Norbert Young is an ace Nigerian actor whose career in the film industry spans over three decades. He has been featured in several projects including ‘Third Eye’, ‘Checkmate’, ‘Tinsel’ and ‘Family Circle’. In addition to his work in television and films, Young has appeared in several plays and stage productions. In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle’s DEBORAH BODUNDE, the 63-year-old Warri-born movie star discusses a series of topics including the evolution of Nollywood, pension plans for veteran actors, and how the government can contribute to the development of the film industry. He also shares his opinion on “why women make more money than men in Nollywood”.


TheCable Lifestyle: How do you think the Nigerian film industry has evolved since you started acting?

Norbert Young: I started acting on stage before I got into television and that was in the early 80s. We had TV dramas in all these stations and that was what evolved into what we know today as Nollywood. Nollywood can be said to be the commercial part of drama when people started packaging drama for sale. We started very poorly but over the years, we have managed to develop in all aspects of film production. We have done well and today we are recognised as a very powerful film-producing nation. We have used everything we have to make a headway and I am proud to say that we are getting there gradually.

Norbert Young
Norbert Young has appeared in several movies, plays and stage productions

TheCable Lifestyle: Would you say there is any difference between the old and new Nollywood?


Norbert Young: To me, there is nothing like old or new. Nollywood is growing, I see no differences and it is a continuous growth. When Nollywood started, I was very young and I met older people there.

TheCable Lifestyle: Many believe the film industry today is full of untrained stars. What do you say to that?

Norbert Young: Well, some people have formal training and others have informal training in any business you are in the world. You can’t stand behind a camera to operate it without any form of training, can you? You can’t go in front of a camera and say you want to act without any kind of formal or informal training. So it is wrong to say Nollywood is full of untrained people. Many of them go through private tutelage and many of them have gone to film schools. If you are not trained then you do not have a place in Nollywood. Nollywood is doing well in the aspect of training, I must tell you.


TheCable Lifestyle: What do you think sets Nollywood apart from other film industries in the world?

Norbert Young: Technology. All the other industries are very advanced in the use of technology in their movies but Nollywood still has this innate talent that allows us to create wonders from nothing. Our technology is not so great in terms of film production but we use our natural talents and skills to achieve what we have been able to achieve so far with the help of little technology. We are raw talents and we dig deep into ourselves and produce miracles, I tell you. I think the major difference is the application of technology. 

Norbert and Gloria Young have been together for more than two decades

TheCable Lifestyle: What has been your most challenging role as an actor?

Norbert Young: As far as I’m concerned, every role is challenging. All the roles I have played on stage, on radio, on TV and in films have all been challenging. You might have some challenges with makeup and costumes because you might not feel too comfortable and sometimes your makeup might be distracting you but you still have to act. What experienced actors do is that they turn that discomfort into something that is part of their characterization, they take advantage of it and turn it into an asset for that role. In the TV series ‘Checkmate’, I had the challenge of my beard, it was very uncomfortable, it irritated me, it made me very angry and unagreeable but it helped me in improving the acting of that professor role. So I used all those negative things as assets to play that role. Basically, every role has its challenges.


TheCable Lifestyle: How have you been able to stay motivated through the years?

Norbert Young: I love my job, I feel very happy doing my job and I feel content. I am motivated by what we produce, I watch Nigerian movies and I’m very proud that I’m a part of the system. That is enough motivation for me. And again, people are accepting what we are producing, it gives me a lot of joy. So, I think my motivation comes from my love for it, I spend my time studying it and I want to be the best always, trying to do better than the last time.

TheCable Lifestyle: What are you most proud of about your career?

Norbert Young: It is a job that gives you exposure, a lot of people know you and appreciate what you do. It makes me very proud that Nigerians especially accept us and see us as role models or whatever they see us as. We have grown in recognition and I’m very proud of the reception that we are seeing. It takes the grace of God to be humble.


TheCable Lifestyle: You have been married for over two decades, how do you view fidelity in marriage as an actor?

Norbert Young: In every profession, if you are not a disciplined person, you will fall easily into temptations. There is temptation everywhere but your commitment to your job, to your marriage, and to your partner will help you to see it through. You will be exposed to a lot of people in your everyday life but if you are committed to your relationship, then you will know how to handle yourself. I do not see it as a big deal.

TheCable Lifestyle: Ailing actors are constantly seen on social media pleading for funds to get medical help. What is your view of this trend?

Norbert Young
The 63-year-old Warri-born movie star has won a plethora of awards for his craft

Norbert Young: Again, because it is Nollywood it is amplified and blown out of proportion. If you are on social media you will see many people doing this but everybody thinks it is only in Nollywood. It happens all over the world.


TheCable Lifestyle: Are you aware of any savings and pension plans by the Actors Guild?

Norbert Young: Those ones are there too but you see individual actors have to find pension organizations to help them in that aspect. You make your own contributions, everyone must find a way of taking care of themselves. I know that AGN is doing something about that, I do not know which of the pension organizations that they are working with right now but I know that they are doing something like that. That is what I call the fallback money, money that you can fall back on.

TheCable Lifestyle: There is a belief that women make more money than men in Nollywood due to their lifestyle. What is your take on this?

Norbert Young: People love women, they love what they do and women attract more money. It does not make them wayward or anything like that, women get gifts more than men do. Also, every actor has their own bargaining power and maybe the women are bargaining better. But I do not go asking how much you are paid, and you do not come asking me how much I am paid. Better is relative, I think it depends on priorities and what is better for you might not be better for me.

TheCable Lifestyle: Given the current economic challenges in Nigeria, including the fuel price and the exchange rate, do you have hope in this current administration?

Norbert Young: If there is no hope then there is no reason to be alive. I have hope and I will never give up on Nigeria. Nigeria is only 63 years old as a nation and for the first six years of nationhood, Nigeria had its first coup and many were killed. In the seventh year of our nationhood, we went into war and that lasted for three years — we are still trying to get out of the trauma of that war. Nigeria has not been a fortunate country in terms of nationhood. Many people do not believe in Project Nigeria, they steal because they think Nigeria will scatter so that they will have enough money to feather their nest.

We are not giving ourselves a chance to grow, to be a nation. Those who are in the position of power have looted our resources because they did not believe Nigeria would survive as a nation, but Nigeria has endured. Many things will go wrong, we really do not need to reinvent the wheel but we must give ourselves the chance to grow and to learn. For 23 years now we have had steady democracy and we are making progress, very painfully slow but we are making progress and we are going to get there. I have hope in Nigeria. Things are really rough now but Nigerians are tougher than this situation. Just let the people who are in the position of leadership know exactly what they are doing, let them also know that people are really suffering. But I have hope.

Norbert Young
Norbert Young was born on July 3, 1960 in Warri, Delta state

TheCable Lifestyle: What development do you think the Bola Tinubu government should bring into showbiz, particularly the film industry?

Norbert Young: Sincerely speaking, what I would like to see is endowment funds where producers can get loans or get grants to be able to achieve their dreams. That is what I look forward to. If the government wants me to do a project with the government then the government has to pay me. But if there is an endowment fund where we can draw from in loans or grants, then that will be very good. A lot of producers will take advantage of that. That is what I would like to see. 

Copyright 2024 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