Twenty six-year -old doctor cum actor, Ifeanyi Dike , speaks to JOAN OMIONAWELE about his sojourn into Nollywood, his career and personal life among other things. Excerpts:
W HAT prompted you to go into acting?
It’s very interesting to see people express art through acting as a medium. It is great to be able to control one’s body and emotions and use oneself as a tool to tell a story was one of the most inspiring things to do also because I wanted to do so many things in my life. I wanted to become a doctor, a lawyer and a pastor and acting is the only thing that can make me achieve all those things at once.
I chose to study medicine because I wanted to be able to interact with people and help them. Once I was done with school, I decided I was going to further my studies in acting and here I am, getting my masters in acting.
So, why didn’t you practise medicine?
I practised for a year and had my one year internship. The honest truth is, having my medical skills is an added advantage, because I plan to join UNICEF later on and I still want to touch many lives. A lot of people are worried about doing what they truly love because they are scared of what people will say and that’s grave.
What projects have you been up to lately?
Lately, I’ve been on a movie set called deceit, where I play the role of a geek, who was a computer nerd. I’ve just shot a documentary about exploring Nigeria. I also write as well, so I’m working on some deals. But most importantly, I will be away for some weeks for some intense training in directing before coming back in December to do some work here.
Who are your role models in the industry?
At the risk of sounding cliché, I’ll say Genevieve Nnaji, because everyone knows how poised she is, because it’s something inspiring to be like someone who is delicate, yet so talented and so unfazed by the terrible things going on in the world.
Also, Joke Silva inspires me a lot. She is theatre-trained from England and so is her husband. This is to say that some people have taken acting so seriously enough to get trained for it.
What has been your most challenging role so far?
I think that every role has been challenging. But my most challenging role has been ‘Desperate Housewives Africa’ because there was already a character that had portrayed what I portrayed and I had to do the same thing, so I did not want to fall short. Also, with Tinsel, I had to combine it with medical School and I was always travelling. Basically, every role comes with its challenges.
What have been your challenges in the industry?
Nollywood is a growing, thriving industry and everyone is doing great. We have inspiring filmmakers and directors like Mildred Okwo, Kunle Afolayan, Imo Umoren, Tope Oshin and working with these people will be such an honour. But they should put younger talents into consideration, because we also have stories to tell and we are ready to work.
What was your growing up like?
It was very interesting. I grew up in Lagos and I grew up in a hospital, because my dad is a doctor and my mum is a nurse. I grew up around a lot of patients and doctors, with people already calling me junior doctor from the beginning. so, psychologically, I was attuned to be a doctor. My parents were encouraging and fun, as my mum spanked me sometimes. I went to a boarding school which helped shape me to be responsible
You said you were being called junior doctor, how were you able to convince your parents that you wanted to be an actor?
My parents are very reasonable people. I went to Medical School, graduated and practised for a year. Showing them that kind of commitment was enough, They didn’t force me to study medicine; I studied it out of my own volition. I think that they are proud that I finished because a lot of people did not finish, My class started with about 700 students, but just about 120 of us reached the finishing line.
Although they were worried that I will fail because I was combining acting with school, I never failed at the University. I don’t see any complications because it is just like an English student who wants to go into fashion. No one is having aneurism over my decision. Everyone is okay with it.
You were one of the youngest actors featured at the just concluded TIFF. Can you tell us more about that experience.
The Toronto international Film Festival was more than just rosé and celebrity spotting – undeniably I had my fill of both. It was also an opportunity to gather inspiration and explore the future of film making with experienced actors. I was excited to be in a Variety magazine spread and it was an honour to be featured officially by TIFF on the same walls as icons like Uzo Aduba and Amy Adams.