By Christian Agadibe
When he ventured into the movie industry some years ago, many producers had turned him down. Today, Anambra State-born actor, Jerry Williams is the toast of filmmakers.
In an exclusive interview, he talks about his journey to Nollywood and life as a popular actor. Enjoy it.
Tell us about yourself
I’m Jerry Williams Chudiebere from Anambra State. I am the first child of five children. I have two brothers and two sisters, and I studied Mechanical Engineering at Unizik.
What was your first encounter with the movie industry?
The industry is a tough one. When I came, they all made me feel like I was not going to be anybody here. Most times, when people see the talent, they either want to use you or kill you but never want to make you. It’s now left for you and your God to make yourself. At first, it wasn’t easy because as at then, there was no money, I had to do so many movies without payment to sell myself, for me to be accepted as a good actor.
Did you start with an audition?
Of course, you will have to go for an audition and you will have to wait for the result containing the cast list, check the board for your name if you make it; together with the character role you are being taken for.
You studied Mechanical Engineering, what inspired you to go into the movie industry?
The truth is that I have always been an entertainer from childhood; I think I got that from my dad. He is an entertainer and also a musician and all that. I have this sense of humour to always make people laugh, so I converted it into entertainment. When I was in primary and secondary schools, I was always in theatre and acting society. When it was time for me to enter university, my dad wanted me to be an engineer, so I had to follow up with that dream, but I think now God has His plans for me.
What were the challenges you encountered at first?
The craziest was the discouragement that came with not getting paid for the movies I acted. And back then, it was very tough for me because movie roles were not usually given on merit, but rather through connections or acquaintances, but overtime I started getting roles through merit. Another journey began when I met a marketer who adopted me as a son, took me into his house and became my mentor. He would give me movie roles and link me up with other greater opportunities, he practically gave me the wings to fly and that enabled me to explore my talents to the fullest and network with other movies productions.
What particular movie gave you a breakthrough and made you famous?
I think it would be Seven Book of Moses where I played the role of a chief guard and everybody knew me with the character, Nwaniga. And since then, people have addressed me by that character name.
Was that your turning point?
I think my turning point in the industry came with the movie, Stolen Future. Let me put it this way, I did lots of movies at that time and all came out very well; and because of that I am finding it a bit difficult to have a hold on a particular one that gave me my turning point, including the movie, The Occultic Battle and a couple of others.
What has changed now?
I lost myself with the fame. I mean I got everything that came with being famous; I got fame, money, the fan’s love and audience, I practically became wealthy, but in all of these I lost myself in the process. The movie industry is one of the most selfish businesses that you can ever have because it doesn’t give you time, room or avenue to do any other thing especially if you are one that is diligent and passionate with what you do. For instance, I just had to breeze in during my younger brother and sister’s wedding, because I was on a set when I supposed to be on lockdown for them as the first son of the family. So, right now, I am just trying to re-strategize to enable me create time for my job and myself.
What project are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a movie, Save A Soul by Wazico Production.
Do you feel threatened by the likes of Jim Iyke, Ramsey Nouah and other big names in the industry?
As a matter of fact, Jim Iyke was my role model and because of the love I have for him, I had to idolize him with his picture in my room. Even my mother would always call me Jim Iyke at some point.
How would you feel featuring alongside Jim Iyke?
I have featured in so many movies with Jim Iyke; go search online.
How was the feeling?
Oh, when I met him I could not say a word. I was like ‘wow I am finally meeting my mentor’ – and not just meeting him, also working alongside with him. In 2000, I did a movie, Royal Prince alongside him. I acted as his younger brother, and many others too.
Are you still single or married?
I am very much single but of course, I have a lady in my life. However, I am not the type that likes discussing my private life due to the era we are, the social media era where people tend to judge you by your real life mistake. The only thing I owe my fans out there is to give them great movie roles that will keep blowing their minds
Can we know this woman in your life?
As I said, I would not like to discuss my personal life.
Have you ever experienced sex-for-role in the industry?
When I joined the industry, I had this very terrible look, a mean look kind of. So, I doubt if anyone has such effrontery to walk up to me to tell me that bullsh-t.
Did you acquire any former training before joining the industry?
The only training I had was working on myself in front of the mirror and I had to do that over and over again. I’m an engineer by profession but growing up I won awards that made me stand out as an actor and entertainer. To a large extent, I think me being an actor was my destiny.
Do you still see yourself going back to your profession as an engineer in future?
To be sincere with you, I do not know what the future holds; and I do not worry about tomorrow, I only live my life for tomorrow and allow the future to take care of itself.
What is the craziest thing a fan has done to you?
Tattoo my name on her body… I mean on her waist. She tattooed my initials ‘JW’ on her waist.
Do you have anyone you are crushing on in the industry?
To be honest with you, I do not have anybody I am crushing on in the industry. But I have someone who I idolize and that person is Genevieve Nnaji. I love her personality so much that I crave to be like her. She has an exceptional personality that is radiant and shows the kind of person I will like to be. If you trace the life of Genevieve, you cannot see how social media must have transformed her into something else. She is very diligent, a woman of integrity, a woman of substance and power, a woman of presence. That is the kind of person I want to be. I want my presence to announce me; I don’t want my scandal or attributes as regards social media to announce my presence. No. I want people to hail, to congratulate, to love me for my craft and not for the act I put out on social media.
Have you worked with Genevieve before?
No, I have not worked with Genevieve but it is something I crave, I pray and look out for. I can’t wait to work with her.
What would you like to change in the industry?
I would like everyone to be given fair and equal treatment. Also, I would desire for the industry to be scrutinized and properly sanitized in order to eradicate and flush out the fake actors from the real ones, because there are so many fake actors/actresses in the industry using it as a cover-up.
How long have you been in the industry?
I came into the industry in 2009, left to complete my education and came back in 2013, and it took me 11 years to become what I am today. And since then to the year 2020, I’ve been crying and striving.
Any plans of being a movie producer as well?
I have produced just one movie, Crying to Blood. It was written and produced by me. Combining both acting and producing wasn’t easy at all, but as you know, nothing good comes easy.