Kalu Ikeagwu: Arts moulds your personality and psyche
Kalu Egbui Ikeagwu is a British-Nigerian actor and writer. Born in England, he was relocated to Nigeria by his dad at the age of nine due to fears from his parents that he might abandon his Igbo roots. Ikeagwu had his primary education in England and Zambia before proceeding to University of Nigeria to get a degree in English. Ikeagwu’s first appearance on screen was in 2005 in the popular Domino TV series. As an actor, he has received several awards and nominations for his performances on screen. He has gone on to feature in various movies, TV series and stage performances including 30 Days, Domino, Accident, Broken, Two Brides and a Baby Damage, Tinsel and most recently Symphony which featured D’banj and Jackie Appiah. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, he speaks on his passion for acting.
With some actors being stereotyped to certain characters, how easy is it for you to play diverse roles?
I’M an actor I grew up in Nigeria, I’ve lived in the village, I’ve stayed in Ajegunle, I’ve stayed in London, and so many other places. So I take things from all of these places. I had an uncle who lived in Ajegunle and would visit him regularly. I stayed for months in the village when my father asked me to learn my roots. I learnt to speak my dialect when I was in England that’s the first language. I’ve played everything.
How has your journey being for you over the years?
It’s been a wonderful journey, I’ve seen equipment’s improve, our stories which used to be very original in the past are kind of changing to urban and more western; I’m a bit somehow about that one. The class of acting has improved quite a bit, we are more on a global scale now, and the business end is starting to pick up unlike what it used to be before, so there’s a lot of need for improvement, and the movies has started to fill in those gaps and step up to the game.
Should looks be a determinant in the roles actors get for a movie?
To be honest looks matter, even animals can differentiate between good-looking animals and not good-looking animals. Likewise a five year old is more attracted to a good-looking person, so it is important, that’s what gets people to watch. However looks shouldn’t be everything, it should also be the personality of the character before looks. That’s why you find a women with a certain man who is not so good looking but his personality is out of this world, these are the things that gives a full balance of everything.
Tell us about your role in your latest movie, Symphony?
I played the father of one of the teenagers who was aspiring to be a musical artist. My character is a very wealthy person who naturally wants their child to do something more responsible like being a doctor or a lawyer. What resonated with my role is that incidentally my father was grooming me to be a doctor; I fought very hard because I grew up in a very traditional home, my dad was a lecturer and so I had to fight against all odds to be where I am today. So even though I played this character, I also had to obey my father, go through the university, get degrees, and have that strong phase of discipline, and research and its helped my career a lot. I did that to teach youngsters that you can aspire to be what you want to be but, make sure you have that foundation of discipline and research to boost you, because it is not just talent, but discipline will take you places.
What roles would you never play?
My gift was given by God, and I always live with the knowledge that at the end of my life, I would have to give an account of everything I did with my life, and so whatever role I play, it doesn’t matter if it’s a good or bad guy role. As long as it’s holistic picture itself has something to teach; that someone can walk up and can say, ‘I learnt something from this’, because whether you like it or not, arts is a depiction of life, and impacts on the psyche of people. Doctors can help you fix your body, engineers can help you build your homes, but the one that really moulds your personality and your psyche is the arts. Music, acting is very spiritual and so I take it very seriously. It’s what it’s learnt from it that’s most important to me.
What next should we be expecting from you?
I have one coming up, the teaser has been out, and it’s an M-net production starting this month with Stan Nze and Omowunmi Dada.
What for you is the future of Nollywood?
The business aspect is most important, once we have a situation where it gets to the audience, and they pay for it, and the producer gets the money and invests in it, and they get their money back, and actors gets their dues and royalties, and other people are happy with him, it grows from strength to strength.