By Obinna Odenigbo
Benson Chukwuemeka Okonkwo is not just a model; but is in many regards; a consummate actor. Coming from a pretty comfortable background; Benson isn’t one of those artists who chose their careers out of desperation to make quick cash. So his passion, rather than a vain craze for money or effizy, informed his dual career of modeling and acting (the double dose).
He attended the University Of Nigeria Secondary School as well as the University itself; where he honed his talent and upped the ante!
Benson has arguably carved a niche for himself in the difficult world of male modelling and has racked up a CV which is as impressive as it is enviable.
Wema Bank, First Bank, Vino Oil and even Zain Telecommunications among a litany of other big names have all had Benson on their billboards, posters and television ads!
Besides modelling, he has also featured in more than thirty Nollywood movies! One of his recent movies in which he was a key actor (Strippers) is already receiving rave reviews from both fans and cynics alike. But this is only a hint of the inherent talent of this young man.
There can be no questioning his influence on his peers. And when he does eventually become an A-list star; don’t say we didn’t tell you. You heard it first from us!
Since all we do here at Cruise Nigeria is celebrate creativity; we made time to celebrate the immensely gifted Benson.
Could you tell Nigerians how you have employed your creativity to good effect?
Well; you know how it is. I have been working hard to break even in the modelling as well as movie industries. I put in my best; and leave the rest to God. It’s him who blesses our efforts with rewards.
We know you have modelled for different brands and appeared in a lot of Nollywood productions; if asked to choose- which would you go for? Movies or Modelling?
Ah; that’s an interesting question. But honestly man; I think I will go for the movies. This is because in movies; I portray a character and try to bring to life a scripted story. It’s also fun because I use the opportunity to educate as well as entertain the viewers.
Which is even more difficult? Movies or modelling?
Oh well; I’d say umm… Movies are more challenging and difficult because in movies, you require the technical know-how to fit into another person’s shoes and act like the person described in the script you are acting. You have to learn a lot because sometimes you get to play a character you know little or nothing about. But in modelling, if you have got what it takes; you are game.
What do you think about the on-going power tussle in the AGN- between Emeka Ike and Mr Segun Arinze? What ways do you think the problems can best be handled?
For me; I’ll suggest dialogue. I believe when men sit together; they can solve any problem. So I’ll suggest that both of them who have offered so much to Nollywood; sit together and thrash out their differences. That shouldn’t be a problem. Like I said; they are not just mature; they are role models and gentlemen in their rights.
We hear a lot of stories about producers seeking to sleep with female actresses before they are given roles. How rampant is this? Or is it just a hoax?
It is a big hoax because if you are an actress and you have got all it takes to attain greater heights you will never stoop low just for a role- and we have respected and reputable directors whom I strongly believe won’t stoop so low either. They have their reputations to protect.
What is the way forward for modelling in Nigeria?
Well; anything is possible with hard work and determination. I see a bright future for our modelling industry and I think with hard work we can rival those in Europe and America. We just need to believe in ourselves
We hear stories of female models earning more than the male models in Nigeria. How true is this and how can this situation be dealt with?
Well; that’s not always true. It all depends on your contract with the agency or company you are modelling for… and more so it can be fixed if more reputable agencies spring up to recruit more men to the job. I will also use this medium to propose that more seminars be organized to that effect.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am working on so many projects which i will let out to Cruise Nigeria when they are ripe and due for publicity. But all the same; I am working round the clock. The strippers is a major role i just finished and it’s a must see movie.
Any major challenges?
None really; I’m not the kind of guy to waste time thinking about setbacks or challenges. For me; work is fine and we give all thanks to God.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to set up my own clothing line and also a top modelling agency… and of course get married… ha-ha
Who’s your role model?
Umm- I’m not gonna think about this one. It’s definitely Jim Iyke. I admire his acting and fashion style.
Do you have any advice for young ones wishing to model?
My advice to them all is to stay focused and never relent and the sky will be their limit
Thank you for your time;
You’re welcome and I hope to hear from you again
Follow Obinna on twitter @teflonbauss