by Mariam Ajibola
We sat down for a chat with one of Nollywood’s most eligible bachelors Alexx Ekubo during his visit to the UK earlier this year and what a delight he was!
Besides being one of the most dashing young actors on the Nollywood scene, he is endearingly humble, passionate about his work and surprisingly religious. Like can’t finish a sentence without making a reference to God kinda religious.
In this exclusive interview, we discovered quite a few interesting things about the 28-year-old law UniCal alumni- He sleeps very late, speaks Hausa fluently (his first crush was a Hausa girl called Fatima…sssshh!), he loves fast cars and his favourite meal is pounded yam with Afang soup (and lots of meat). Best of all, one day he’d like to play the role of a super hero.
See the full interview below.
Could you give us a brief introduction to Alexx Ekubo?
Well, I’m an actor. I’ve been acting professionally for 3 years, although I’ve done a thing or two in the past- some acting here and there in 2005 and 2005. In 2010, I became the runner-up for the Mr Nigeria pageant which I pretty much stumbled upon at the last-minute thanks to a friend who just recommended the event and urged me to go for it.
The rest as they say is history.
You studied law at the University of Calabar and got a diploma in Mass communications, why did you go into acting and modelling?
I say this all the time. I’m led by God in all I do and surrender myself to His will completely. I went to school to study law and then had my diploma, but I had always been involved in the media. I did one or two TV shows and drama amongst other things while studying, and then it really just occurred to me that this could be full-time, but I never really knew how to go about it until after the Mr Nigeria contest which was a stepping stone for me.
What would you say is the best avenue into acting if you’ve studied something else?
There are no sure ways to success or accomplishing any goals, but the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself because you never know where opportunity may come knocking. Right now, there are a lot of platforms that give people opportunities to achieve their dreams like over here you have shows like the X Factor, Idols and back home in Nigeria, we have Project fame and so on. I’d say put yourself out there and go for it. There are movie auditions happening everyday and castings, so let people know that this is what you do and then actually make a move and go for it.
Considering you haven’t been acting very long, you’ve already received quite a few awards and recognition, how does that feel knowing you didn’t even study to be an actor?
It is just the grace of God, I tell you. After the Screen Nation Awards(where he won the Favourite Male Emerging Screen Talent (African) award) , I posted a picture on Twitter thanking God because I had to come and thank everyone for their support as I haven’t really been here long enough to receive this much recognition. In three years, I can’t tell you right now how much I’ve done, and the great leaps that I’ve taken. The success of my career been overwhelming and it just goes to show that God has been involved in my life every step of the way.
Is there a special lady in your life at the moment?
Not right now- to the best of my knowledge (laughs at this). You know I’ve come to realise that you have to play these things properly. The whole lady’s man thing is not me. Most times, what happens is that in your mind, in your head, you think you’re single and then in some other lady’s head, you’re in a committed relationship with her. I’m really close to my mum and my sisters and I respect women a lot, so those that know me really well know that I wouldn’t do that. If I’m in a relationship with you..you would know and everybody around me would know. so to answer your question directly, I’m super single at the moment.
How do yo feel about being constantly tagged a ‘fine boy and a lady’s man?
First of all, I find it flattering that people think of me that way because, I look at the mirror and think that I’m pretty much just a regular Joe. I’ve been living in this skin for 28 years so, it’s something you’re already used to. I’m trying so hard not to be one of those entertainers that get by or are best known purely for their looks. I want people to say things like “Oh my goodness Alexx Ekubo, I really really enjoy your movies” as opposed to “you’re really really fine”.
What is your favourite role so far?
A lady said something to me during the set of a film we were shooting, she said “As an actor you’re only as good as your last role so you should never get too comfortable at any point in time”, not even when you’re getting recognition and awards, never rest on your oars. Having said that, I really enjoyed playing Dr Vincent Coker in ‘Married to the game’. I really enjoyed playing a married doctor and getting used to all the medical terms, I really enjoyed that. It was something different to the kind of roles people see me playing, because people see me in certain roles and they’re like, “Are you really like that?” and I’m not. Every role is different and people don’t know this but it’s as hard as even being asked to play yourself because you’re under immense pressure and have to figure out how to do justice to the role. For me, that’s the best part of my job- having to be able to play different characters and showing your diversity as an actor. Hopefully I’ll be able to play the role of a superhero someday (cheekily adds, let me just plug this right now). So if anyone’s looking for Superman, batman or anything (chuckles), I’m in.
How do you choose which roles you would like to play?
The first thing for any successful movie is a good script. It’s like a book, like a novel- you’ll know when you read it. So that’s how I chose my movies first of all. I read the script and if I like it then I’ll go for it. I try to do movies that have a social aspect to it rather than open-ended movies where viewers just think after watching it… “why have I just spent the past two hours of my life watching this?”
Your Passion for acting is really evident in how you speak, what drives you?
It comes from first of all being Nigerian, and being Nigerian in Nigeria is what gives me life and determination. I’m pro Nigeria and any time I’m outside, I try to plug Nigeria. A lot of actors are trying to break into Hollywood and that’s fine, but first of all first it is about trying to bring about that change I want to see in Nollywood and being the change I want to see in the industry. I put that love for Nigeria into Nollywood and my work and that’s what I believe in. You can’t change something if you don’t understand it. You have to be in it to understand its flaws and what you can do to make things better.
Acting is my passion, if there’s something I want to be known for, it’s to be known as Alexx Ekubo- the actor. Not for the awards or fame and recognition. I love my job so much and I love Nollywood, but sometimes when I watch a Hollywood movie, I keep thinking to myself, “when are we going to do this?” Africa has so many talented people and while we’re certainly not where we want to be, we’re not where we used to be and I definitely think we’re getting there, but we need the support of our own people. Support our industry and don’t pull us down on the internet. Nigerians in the diaspora need to support their own. Africans should stop the negativity and stop trying to pull each other down, we need to unite wherever you’re from. If we all pull together, we don’t even need the support of the western world.
What else do you think needs to be done to bring change?
Self love. I mean Nigeria in Africa, we have our downsides with our challenges and all, but criticism and negativity isn’t going to make things better. No matter what you do, you’ll still be Nigerian. No matter what you do you’ll still be African. You can’t be Nigerian and then go to America and become the President. So instead of spending everyday complaining about what’s wrong, we’ve got to look inward and realise our roots and support one another.
We need to do more to portray our continent in a more positive light. If you don’t tell your story, somebody else will, which is why the African narrative in the west is usually wrong. A lot of time the impression you get about Hollywood- like the notion that you can’t get away with crime. In the movies when you snatch a woman’s bag, you can’t get away with it because they make it seem like you call 911 and the police will turn up in seconds, but I’ve been in that same country where similar stuff have happened and it took ages for the police to get there. That’s because that’s how they want you to see their story. A lot of people will probably never get to visit America, but they’ll tell you so much about their country- some of it is true and some of it is not, but you’ll wish to go there based on what you’ve seen in movies, so that’s what we need to do too. There has to be a balance on our side between portraying the good and bad stories, there’s more to our country than bad policing and corrupt politicians. There are so many stories out there that we haven’t even told the world about our country.
What would you like your legacy to be?
At my funeral, if anyone ever gets up and says I wish I’d known him better..please give him or her a smack in the face (laughs). I’m pretty much accessible. I’m out there, I don’t broadcast every high or low- just trying to live my life as ordinarily as possible. If at the end of all of this, one person can in the darkness of the night an in their heart of hearts say, “Because of Alexx Ekubor, my life is different,” if I can affect one person positively, my job here is done.