Behind the Story: Ngozi Ezeonu
Ngozi Ezeonu has almost 150 movies to her credit and started her acting career in 1993. She was born on May 23, 1965 and originally hails from Anambra State in the west African country of Nigeria. The actress has 6 other siblings, 5 of who are males and the other a sister. Her first paying job was hair styling and she studied journalism until she stepped into the field of acting.
Nigeria’s movie industry is the fastest growing in the world and comparing the industry now to when she started almost a decade and half ago, Ngozi sees a lot of improvement now. For her, the industry has become a lot more competitive and complicated, a stark contrast from what it was in her hay days.
One thing is clear though, ”we had more beautiful stories when I started than I see now” and so for Ngozi, even though the acting has improved in quality and production, the story lines and directing need to be stepped up as the competition in the acting industry is getting keener by the day. Ngozi Ezeonu starred alongside her compatriot Desmond Elliot in the movie ‘A Night in the Philippines’.
That not withstanding, the Nigerian actress believes the African movie industry has come a long way from the humble beginnings of the past when most of her viewership were predominantly within her homeland of Nigeria. Now there are people seeing her movies on their screens all across the world, she has audiences here in America too.
It appears information proliferation has taken the African movie industry on its wings and whereever you see Africans in the world today, the potential to see African movies, especially Nigerian films, is as high as seeing your shadow in the sunlight. This, for Ngozi is really encouraging and a milestone. Back in the days, there were very few people to look up to for inspiration and one’s motivation had to evolve from within, today people in Nigeria and across Africa look up to Ngozi Ezeonu for inspiration in life and in acting.
The the Nigerian movie industry is the third largest on the globe and today, Nollywood as it is affectionately known, firmly takes a respectable position behind Bollywood, the Indian movie industry and ultimately Hollywood, the American movie industry. Inspite of it’s well acclaimed position as being the 3rd with most productions in the world of movies, remuneration for African stars in Nollywood comes nowhere close to what fellow actors in India’s Bollywood and the USA’s Hollywood make.
Ngozi who’s first appearance on the screens was when she played supporting role in—Nneka, the pretty serpent—an Igbo movie, readily admits that the earning power has improved these days. Acting in Nollywood earns one a respectable paycheck than it did back in the days when the industry started to boom. Time is all one needs in this industry to get better and once that time approaches it will bring improvements not only in paychecks, but the quality of productions, storylines and ultimately acting.
The earning power of a Nigerian actor/actresses is not fixed or limited, and depending on one’s marketability, quality and bargaining power, they can walk away with a $15,000 paycheck for starring in a movie, lower or in certain cases much more higher. It all boils down to how well one sells themselves and how good they are. Ngozi Ezeoni’s big break came when she starred as Thelma in the ever famous Nigerian movie—Glamour Girls. From there on, it was up, up the hill.
Money however is not the greatest allure for Ngozi’s acting career, to her, ”acting is a form of evangelism through which I have been able to put across messages” and by so doing she’s is paying her dues to the community. To Ngozi, acting is a medium through which she is giving back what life has given her in the form of fame and status. Ngozi has proudly worked with other Nigerian greats like Pete Edochie, Liz Benson, Sola Fosudo, Sola Shobowale, Clarion Chukwurah, Justus Esiri, and Eucharia Anunobi-Ekwu among others,
The Nigerian actress does a lot of charity work on the quiet. Like many African women, Ngozi is one of those who prefers not to go to the market about the good that she does by way of charity and other humanitarian activities, she prefers to be reserved about this and let her actions, rather than words own her up.
Though Ngozi Ezeonu is also a trained Journalist, she gets most of her job satisfaction from acting and pressed to speak about her charity projects, she makes an exception for THE NEW GHANAIAN and breaks her silence by giving some insights on some of her humanitarian engagements. Ngozi is giving all the help she can to introduce some improvement to the lives of polio survivors in Nigeria and to also better the living conditions of motherless children in Nigeria.
It has been about half a decade now sine the Nigerian actress who is also a Catholic was separated from her husband owing to what she describes as their incompatibility. Her career as an actress however did not premonition this separation. On what prompts her to take a role in a movie, Ngozi is the type who considers the impact her films will have on the public. She holds morals and her cultural values close to her heart and these are the defining factors that tells what movies she appears in.
For Ngozi, the Ghanaian movie industry has a lot of talents and potentials to rise even higher than where it stands now and she believes the best way for African movies to sell themselves to the outside world is through the display of the continents rich culture through the movies that comes out of Africa. Any attempt to replicate what is already common in the Americas and Europe will only backfire. So for Africans, the best person to tell our story is no one other than the people of Africa.
Undoubtedly one of the bright stars to emerge from Nollywood, Ngozi Ezeonu believes she has not exhausted her contributions to the still blossoming Nigerian and African movie industry. She has more good stuff up her sleeves and in the next five or ten years, she sees herself five steps ahead of where she is standing today. For leisure she enjoys taking care of her children and listening to music, Whitney Houston happens to be one of her all time favorite musician whiles Whoopi Goldberg is one Hollywood actress she’d love to work with given the opportunity of a life time.
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