— Jim Lawson Madueke, ace broadcaster and Nollywood star

In days gone by when few radio masts dotted Nigeria’s sky line, and the need to remain updated with news in the country endeared many people to their transistor radios, the name Jim Lawson Madueke was like the mouthpiece of the gods. It was always refreshing to hear him broadcast news on Nigeria’s biggest network, Radio Nigeria.

But just when retirement threatened to make him history, he bounced back into fame as he joined Nollywood. For people who knew him on radio, his appearance on Nigerian home videos gave them ample opportunity to connect the voice they heard on radio for years with his face. On the other hand, his new fans simply love him because of the expertise he brings into interpreting his roles.

When https://www.nigeriafilms.com recently had a chat with him at Festac, Lagos, it was a seemingly fulfilled man that chronicled his sojourn on the electronic media and predicted that Nollywood will experience tremendous transformation in the not-too-distant future. Happy reading.

Can we meet you?

My names are Chief Jim Lawson Mdueke. I come from Imo state.

How old are you in the movie industry?

For the motion picture industry, this is my fifth year.

Within this period, how has it been?

I wouldn’t say it has been that bad, it’s been a mixture of ups and downs, which of course is associated with life. But in all, it’s been a pleasant experience.

What informed your interest in Nollywood?

I thought you are aware that I am in the broadcasting world and you see, there is no way you can separate the two. They are part and parcel of each other. One is an extension of the other. It’s a carry-over, a continuation of what I have been doing: informing, entertaining, and educating people. That’s what the entertainment world is all about.

You came into Nollywood just when it started booming…

I didn’t come into Nollywood because of the money-spinning nature of it; I came into it because I felt it was the last bus stop for me. Having worked as a broadcast journalist and retired honourably, I now felt that I could spend my retirement age, as it were, doing something people will still find very relevant.

Now, let’s look at your period in broadcasting, when did you start?

I started in 1980, you won’t believe it.

What media house were you with?

The almighty Radio Nigeria, Africa’s second largest network after Radio Cairo.

Can we do a flash-back on your experience in Radio Nigeria?

Fantastic! That was the period I was made. That period brought out the best in me. I really enjoyed the training, supervisions and job schedule. In Radio Nigeria, you are made to work professionally. There was no room for mediocrity. It is either you are there or you are not. There was no godfatherism as of then. You needed to have sound educational background before you can enter into Radio Nigeria because it was the national radio station.

So what were the challenges you passed through before making it into Nollywood?

Challenges were there but not much, because I had already done a lot on radio. I didn’t really see Nollywood as challenging as one would expect because even on radio we were doing narratives; I mean documentaries and recording programmes with drama and light entertainment. They are all forms of theatrical work.

A couple of years after you entered Nollywood the industry started experiencing serious turbulence, how is it affecting you?

Well, like it is in every human endevour, there are bound to be good and bad times. I don’t think we should allow the hard times to outweigh us. There is one saying that tough times don’t last but tough people do. We in Noollywood are tough people, and we shall outlive the tough times.

Talking about fees in Nollywood, do you earn fees that match your status?

The system in Nollywood is such that you don’t really express your fee; that is why we go into negotiations. Whatever you agree with the producer or marketer becomes your fee and that is determined by the level of your acceptability in the market. That is your market value.

Apart from acting, what else do you do?

I am a very busy man.

Let’s talk about your family

I have a very small and wonderful family which comprise of myself, my wife, my lovely son and daughter. Just the four of us, and it’s the number that I can manage.

How do you relate with your fans?

I am a very liberal person. I believe in the words of the Scriptures, which says if you humble yourself you will be exalted, but if you exalt yourself out of your own volition, God will bring you down. And once you are brought down by God, that’s the end of you. So I appreciate people for appreciating me. Without them I can’t be whoever I think I am and for heaven’s sake, there is nothing special about me. It’s just a question of opportunity that I happen to be here. For somebody else, it could have been better, so why should it run into my head that I am Jim Lawson Madueke. I am not a supernatural being; it’s just an opportunity.

But when people relate with you, do they see you as a Nollywood star or Jim Lawson of Radio Nigeria?

I think it’s a mixture of the two. First of all, those people who know me more on radio will first of all remember my days on radio and then now marry it with my face on television. So Jim Lawson Madueke is a success story when it comes to general entertainment. What is left for me to do is play music.

You have the ability to sing?

Of course, oh! You don’t know that I have the voice?

So what are you waiting for?

I am a great lover of worship songs. God grant me life, I will come out with hymns you will like to listen to.

Some people say that movie directors are not bringing out the best in the actors, what do you think?

Well, I think there is this rapport between the directors and the actors in which they share views and it is working.

Now, the synergy is working, why are there complaints that movies are not selling?

Excuse me, the problem with us is that we are always in a hurry in this country. Nollywood is about 20 year old and you want us to catch up with Hollywood that is 200 years old. It’s not possible. I mean, look at the technology they are using. We are still doing home video and they are doing cinematography. We haven’t even advanced to that level yet. The problem with the average Nigerian is that we are too critical.

But it took about three years for the Nigerian music video to get to international standard.

That’s what will happen in Nollywood too. If it took about three years for the music industry to put its acts together, there is nothing stopping Nollywood to do that in six months time. One thing is obvious: we have the brains to do it

For the music industry, the artistes just did their individual thing, don’t you think too many regulatory bodies is confusing Nollywood?

Well, if you look at the two bodies, they are not the same entirely. The movie industry is a money-spinning industry. You need to have good money to do a good movie, but with N200,000 you can do music which anybody can go into.

But we have seen music videos that cost as much as two million naira.

Look, if good movie cost about seven to eight million naira and for any music video to cost that much means it must really be of an international standard. Tell me, which music video cost up to seven million naira.

So, what is your guiding philosophy?

Work hard, do onto others as you wish them do unto you. Be law-abiding, and the country belongs to all of us and we don’t have any other apart from Nigeria. Whereever you go, home is the best.

Your final words to Nigerians.

Let them keep faith, let them believe in Nigeria, believe in the movie industry in Nigeria, and what took America 200 years to build we will achieve before we turn 20 and I am sure we will win the Oscar in a couple of years from now, because in Nigeria we are a bunch of intelligent people. All we need is a little push and the sky will be our limit.

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