Arts & Entertainments

Featuring in Over Her Dead Body, an actor’s dream – Ojefua

Gregory Ojefua is a Nigerian actor, television personality, voice-over artiste, and a model. The celebrated and award-winning actor, aka ‘Teddy Bear’, has featured in several notable television drama series and Nollywood films. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, the Edo State-born thespian talks about his career, and experience acting in Over Her Dead Body, a film produced and directed by Sola Osofisan, and sundry issues

Tell us how you got the nickname ‘Teddy Bear’?

We can trace its origin to my mum actually. She called me “Super Ted” growing up so when I got into the industry, I decided to tweak it a bit to create a brand and also immortalize my mother who’s been a major part of my life. Thus, “Teddy Bear” was berthed.

You have a B.Sc. in Business Management and Administration from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State. When and how did acting come to the fore?

I grew up around tonnes of books. Having a teacher who majored in English and literature ensured that. I read a lot of plays and novels which got me interested in the arts then in Primary 3, I had a Ghanaian English teacher who loved literature and made us act parts from Shakespearean texts coupled with the fact that I also have always loved dancing and as I kid, I basked in the praises, gifts and attention I got from dancing at parties. I loved the response to the entertainment I provided. I guess that force reactivated in adulthood and the entertainer surfaced.

Did you really set out to become an actor? Why?

No, I didn’t. As a matter of fact, I initially wanted to be an accountant like my dad and went to study for a degree in it but, he passed on before I finished and that devastated and demotivated me to the point I eventually I dropped out. Fast forward to years after I did a course in IT then Bus administration, I got picked to be on a new game show in Nigeria and became the first contestant to rise to and attempt the N1,000,000 lyric but lost it. The audience, crew and co-contestants reaction reminded me of how I captivated viewers as a kid and boom, the hunger resurfaced and then I set out to entertain.

You’ve starred and featured in a number of pan Africa and local commercials for LG Evercool Refrigerator, Stanbic IBTC Debit Card, OLX, Nigerite3X cement and Oleum Oil. Tell us your experience so far…

Well that was in the very early years of my career when I dabbled into commercial modelling. It was a lovely experience nevertheless though a lot of underground happenings left and still leave models grossly underpaid and unpaid long after the airing of the advert.

You stopped commercial modeling in 2015. Why?

I left to position myself for endorsements and/or premium pay status when I saw the steady growth in my acting career. Brands are not usually drawn to faces that appear in numerous ads except it’s a very popular/ influential figure that has not done ads for competing brands. They also pay them premium rates as against basic rates for regular commercial models for ads.

Any plans to return to it soon? Why?

Not at all.

You featured in the latest movie ‘Over Her Dead Body’, produced and directed by Sola Osofisan. Tell us your experience… It was quite interesting. Apart from the joy of being on set and doing what I love, the quality of the cast and crew I worked with made it all so comfortable to execute. The producer/ director is an actor’s dream. I wouldn’t pass a chance to work with Mr. Sola Osofisan ever.

What was your role and how were you able to handle it?

I played the role of ‘Rasco’. The guy ‘Rasco’ is a two-time convict and mindless criminal. Somewhat humourous in his ways but, evil resides in his heart. I pulled it off by browsing through my ‘mental’ character database (it’s a mental catalogue of various people traits and behavioural patterns my mind collates from interactions, observations and experiences), consultation with my very talented director Sola Osofisan and of course the unique spice the Greg ‘Teddy bear’ Ojefua brand throws into characters.

From your experience, what is that unique feature of’ Over Her Dead Body’?

The lesson of patience and perseverance…

You have featured in several film productions. Which of them do you consider as your favourite and most challenging?

The film ‘The Encounter’ in which I got to play the role of the iconic Chukwuemeka Ojukwu.

Apart from the persona that we usually see on screen, who really is Greg Ojefua?

Greg Ojefua is an indigene of Edo State, specifically the Esan tribe of Igueben. I’m also a Voice-Over artiste, actor, events compere and translator (English to Pidgin); a friendly and jolly good fellow. I’m peaceful and fun loving so I tend to avoid anything and anyone that tries to kill the positive energy I surround myself with, no matter what or who they are. I’m a moralist hence, really big on standing for the truth and what’s right at all times. I’m also adventurous; I love mediating and enjoy healthy, logical and intellectual debates/intercourse.

You have won several awards including Best Actor (English) 2017-Maya Awards Africa, Best Actor 2017 – Lake City Film Festival, Best Supporting Actor 2016 -Eko International Film Festival, and Fast Rising Model Actor 2016 -Nigerian Models & Achievers Awards. Which of these do you consider as most important to you?

I’d say my Eko International Film Festival award for Best Supporting Actor.

Why?

Because it’s the first award I received in my career.

If you were not into acting or modelling, what other profession would you have gone into?

I would have gone into Counseling, Marketing or Business (Importation & Exportation, especially).

How have you been able to stay out of scandal?

By trying to do only the right things; by avoiding questionable places, people and resisting some ‘juicy’ temptations. It’s not easy, but God guides us.

How do you handle female fans, especially the overzealous ones?

I’m friendly to all of them and enjoy their company. I make friends of them but I’m very diplomatic, tactical and set boundaries with the overzealous ones. I dated two at different times who I thought would lead to marriage but it didn’t work out with one while the other was all about the fame and not ‘me’. So I haven’t again since then.

Have you been embarrassed?

Yes of course.

What happened?

Early in my career, I was on my first ever series set and forgot my lines while filming with Yemi Shodimu. I was so confused; I shouted ‘CUT!’ (which only the director has the authority to say) and the entire set went dead silent with everyone staring at me. I immediately realised what I had done and chai…shame catch me sha. Thankfully the director, an American, the late Lloyd Weaver, was very understanding and gently urged me on.

What is your opinion about sex-for-role syndrome in the industry?

I definitely don’t support it. Roles should be given on merit. Those who demand it should ask themselves if they’ll be happy to see their daughters/sons lose job offers or opportunities after years of training them because they didn’t offer their bodies to predators. It is unwholesome and corruption practices like this that’s gotten the country to such a pathetic state. We must do better. To those who willingly accept from those who willingly offer, don’t compromise on quality.

Tell us about your experience and role as the boisterous, crazy and crafty Ibuzor on Africa Magic’s ‘Tinsel’.

Haha, being Ibuzor (Ibz) is just pure fun. He’s my favourite comic character so far. He’s not just a character but one that embodies some of my personal fun traits and a lot of my crazy alter ego – Mekus, a carefree, crafty eastern man. I feel I was eastern in a previous life or will be in a next… (Laughs)…

 

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