Van Vicker is one of the Ghanaian actors that are making waves in Nollywood. Many see him as Ramsey Noah’s strong competitor.
In this interview with ‘NONYE IWUAGWU, he speaks about his relationship with Ramsey Noah and his rumoured affair with Nadia Buari, an actress
Why did you choose to become an actor?
While at school, I wanted to be a medical doctor. My Biology teacher does not understand how a quiet, shy guy like Van could go into entertainment. When I finished school, I started working in a television station as a production assistant and presenter. Since 1998, I was in the showbiz industry in Ghana as a television and radio personality.
How has it been in Nollywood?
It’s been great, it’s been excellent. I see it as a way of unity. It unifies not just the entertainment industry but Africa as a whole. Because it is not just Ghanaians and Nigerians that appreciate the movies done in their countries, South Africans, Ugandans and so on also appreciate these movies, and people in these countries have been calling us to join them. Sports have done a great deal in unifying Africa, but entertainment is also doing its bit.
Without Nollywood, do you think you could have been as widely known as you are now?
It’s yes and no. I totally agree that Nollywood has added a lot of value to my success, but other countries also appreciate my work. So, all things being equal, without my involvement in Nollywood, other countries who appreciate my work will still do so. I agree that Nollywood has been a major factor in my success in terms of exposure because even though we do shoot movies in Ghana, we don’t do it frequently, and frequency counts a lot.
Did Nollywood come to you or you went to them?
They came searching for me. In 2006, I did my first Nollywood movie with Nadia who is also from Ghana, Ini Edo, and Olu Jacobs all from Nollywood. It was titled A woman’s honour. The producers came to me. I guess it was an era where they were looking for new faces to revamp the Ghanaian industry. They approached me and told me they wanted me to do a movie. I saw it as a new challenge, so I agreed to do it. Whether the producers in Ghana introduced us to the producers here, I don’t know. But what is sure is that I didn’t come looking for Nollywood.
People think you are competing with Ramsey Noah.
I don’t see Ramsey as a threat, because he has his own powers and his own better side as an actor. He has his own strong points and his own bad sides like I have got mine too. As a team, both of us will make a strong statement.
Do you think the Ghanaian movie industry can get to the status of Nollywood?
A baby that is two years would definitely want to be three or six eventually. In that light, we want to grow to the level of Nollywood. The Ghanaian industry is doing great now. It is not as if they were not doing well before. But with the limelight it is getting now, people can reckon with the industry. No disrespect for those who were there before me. But in the past few years, it is obvious that Ghanaian movies are all over the place and we will soon get beyond where we are now. Before now, it was just the trio of myself, Nadia and Jackie. But now we have Yvonne Nelson, Mama Amah, Mc Brown and others.
How is stardom?
It’s fun. It’s crazy, it’s lovely, it’s terrible, but it’s all good and bad put together. It has serious ups and downs.
What have you lost being a star?
I have lost a number of friends. You can’t keep up with everybody anymore because you have a lot of friends now. Not because they want to be friends with you because of who you are, but because of what you are. You meet a lot of people and they all tend to be your friend, so you lose certain friends because of them.
It is much easier for a lot of people to reach you than for you to reach a lot of people. So, along the way, you tend to lose some friends and step on a few toes here and there. Stardom, for me, is just crazy.
You have a mixed background.
Yes, my mother is a mixture of Ghanaian and Liberian while my dad is a Dutch. The fun about me being mixed is that when I’m in Ghana, I say I’m a Ghanaian. If I find myself in Liberia, like I did last December, I say I’m a Liberian. And if I go to Holland, I’m Dutch, because I am from all the three places.
How comfortable are you with that?
It’s fun. But some people believe I am more of a Ghanaian than a Liberian. I face that sometimes. But for me, it is so much fun being a part of three different places. I love it even though people tend to criticise me, that I am neglecting one for the other, which is not the case.
Have you been embarrassed as a star?
I have never had any embarrassing situation. Ladies ask me to sign my autograph on their chests or thigh. I have done so a number of times. I don’t think it is embarrassing.
How have you been coping with scandals?
I know of only one scandal so far which absolutely is not true.
So you are saying you did not run away with a producer’s money?
I didn’t make away with anybody’s money. The writer of that story called me when she had the story and asked me questions on the issue and I told her my own side of the story.
Actually I had a guy who I called ‘The Leg’. He was the link between me and producers. He got pissed off because I refused to do business with him anymore when I discovered that he was not telling the producers what I said and was not telling me what they said. That brought a lot of confusion between me and the producers. He just wasn’t transparent. I refused to work with him, so he went to the papers to do what he thought would hurt me.
I told the writer of the story my own side and I told her to get to the producers.
I called the two producers involved and asked them to get to the paper and one of them said the paper had called him but he refused to discuss it with them. The other producer was not in town. I have my documents to prove that I paid whoever it is what I agreed to pay.
Are you are married?
Yes, I am very married. I have been married for five years. I have two daughters and I am expecting a son soon.
Your wife does not mind that you kiss so passionately on set?
She is a strong woman and God probably knew what work I was going to do before He gave me a wife with such understanding.
I know it is difficult, but she is coping.
How come people say you are dating Nadia, the actress?
That was all over the Internet. I don’t know why but I guess it is the same way they said Ramsey was dating Genevieve. When people see that two people play a lot of roles together, tend to be good friends, play romantic roles and love scenes together and they look very natural, they start talking. But Nadia and I are just good friends.
How do you handle female admirers?
I handle them like I would handle any female admirer if I wasn’t a known face. If I like you, I like you. If I don’t, I don’t. If I am married, like I am now, I keep it like that.
You got married at a young age.
I got married when I was 26 years. Now I am 31 years. I didn’t marry her because she was pregnant, I married her because I wanted to. I loved her, the time was right and I was financially stable.
Do you regret being married now and can no longer sow the wild oats?
The oats have been sowed already. I don’t regret getting married at 26 years. If I had to do it again, I will. From childhood, I have always admired young couples. I told myself that I would get married at a young age and I did.
How was growing up?
Growing up was a mix here and there because of my background. And one of the reasons I have not been able to catch any of the local languages well is because I was always moving from one place to the other. I understand a bit of Dutch because my dad passed away when I was six years old, so that side is more or less cut off.
I have one sister. Being the only boy with an only sister is not so much fun. I didn’t have a father to look up to, so its been tough. I remember that when I was growing up, people used to say that guys with my kind of complexion are bad, and I told myself to always stay positive and forget what people say. I had always wanted a dad to be there for me because there were so many questions I wanted to ask. I couldn’t ask my sister or my mother, so I had to live with them. That was one of the reasons I decided to get married early so that I can be for my children the father I didn’t have.
Don’t you feel bad that you didn’t grow up with Daddy?
I wouldn’t say I feel bad. I was more like confused, because I couldn’t get answers to things. I watched movies and I see father and son relationship and I wish I had a dad.
What do you hope to achieve in the nearest future?
One of my visions is to continue doing what I have done for more that ten years. I give kudos to people like Ramsey, Genevieve, Omotola, and Rita Dominic who have been in this industry for so many years. Showbiz is not easy to stay in. If you can survive 10 years, you must be good. One of my aims is to hit the tenth year mark then I will see where I take it from there. For now, I have just done four years.
Tell us a bit about your educational background
If you talk about my regrets in life, that would be one, because I didn’t have tertiary education. I didn’t have the university experience. I have done professional courses here and there. I was supposed to travel for my university education but it didn’t happen. I missed that year. My mates were one year ahead of me and I decided to do something else, so I didn’t follow it up. I didn’t leave my education at the secondary level. I’ve done courses in marketing even though I have changed from marketing to movies. I am into courses in directing and producing.
Don’t you feel inferior when you see your mates who have gone to the university?
No, I don’t feel inferior at all. I feel good about myself. I know I am trying to achieve what I want and I am getting it. I could have been a doctor if I wanted. I can still become a doctor if I want, but I like what I do. I meet my mates and we sit down and discuss. What is there to feel inferior about? Life is all about being comfortable.
For me, there is no going back to the university.
What do you believe in?
I believe in achieving what you want. Identify first what you think you are good at and pursue it. While you are pursuing it, do not look for a way to bring your competitors down. If you do, you will be at a standstill trying to do that.
Check Van’s website at www.vanvickerlive.com