A few years ago, Enyinna Nwigwe paid a friendly visit to a movie location, and he ended up becoming one of the most sought-after actors in Nollywood.
Renowned for his unforgettable romantic roles, handsome looking Nwigwe in this interview talks about his journey to stardom.
How did you get into acting and what was your first gig?
My first gig was titled, Wheel of Change, a film directed by Jeta Amata. Then, I was studying at the University of Calabar. At a time, I was introduced to modeling; I started training models, and I was doing this as a side business as an undergraduate. That was my introduction to entertainment. In 2003, I met Jeta Amata, who was working on a project in Calabar at the time, and we became friends. He had just started shooting his movie, The Wheel of Change. He had invited me to his film set and I honoured the invitation. He was shooting a particular scene where he needed one more person to fill up the frame. That was how he casually asked me to jump in. I would say that my delving into acting was accidental, pure serendipity. In fact, it was this singular action that triggered my interest in acting.
What movie role would you consider most challenging and why?
It’s hard to pick a role as most challenging. I have been privileged to play in quite some interestingly intense movies, and I usually find them more like adventures than challenges. From the soon-to-be-released Badamasi (Portrait of a General) where I had to transform to the most controversial military president Nigeria ever had, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), to Black November, where I played a lead role against Oscar nominated actors. Then, there’s soon-to-be-released Eaglewings, where I played an Air Force fighter pilot, going through the training as a crash course on set, as we filmed scenes. The list goes on, so I can’t really point one movie out as most challenging.
Tell us what you like about the character you played in your most favourite movie?
What I loved most was going into history in Badamasi to shine the light further into the life of a former military president. And with Eaglewings, it’s getting to understand the immense work our Armed Forces are doing and their specialised roles in fighting insurgency in the North East of Nigeria.
Which role have you played that’s most similar to your real character?
I’ll say The Wedding Party… Even though, I’m the last born of my family, some of my sisters have told me I give off the ‘big bro’ vibe.
What major lessons have you learnt on set as an actor?
I have learnt to tolerate people a lot more. I’ve learnt to understand and respect individuality, as well as patience.
Have you ever faced the challenge of mixing your real character with a movie role?
I believe that to be at the core of every actor. There is always a point in a performance where you don’t have to run away from yourself, as long as you are communicating believably. It’s really okay; the audience can’t tell it’s you.
Has any producer ever imposed a role on you, like asking you to do something that is not originally in the script?
I wouldn’t say imposed, but directors get fresh ideas on set every now and then, different from how it’s written in the script, and discuss with the actor.
Have you ever had real feelings for a lady you acted with?
I have always had a way of compartmentalising my feelings. A work feeling is usually just for delivering believability on screen, and takes the focus at work. So, no real feelings I have translated off set.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on my foundation, Enyinna Nwigwe Foundation for Children and the Physically Challenged in the Society. I started out during the COVID-19 lockdown, with distribution of food items. Also, I’m kicking off my own production studio, First Plot Studios where we’ll be creating original content and telling more of our finest African stories, and helping shape our own narrative.
Who is Enyinna Nwigwe aside what we see on screen?
I’m one who loves to genuinely connect with good people. I enjoy cooking; I love fishing, tennis, and a good workout. I am always up for a fun adventure.
How was your growing up?
Being the last of four children, I grew up pretty much protected by my siblings. I can’t say I had all I wanted but I can’t say I had it tough either. I have fun memories of my childhood.
Which of your movies gave you a big break?
That would be The Wedding Party.
Marriages, especially in Nollywood keep breaking up; as a bachelor, what is your stand on divorce?
I think marriages are breaking up everywhere; it’s not peculiar to Nollywood, really. I believe marriage is for the two people involved to deal with, whatever way it works for them.
What is the quality trait you desire from a woman?
I desire from a woman traits such as kindness, gentility and respectfulness.
How do the roles you play in movies affect your day-to-day life experiences?
When you play a role believably as an actor, people tend to see you as the character that moves them the most.
If you’re asked to do a movie with Denzel Washington, what will be your first reaction when you meet him?
I’ll be curious to know how he has stayed afloat and relevant as a black man in Hollywood, through the stretch of his acting career.
Do you think Nollywood will ever rank equally with Hollywood?
That’s like asking if Nigeria will ever rank equally with America. I believe Nollywood, like most industries, is a reflection of Nigeria by standard and functionality, as Hollywood is to America. I don’t think we can truly compete, as we don’t work with same budget, structure and expertise. But we can do the most we can with what we have, and with excellence at the core.