EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: My Most Embarrassing Moment was Being Aroused on Set - Francis Okoli

Yesterday, Jerry Ukandu Blog got the chance to interview one of nollywood's fast rising cute actors whose talent is gradually taking him far beyond his level. As we got into talking,
Anambra born shared with us his journey into the industry. You wana know him, then join me on the train as I take you down the lane
Can we meet you?
My name is Francis Ezechukwu Okoli. The 6th child of my family. I hail from Okpeze, Orumba North local government area of Anambra state. I’m a graduate of English and Literature, at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. Graduated in 2014, and would be going for service this October. I’m a cool and simple guy.

What projected you into entertainment?
Yea, I will categorically say it was winning the pageantry, Mr. Unizik back in my year one. It really brought me to the frontline, and sought of opened doors for me. Initially, I wasn’t interested, but with the persuasion of my friends, colleagues, and even my roommates, I decided to go for it. They bought the form for me, and as God will have it, I came out tops. With this, tummy tummy noodles signed a year contract with me, used my picture for a billboard ad mounted at school gate…..and that was how It all started.
During your undergraduate days, what specifically were you into aside your studies?
Well, I was basically into entertainment t. I was into modeling, advertising, and also acting. Juggling all these together with my studies wasn’t an easy thing, but of course, with God, I was able to navigate through them all.

when did you start acting and what was the name of the movie?
(Grins)....I started acting in 2010, although it was just a drama that wasn’t too serious. But my official entry into the industry came in 2013, when I starred in a movie titled “The University”  which was shot in Unizik. It was a huge stepping stone for me. I made contact with the director and producer. I featured alongside top nollywood stars like Nonso Diobi, Ken Erics, Tonto Dike Queen Nwokoye and the rest of them. I acted as the SUG PRO in the film, even though my lectures were clashing with the shooting, I had to find a way to balance it.

What was the experience like?
“Laughs” it went well. It was amazing. Talking about my experience, hmmm, it’s been wonderful, tremendous I must say. It feels good you know, when you know that people out there appreciate what you do, they complement you. Imagine when you do something all for the fun and with a passion, you are being paid for it. It’s just so awesome when you go out, you see people recognize you. It gives you this sensation of fulfillment.
Where you paid for that movie?
Of course I was paid. You know people have this mentality that most upcoming actors are not paid, they are just used as slaves to make up the movie. But if you actually know who you are and the quality you possess, you just have to stand your ground. That’s why it’s called a job. It’s just that the industry is corrupt. You even see those that pay money for roles. To me, they simply don’t know who they are or what they stand for. But one thing you should understand is that as an upcoming actor, you might not be well paid sometimes as compared to those who’s been there.
How many movies have you starred in so far?
Ahh! I can’t really place the figure, but I know I’ve featured in close to ten movies. I can’t start calling their names. At times when acting with a particular title, when you finish acting the movie and it’s being censored, they might change the name,  even without your knowledge. You don’t know who is marketing the movie. All the movies are just so good, and if I'm to recommend one, I would recommend Crime and Justice. "You guys should just watch Crime and Justice." Very very interesting. You know it's been showing in the cinemas, but I think it's out in CD plate

So far so good, what’s been your greatest challenge in the industry?
Whoa……to be candid with you, I have not come across any situation that I can possibly say is most challenging when it comes to acting because it is just the normal way of living, doing things. But I thing I had a little issue with the movie titled “Heart of Joy” part 1 and 2, and ‘Merciful Mother” part 3 and 4. Where I acted alongside Ken Erics, Chinwetalu Agu, Chinwe Owoh and the rest of them. It was quite a bit of challenge as I had to play the role of a female. being a roommate to Ken Erics. I wasn’t given enough time to master the act as we were being rushed into it. The fixing of nails, going on high-heels, wearing female cloths….
Are you currently on any project?
hmmm, not really. As a matter of fact, I just finished a project now titled “Sound Mind,” and another script for a movie called “The Bucklers,” has been sent to me. Although the shooting is going to commence first week of September. I’ve gone through the script and I’m ready to play my role. When they call me and tell me the location, I would simply make myself available there.
What’s your unique selling point as an actor, and also individual?
Laughs….well, every individual has got something special in him or her that endears them to others. For me personally, I believe one of the things is my looks. Nobody can be me as I can’t be anybody. Some people don’t even know my name, when they see me they call me Van Vicker. I am not Van Vicker and he is not me, even though we share quite a bit of similarities, we are two different individuals. Another thing is my body physique. Once in a while I take a walk, do exercises that help put the body in shape. But it’s not all the time. I’m just free with people. And all these make me fit into any character. I have acted as a son to Nse-Ikpe, a boy friend to Tonto Dike, even as a prince. So I think those are my USPs.

Whoa, interesting. What’s your relationship status?
Giggles! That’s a question I wish you didn’t have to ask me. Well eh, relationship wise, I think I will score that 7 over 10. I try to be very careful and reserved in things like this. I believe it’s just for the time being, and probably hope it’s headed somewhere good. You just need to study people before you can now know if she is compatible with you., cos you do not know who is who. Laughs!!!
Who’s your role model in the industry?
Frankly speaking, I am. I mean I try to be myself, live up to my own standard. But on the other hand, I profoundly admire the likes of Ramsey Noah, Leonardo Decapri, who is a foreign actor. Their flexibility is what draws me to them. Their act, passion and strength is all to good. Someone like Ramsey Noah, I have been on set with him in a movie titled “Pensioniers” directed by Izu Ojukwu. I acted as a foreign reporter in that movie, even though I didn’t play much scene.

Having come this far, who can you say you have a close relationship with in the industry?
Hmm, lemme see….i would say it’s Ken Erics. Ken and I are very close, I’m very free with him. we talk on the phone, even hang out once in a while. If he’s around, like in Anambra state, or somewhere around Unizik, as he just finished his masters, he can call to tell, and probably I will just go and where he is, we’ll just be gisting. I first met Ken on set while filming “The University” in Unizik. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have good relationship with others.
There is this should I call it “rumour” making rounds that producers now indulge in homosexuality, have you been approached before?
Laughs….oh yes, it’s not a rumour, it’s in fact a bitter-truth. Some of them will tell you to sleep with them before they can give you a role, even when you have all the qualities. It is gradually becoming a norm. As a matter of fact, I have been approached on several occasions, but common, it’s not my thing, I just refuse and walk away gently. But that doesn’t mean I hate them. No, it is their behavior and not their person I frown at. In essence, I relate with them on a normal basis as humans. I don’t have to be like you before I associate with you. Shikena…laughs. I call it “Vandalization of the plumbing material.” (makes a wild laugh)
Your most embarrassing moment?
Hmmmmmm, trust me you wouldn’t want to hear it. Good heavens, it was so embarrassing. Never will I forget that day. While romancing and kissing a girl while I was on set in one of the movies, I actually got aroused. I was turned on just on boxer. Can you believe it? Mhen, it was so embarrassing. That was my first time of playing such role. As a professional, you need to be able to control that sensation, as there are people behind the scene. It was really really a bad day for me. But such act can’t repeat itself. (Laughs).

Lastly, Your advice to upcoming actors
There’s nothing compared to being yourself. It brings out that uniqueness in you, and it’s only then people will start to notice you. Just be yourself, work on yourself. That you have a deficiency in an area doesn’t mean you cannot be good in that area. God, hard work, and determination is all you need. Try them and you will be surprise at what it can do.
Thank you very much for your time, and patience. We look forward to a more wonderful time out with you Mr. Francis.
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