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Charles Novia: Garlands for iconoclastic motion picture practitioner at 50

By Guardian Nigeria
20 November 2021   |   2:50 am
Nollywood and indeed the Nigerian motion picture industry, is celebrating today. The entire space will be filled with garlands for one illustrious member of the tribe

Novia

Nollywood and indeed the Nigerian motion picture industry, is celebrating today. The entire space will be filled with garlands for one illustrious member of the tribe— the maverick Charles Novia who clocked 50 today.

Actor, writer, producer, director, published author, activist, critic, record label and television channel owner, the social media space will definitely buzz with congratulatory messages flowing freely for the iconoclastic and superabundantly talented showbiz personality whose artistic contributions have found an irreplaceable place for him in the audio-visual space.

Recognised by fans and professionals in the industry as a formidable personality and a creative force to be reckoned with, Moviedom caught up with the CEO of November Productions, November Records and Africa’s first teen television channel -Teens Africa Television (TATV) and the restless creative shared the eventful story of his career and life.

The Road To 50
I AM very grateful to God for the gift of life and good health all through my years on earth and the grace was given me to visualise and achieve. I feel youthful and twenty years younger, really! But then, I also understand that this is a new stage in my life and hereon, the harvest seasons begin for me. It’s not been without its challenges but perseverance and dedication to the craft bring success in the end.

It’s still not over and in a clime like Nigeria, the challenges in achieving creative financial satisfaction are myriad, but for someone like me born with a determined spirit to succeed, I see challenges as part of the journeys to success. In fact, where I am presently and have been all my life is what I was destined to do. I have no regrets whatsoever. 

I Have Accomplished Set Targets And More
I would say I did and your question actually made me reflect and realise that what I set my mind on through the years have been accomplished one way or the other. It can only be the guiding hand of God.

I started early, at age six and was a child prodigy of sorts. I wrote my first poem at the age of six and my first short novel at the age of eight. I also started out as a child actor in Benin and so, a bit of fame at an early age prepared me for my sojourn in the film world later. I graduated at the age of 22 with Bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Arts in 1993, a course I had always wanted to study from childhood and was already an unpublished playwright at the University of Nigeria (UNN) with a couple of full plays performed in the department.

I was with Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) network from 1994 to 1999 where I honed my skills in production, directing and writing. What most people might not know is that while at NTA, I wrote some of the blockbusters in the home video sector between 1995 and 1998, but asked not to be credited as the writer by the Producers. Dr Chika Onu, one of the top directors back then would bear witness. But in 1999, I felt restless and wanted to fully join the Home video industry to showcase my skills. So, I left NTA as a contract staff.

The explosion for my career began in 2000 thereon and 50 movies after a decade as Producer/Director, I decided to move into television and media entrepreneurship, between owning a record label (November Records) and being a published author and finally founding a television channel. I believe in purpose and focus and these achievements make me very grateful.

Most of all, in all of these years, becoming a husband and father at the age of 29 is one of my most enduring accomplishments! I am thankful and very much appreciate Happy, my wife and my daughter, Nosakhare. They are pillars of support for me.

Career Gain
I have been recognised by fans and professionals in the industry as a formidable personality and my fans especially, are cut across generations. That humbles me. There’s no day I go out and someone or the other doesn’t recognise me and give me props on any of my films or writings. It’s very encouraging and it tells me that I have to continue or improve on the culture of excellence I set for myself because people are watching and have great expectations. 

Enter TATV
It’s been wonderful working with the next generation of talents and incubating the processes for the Generation Alpha, which comes after the present Gen Z in the next half-decade or so. I feel very fulfilled and Teen Africa as a platform for creative and educational expression is the best legacy one can leave behind for the next generation to build on. I am grateful for those who supported this vision, especially my good friend and brother, Yibo Koko, Akin Salami and Dr Ifie Sekibo and the members of the TATV board as well as the staff and talents we work with. 

However, there is still much to be done, so much. We have DSTV as the major platform for our broadcast and also we are going the whole hog with our online broadcast and there are partnerships waiting to be announced with TATV soon. One of the major challenges in this project would be what I would call the halfway hesitancy of some who want to be with us or are with us. It’s a dampener because you keep trying and pushing to make them see that this is something, which is changing lives, but requires full and total support especially when it comes to financial inputs.

It is not oil and gas. It is a niche media and the first of its kind and requires that total drive to make it work. There has to be an understanding that the lives and dreams and aspirations of these young people are tied more to this than anything. In the next decade, TATV would change the narratives of the continent and the trajectories of the African youth population. As the visionary and founder, I see it and recently, I stopped bothering trying to convince anyone to join us in this, because we are still getting there, whether they see it or not. We have made history as the first television channel for teenagers in Africa and in some parts of the world. That cannot be taken from us. And we are very proud of it. In any case, from 2022 we have a lot of major announcements coming from partnerships for the next phase. 

Most Memorable Movie As Writer, Director And Actor 
As a writer, it would be The Battle of Love, which I wrote in 1999 and it was Executive Produced by Kingsley Ogoro. It’s a love story couched in the Biafran War and it was originally titled Guns of Biafra before the National Film and Video Censors Board asked for a change of title. As a director, I have many good memories, but I will single out The Covenant Church because it was a biopic on the founder of The Redeemed Christian Church of God and on Pastor Adeboye, the G.O. I wrote and directed that movie for Dove Media in 2005 and it was an extensive project, which took months.

As an actor, it would be my role as ‘Ena’ in a sitcom I created and wrote 36 episodes for NTA Network in 1998. It’s titled One Big Family and I was a regular cast for over 9 months on Network Television. 

Next On The Plate Of “Charles Novia Think” 
My last feature was Alan Poza, which was shot in 2011 and won a few awards at AMAA and a couple of other film awards. I collaborated with Africa Magic in 2015 to produce and direct a romantic drama Put a ring on it, which was basically for the platform.

But so far, I have Executive Produced over 50 different programmes, series and documentaries for TATV and other outfits, so I have actually been on the scene but as an Executive Producer. I definitely will have a new movie produced and directed by me out in 2022, amongst a slew I will Executive Produce and my fans waiting for long for something from me can be assured they won’t be disappointed. 

Career Ambition
In the next five years, I hope to have finished my PhD. It’s been delayed because of many projects on my table over the years, but I think at this point in my life, the itch to be in academia alongside my creative pursuits will take some sort of precedence.

I am going to publish more books in the next decade and about four or five are ready for publication. I am also going to add owing a radio station to that list! I want the total spectra of impactful entertainment in the bag. So, I have done theatre, film, television, music (I own two record labels) and radio is going to be added to it, by God’s Grace. So, it looks good from where I am sitting. And I always will give thanks and praises to my Creator for these gifts.

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