Brother Jekwu: Mike Ezuruonye’s first fruit as a producer
One road, as the popular saying goes, no longer leads to the market for most Nollywood practitioners, as most who started out as actors have taken up other roles in addition to their briefs as actors.
While some act and double as producers, a few combine acting with production and directing.
The latest entrant into the growing list of Nollywood producers is popular actor, Mike Ezurounye. An actor of so many credits, Ezurounye is the production force behind the comedy, Brother Jekwu, which had an impressive premiere recently and is currently running in major cinemas across the country.
Directed by the quietly effective Charles Uwagbai and starring some notable actors, including Angela Okorie, Funny Bone, Nedu, Klint D Drunk and Sabrina Stadler, the comedy, which was set in Kenya and Nigeria, tells the story of a village man with native intelligence that is full of adventure, proud and conceited.
He is lucky to make it to Kenya on the bill of his corrupt cousin, where he gets lost in a tale of his adventure while exploring a new land and his encounter with other folks and two beautiful ladies led to the various comical scenes that add a twist to the story.
Ezurounye explained that his decision to venture into movie production was motivated by the need to breathe life into stories that appeal to him, and Brother Jekwu, which stresses on the adventure of travelling abroad in search of greener pastures, love and the beauty of Africa, is one of those stories he had always wanted to tell, not just as an actor, but as a producer.
He speaks about his first fruit as a producer: “Brother Jekwu is different from the regular comedy movie on sale today. Bro Jekwu highlights more on the fast rise of individuals seeking to leave their different homes in search of greener pastures.
“It also stresses on love and generally the art and aesthetics of Africa, while leaving the audience in amusement and tears.
“It has depth of story, pushes the boundary, generally entertaining and not your regular slapstick comedy.
“We will endeavour to raise the bar in all our productions.”
Hailed roundly as an actor with good looks and convincing acting skills, Ezurounye’s meal ticket for roles has, to a large extent, depended on his charisma and ability to fit in snugly.
It was with those qualities that he pulled through the seductive role he played in The Mayors, which had Richard Mofe-Damijo and Achibi Sam Dede in lead roles.
After that, the roles came pouring in for the fashionable actor, who hates it when some writers choose to describe him as ‘the next Ramsey Noah.’
After The Mayor, the Abia State-born actor featured in a couple of other home video productions, such as Broken Marriages and Burning Desire.
But the big break when he featured in Emem Isong’s commercially successful movie, Critical Decision.
The movie dealt with an issue of the mind and the family, which made it sell out and meant too that quite a number of people saw the movie.
Indeed, it took that effort for Ezurounye to transform from a rookie to a household name, and today, he is listed on the select list of the most sought-after actors in moviedom for a lead role or sub lead.
To date, he has featured in over 100 home movies, with others still at various stages of production, including Endless Passion, Occultic Kingdom, Unforeseen, Beyond Reason, Bless Me, End of Dreams and Emotional Blackmail.
The eldest of four children, fair-complexioned Mike, as the fast-rising actor is called within the industry, was born in Lagos.
He schooled at the Federal Government College, Wukari in Taraba State and Archbishop Aggey Memorial Secondary School, Lagos, and on completion of his secondary education, Ezurounye enrolled, like he said, “against his personal wish and desires” to study Accounting at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko and later at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Akwa, both in Anambra State.
One of the best graduating students, Ezurounye attributed his inability to train in acting to his mother’s strong influence.
“My mum never thought theatre arts was a course anyone should spend four years studying. That was how I ended up studying Accountancy, and I was glad that I did well in school and proved that I was capable too in that area.
“But soon as I graduated, I returned to my first love- acting,” he said.
Married and blessed with a son, Ezurounye, who had his professional debut on the set of Zeb Ejiro’s television series, Ultimate Hero, had a flair for acting from a tender age and was lucky to have schooled around a headmistress who produced a kiddie’s variety show on television.
So, each time she was ready to shoot an episode of the programme, she took him and others along, and that was how Ezurounye developed a passion for make-believe.
He was later to exhibit a keen interest in the world of television and at a time, he worked behind the camera, writing scripts for Clapperboard Television.
But today, he features prominently on the list of talents that have taken the Nigerian movie culture by storm, as there is no season without him adorning the jacket cover of at least three core-Nollywood flicks.
He is reputed to be the current toast of movie watchers and top rated producers and indeed, there has been no turning back for the actor since he set out to kiss the acting canvass a little near a decade ago.
An actor whose popularity in moviedom is not in doubt, Ezurounye said his ambition is to become a major player, acting and production wise and looks forward to playing a long game and remaining a leading man on and off the screen.
“What else can one possibly wish for but for long life, so that one can continue to be of service to society?
“I am still going to try my hands on accounting and business, but there is no going back for me, as far as acting and production are concerned.”