In The Footsteps of Genevieve Nnaji Enters Sochima Ezeoke
Sochima Ezeoke has been through her share of hard times in her acting career in the Nollywood scene… from unfounded rumors to downright slander by her detractors. But this young actress refuses to bow down to the pressure of giving up on the higher goal she set out to achieve. In this comprehensive interview, Sochima Ezeoke talks about her acting career, hard work that continues to pave way for her, and her plans for the future. Ladies and gentlemen, in her own words, here is Sochima Ezeoke.
ON HER ACTING CAREER:
Daisy Nandeche (DN) : Basically, who is Sochima Ezeoke?
Sochima Ezeoke (SE): Sochi is a strong, intelligent woman who believes so much in hard work no matter how difficult an undertaking is. She keeps working until she succeeds.
DN: You are now a household name in Great Movies Industry considering that most of your movies are done there. How did it start?
SE: I got there through the Great Movies Talent hunt. Since then, I have been opportuned to work with them. But that is not to say that I can only work for them. I work for other producers as well.
DN: What are the benchmarks of a film that you can star in?
SE: Any film with a good story line will do for me.
DN: Are there any roles that you can not take no matter what is offered?
SE: Yes. Roles that require me to go nude or something close to that.
DN: Are there any similarities between Sochima Ezeoke and that characters that you have played?
SE: Yes, some similarities exist between me and some of the characters I have played. LONELY PRINCESS as ‘Ego’ and Royalty to Royalty as ‘Ijeoma’.
DN: Palace Slave and its sequel, The King’s Bride was and still is a much talked about movie among Nollywood fans. Did you envision that kind of reaction from the audience?
SE: No. I never anticipated that kind of reaction from the audience especially since some people had already given negative criticisms before the movie was shot; they didn’t want me to take up the role because I was new. All thanks to God because He made it happen. And God bless Sunnycollins Nwatu for believing in me.
DN: What in your opinion sets Nollywood apart in Africa?
SE: Its deep roots in ‘Africanism’. Whether we accept it or not, every Nollywood film addresses Nigeria’s problem and that of Africa as a whole. This approach has enhanced globalization and it has also shown that there is another world outside what Hollywood creates.
DN: Is there anything you would want changed in the way Nollywood films are done?
SE: The only thing I would like to see is film makers working harder in order to attain a near-perfect shape in their work no matter how simple or complicated a film is. Also young talents should be given chances so that our movies won’t be filled with the same faces all the time.
DN: I am just curious, do royalties exist in Nigeria?
SE: Royalties exist but mostly in the rural areas. I didn’t grow up in the rural area so I can’t say much about them.
DN: Where do you work currently?
SE: I am working with Justice Development and Peace Commission on a project that aims at helping and empowering the rural poor. It is an NGO under the Catholic Church.
DN: Who are your main influences in Nollywood?
SE: Genevieve Nnaji and Bimbo Akintola. They only get bigger and better and that makes me admire them more and more. I also love Genevieve’s sense of style; she can do no wrong in my eyes (laughs).
ON HER UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
DN: What did you study in the university?
SE: I studied Mass Communication at the University of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Awka.
DN: Did you have a problem with your family when you selected that course?
SE: I did not have a problem. Actually, I started with a Diploma in Law. I love Law so much but I discovered that studying Mass Communication would give me the foot with which to try other things. That is why I decided to go for a degree in Mass Communication. I had my parents’ support all the way.
DN: I have watched a lot of movies about the crazy things that university students do over there—drugs, immorality, non-commitment to their academic work to mention a few. Is that portrayal the reality on the ground?
SE: The portrayal is not the exact scenario here. Sometimes Nollywood exaggerates their stories and characters. For example, some movies show university students ‘half dressed’ in lecture halls, but the truth is that most universities here do not allow indecent dressing to school. Security will stop you at the gate and if you are inside a car you may pass the gate, but you cannot enter any office or lecture hall. But that is not to say that immorality, drugs, non-commitment to studies and so on does not exist. A lot happens.
DN: Any memorable (and horrifying) incident you witnessed as a student?
SE: One day during my third year, I took a cab to school because I was late for a quiz. The driver headed to an unknown destination. When I asked him, he said I should relax… he was speeding. We ended up in a deserted place near an uncompleted building. He stepped out and asked me to wait inside which I agreed. Only God knows how he forgot to lock the car. By the time he came back, I was far away and he couldn’t catch up with me.
Another memorable incident was the day we did a speech presentation exercise in class on the topic ‘Who are you’. When my turn came, I walked up to the stage smiling then I started talking. Up till this day I cannot figure out what happened there (laughs) but before I left the stage, the lecturer stood up and started clapping and my course mates joined her. She (the lecturer) asked me to write down everything I had said and give to her. I scored the highest in that course.
DN: How did you manage to come out unscathed?
SE: Coming out unscathed was not my own making. It was God’s doing.
DN: Any tips for university students who are (maybe understandably) under so much bad pressure?
SE: My advice is, they should put God first in everything that they do, mind the companies they choose to keep; they shouldn’t join the bandwagon no matter how tempting it is and remember what you went to the university to do and take it seriously.
ON ARRIVALS AND SOJOURN MEDIA (ASM)
DN: I must admit that ASM impressed me totally the very first time I visited the site. Good work. For how long had you nursed the idea?
SE: Thank you. The idea came up towards the end of 2010. We started working on it immediately and that is what resulted to the launch of AS magazine (print) maiden edition. It was a tour magazine that covered just Awka, Anambra state Nigeria where my school is located since there was no time to leave school and travel to other states for research.
DN: Why the name Arrivals & Sojourn?
SE: The name represents our goal for setting up ASM. It means coming and staying__ and staying in a particular place for sometime. Our goals are to show a peoples culture and their tourist attraction sites.
DN: What do you want the site to become?
SE: We are taking it one step at a time. There is a lot we want to put up in the site__ tourist attraction sites in Africa, a list of good hotels and eateries in Africa where tourists can spend their time and a business directory.
DN: Who do you work with?
SE: We have a team of web developers with my elder brother as the team head. They are responsible for structuring and updating the site based on the management’s decision.
DN: What do you do on the site?
SE: Writing articles for ‘Soul to Soul’ et al.
DN: What career do you intend to settle down on?
SE: I want to settle down as a TV presenter.
DN: What is your philosophy of life?
SE: Never look down on anyone; not even a newborn baby because they might just stand in a test. In a nutshell, humility is the name.
Sochima Ezeoke is one of the founders of https://www.asmedianig.com
Image credits: Sochima Ezeoke.