Nollywood ‘bad boy,’ Kelvin Ikeduba is an all-rounder in his chosen career. He is one of the very few actors who have excelled in different language roles especially the Yoruba and Igbo genres. He prides himself as one actor who survives in all language movies.
Born in Lagos to Igbo parents, Ikeduba who studied Economics Statistics from the University of Benin speaks with SAM ANOKAM about his journey to tinsel town among other topical issues.
IT seems there is no difference between Kevin on screen and off screen?
There is a very big difference. The Kelvin on screen is the Nollywood bad boy but this one that is with you here is a God-fearing Kelvin. Everything about my life is my faith in God. I believe so much in God. I won’t say I am too religious. I’m not the churchy type but I believe so much in God.
I try to be Kelvin anytime I am not on screen. At the end of the day, I found out that most people tend to see you the way you are on screen and that is not the case with me.
Have you had an experience where you were seen in real life as a bad guy?
I have had different experiences. I have been slapped. I have been called names and so on. I just believe it is a case of mistaken identity. Nigerians can be fanatical if they want to be. You hear such thing as, ‘why you go do that kind thing for that movie, you dey craze? God punish you.’ I don’t see it from the negative side but I see it as playing my role very well and that is why I am getting such comments. Most times, when I get those negative remarks, I don’t feel bad about them.
Have you ever been a cultist?
No. I am just an actor interpreting a character. Its just like giving me the role of a mad man and I play it well but I have never been mad.
Since you have been playing that kind of role, have you been attacked by cultists?
No. As a matter of fact, no one has attacked me. Rather, I have been commended. I have been acknowledged, taken care of and appreciated.
Why do you always play the bad boy role?
That is the Nigerian factor for you. I don’t see it as being stereotyped. There is this thing about the African or Nigerian audience, what they like about you is what they want to see. If Kelvin plays a doctor in a movie and do it over 100 per cent and play a bad boy role in a movie and do it like 40 per cent, people would still prefer the 40 per cent to the over 100 per cent because that is what they want to see Kelvin play. Playing a bad boy role doesn’t mean I have not played other roles but I want to believe that they appreciate it more when I am coming from a bad character angle which simply means that I am good at portraying that character but naturally I am not a bad person.
You came into the industry in 1999 and your breakthrough so to speak occurred few years back in terms of recognition and popularity, what kept you going till you had your breakthrough?
The thing is this; whatever it is you are vying for in entertainment, there are a lot of people after that same thing. When you talk about breakthrough in whatever walk of life, it is from God. It is not how good you are. When God says it is your time, then it is your time for those that believe in God. It is not how good you are, when it is your time it is your time. I have spent like seven years in this industry and someone came and under there months, becomes a superstar. But that doesn’t mean that that person is a better actor than Kevin. It’s just time and chance. Maybe he or she came at the right time. What if that person that came 20 years earlier than me had to wait till I have had my own breakthrough? So, breakthrough in entertainment is not by who good you are. It is about when God says it is time, then it is time.
Nigeria is 60. What can you say about the entertainment industry?
So far so good, the journey has been good. We are still trying to improve on ourselves and get better. Thank God that the whole world knows Nollywood. I personally think that if there is anything Nollywood should look into right now as a body, they should look into the kind of stories we do. We have had seminars where we talked about stories where we discuss about doing more of our Nigerian stories, real life stories of events, happenings in Nigeria and the end of the day they will tell you that when we do these things the government wont allow such movies to be released. I tell people this, America is great today because they learnt from their mistakes and how did they do that? The movie makers make movies about what the president doesn’t even know is happening. There is something happening in Texas, he sees it in the movie and beefs up security there and so on. In Nigeria the case is different. I think even though there should be some restrictions, government should allow the movie makers make and release original movies for Nigeria. By so doing, the world will accept us more. Look at our action movies, we are trying to be like America but the truth is that we cannot be like America but there are some angles depending on the stories that would come out of us here and no country in the world would compete with Nollywood and we have those stories. These are the kind of stories that government will say no, do not release such movies. There is need to create balance.
You have been in different language movies especially Yoruba genre, what is the difference with that and English?
The difference is just the language. Whether Igbo, English, Yoruba, the truth of the matter is we are all Nollywood. I see it from this angle – just like the Super Eagles football players, if there is an acting competition in the world and you are told to bring 15 actors, they wont say this is English and concentrate there, they will pick players from Yoruba, Igbo and other tribes and we would have a national team. Like me now, I am a national team player because when it comes to Nollywood, I survive in all the industries. I am not a sentimental or bias or a tribalist. I see us as Nigerians. I have learnt so much from the Yoruba, Igbo, English, Hausa, the Benin industries. All the tribes now have their industry. All of them are under the Nollywood umbrella. I have acted with all the tribes and I have learnt from all of them. That has built me to who I am.
How would you rate Nollwood currently?
Nollywood today cannot be compared with Nollywood five years ago. Nollywood of five years cannot be compared to Nollywood of 15 years ago and so on. That means there is progression. Nollywood is like a baby, before the child learns how to run, the child will first of all crawl and walk before running. That is what Nollywood has been doing. In the next 10 years Nollywood will take over the world.
Nollywood started from the VHS era to this time of digitization, how have you taken advantage of it to improve your craft?
The truth of the matter is that I am an all-round actor. I came into the industry when you attend an audition when five people are needed for a role and you get to see like 6,000 people but I’m not regretting because that has built me to who I am today. Everyone that went through that era stood the test of time even the new actors cannot face the old actors. You can see the difference on set. This situation is like these are people that fought war and the others heard about it.
You are even more popular now with your skits. When did you decide to go into that aspect of acting?
Naturally, I didn’t know I was funny. At the same time what happened was that I looked into my acting and at a point I realised that Kelvin as the matter be now na bad boy dem want to dey use you for and most of us that play bad boy roles are strident. I now decided to do my own in a comical way by doing something bad and making people watching it laugh. When I succeeded in doing that in like two movies and I got a whole lot of positive responses, it now inspired me to be doing skit. I now met popular comic act, Arole, he asked that we do a skit together. That was when we were shooting the movie, ‘Gold Statue’ by Tade Ogidan. Arole now suggested we do the skit inside the prison because we were prisoners in the movie. We shot the skit and it went viral. People were like so Kevin can do this! He now encouraged me to be doing skits. So, I started but for sometime now like six months I have not done any skit. If you look at my skits, I don’t just do it to make people laugh, I do skits with messages. I am just taking my time and there are so many skit makers now. I don’t want it to look like it is a competition. Hopefully, I want drop one soon. Maybe I will be dropping one or two in a month, the uniqueness would still continue.
How is your love life doing?
I don’t like talking about it. Not that I am proud of it but it is just who I am.