60 hearty cheers to iconic method actor, Norbert Young
It was 10 years ago, precisely on July 3, that the tribe of senior artistes converged to admit notable actor, Norbert Mcdonald Akpojerharo Young, into the club of actors categorized as ‘Elder Artistes.’On that day, the intense method actor and Delta State native turned 50, having been born in Warri in 1959.
Fast-forward to this year and the actor’s actor is 60.
His colleagues on the elite film Whatsapp group, Ibadan Film Circle (IFC), were the first to roll drums to celebrate the actor of vast credit, who is undoubtedly a world-class material. On social media, his fans and colleagues jostled for space to celebrate Nobert, who is well regarded because of the depth of his craft.
Notable public relations expert and artiste manager, Egor Efiok, flagged a very recent picture of the actor on her Facebook wall and wrote: “Happy 60th birthday to my dearest big bros, Norbert Young. May God continue to bless you now and always in Jesus name.”
An elated Norbert, in reaction, to the question on how it feels to be 60, said: “My brother, I don’t feel any difference. I feel the same way I felt yesterday. 60 used to look so big to me and now that I am 60, I don’t feel any different.”
Also, when asked if there was anything he planned to accomplish before 60 that he had ticked out as having accomplished, the tall and well-built actor, said: “No, I didn’t put any goal at 60. I just live and conquer as I go along. I don’t stress about such. I am gradually getting close to my plans of being behind the camera, mostly as producer and director. It will soon be time to put my training as a director to optimum practice.”
Married to actress and journalist, Gloria Young, nee Anozie, and blessed with a child, yet, this humane, personable, amiable, humble and down to earth personality was born to a teacher cum agricultural worker and a trained nurse.
A native of Ekpan in Uvwie Council of Delta State, Nobert had his early education in Sapele and his fifth grade education in Koko, both in Delta State. His late father, Michael Young, wanted him to become an aeronautic engineer, but Norbert had his own plan, which was way off; he wanted to become an actor and was convinced it was the right path for him, because he spent most of his off class periods reciting speeches made by notable personalities.
As days passed, the urge for the sterling actor, whose middle name, Akpojerarho, means ‘there is life in front,’ shifted into high gear. The interest ignited over speed limit after an exposure to Nigeria’s FESTAC 77 drama entry, Wale Ogunyemi’s Langbodo. It took that exposure for Norbert, who studied Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan and at the University of Benin to flush the thought of bowing to his father’s wish. ‘It was acting or nothing else,’ he said to himself, and it has remained his story till date.
A die-hard theatre practitioner, who had a stint as a copywriter after the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, Norbert is a master on stage and onscreen, where he has featured in loads and loads of quality productions, a reason of which he said it would be difficult to say which of the stage and screen productions was or were memorable.
He noted: “It is difficult to say the most memorable really on stage. Askari was good, so were Amona, Oedipus, The Man who never Died and Bachae of Euripides at the University of Ibadan.
“But in terms of length of performance, Askari still holds the record for me, because we went round a lot of states. I like the depth of acting in Amaka Igwe’s To Live Again. It even won me the best actor award at one of the editions of the REEL award. Then, there is Dangerous Twins. I mentioned these two productions because I want to talk about the place of the director, Tade Ogidan.
“I came in to play a very small role, but he told me what that role was and what he expected from the character. Then, he made me play it. Some other directors don’t have the ability to make you realise the role, because they don’t know it.
“For To Live Again, Amaka had a concept of what each person was and called us and talked to us. And then she had Joke Silva to run the rehearsals for her. They both knew where they were headed, so they were able to impart those in the actors and we were able to realise the production.”
Asked if he is fulfilled as an actor, Norbert replied in the affirmative, adding: “So far, I am happy and I am doing what gives me joy. But I would have been happier if there were more opportunities to explore.
“To some extent, I am not too comfortable with the position I am in. I would have loved to be the best in the world if I have gotten such opportunities to explore and exploit the talent. If I have more roles, more challenging roles, maybe I would have proven to myself that I really have the stuff.
“But right now as it is, there is nothing challenging anymore. People just assume that you have reached your peak or that you are a very good actor and so there will be no need to engage you. But one needs every opportunity to keep growing in the profession and to be able to measure in any part of the world.”
Any plan to retire from acting? Norbert chuckled and replied: “Actors never retire; death retires them. When I cannot do active acting any more, may be I will begin to produce and focus more on producing, directing and teaching, which is mostly what I will be engaged in now.”
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