A movie icon par excellence, veteran actor Zack Orji is one of in the Nigeria Movie Industry. Born in Libreville, Gabon, in the 1960s, the versatile actor, director, producer and filmmaker, made his debut into Nollywood 23 years ago and today ranks as one of the most respected in the thriving movie industry. His debonair personality and clout has since inception, earned him a prestigious status in the make believe world. The Nollywood legend is a graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka and has been happily for 26 years. In an interview with City People Head of Movie Desk VIVIAN ONUORAH, the celebrated actor speaks on acting,his love for evangelism and the secret of his successful 26 years marriage.
You were recently on set of a new series Casion,what was the experience like and what role did you play?
I played the role of Professor Douglas; the god father.The character is all about a political godfather, the Nigerian style. When a man helps somebody to become a public official, or a governor, the typical Nigerian God father believes that he should tell the governor how to run the state and that’s exactly what is happening in Casino. He believes by reason of his position he should be the one who decides what happens as far as the political terrain in the state is concerned. So you see himself and the governor at loggerheads from time to time. We also take a peek into the extended family of these people; I have a son in the series who is married and also having an extra marital affair. At the end of the day, the series is a mirror for the Nigerian society to have a peek into what is happening to us as a political consolidation via a Vis, and then the private life of the key players
How easy was it for you to get into the character?
I didn’t have to do much research in terms of the fact that I read the papers and I listen to news so I see what is happening in Nigeria and its just typical of what is happening in Nigeria so I didn’t have to look far to get the primary source of how to prepare for my character.
How challenging was the role?
It was very challenging in terms of the fact that we had to work on set in order words ,there were no natural locations, the entire set on the movie was built so it was a challenge sometimes having to adjust to certain things from time to time for the set to get ready.Also we shot for at least 2 months in Ibadan and also preparing for my character and having to travel back and forth Lagos ,Abuja, Ibadan.The whole thing was done amidst other commitments that one had.Overall the performance aspect was ok and interesting.
You seem to always play the role of a big man,can you ever play the role of a poor man well?
Laughs, I have played the role of a circumstantial poor man, a poor man that became poor due to circumstances in different movies so my being a poor a man was dependent on the circumstances of my character. But nobody was born poor and also in casting you look at the physical attribute of every actor to determine whether it fits into the character .But I can pretty much adjust to any character.
What are some movie projects you have worked on in recent times?
In the last 3 months I have taken part in about 4 movies, some of them should be in the market, or will be in the market soon. I have a movie project am going to do in Asaba.
At some point you went off the scene few years ago, what actually happened?
I didn’t go off the scene, rather I wasn’t as active as I used to be, it happens in the life of every actor. There are times when you get a little less active and also as you get older, you can’t play certain characters that you played when you much younger. I have been as active as I was back then but am still active.
Asides acting what else do you do?
I a media consultant for some companies, I prepare media packages for them to project themselves, I also train actors and I travel alot.AM also an ordained reverend, a pastor so I get invitations to minister in different churches both within and outside Nigeria. I have engagements in South Africa this October.
It’s surprising to know you are also a pastor, how did you become one?
It’s been 3 years now.
What inspired you to tow that line?
Laughs, I didn’t tow the line, nobody talked me into it and I didn’t set out to be an ordained reverend, my bishop probably got inspired by God to ordain me. I worship with Power line Bible Church under Bishop Lawrence Osagie and he ordained me in 2012.Even before my ordination, I had been receiving invitations from different places to come and minister. So when the offer came from my bishop to ordain me, I didn’t reject it .I took it whole heartedly and I get excited when I have opportunity to speak to people, inspire them and draw them closer to God. I consider myself extremely blessed to be in such position where I can actually minister to people to change their lives.
Being a veteran actor who has been there since about inception of Nollywood, how would you rate the growth of the industry?
Nollywood has undergone various transformations over the years and I can with a high degree of certainty that with advancement in technology, we shoot better films now and in terms of picture quality, there are a lot of cameras that are available right now that will help us do world class movies in terms of picture quality and resolution. Am glad it’s happening right now in Nigeria
Talking about the whole production gammot, we still have a lot of mediocre scripts in the market; we have people trying to cut corners. It’s like that in other countries; you have good films and some crapy films. It’s also happening right here in Nollywood.
For how long have you been acting?
23years and it’s been exhilarating.
Your son is also into entertainment, how supportive of him are you?
My job is to give my children the best upbringing. He studied in England and he read Media and Television at the University of Bradford, and he chose to be a musician, that’s his calling. We all have gifts inside of us and it’s when we begin to operate in the gift that God has given us that we surely excel. So I believe that he is doing what gives him joy and satisfaction. And when you do that with passion and tenanicity, you would get recognition. When he said that’s what he wanted to do, I said fine no problem.
You have been married for a long time now,what would you attribute the success to?
The success of marriage depends on God not us, it only depends on us to the extent that we are ready to hang in there both in the good and bad times, and not throw in the towel because of a little challenge. A lot of people are not ready to face any challenge and that is why most marriages don’t last.Noone said there wont be ups and down but to stay strong,you keep remembering the things that attracted you to each other and probably try to recreate them. Then perseverance, marriage is a lifetime thing and has its challenges so when it comes, you take them but be ready to hang in there because it’s a journey of life.
How long have you been married?