It is almost impossible to discuss the Nigerian movie industry without mentioning Nkem Owoh. He is one of the most popular and accomplished names in Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry. Thanks to his natural talent complemented by a fluid comical personality. The actor fits naturally into most of his roles as he never struggles to find words in any situation. Even when acting in a closed role, he manages to tickle the audience through witty utterances and reactions which leave movie goers in stitches. However, most people know very little about Nkem Owoh apart from his acting prowess. The following are ten things that you probably did not know about him:
1. He Studied Engineering This would surprise many. The emperor of comedy in Nollywood enrolled for a degree in engineering at the University of Ilorin immediately after his high school. In the course of his studies, he began acting and landed several roles in both TV series and screen productions. By then, Nollywood was still in its formative years. See Also: 20 Nigerian Movies You Must See This Year
2. Things Fall Apart Support Act Owoh had his first major break in acting when he landed a role in the screen adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The 1987 series had fifty episodes each spanning about 50 minutes and was aired on the Nigerian Television Authority. As Nollywood picked pace, he landed a supporting role in both Ukwa 1 and 2 in 1995 alongside other big names such as Sam Loco and Patience Ozokwor.
3. 83 Films to His Credit Nkem Owoh is credited in 83 films and several TV productions as at 2012. Most Nigerian producers prefer to have sequels to almost every other film thus benefitting actors like Owoh who have to feature in movies that they have played as lead acts or major supporting casts. His biggest act so far is Osuofia in London which received worldwide acclaim in 2003.
4. Recording Artist Nkem Owoh is also a recording artist. He recorded and performed I Go Chop Your Dollar, a song that speaks about scamming people in the name of advance fee charged in various industries. It later became an anthem for real life scammers who labelled themselves as 419ers. The song went on to feature in ‘The Master’, a movie in which Owoh acts as a scam architect. However, Nigerian anti-graft watchdog known as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission banned the song following in the footsteps of Nigeria Broadcasting Commission.
5. Banned for fronting unattainable demands Like any other big star, Nkem Owoh has been accused severally by producers of charging exorbitant appearance fees. The Association of Movie Makers and Producers banned him for making unreasonable demands in 2004. He was among a list of several Nigerian artists who were barred from acting in the country due to their high fees and difficult contract demands.
6. A day behind the bars What Nkem Owoh depicts in the movies sometimes follow him in real life. In 2007, the actor found himself behind the bars after being arrested in Amsterdam when police stormed the venue of a musical performance in which he was taking part. The Dutch law keepers had been investigating infringement on immigration laws and fraud in lotteries for about seven months before Owoh was caught in the middle of ‘Operation Apollo’ which targeted 419 scam architect. The actor was however released. See Also: Top Nigerian Romantic Movies
7. A date with kidnappers Nkem Owoh knows exactly what being kidnapped in Nigeria means. November 2009 perhaps remains to be his worst moment when he was taken hostage by kidnappers while travelling in eastern Nigeria. A ransom of 15 million naira was placed on his head but his family only managed 1.4 million to secure his release.
8. Award winner Finally, Nkem Owoh’s hard work and resilience paid off when he was awarded the top honors for Best Actor during the 2008 African Movie Academy Awards. See Also: Top Nollywood Nigerian movies
9. Death rumour Nkem Owoh disappeared from the public limelight for a while in December 2008. Then rumours picked up that he had passed on after a drug overdose just a month after his movie award win. Another version had it that the actor had been convicted somewhere in the Arabian desert for drug trafficking while still others said that he was kidnapped and beheaded in Russia. Just like other stars that have been killed on the internet, Owoh had to make a public appearance before the press to dispel the rumours.
10. Nkem means darling In Nigeria, the name Nkem means something that is dear and could be a reference to someone you love. It could also be translated as someone you value due to his intelligence, smartness, and irresistibility to the other gender.