‘I used to think my legs were not shorts-worthy’
Talented Nollywood actor, model and presenter, Frankincense Eche-Ben, is a multilingual and TV personality. With a career, which spans over a decade, he is a delight to producers and directors for his good interpretation of roles. He has featured in Africa Magic Original Films projects, family TV series and M-Net movies, earning him honour at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA). The graduate of Mass Communication, Lagos State University (LASU), in this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, speaks about his career, attraction to a movie script and what fashion means to him.
Tell us about your growing up?
I was born in Imo State but I grew up in Lagos. Growing up wasn’t a lot of fun in some parts of the country but for others, it was. I learnt a lot growing up, especially with the fact that I had to stay with my grandmother somewhere along the line. She taught me a whole lot. I also spent some time with other relatives and some family friends. It is good to move around, you get more experience. I got a lot of that.
How did you develop your skill for acting?
It is a skill that I had to brush up on, a talent and a gift from God for all.
At what point did you decide to be an actor?
I started acting from primary school, unprofessionally, because I was a very intelligent child. My teachers loved me and were always pushing me to do things because I was quite withdrawn and would never go out, I was a very shy kid. They pushed me and I became a member of the literary and debating society and the drama club. I used to represent my school in debates, quiz competitions and drama. That was when I started acting.
What are you currently working on?
I just got off a movie set, it was a short film which lasted for about three days; beautiful story, concept and casting. I am on another movie currently. This is one script I read.
What attracts you to a script?
I don’t know if there is one thing in particular that attracts me, but what I know is that I get drawn in as I am reading it and by the character that I will play in it. Some characters are not so strong, so when you read them, how you react to them will depend on how well they are put together.
What does fashion mean to you?
Basically fashion is what human beings have come about, by way of dressing, to make them look in a certain way. To me, it is just about expressing yourself and going with the flow. And style, to me, is a personal expression of the kind of a person that you are and how you want to be seen or perceived. Style is people being themselves, not necessarily being what is considered to be the norm, giving that part of you that is eventually your own contribution to what fashion is to the world.
What is your favourite piece of clothing?
I wear a lot of short now; growing up I didn’t wear shorts. For some years in my life, I never did because I didn’t like my legs. I used to think they were not shorts-worthy, but as I grew older, I realised my legs were shorts-worthy. I have hot legs and then I started becoming comfortable with my body.
Who do you consider a role model?
I look up to Jesus Christ as a role model, because he is someone who will make sacrifice for you, guide and direct you to be on the right part.
What is your Most cherished possession?
I am not sure I have any because for so many years in my life, I didn’t wear jewelry; I clocked 15 before I had a wristwatch on. I am that kind of person who gets disconnected from things easily.
Share with us your embarrassing moment?
I have had embarrassing moments; but I will share one. I was eating and oil dropped on my shirt and I didn’t see it because it fell directly under my nose and later people in public were telling me I had a stain on me. I was sure it was caused by the hot amala that I ate, but then, the deed was already done. I had to find a way to hide and deal with it.
What turns you on?
I love people who talk sense as opposed to people who just blab and talk too much without making any sense.
Over the years, I have described myself as a truth seeker, a hoarder. From my childhood days, I keep things even if I have no use of them. For instance, my scripts, I have loads of scripts from when I started acting till now. These things mean a lot to me, I am not materialistic. I am also a good learner.
If there is one thing you want to see changed in Nigeria, what will it be?
Everything seems wrong, in every aspect. We may want to be politically correct and we don’t want to talk about it so we are not seen as being stubborn or deviant. But these issues are staring us in the face and we need to do something about them before they kill us all.
These issues are obvious, the prices of food commodities in the market have skyrocketed and everybody is feeling the pain. We have the most people living in poverty and that is a source of concern. We need to do something about that, and we need an overhaul.
What is your philosophy?
Live and let live. Be yourself, be happy, leave others, let them be happy as long as they are not causing you any harm. Don’t be a hypocrite; don’t put others down when you are the worst person.