Justus Esiri, MON has paid his dues in Nollywood. Credited with countless number of movies (the last check puts it at about 400), the Village Headmaster star has seen it all in the world’s second largest movie industry.
ENCOMIUM weekly had this interview with him on Thursday, June 2, 2011. Here he humbly admitted that fate had dealt him good hands in the acting that spans more than 40 years (Justus Esiri was the only Nigerian male performing on stage in 1968/69 in Germany).
The veteran actor, who starred in Indecent Desire, Never Say Ever, One God, One Nation, Liquid Black Gold, Bed of Roses, Hour of Grace, Power Quest, Home in Exile, Ranging Tiger, Price of fame, The Ghost, My Private Part, The eagle’s Pride, amongst others, also reviewed the state of Nollywood. Explaining why only a few hit it big in the industry. He said more…
Should it really take one a long time to be a star in Nollywood?
A tough question indeed. It is between you, your talent and your God. You can be a star in two years. You can also be a star in 10 years. And unfortunately some may never be star. Let me also add that stars are often good actors.
What is your definition of a good actor?
A good actor must be talented and know the rudiments on the profession. That means you have to go to school. Education is very important in this business.
Other than the fame that comes with stardom, is money not part of it?
I don’t think we should emphasize money here because when you are good, money comes. When you are good, they pay for your services. Some actors live and die poor because they are not good enough. A lot of them pretend to be good, but they are empty because they don’t know the rules of the game.
Have you been lucky in this respect?
We thank God. I have no reason to complain.
How is life treating you sir?
Life is good. I can’t ask for more than this from God. He has blessed me mightily. And I trust He won’t let me down. Life is fine. I thank God I don’t pay school fees anymore. All my children are now graduates.
You rarely appear in movies these days?
But I don’t need to appear in movies constantly just for the sake of being at work. I select the kind of movies I want to shoot. Even at that, once in a while, we shoot films just to keep the industry going.
Do you see Nollywood improving in the nearest future?
Sure. With the way it is going now, it will definitely be better. There are now clear indications that practitioners are improving on their act while the Federal Government is working on infrastructural platform to support the industry. I am particularly excited by the $200 million made available for the industry. Hoping that it will go to the right hands.
A lot of people are already complaining that it is pretty difficult to access the facility?
That is expected, but I am sure there should be guidelines on ground to assist those interested in the funds. By and large, it is a positive development. And I commend President Goodluck Jonathan for this laudable initiative. This is what the industry, particularly Nollywood has been looking for over the years.
You were award the member of the Order of the Niger (MON) national award during President Obasanjo’s regime but a lot of your colleagues have not been duly appreciated?
It is a matter of time. Honour must surely be given to whom it is due at the right time.
We would also want to ask you if you have any regret considering the fact you were one of those patriotic Nigerians that shunned the goodies in the Western world back then to return home for national service.
How can I regret coming back home to serve my fatherland? How can I regret returning home from Germany to help build an industry that is today the pride of the black race and the world at large? I have no regret at all. I rather feel fulfilled. That is why I will continue to be at the fore front to take Nollywood and the entertainment industry at large to where it really belongs. And like I said before, we are almost where it really belongs. And like I said before, we are almost there. The way it is going now, we hope it will be better.
*This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, July 12, 2011