How did you get the character name ‘Okon’?
People started calling me Okon because of the movie I acted in few years back; it was the movie that brought me into the limelight. The title is ‘Okon Lagos.’ I later did ‘Okon Goes to School,’ and the several others. And my character name was Okon in all the movies. That is why people call me Okon.
|Ime Bishop Umoh & Wife|
How do you see yourself –as just a comic actor?
I see myself as an artiste capable of interpreting any role given to me. I do not associate myself with the word clown or funny. I play the character and leave you to your own imagination. I am just an artiste doing his job. I am an actor/comedian that is what I want people to call me. I am also an entertainer, because I get people entertained through comedy. I am someone who makes one to laugh at every point either I am on set or not, you must laugh. I don’t really know how to dance I would have called myself a dancer. I don’t dance professionally, I only shake my body a little especially my buttocks. I know how to shake them (laughs).
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When did you start acting?
I started acting in my childhood. I did not just jump into Nollywood and my name was everywhere. I just took it like a game. I played over it. I never broke too much of sweat. I just enjoyed what I know how to do best. I started acting from a tender age not just as an adult. Then, I acted for fun. Anytime they are organising drama in my church I will be the first they would give the lead the role. People saw this talent in me and always encouraged me to put in my best because someday I will be a star. So I did not give up at all rather I kept rebranding every day and today I am a Nollywood star. Let me conclude that, fortune caught up with me and it had been from one step of glory to the next step of glory. I am soaring high in grace. All things worked for good for me and I give God the glory. Maybe if I had forced myself into Nollywood by all means, I would not be where I am today. I will not have been able to achieve anything and to attain the level I am right now in the society.
With this story, can one conclude you discovered your talent quite early?
Yes. It is good for one to discover one’s talents early. It is the greatest gift of God to any man. I was in school when I realised I would do well in acting because I was good at other subjects. But as we grew older, fellow students told me I was very funny so I went into acting.
How easy was your transition from stage to the screens?
There is a big difference between acting on stage and appearing on screen. The camera does so much for the actor in a film or on television. But on stage, the actor does so much by himself. For me, the transition was smooth especially when I had someone like Emem Isong to guide me. She directed the movies that gave me the name everybody knows me with.
What was the first movie that made you famous?
The movie that attracted so much attention for me was an indigenous movie called ‘Uyai.’ It was produced by Emem Isong in 2007 and released in 2008. That is the movie that made a lot of people to say, ‘Who is this guy? Where did he come from? Do we still have actors from Akwa Ibom that are funny?’ So many questions came up after the movie. Although, it was an indigenous movie in which I spoke Ibibio language yet it attracted the national attention. Also, my character in the movie was cordial and that impressed Emem Isong leading him to giving me more acting opportunities.
But you have played more roles that portrayed you as funny.
If you say so; I have played a lot of such roles but I have also done several other roles to the best of my ability.
Are you really a funny man deep down in your soul?
I am not a rigid person. I am always in a happy mood. But with my works I impact reality. Some people have told me they appreciate my works and that tells me that I am communicating. But there is a difference between when I am at work or when at play. My daily routine is not all about trivialities.
What do you consider your staying power as some of the people you started with have not got to where you are today or are no longer in the forefront like you?
It has to do with God and my consistency in doing the right thing. God and no one else makes one consistent. I also know that some of those who are not doing it big in the movies are doing big in other fields. They may have realised earlier that movies were not their area of advantage and toed other paths. I realised quite early that this is my area and stuck to it and by God’s grace I have paid my dues and impacted so much that I could be called on the phone to come and be part of a production. For you to create an impact, you don’t have to be an amateur but one who has faced it full time and it’s not with one leg in and the other out. If it is your calling, then you must be there and not in your house expecting someone to call you to come and eat. We must all be in the trenches of our profession. You continue to test yourself until people notice you are good and begin to call you up.
How do you see the development of Nollywood as an industry?
Nollywood is developing gradually. It’s growing slowly. We are no longer where we used to be. Nollywood has always been vibrant no matter what some people think. The only difference is that it has become more mature. You no longer see audition centres like before because contacts have been made. In those days, we had gatherings to meet each other but now we have made the contacts. What we do now is table cast by making calls to desired artistes. Nollywood has grown rapidly. It is not like those days when you had a few directors, producers and little equipment. I believe that there has been a big advancement in Nollywood. There have been changes in the industry and we are moving forward. Even if it is not as rapid as we are expecting but we have expanded. There is still progress, I don’t want to say that we are retrogressing, rather, we are progressing. Prior to now, we were not doing movies that could attract global attention. But we have got to that level of producing such movies. Movies like: October 1st, The Figurines, The Meeting and most lately, 30 Days in Atlanta, which is the latest in the market (has sold far more than any Nollywood movie and it’s everywhere on the screen of Silverbird cinemas). It’s a milestone for Nollywood. We are now competing with Hollywood.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment with any of your fans?
Every day of my life I get embarrassed by fans but I have built up myself to absorb whatever I see outside my home. I don’t see any fan embarrassing me rather I embarrass my fans. Because any fan that comes around me will be as crazy as I am. So what is the point taking offence when I know it is part of my life? It is what gives me money? Take for instance, if someone calls me a fool. Do you expect me to be angry? Never, I will tell you I am a real fool and I will continue to pray to God to endow me with more foolery and stupid attitude so that I can make more money. In fact, my brand in the industry does not permit me to walk with huge security men or bodyguards because I have to be accessible. My personality should encourage little children to call me by my first name. Don’t you know I am a fool? I am mumu. I am crazy. I do not grumble about it.
For people who once considered you as a mere clown how do they react now that you are a movie star?
That is the irony of life. When I was playing my comic roles back then as a teenager, my friends will be making jest of me. I was discouraged by many people who felt that nothing good or serious would ever come out of it. They refused to realise that there is a very big difference between the man and the work he does. That is the surprising aspect of my becoming a famous star.
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How did you meet your spouse?
I met my wife at a wedding in which I was the master of ceremony, in Akwa Ibom. She was in the bridal train. I asked her out and I realised she is from my state. We exchanged pleasantries and today we’re living together.
What is the name of your wife and is she your legally married wife?
My wife’s name is Idara, Saviour. We got married on October 17, 2013, at the Insight Bible Church, Uyo.
What stood her out from the crowd of girls flocking around you?
My wife is pretty and I am attracted to pretty women. She moved me; I didn’t move myself. I first noticed she was homely. Then I told her that she would be my wife that I would not let go. I could still remember the smile on her face on that day but she didn’t take me seriously until the day she said I do. The good thing about her is that no one can take her place. I make her happy at all times. I love to see her smile.
How do you cope with the moral vices prevalent in the entertainment business?
Vices are there all the time as part of life but as an artiste one must be aware of their existence and avoid them. Even if you run away from vices, they chase you around. Many people have fallen for vices either knowingly or unknowingly. But all must devise a way of avoiding trouble. Think of the partner you have at home and consider whether she would love you to do those things that you are tempted to do. However, you must appreciate your fans and people especially the opposite sex. Each time I see members of the opposite sex, I see them as my friends. A man must have principles and know his limitations. I try to approach life as a pious and godly man.
Do you have children?
(Screams) Why are you rushing us into having children? We just got married not quite long and we are blessed with a beautiful baby girl called Wauneta, Imeabasi Umoh.
Despite your busy schedules, do you still have time for your family, especially your daughter?
Nobody plays with my daughter as much as I do. I love my daughter not because I choose to love her but because I can’t do without loving her. I play with her a lot.
How old is she?
She is eight months old.
We have so many comic actors in the industry what stands you out?
First, I don’t compete with anybody and I won’t compete. I do my thing and that is me. I just move on the wings of my passion and that passion makes me happy. The best way to make myself happy is to make another person happy. I don’t have money to make another person happy; all I have is humour that is abided in me to make someone happy. I use what I have to put a smile on someone’s face and life is all about happiness. And in the course of making another person happy I have made myself happy.
Do you have any role model?
Yes, Mr. Bean and I also respect Nkem Owoh and Mr Ibu a lot.
What’s your favourite food?
What turns you off?
Alcohol turns me off. Also, I don’t drink or smoke –I am naturally high. (Look at me) Do I look like someone who is normal? I am not normal.
This interview provides a great way to know about Ime Bishop Umoh Biography, Movies, Profile and Career.
Source: ThisDay Newspaper
Interview was conducted on 14 Feb 2015
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