By Rita Okoye
Elijah Ogann Anighoro is gradually carving a place for himself as a talented actor, scriptwriter and model.
Having shared the same stage with some notable thespians, the sky is indeed the limit for Anighoro. In this interview, he shares his dreams, ambitions and challenges, while also recalling his ugly encounter with homosexuals in Nollywood. Here are excerpts:
How long have you been into movies?
I have been in Nollywood for less than three years. I started as a writer, writing for TV shows like Tinsel, Hustle, and The Johnsons. A few years down the line when I decided to start acting, I got an opportunity with Uchenna Mbunabo to act a script I co-wrote titled, Find Me A Man with Princess Shyngle. It was a success and after that he paired me up with Ghanaian star, Jackie Appiah in another movie. I then jumped on another of my script, Ruby and the rest is history.
How was it acting with the likes of Princess Shyngle and Jackie Appiah?
Acting with Princess Shyngle was an experience. It was a romantic role and my first. I was sweating crazily on set because I was nervous. The first scene was a scene where I had to kiss her. It’s not a small thing. But on the second day, I picked up and everything was fine from there.
Working with Jackie Appiah? Wow! It was my second movie and one of the biggest faces in Africa was on it. I remember we had to wait for her because she insisted on featuring in the movie. It was an amazing feeling. We also had the likes of Asuama Inyang and Felix Omokhodion in the movie, which made it a huge success. I am grateful because Uchenna Mbunabo did something remarkable in my career with that movie.
So, you were star struck that at some point you forget your lines?
No, I was the only one who knew I was nervous. And the two ladies were really accommodating. They made me feel I was a fresh face with huge potential. Yes, a fine boy that is worth seeing. And well, if the ladies are saying it, you’d better believe it.
Can you recall any embarrassing moment you’ve had as an actor?
It was the day Kunle Remi made a video of me sleeping on set and posted it for his thousands of followers to see. It was on the set of Blind Voice and we were filming till 2am. I was waiting for the camera to roll and I dosed off along the line. That’s how I saw myself on social media (Laughs). Also, I remember my second project with Desmond Elliot, who calls me ‘actor who didn’t go to film school’. There was this scene where he had to drain me. He went really hard, and all of a sudden, I felt like I didn’t know how to act again. The movie, Comfort Me, is yet to come out.
Having been on set with some top shots in the industry, who are your favourites and why?
Efe Irele is super-talented; she always puts in the work to be more. She is a huge believer of the Elijah Ogann brand. And of course, we have a progressive work relationship. Then, Desmond Elliot. He is like my big uncle in the industry. He puts in his best into anything he is doing – acting, producing or directing. He’s always willing to support, willing to push and help. The woman who calls me son, Mama Tina Mba is also my favourite. She is a mother who is always praying, promoting, encouraging and motivating me. She’s one of the first people that told me I would go far, and she followed up on me to ensure I turned out as predicted. However, my favourite producer is Uchenna Mbunabo. He gave me the platform and he has never left me since then.
Do you have any crush in the industry?
Apart from Genevieve and of course, Rita Dominic, I think I have some few names on the list. I won’t say ‘crush’ but I like them in that kind of way. They are Osas Ighodaro, Sandra Okunzuwa, Debby Felix, and Ini Dima Okojie.
Have you ever thought of producing your own movie?
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Yes. I have written some amazing and daring scripts that I would love to see come to life. But we are waiting for investors.
What are those major ills in the industry you’d love to correct if given the opportunity?
The industry is making steady progress based on what is available. I believe with proper funding all the ills would be gone.
It’s now a trend for male entertainers to be entangled with baby mamas, do you have one already?
It’s hard to find love in the movie industry. Yes, it’s hard. But then, I don’t have any baby mama and I don’t intend to have one. I wish to get married when the time is right, and do it the Christian way. So help me God!
Homosexuality seems to have become the order of the day in Nollywood. As a fine, attractive man, can you share your encounter with homosexuals in the industry?
I have nothing against gays provided they respect the fact that I’m into women and into women alone. Don’t force your opinions on me, as I shall not force mine on you. Jesus loves all men, but what we do with the love is up to us. I love women and that’s till eternity.
I had to put up my sexual orientation on Facebook because of the attention from them (gays). I have been subtly denied a role because I didn’t swing that way. But so far, everybody is respecting his own lane.
Can you play a gay role in a movie?
No, I can’t play a gay role. I’m not one. I don’t know how to be one. I can’t even pretend to be one. Acting is mostly about becoming a character and I cannot act what I cannot become. Anybody that is able to do that, well, good for him.
What kind of role would you reject even if the money were right?
Gay role, and of course, child molestation role. Acting takes a part of me. We do not actively have the facilities to help with mental health in this part of the world.
What’s your unique selling point?
I’m easy on the eyes. My versatility as an actor, and the fact that I am a great storyteller, in form of a writer, gives me a niche. Then I’m a man whom God has blessed. Grace speaks heavily for me.
What’s next for Elijah Ogann?
I would like to be in Big Brother. I’m working on some international jobs. Also, I have something coming up soon with Efe Irele, which promises to be huge. Behind the scene, I’m working on my music album, which would be released together with a movie produced by me. It is a long-term project.