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Beloved Nollywood star, Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey, goes to Liberia!

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Bassey (Left) in Liberia

Nearly everyone who could place a name to the face hailed him as he made his way from the Air Peace check-in counter to the departure gate on his way to Monrovia, Liberia this Thursday morning to attend the second edition of the KD International Film Festival. Even the uniformed personnel were not left out. Some of them waved and called his name out loudly in excitement while others asked for a handshake or a ‘selfie’ opportunity.

In fact, one of the personnel declared loudly that he has known the actor for ‘good 30 years’, since his days on the rested television series by Zeb Ejiro titled ‘Ripples’.

Perhaps impressed by how long the fellow had been following his career, Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey gave him a warm handshake and said ‘I started out on Ripples in 1987, that means you have been following me for 32 years now. Wahoo. I am humbled.’’

There was another session of ‘selfie time’ at the boarding gate and at the airport in Monrovia on his arrival. The wife of a top diplomat in Liberia reeled out titles of a few movies she has seen Keppy in and which has remained her all-time movies. “Oh, I am so happy to meet you flesh and blood today. This is one of my luckiest days. Please let us take a picture so I can show my husband and children that I met one of my favourite Nigerian stars,’’ she enthused.

Keppy is in Monrovia for one week from this Thursday, as a special guest of honour and member of the jury of the KD International Film Festival founded by the hardworking Liberian actress and show promoter, Korto Davis. Apart from his work as a juror, Keppy will facilitate a special acting class for Liberian filmmakers. “This is a way of giving back and contributing to the development of filmmaking in the region. Korto Davis, the founder of the festival is a good friend and sister that needs to be encouraged in her effort to develop, promote and project the Liberian film industry. And so when she asked that I give a helping hand, I had to oblige her. So I am happy to be in Liberia’,’ Keppy wrote in a reply to a question on his mission in Liberia.

A native of Akwa-Ibom State who is roundly applauded for his craft and capacity to grab attention with credulity and easy mien, Keppy is without a doubt, one of Nigeria’s best. A veteran and one of the few actors in Nollywood whom ardent fans of the movie would cheer at each time their names appear on the starring list of a movie, Keppy has not looked back since his debut outing in Tade Ogidan’s long rested soap ‘The Boy Next Door’ which was produced over 30 years ago. Indeed, what was supposed to be a one-off trial, has turned into what can be best described as an enduring romance with the acting vocation for the father and husband, who combines acting with being a talkshow host and producer.

A dependable actor and producer, Keppy studied Linguistics and holds a second degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos. He had his early education at Corona School and at Government Secondary School, Ojo. He later enrolled at the Federal School for Arts and Science for his ‘A’ levels before proceeding to the University to study Linguistics. Upon graduation, Keppy served out the compulsory National Youth Service scheme at the programmes department of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). It was at the NTA that he further acquired some acting chops and helmed his acts. He returned to the acting turf afterwards and straight away he landed a lead role in the long rested television soap, ‘Ripples’. Keppy acknowledged that it was while on the set of the soap, which ran for five years that he garnered some more experience. He similarly acknowledged that it was while as a member of cast of ‘Ripples’ that his acting chops became more manifest.

However, when home movie production boomed Keppy stepped up there too. But that was after he quit his job at Crystall Waves, a communication firm owned by a one-time Presidential aspirant Bashir Tofa. It was the success of the phenomenal home movie ‘Living in Bondage’ that lured Keppy and a few friends into the movie turf. They embraced video production and almost a year after, precisely in 1993, Keppy and friends including a one-time President of the Nigerian Actors Guild Emmanuel Oguguah got together to produce ‘Unforgiven Sin’, a movie in Igbo language medium and on the cast system which won a couple of awards and which threw up a number of acting talents including the former President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Zack Orji. After ‘Unforgiven Sin’, Keppy stayed on. He found a lot of expression in his own manifestations. He got married in between to a pretty damsel and mother of his two lovely kids and has since then continued to pump on because his passion as he alludes lies in acting and the world of showbiz generally.

Asked to state his sweet and sour moments as an entertainer and Keppy replied, “well, the sweetest part of it is that you get acknowledged everywhere you go. In the same vein some members of the public would embarrass you. The area boys would grab at you demanding of their own share of the booty. We have all those kind of moments. But for most of us, we have come to realise that we should expect all those things. I mean there are some people who believe that you are who you are from the character you play in movies. I mean I have been having difficulties convincing some women who encounter me on the streets that I don’t beat my wife in real life. They think I do. But it’s just make-believe. And that’s why there is a problem in allowing yourself to be stereotyped. If they see you play a nasty person all the time, they would actually assume that you are such from the outside.’’

So any regret being an entertainer, and he cuts in ‘no, none’ and adds “initially when we started we used to go all out to convince people to participate in the industry. The perception people had about players in the industry was unimaginable. Right now, if you decide on an audition you would have to say about 3000 people come to take part in a flick that can only engage 45 people. The rush into Lagos because of the film industry is unbelievable. So, it can’t be that bad. Every single player in the industry has contributed to the making of a wonderful industry that we have today. But we need assistance from government and we need more support from the private sector, in terms of putting down some structural support. But I know that there would be a massive improvement if we get some more support. I mean we have created so much under impossible situations and this is because we lack the facilities. These things are very expensive to come by. But the industry has actually survived and we are getting better by the day.’’


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