’ve yanked off the nude scenes, but I tell you
my brother, Nigerians need to see the final cut.
Did your role in the flick affect your marriage or family in any way?
It did oh; My wife, who, to me is the most important gift God has given me after salvation, was so mad. My protocol team in church also put me on suspension and for very good reasons too.
What was I preaching with the movie? What moral lessons do viewers take home after watching it? But I
thank God it hasn’t been released yet, what Nigerians saw was the trailer. We’ve made our corrections and I think you need to see the film.
Why did you accept the role, despite its content?
I produced Room 027 but misread the market and went overboard with my creative license as a film maker. What is wrong is wrong. Everything that smacks of nudity and immorality in Room 027 which ordinarily wouldn’t have had any consequence on the success of the movie has been removed. It’s time
to dust up and move on, and you’ll see that in my next movie, entitled Preachers from hell. We’d talk about that some other time.
People take it that because actors are popular, they are also rich. Would you say that’s the case?
No. So far from the truth, but actors are getting well paid now, brand endorsements, and all. It’s
Let’s talk piracy, how does this affect filmmakers and what can be done?
Negatively. Others are reaping where they did not sow…a few of my colleagues have taken up the initiative to
fight piracy and we are supporting them. Government needs to bring up strong legislation to curb
piracy so that people in the creative arts can prosper.
– MICHAEL NWOKIKE