Actor and voice over artist, Ani Iyoho has been in the industry for a couple of years and has featured in some outstanding movies. In this interview with ANGELA DAVIES, he talks about how it all began and the challenges he faced.
How was growing up and what was your childhood ambition?
I was born in Lagos but relocated to my state, Akwa Ibom, with my family on its creation in 1987. I grew up like most children from an average family background. My dad, Barrister Lawrence Uwem Iyoho, before becoming a lawyer was a retired wing commander and an established helicopter pilot.
My mum Obiagelli Iyoho was a renowned hairstylist and caterer. I learnt to be hardworking, loving and a gentleman from both of them. They were amazing role models and mentors. Although my dad wanted me to do some kind of professional course, which was the expectation of most of our parents, however, he and my mum were always very supportive of the decisions we made. I always knew I was going to go into entertainment either as a singer, comedian or an actor.
You are a zoologist. How did you find yourself in the movie industry?
Do you remember this song “I am not my hair” by Indie Arie? Well it’s like that for me. I’m not what I studied. I’m neither what I did nor what I look. So, calling me a zoologist would be inaccurate. I am really an artist within and nothing external can change that.
I ventured into acting when I returned to Lagos in 2004, signed up with the Actors Guild of Nigeria and began chasing a career in acting or should I say chasing the dream. Luckily for me, I found favour in the sight of veteran producer and director, Zeb Ejiro and he started using me for his productions. That gave me a good place to harness my skills.
What challenges did you face and what shocked you most when you first got into Nollywood?
The challenges were basically how to go about things. Frankly, those are still challenges I face till today. I’m constantly looking for a new way of doing things to enhance my career growth. The shocking part for me when I joined the industry was the ethnicity, tribalism, and favouritism I sensed.
People seemed very reluctant to give newbies a chance. I understand that now as they were probably being “business savvy” in the sense that they were only using actors who they believed were saleable and could make a positive difference for them when it came to selling their movies, based on their experiences with them. At least, I hope that was the case.
No doubt there are other fast rising actors like yourself, but how do you handle competition and how have you managed to remain relevant?
I love competition. You can never get the best or be the best if you don’t have competition, even if the competition has to be a competition with yourself. The auditions that excite me are the ones I see guys I consider proper contenders. It makes me believe in the production and if any of my colleagues grab the role it makes me happy that it went to a worthy opponent.
And in a reverse situation where I grab the role I feel like I really earned it. Although there are a lot of other reasons someone gets picked over the other than just talent when it comes to audition. But in the end what is yours is yours. I try to stay relevant by assisting colleagues, up comers or anyone that might need help in attaining their goals.
What was your first time experience like in front of the camera?
My first appearance in front of the camera was in the movie “Enslaved”. It starred Stephanie Okereke, it was directed by Lancelot Imasuen and produced by Emem Isong. I was a bit nervous but I dare say I was a natural. I relaxed real fast into the character and gave a pretty good performance. I got some verbal accolades from the cast and crew who were there. That encouraged me to continue on this path.
Is there any role you would not take up as an actor?
I don’t know a role I cannot or will not be willing to play. The more challenging the role seems the more likely I’m excited to do it. But the overall decision of the roles I take are based on the potential of the role having a positive impact on my career.
What ambitions do you have aside acting?
Asides from acting I have started writing scripts and taking informal editing classes as I aspire to be a filmmaker.
When you are not on set, what do you do?
When I’m not on set I’m online building my social network, writing a script, or working on myself. This could mean reading, researching, training, or spending time with my family.
Why is Iyoho still single?
Where did you get the impression that I am single from? No I’m not single. I’m not married but I’m definitely not single. I haven’t been single for years.
What is it about you that people don’t know about?
One of my best kept secrets is that my cereals aren’t complete without a splash of dry garri in them.
How physically fit are you?
I’m pretty fit. I’m a good swimmer, I jog 10km every other given Sunday, I’m a practising Karateka and I have a multi-purpose gym in my house which I use anytime I choose. So, I would say I’m pretty fit.
What does style mean to you?
Style goes beyond just keeping up with the fashion trend. You don’t have to spend a fortune on it. However, you always have to be on-point because someone is watching you. I like pulling the formal look.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I would say my family. I’m very family oriented and there is very little I won’t do for them.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I would rate myself three out of 10. Frankly, I am my toughest critic and very hard on myself. I demand more from myself at all times and I am constantly pushing my limits further away as I approach them. I know I still have a long way to go and I’m willing to take the journey.
I am not afraid of the distance or the obstacles I might face. However I am grateful for where I am already. Therefore I choose the figure three to show my recognition and appreciation to the presence of the trinity in my life.
Who are your mentors in the movie industry?
Blessing Effiom-Egbe, Shirley Frimpong- Manso, Emem Isong and Mildred Okwo; these ladies have shown strength through oppositions and have soared in environments we would normally tag male dominated. Also, Dickson Dzakpasu, Imoh Umoren, Stanlee Ohikhuere, Eric Aghimien, CJ ‘Fiery’ Obasi and many others who are aggressively pushing the envelope in the industry.
Although none of them listed here are actors, I still draw a lot of inspiration from them. For acting, I admire Michel Majid.
Which are some movies you have featured in?
I have been fortunate to star in movies such as Lekki Wives season 1-3, Adams Apple season 2, Tenants and Echoes, MNET’s leading series Tinsel as Dafe, Bimpe’s Manager, One Moment in time and many others. Also, you can find my feature length movies namely Potomanto, Four crooks and a rookie, Out of Hand, and short films such as Seeing Betrayal, and Not Right online.