Steve Eboh is an ace Nigerian actor whose career in the film industry spans over three decades. Fondly called Ajebo, Eboh made his professional acting debut with the hit movie ‘Karishika’ (1996). He has since then been featured in a plethora of movies including ‘Extreme Measure’ and ‘Lionheart’. He had also held top positions in the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN). In this interview with THECABLE LIFESTYLE and INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER, Eboh discusses filmmaking, the current state of Nollywood, his perspective on ailing actors resorting to social media for donations, and more.
You have not been as active as you used to be. Why?
Steve Eboh: You know in 1992 when I started, I was twenty-something years old. By the 20th of next month, I will be 58. So, the speed and everything cannot be the same as before. I am very much interested in my health, so there is no need to do the things I used to do. You know this job we do has a lot to do with our mental health, so we need to give our brains some space. Secondly, the younger ones are coming, and we need to create space for them to come up. That is because if you do not have people taking over from you, your generation will be considered a waste and a failure. Thirdly, so many stories these days do not inspire. In Nollywood, we have gotten to a different level production-wise, equipment-wise, and picture-wise. But story-wise and acting-wise, we are going down because of so many things I see in the industry. Once in a while, I do some films. I just did one that would be out soon.
Was that why you switched to filmmaking, to help you take a breather?
Steve Eboh: Yes, once you are in the entertainment industry, you will meet different people. There are stories you want to tell and a producer may not want to tell the story the way I want to, so the best thing for me is to tell my story. I have a film I want to shoot by next year that I have been thinking about for the past five years. If you want to tell your stories exactly the way you want, you must go into filmmaking.
Many believe the film industry today is full of untrained stars. What do you say to that?
Steve Eboh: Let me be honest with you, artistically, the industry is going down. The acting is no longer the way it used to be before. Those days when we were acting, we had what they call rehearsals. You could be acting on the level of 80 percent, me 50 percent another person 20 percent. If you go that way, it may mess up the storyline. But if you rehearse for days, we all can come up to match up at a point. But these days, there is no longer a rehearsal culture in Nigeria. So the acting in the industry is going down. We run from one set to the other, which means we cannot meet up artistically.
What is helping us is that production-wise, sound-wise, picture; everything is going high. But what about the stories? We cannot use technology to water down our stories.
Just because someone goes for a reality TV show today does not mean that by tomorrow they can act. I have a colleague who says once a lady can get some money and go for BBL, she is a superstar. So, these days, people just come into the industry because they want to be stars. Most of the rich actors today are ladies. And you ask why. Is it not the same payment? A lot of things are happening. People are not thinking deeply, they just cram lines. Whereas you are supposed to rehearse, get into character, and then act.
What you are saying now is contradicting the fact that our movies are now accepted globally unlike before. What are we doing right?
Steve Eboh: As I said before, the production is high and the technology is high so definitely it will be accepted. We have Hollywood and we have Nollywood. Hollywood is technology, and Nollywood is storytelling. We have actors like Sam Loco Efe, Pete Edochie, or RMD who give beautiful interpretations. Watch even the likes of Kate Henshaw. Now look at the younger ones, they are on the fast lane, they are on a different speed. You do not give an actor a script today and expect them to come on your set tomorrow. No. For example, to be sure of what I am doing I do not even negotiate or go into contract with you until I have gone through the script and seen that it has a message, made observations, and decided that I like the script. Most stories these days do not have messages, but because of the beauty of picture and sound, locations, costumes, makeup, and the beautiful girls in it, they push it.
What are your thoughts on skit-making?
Steve Eboh: It is trending.
Do you think that will stop?
Steve Eboh: Whatever starts has an expiry date. There were days I used to think that if you do not call me for your production, you are finished. We were the superstars then. When we arrive, the superstar is here. Today, who looks at us? Just because some of us just took a step back because we saw where people were marching, so we decided to just watch and see, and then follow them systematically. I still attend master classes at film festivals and listen to panel discussions. You cannot see any of the new actors in any master plans. But because they have something going for them; beauty, probably make-up enhanced or whatever, and mix it up with technology, they are good to go.
Let us talk about the sexualisation of children and the objectification of women in the movie industry. What are your thoughts, particularly the sex for role issue?
Steve Eboh: Film is the culture of the people; however, their culture is set to be. In most Nigerian films, both Yoruba, Igbo, or Hausa, when you revise them, they have juju in them. In Nigeria, we believe so much in juju, which is why we say, ‘village people’. In America, they believe so much in guns so in most of their movies, you see guns. In every profession, there is sex. In schools, do not they trade sex for mark? In companies, does not it happen that people trade sex for favours? So, why would it be different in the film industry?
But do you know why we have it? No female has come to me to say she has been harassed. Report the person to us, and then we can take action. When you ask them they tell you yes, they heard it happens, but it has not happened. So, if you have all heard it, who has been harassed? But I know that there is ‘sex for mark’, ‘sex for employment’, and there is ‘sex for everything in Nigeria’, so there could be sex for roles. But I will tell you that no sane producer will want to invest millions of naira to sleep with a lady, it is only the little, foolish ones. If you are really into investments, once that film starts making waves and you make money, you can get women. So, nobody has complained, nobody has agreed she has been harassed. Who can we then face?
Ailing actors are constantly seen on social media pleading for funds to get medical help. What is your view of this trend?
Steve Eboh: I am not just an actor, I am a representative of the AGN executive. Actors have HMO and insurance, but how many of these actors have taken the time to be part of those things? None. We have about 600 hospitals that actors can use in Nigeria for free. But they will not do it. When they are sick, we have a welfare committee chaired by a very respectable lady, Aunty Joke Silva and she is very thorough. We give money to almost every sick actor. At the end of the day, they want to go to social media to make money. In the case of Mr. Ibu, I have been carrying the case from day one even before he became this way. Do lawyers take their sick people to social media? Do engineers do that? Do journalists do that? Why must it be actors? When you take care of yourself from day one, in the middle of your life you will see it.
Copyright 2023 TheCable. All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from TheCable.
Follow us on twitter @Thecablestyle