Bimbo Manuel is not new on the Nigerian movie radar. His self-confidence is almost intimidating because he acts his roles almost naturally. According to him, a lot has to be done by the relevant authorities if the Nigerian identity has to be promoted in Nollywood.
You have come a long way in the entertainment industry. Would you say you have reached the breakthrough in your career?
Bimbo Manuel: Wow, breakthrough! Without any doubt, yes I have come a long way in entertainment having done just about everything and almost everywhere in the world, but breakthrough, how do you answer that now? I would say reaching your breakthrough in acting or entertainment is absolutely a matter of personal hopes and aspirations. If you set out hoping for a big role in a big movie and you happen to get it mid-career or just as you set out, then maybe you will be able to assure yourself that you have indeed reached your breakthrough in which context it will mean you have reached the absolute pinnacle of your creative career. I see it differently, however. I am in a profession that has no retirement age imposed on you. Only health, incapacitation by age or a total loss of interest can retire you. If you consider that, then, I guess it is clear that I just keep crossing huddles and advancing in levels, contending with and working to overcome fresh professional and creative challenges. I have excelled at different levels before now. I am making new points at this level now and at each point, I have had the good fortune of recurrent successes. For that I thank God.
When was it?
Like I said, it is different with every level and there are various projects that I have been in that have represented those successes. I am one of those actors and entertainment practitioners who have registered strong presence at every critical junction of the industry especially in movies, television and stage performances. When the NTA was paying between N20 and N120 for lead roles and you wouldn't get paid in another six to nine months... 'Village Headmaster', 'SPACS' by Danladi Bako, the 'Telemovie' series...when some producers went private, I played in 'Ripples' by Zeb Ejiro, there was 'Checkmate' by Amaka Igwe, that was an era. Home movies started as an offshoot of all that and some of the most memorable ones carried my credit - 'Hostages', 'Raging Storm', 'Kingmaker' by Olu and Joke Jacobs - one can go on and on, but the point is one has always done high quality jobs that give you pride to recall. So, it is a bit of challenge pointing in a particular direction saying 'there was my breakthrough!' It has been in different phases and there are jobs that represent each phase.
What inspired your choice for the entertainment industry?
Growing up, I attended secondary school in Ibadan and I think that was one of the most important factors in deciding o a career for me. I grew up listening to the greats on probably the best radio service south of the Sahara the then Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corpaoration, which later became Radio Oyo; the incomparable Tunji Marquis, George Joe Batteh, Alex Conde, folks like Smallet Alamu Special came later and I was always so thrilled by their radio art I wanted to be a disc jockey! My chance came when a friend suggested I attend an audition at the OGBC. Wow! Those were heady days, ma'am. I got a place on a presentation crew that had Gboyega Adeseye who later went on to read the NTA Network News, Femi Sowoolu, the man from 'Wangawanga', Bola Makinde and Tunji Babatunde Kuola Musical Madness who later crossed over to the FRCN2. Lots of folks who were the absolute best then, I knew I was not going to be anything else.
You convey realism in your characters, where do all the natural emotions come from?
A clear understanding of the character, you cannot become a character and emote as the character would, if you have no connecting point, an understanding of what makes it who it is, a point where the dream of the writer meets the realism of your own understanding. If the writer can think it, it must have happened to someone. Finding that someone is the actor's job not necessarily in the flesh, but in the pains, joys, disappointments, fulfillment and so on that they feel, you find a connection and it can become a most useful handle to unlock the character every time you need to cue in.
allAfrica.com: Nigeria: I Once Wanted to Be a Soldier - Bimbo Manuel
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