by Akan Ido
Alex Ekubo is a model, an actor, a one-time first runner up of the Mr. Nigeria contest and the recipient of the Most Promising Act at the Best of Nollywood Award in 2012.
He recently sat with BellaNaija to talk about his life, his career, relationship and his future plans.
Read excerpts of the very (very!) interesting interview below:
It’s already four months into the year and a lot has been happening on the entertainment scene. What have you been up to this year?
We just finished shooting a movie called “Gold Digging”. It’s a Rukky Sanda movie and it has myself, Rukky, Yvonne Nelson, IK Ogbonna, Venita Akpofure, Denrele and Sexy Steel. Before that, I finished a movie titled “Keeping My Man” with Ramsey Nouah, Monalisa Chinda and Ini Edo.
Take me down memory lane. How did you get into the acting profession?
Acting is something I’ve always had a passion for. When I was young, producers and directors would use our house to shoot movies. Sometimes they gave me minor roles like asking me to cry in a movie. Years later, I moved to University of Calabar to study Law but I was still into the Arts. I presented a TV show and was part of the Dance Drama group. In 2010, I emerged first runner up at the Mr. Nigeria contest which gave me a good platform to launch my acting career. That was when I landed my first major movie role in ‘Ladies Men’. But before then, I was in some TV productions like ‘Secrets & Scandals’, ‘Hope Bay’ and ‘Happy Family’. I’ve also featured in ‘In The Cupboard’, ‘True Citizens’, ‘Weekend Getaway’, ‘Lovelorn’ and ‘AY’s Crib’. God has really been faithful to me. I’ve just had a lot to do here and there.
You’ve not been acting professionally for so long yet you’ve gotten some recognition such as the Most Promising Male Act for 2012 Best of Nollywood Awards. How does that make you feel?
I feel humbled. Like the Bible says, “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong”. In this short time I’ve been around, there has been so much buzz. I don’t even know what I do, I am my biggest critic. But it’s humbling when I come out and people recognize my works. I believe God strongly and I hold Him close.
I get the feeling that you are quite religious.
I am very religious. My Mum is an Evangelist, my Dad is an Elder. If I go to hell, I will feel bad because of my religious background. I grew up in a strong, vibrant Christian home, the type where you join the choir as a kid and if you do something wrong, my Mum would say “I would report you to God”.
Do you exercise your religious belief in every aspect of your life and career?
Everything I do is about God. I am at a place where I don’t do anything without asking “God, is it OK if I do this?” I see a lot of young people who’ve had their lives cut short, people having plane crashes. I travel a lot, I am not holier or better than them but God protects me. It’s not by my power, it’s by His Grace that I exist.
I’m sure you must have studied hard to obtain a Law Degree from the University. Do you have any plans of working as a Lawyer?
My Law degree is in my freezer, chilling. As the saying goes “strike the iron when it is hot”, now that my market is selling in Nollywood and entertainment, let me be striking this iron now. Entertainment is my thing and Acting is a career on its own. When people ask me what I do, I say “I’m an Actor”. They expect me to say more, but I say “I am an Actor, that’s all.”
This is probably because they get the idea that you have a lot of free time. You are present at almost every red carpet and major event within and outside the country and people want to know why?
People get it twisted a lot. I’ve learnt to respect people for what they do and I think people should do the same too. As an entertainer, being seen and heard is part of your job description. If I say let me package myself out of the scene, I will package myself out of business. I have an obligation and a moral standing to be at such events.
Could you explain some of these obligations?
If you see me at a fashion show like ‘Music Meets Runway’, it’s because I am a model and I was invited as a guest of honour. If you see me at a comedy show like ‘AY Show’, I act in AY’s crib so I have to be there.
If I see you at Dubai for 2face Idibia’s wedding…
I didn’t go on my own. If 2face extends an arm and says “Come and support me,” I will oblige him like I did. So tomorrow, if I have an engagement and I invite him, he will also come. That is how we do in this business of entertainment, we support each other. I was on my own when they invited me to come and present an award at AMAA; they paid for my accommodation and flight ticket. At the end of the day, someone said “Alex what were you doing at AMAA?”. Hello? I am an actor! If you watch closely, I hardly attend music shows. But the ones that have to do with acting, modeling and movie premieres, I have to be there because I was invited.
You always seem to be paired up with your colleague and friend, Uti Nwachukwu at such events. Why?
Uti is my brother and my friend who has been there for me through thick and thin. What a lot of people don’t know is that we have a lot in common. He is a model, I am a model; he is an actor, I am an actor. Most times, we don’t even go together to events but I can’t see him outside and act as if I don’t know him. If people want to misconstrue it, then happy thinking to them.
Your relationship with him has been tagged a romantic one on several occasions with people insinuating that you are gay partners. How do you feel about this?
It’s hilarious! Back in the days, when you have a friend who you go out with often, it was cool, people called him your best friend. Now, when they see two guys together, people begin to have weird thoughts. You see, in this business of entertainment, what you need is someone that believes in you to grow. Uti is big, and he helped me a lot prior to now that I’m beginning to gather my momentum. He is a ‘Big Brother Africa All Stars’ Winner. You can hate him but you can’t take that away from him. A lot of these local celebrities, outside Victoria Island nobody knows them. Uti is someone who grandmothers and pepper sellers know. We were in Ghana recently and the President of Ghana saw Uti at the Airport and recognized him. You can’t hate on success.
Where do you think the rumours originated from?
I don’t care and I am not bothered. Nigerians have what I call the crab mentality. Have you seen a bunch of crabs in a bucket? When one is trying to come out, the others pull it down. If these insinuations were true, by now there should be a picture to prove it. Look at most successful Nigerian entertainers, they were either tagged gay or Illuminati which I find weird. You see some girls acting their lives away on TV and people tag them as “runs girls”. Almost every young, successful entertainer has a negative tag and it is disheartening.
The word on the streets is that you both live together. Is that true?
Yes we do. But is it anybody’s problem who I live with or who Uti lives with? We all know how expensive it is to live in a highbrow area in Lagos. If you have a friend who you are getting along with and you want to live with each other, is that anybody’s problem?
How does this rumour affect your career?
It doesn’t affect my career because to me, I am just living my life. I’ve never come out to refute anything because I don’t owe anybody any explanation. It’s my life.
Talking about refuting, you kinda took it hard on Twitter recently when in response to a Tweet “Are you truly Uti Nwachukwu’s gay partner?” you replied “Did your father truly molest you when you were a child?” Where did that come from?
Sometimes, people forget that even as celebrities, we are human. Sometimes you are in the mood or not in the mood when you reply tweets. It was just a spur of the moment thing. I had to do that so that he can also experience how it feels when people are asked that sort of question.
Let’s take our chat away from Uti now and talk about the lady in your life. Who is Alex dating?
So you people can bring her online and dissect her life and generation, abi?
Funny, but no. We just want to know her.
I like to keep my life private. The records are there, I don’t have to prove anything. The Igbos say “You can’t learn to be left handed in an old age” and the English people would say “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. I don’t need to tell everyone who I’m dating to prove anything. When the right time comes, you would know who the person is.
So there is a someone?
Right now, I am single. I am married to my career. That is my focus and I don’t want to be distracted. But I’m not blocking my heart out, I am open and if the right person comes along, fine.
Maybe we should match make you on BellaNaija. Tell me your specs. What do you want in a woman?
She has to be God fearing and intelligent. I like a beautiful woman; I mean I try small so let me have a hot girl so that we’ll give birth to a hot hot baby. Maybe we can give birth to the next Miss World.
Still on the topic of dating, let’s talk about your ‘records’. Who was your first crush?
I remember her very well. I schooled at Federal Government College Daura, Katsina state and my first crush was in school with me then. She was the most beautiful girl I had seen at that time and she was really really quiet which intrigued me. While the other girls were loud and everywhere, she was a very quiet girl.
Did you ever get into a relationship with her?
We hit it off much later and I regret that it was so late because it was when I was writing my final exams and we had only a few months together. After we graduated, we lost touch and I haven’t seen her since then.
How about your first kiss. Who did you share that with?
The same girl. I remember the magical night, we were outside one Valentine’s Day after night prep. I bought her some gifts and I kissed her very briefly. I was shy and she was shy and it was magical. Oh, I’m having goose bumps remembering this moment.
…And he was literally blushing. Away from the mushy stuff now, you talk a lot about acting but not modeling. What is happening to your modeling career?
It’s there. It’s something I’ve always loved to do but my career now is Acting. I did a Brand Ambassadorship for Chiviita Active a while ago; photo shoots for MTN and Mainstreet Bank. Plus I’m a runway model and I’ve done both local and international fashion shows.
A lot of models are into designers and fashion labels. Who would you readily put your money on – Nigerian or foreign designers?
I am passionate about Nigeria. I can only be a second citizen in another country but this is my first love. I love Nigerian designers, they are doing an amazing job. All my suits are made by Nigerian designers. I don’t have any English suits (and I have a lot of suits). I also wear Nigerian shoes.
Who designs your suits?
Taryor Gabriels. He cuts my suits like it’s a second skin. I also wear Yomi Casual, Mai Atafo, Rikaoto Couture and for T shirts I wear Thots on Tees. But my Mum is my number one designer. She has a fashion outfit called Jalex Creations.
It seems a lot of designers are very willing to put their clothes on you. How do you maintain your mannequin-like body?
I’m not a gym rat. I just eat right and drink lots of water. Personally, I think I am factory fitted like this. I don’t go out of my way to do anything extraordinary.
Lots of celebs these days complain of people hacking into their social media accounts and using it for mischief. Have you ever been impersonated on social media?
There are over 7 accounts in my name on Facebook and they are not mine! My personal page is already full with over 5,000 likes so I opened a fan page which is Alexx Ekubo. Most times, I use two X’s in my name. On Twitter I use @alexxekubo and on Instagram, Keek and Cinemagram I also use Alexx Ekubo. But recently, I’ve been getting complains of people using these fake accounts to dupe innocent people. A girl munched some chats and showed me on Twitter how someone impersonated me and collected money from her to meet me at a film school. People should please take not of this.
If there was any event you wish you could change that happened in this country, what would it be?
I wish I could change the Aluu 4 incident. It hurts me every time I remember that four innocent young men were brutally murdered in broad daylight and it was recorded and put on YouTube for the whole world to see. It hurt me that the dreams of Tekena, Ugo, Lloyd and Chidiaka was brutally cut short. It hurts me that in Nigeria today, people see an accident and the first thing they do is bring out their cameras and take pictures and videos. If warlords like Charles Taylor can be tried in a court of Law, I don’t see what these boys did that people had to beat and burn them on the streets. You don’t even treat animals like that.
You should probably run for a political office since you are so passionate about Nigeria.
I owe my life totally to God and the will of God. If a time comes and an opportunity presents itself, sure. I’d like an opportunity to serve and give back to my people. I am always an advocate of being the change you want to see in the world.
You’ve got to love the guy, yah?