No doubt, Mike Ezuruonye had an accelerated rise to stardom. His entry into the movie industry was just by sheer coincidence. According to this handsome dude, an encounter with an old friend, Ruke Amata, made him join Nollywood. Today, Mike is one of Nigeria’s celebrated Nollywood stars with several movies to his credits. In this chat with http://www.nigeriafilms.com, he shares his experience on a particular embarrassing encounter he had with a woman for playing a particular role in a movie. Funmi Salome Johnson spoke with him.
How is life?
Life is good, we thank God.
By the way, how did you get into the movie industry?
That was via my coach whom I have not seen in a long time. His name is Ruke Amata. I was buying fuel somewhere in Maryland when he saw me and convinced me to come and join Nollywood and here I am today. The shipping company I was working with was leaving Nigeria and I was somehow on break when I ran into Ruke. Then, it was like a vocational thing for me to act. I did not really like the idea, but I took to it quickly
Was Burning Desire your first movie? No, it wasn’t. My first professional acting experience was a series but it has not seen the light of day till date. It was supposed to he Ultimate Hem. It was sponsored by Nigerian Breweries. I don’t know what went wrong; I’ve not seen a single episode of it.
Which was the movie that brought you into lime-light?
Broken marriage was the movie that brought me to the lime light. Then came Critical Decision, and then Burning Desire.
How is your experience with the industry?
It has been good. The industry is one that is growing and if you are a visionary person who knows where he is doing, and if you have set a target for yourself, you just have to grow with the industry. It comes with its ups and downs but the good thing is that it comes with enough goodwill. Movies are the most positive exports from Nigeria. As we speak right now, our clientèle has gone beyond Nigeria, beyond Africa, into the Caribbeans and into black America. I have black Americans who will stop me on the streets in the US and say ‘hey, you are doing a good job.’ ‘I know you for real, the African Michael.’ So, one feels proud that we are actually ascending and getting somewhere. But still, there is a lot to be done technically in the industry. This is the only place in the world where you’ll call up somebody and under one week, the person delivers. Yet the person hasn’t seen your scripts before.
Every good path is not always smooth. Can you share some of the rough paths you have traveled in life?
As a growing child, I always had it smooth but the roughest time I had in my life was when I lost my father in 1990. We had to face life properly. So, it was really tough adjusting. In the industry too, the bottle-necks were too much because with my former job, I was used to sitting down and doing my job. Also, when I was an upcoming artiste, a lot of my older colleagues were not very comfortable with me. Sometimes during rehearsals, they will not rehearse properly with me and when it’s time for action, you see the real them.
Who is this special woman in your life right now?
She is special and I dont want her name to be on the pages of the newspaper
Who is your kind of girl?
I like real people. I don’t like somebody who will be all out to impress me. I don’t like fake people. I like true people that when I look at you, I can see your inside. I like a woman who is also God fearing, though sometimes we sin but you have to always understand that we are nothing in the eyes of God who made us. So we have to put that as a basic principle, and of course, I’m a sucker for a woman who dresses good and carries herself very well.
So this special girl fits in well into all of these qualities?
I would say she has the nitty-gritty of my description of womanhood.
Is she in the industry?
No. Fate has its course and she is just not in the industry. I don’t discriminate against anyone having something to do with somebody in his industry but it just did not happen my way.
I am sure she watches your movies.
Yes, she watches some of them.
So how does she feels when she sees you smooching or kissing a girl on set
Sometimes, when she watches and starts feeling funny, she just takes a deep breath and I tell her: ‘honey, it’s just a movie.’ She understands.
Have you experienced any embarrassing moment for playing a particular role?
There was this lgbo-film titled: Moment of Truth where I played an illiterate marketer. I was so obsessed with one girl I was helping in school. Chioma Chukwuka was the girl and I was really nasty in that film. Now there was this day I was driving and an old lady stoppoed in front of me. I stopped the car to know what was wrong. While I was asking: ‘what is going on here,’ the next thing I knew was that the lady came out from her car and slapped me hard on my face. I was so shocked I could not say anything. This was an old woman, even older than my mom.
As if the slap was not enough, she started shouting at me: ‘You are stupid. You are mad. You are crazy’ I looked left and right to be sure it wasn’t a set up. I moved back a little because I could not understand what was happening. Two million and one things were running through my mind at the same time. She just kept on ranting: ‘How can you treat Chioma Chukwuka like that? I was speechless. Then I understood and I was like, ‘oh my God this is all because of a film.’
By the lime she was yelling again, some okada riders packed and asked what happened. On hearing the woman mention Chioma Chukwuka, they knew what it was about and they started laughing. Today, that woman is one of my biggest fan. She forced me to lunch that day.