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I Am Creative With Ifeanyi Dike

Every time I come across this quote of George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself, but creating yourself”, Ifeanyi comes to mind. I have followed his story from the first time I met him few years ago but the need to share his story became necessary last week when I went to church and images of him flashed on the screen about being part of the BET “Top Actor Africa” Show.

I called to set up an interview via Skype and I had a wonderful time listening to him speak.

My name is Ifeanyi Dike Junior with an emphasis on Jr.” he said. “I am 25years old and I am an actor-writer and I say that first, because those professions are the intentions for a career path that I’m following through, but before that I am a practicing medical Doctor with a Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the Igbinedion University.”

I started my acting career in 2012 as Tokunbo Titan Akinjobi on Tinsel and it was great exposure because it allowed me to be seen by people who needed to see me such as directors, casting directors and producers after which I went to feature on Desperate Housewives Africa and then, MTV’s Shuga and I had a short stint on Gidi Up. Recently, in South Africa, I just shot BET’s Top Actor Africa and it was an acting competition where they picked actors from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria with varying level of experience ranging from no experience to medium experience and full experience. And, put us all in a house to go through a lot of challenges and it is one of the most interesting things I have done. I was in a house with 11 different people with different cultures and stories and there is nothing more humbling and interesting such as learning other people’s stories and having them inspire you to be a better person daily.

While I was preparing for my final exams in Medical school, I wrote for a number of publications such as FAB Magazine, Y! Naija, 360Nobs, Mode, Arise Magazine and I was also the content creator for Nigerian Idol’s web site for the 1st season and then the executive content creator for the 2nd and 3rd season.”

My Nigerian idol experience was amazing because I heard about the job opening and I had no experience and I just tried it. I took a bus from Benin down to Lagos and when I got there, they told me they had already filled the position. I went to their office and said to them: “Listen, I already came down, just hire me and you don’t have to pay me.” They refused and I went back home, watched the show, looked on their website and saw that they didn’t have a humor column where people can watch snippets from the show and laugh about it so I did that, took it back to the office the next day and showed it to communications manager, and she showed it to her boss and they hired me. That gave me the confidence to apply for other jobs. I knew I wanted to write and be an actor and try broadcast journalism and a lot of people in Nigeria feel they have the right to tell you where your career must go and where your career must be and what you should do. As long as you have a genuine passion for something, there is nothing wrong in trying your hands at different things especially if you are just starting out to see what you are good at. Even in medicine, the reason why you have internships is so that you can try your hands in all the different specialties so you can know what interests you.”

During my internship, I thought I could combine medicine with my creative life, it turned out to be the most difficult, grueling year of my life. I learnt a lot about myself and being in a position of service to people, I found new respect for the profession. Everything you learn in life helps us to be better actors. How can you show a range of emotions when you don’t have access to it, which is what medicine did for me, it put me in a position to access thousands of responses to situations. After my internship, I was faced with the question of what next and turning 25 is one of the most adult things that could ever happen to one because you are going to realize this is the quarter of your life and you have to make the right choices. My parents are very supportive and the supported my decision to get a degree in acting and writing because in today’s world, talent is not enough.

After his internship, he was cast in a drama and this motivated him to go back to school.

I wanted to be properly trained,” he said. “It’s like learning how to drive- if you learn with a manual, chances are you can drive an automatic and with Shakespeare being the father of acting, it’s important for me to learn that.”

Ifeanyi has written a screenplay that focuses on the representation of the younger generation on TV

I feel like there isn’t a representation of that crowd and that’s the crowd I belong to,” he said. “Apart from wanting to create opportunities for many people my age, I also want to pay attention to that aspect of storytelling where people are telling stories about people that look and sound like me.”

I asked him how his parents felt about his career choice;

My parents have been very supportive,” he said. “When I wanted to get my masters, we had a conversation about what I wanted to do for my Master’s degree and I told them that I wanted to get a Masters in acting and take summer courses in creative writing and they accepted.”

On his advice to professionals who would like to venture into the creative field.

My advice would be: don’t flinch. Take that risk. A lot of people are embarrassed by their interests in the arts but whatever you dream of being is life, that’s a very valid dream. People just need to find a way. The world doesn’t need another artist who gives up even before they’ve started. It’s hard especially when the desire is coming from a truly passionate place to find the courage to chase dreams but you must find the courage and you must try and when trying give it all you can. Anything you have gone through will be a story and what is life if it’s not a bunch of stories put together.

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Ifeanyi Dike
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