Veteran actor and director, Tunji Bamishigbin says he is always so excited any time he hears of the exploits that the actress and filmmaker, Genevieve Nnaji is doing in Nigeria’s movie industry.
Speaking in an interview with eelive.ng, Bamishigbin who was director of Palace, a soap opera on the African Independent Television, (AIT) and Most Wanted, a phenomenally successfully home video, both of which Nnaji features in about two decades back noted that nothing gives him as much as seeing artistes who have passed through him at one stage or the other in their career thrive in their chosen careers.
Although Bamishigbin could not remember whether his film Most Wanted gave the Imo State actress, producer and director, her first movie role, he remembers that she had largely minor role in Palace and that she featured prominently in Most Wanted, which was marketed by Infinity Merchants and believe to be the first Nigerian movie to sell over 1,000,000 copies of DVD’s.
Bamishigbin told eelive.ng: “I feel very happy! How else can a man feel when you see people who have passed through you when they were very ordinary becoming so accomplished. I recall very well, she was a very determined, quiet young girl, she didn’t talk much but she was very confident and sure of herself. I used to tell all of them around me that no matter what you are doing, you need to have education, no matter how you want to do it, you need to have education. I told them to look at me, I was trained as an artiste, I was in the bank, I am a lawyer and all of that. So, I also gave that advice to Genevive. At some point, I even worked with her to see that she got into the Creative Arts Department of the University of Lagos. It didn’t happen at that time, but she later told me she had to take the opportunity of the many jobs that came from Enugu at then…”
Although the plan did not materialise at the time, Bamishigbin explained that he was nonetheless happy that Nnaji who went on to become a global sensation earning the endorsement of no less a personality than Oprah Winfrey as the Julia Roberts of Africa found a breakthrough which also thought him a lesson.
He said that the return of the popular soap opera, Palace a collaboration between him, Ralph Nwadike and Charles Awoyemi and AIT resulted from popular demand from lovers of the programme as well as the conviction that it could be more well produced than it was in the late 1990s when he first aired.
Explaining the decision, which has paid off, according to him, the actor, writer, director and producer said: “ Sometime back myself and my partner, Ralph Nwadike met with Chief Dokpesi with whom we had remained in touch. We mentioned the need to get Palace back on air and it didn’t take him time to agree that we should talk to the management of the channel.
Everyone knew that Palace was one of the programmes that gave AIT exposure in those days. It was the programme that challenged NTA on the 8-9 Sunday night belt. So, we met with the management, some of the new members thought Palace was old and gone, but there were older hands there who spoke in favour of the programme. At the end of the day, we agreed to do again that’s how we started it…”
Bamishigbin agreed that the film industry in Nigeria has enormous potential but this would remain unrealised unless practitioners get more realistic about the needs of the industry.
To read the full interview, Click HERE