Don’t Live Your Life to Im­press Any­body But God

THISDAY - - SHOWBIZFLAIR -

Emeka Rollas is one of the lead­ing names in Nol­ly­wood. He has moved from be­ing an ac­tor to a pro­ducer, di­rec­tor and a lot more. Now, he holds a big spot, as the Pres­i­dent of Ac­tors Guild of Nige­ria and has a year of good works to show for it. He tells Tosin Clegg what they are do­ing to pro­vide med­i­cal sup­port to vet­eran ac­tors, among oth­ers How I Be­came an Ac­tor

In 1997, I came in con­tact with a Lady called Nonye Okechukwu. Then she was a cos­tu­mier in Onit­sha and she took me to an au­di­tion at Mike Ori Ihe Dim Ma of blessed mem­ory and Mr. Felix Okolo a Movie Di­rec­tor from Onit­sha cast me in my first movie, Hilda De Mighty Woman. It was pro­duced by Sym­pa­thy Unadike and shot in La­gos. I have fea­tured in many films such as Nar­row Es­cape, Hilda De Mighty Woman, My Cross, Not my wealth, Je­sus Will Come, Anointed, In­sid­ers, Chal­lenge, Prodi­gal Son, Holy Ghost Fire, Naomi, Dou­glas My Love, House Party, Oh Woman, House on Fire, Heart At­tack, Civil War, Be­yond Be­lief, Women of Sub­stance, Widow, My faith­ful friend, In­her­i­tance, Buried Emo­tions, Sleep­ing with the En­emy, Igede, Last Warn­ing, Search, In­ter­nal Heat, Scorned, Squad Gang 5, En­gage­ment, Pa­tience, Oath Broth­ers, Help­less Bil­lion­aire, just to men­tion the ones I can re­mem­ber.

Aside movies, I’m also into other things

I’m the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Rolling Pic­tures Ltd and Booben Rolling Pic­tures Uganda Ltd, a movie pro­duc­tion com­pany that also of­fers pub­lic re­la­tions/advertising con­sul­tancy to clients in the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors of the econ­omy. Prior to this po­si­tion, I rose through the ranks to be­come a renowned ac­tor, pro­ducer and movie di­rec­tor in the Nige­rian movie in­dus­try, where I spent a ma­jor part of my adult­hood. I held sev­eral po­si­tions within the Ac­tors Guild of Nige­ria and Nol­ly­wood in gen­eral. I be­came Pres­i­dent at the time God wanted it, af­ter con­test­ing for 12 years. It’s been tough be­cause the Guild has been down for five years with a lead­er­ship cri­sis. But af­ter one year in of­fice, we have been able to sta­bilise the Guild. At least, all the state chap­ters in Nige­ria have one united Guild.

Be­fore we were sad­dled with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of gov­er­nance, the Guild was in to­tal dis­ar­ray

As we as­sumed of­fice, we didn’t waste time; we hit the ground run­ning. In the eight months of our ad­min­is­tra­tion, we pro­duced the first ever AGN mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion with pay­ment gate­way for dues and new mem­bers reg­is­tra­tion. We in­tro­duced the group ac­ci­dent in­sur­ance scheme, and over two thou­sand mem­bers have en­rolled.

The Guild has chal­lenges at the mo­ment

And that’s be­cause mem­bers were not prop­erly taken care of be­fore now. We are still re­set­ting the foun­da­tion of the Guild and as re­gards the is­sue of ail­ing ac­tors. We just set up the Ac­tors Guild of Nige­ria Foun­da­tion and Mr. Se­gun Arinze is the chair­man of the fundrais­ing event for the foun­da­tion com­ing up soon.

A lot is go­ing into sup­port­ing old ac­tors

Vet­er­ans, who have con­trib­uted to the de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try, most times do not have any­thing to fall back on af­ter so many years of ser­vice. Some move on to other busi­nesses or sec­tors while the faces of oth­ers var­nish with time. In the re­cent past, the Guild has lost prom­i­nent vet­eran ac­tors to se­ri­ous ill­nesses due to cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions which could have been averted if there was a medium or plat­form set aside to har­ness the strength of the as­so­ci­a­tion to fund med­i­cal treat­ment of our own or a source of fund­ing by phi­lan­thropists or Nige­ri­ans to help res­cue their le­gends. Ac­tors like Enebeli Ele­buwa, Jus­tus Esiri, Ar­shely Nwosu, Dave lh­e­sie, Sam Loco Efe, Muna Obiekwe, Peter Bunor, Prince James Uche, and a host of oth­ers have been lost due to cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions. Their souls are rest­ing in the bo­som of the Lord.

We are work­ing on bet­ter wages for ac­tors

As af­fil­i­ates of Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Ac­tors (FIA), we are work­ing as­sid­u­ously to stem the prob­lem of low wages for ac­tors in Nige­ria. A com­mit­tee is al­ready work­ing on ac­tors wages. There is dig­nity in our job here in Nige­ria. The Pay TV sta­tions are tak­ing ac­tors for granted. Just look at the case of Un­cle Vic­tor Olaotan, a.k.a Fred Ade-Wil­liams who was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent over a year ago. Now his pic­tures are al­ready on­line for help. How can this be? And how can we help many oth­ers who have laboured for var­i­ous sta­tions to make money glob­ally? I ad­vise all ac­tors to join the union so we can fight our col­lec­tive rights. Re­cently, we just hosted Mr. An­drew Proger, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Bri­tish Eq­uity Col­lect­ing So­ci­ety and we dis­cussed all of these.

Emeka Rollas is a gen­tle­man

And I live with a phi­los­o­phy of ‘don’t live your life to im­press any­body but God’. I was born on 19th may 1969 to the Ejezie fam­ily of Afam Eziani Ihiala in Anam­bra State. Started my pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion at Holy Trin­ity Pri­mary School, Kano in 1974 and later went to a sem­i­nary school in pur­suance of be­com­ing a Priest of the Catholic Church. My love for the Arts made me join a young theatre group in those days called ‘Res­i­dent Theatre Group’, led by Em­manuel Emeka Eni. I later went to Fed­eral Polytech­nic Oko in Anam­bra State where I grad­u­ated in Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with up­per credit in 1993. Mar­ried to Ngozi Chi­nasaokwu and we are blessed with seven won­der­ful kids Blos­som, Onyx, Amanda, Em­manuel, Fe­dora, Vic­tor and Humphrey.

The Guild has lost prom­i­nent vet­eran ac­tors to se­ri­ous ill­nesses due to cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions which could have been averted if there was a medium or plat­form set aside to har­ness the strength of the as­so­ci­a­tion to fund med­i­cal treat­ment of our own or a source of fund­ing by phi­lan­thropists or Nige­ri­ans to help res­cue their le­gends

Rollas

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