He is the very cute guy in the movie, The Weekend Getaway. He has been other movies and done some fabulous work as a model though he trained as a lawyer. Alexx Ekubo Oparaeke (please always spell his name with double ‘x’ if you don’t want a lawsuit) has carefully laminated his law certificate and put it away to pursue his dream in the field of entertainment – which, we might add, is more exciting and paying top dollars than the wig-and-gown profession.
An indigene of Arochukwu, Abia State, Alexx is the second male in a family of four, who studied Law at the University of Calabar and also got a diploma in mass communication from Calabar Polytechnic. In this interview, the dude with the drop-dead looks about his career, life and sundry issues.
You spent five years studying law and rather working on cases that set legal precedents in court, you switched over to acting. What exactly happened?
Well, I have always been interested in the arts. From a very tender age I began observing a couple of good director friends of my family come around to shoot movies in our house. Then again, from early childhood I had been a consistent member of drama groups both in primary school and in church. Back then in Kano and even in Lagos, we had a drama group of young believers in the children’s church – Calvary Life Assembly. I have always fancied the arts, singing and dancing. Moreover, I have always been an energetic child; my father would say go and dance, join the drama group, go and be a part of them. I have always had the arts thing in me. I studied law because I was not good in mathematics. Once it is not one-plus-one, I am at sea. So I was a Dundee in mathematics. That’s how I got into studying law and I always had a flair for law. Even when I was in school, I was the vice president of Youth Action Network of Nigeria; I was the president of Sporadic Award, and I was deeply involved in the arts. We had a TV show that I presented every week, called Fonetics – it was about gadgets, accessories and stuff. Whenever I came to Lagos, I would do a short movie or play a small role. In 2010, I contested for Mister Nigeria and emerged the first runner up. Since then I just evolved from one level to another and kept on moving higher and higher. I have always been a part of the arts and I love it.
Does that you have made up your mind not to go back to Law?
Never say never and that is one lesson I have learnt in life. I’m a destiny child of God. Everything I have achieved is not by my own orchestration but the will of God. I stumble on things a lot. I could follow a friend out and get picked for a movie role. I don’t plan my life. Anytime I want to plan and said ok, in the next one year, I will achieve this, it never works out but when I pray and say, ‘God, you are my manager, you are my PR, you are my everything, direct my life, you are my script writer, write my life the way you want it to be and I might wake up today and I’m an actor and tomorrow you see that Alexx is studying medicine. I’m bad like that.
How it that possible with your arts background?
You don’t know anything; are you the one that created me? By the time God touchs my brain and says, ‘My son go out there and heal people, then it will happen.’ But for now, what I do is acting; that is my calling. I’m focusing on it, with all my brain and it’s working for me.
How many movies have you starred in?
My first movie was ‘Sinners In The House,’ where I had a stage role. It was produced and directed by Lancelot Imasuen. After that I moved on to feature in a couple of soap operas, such as Happy Family, Secrets and Scandals and Tinsel for about two seasons and after that I started doing blockbuster movies like in the Cupboard, Lovelorn, Dream Walker, Cheating my man, Weekend Get Away, Keeping my Man, Gold digger and Lagos Hookers (which was one in America). Some of the movies are yet to be released.
What was it like growing up?
Growing up for me was fun. I had a privileged childhood. Thanks to my dad, I lived a comfortable life. My dad was the regional manager to Africa Petroleum (AP), when the company was BP and later AP. He worked there for 25 years and was in charge of 11 states. We were fairly comfortable; we went on vacations at a very tender age. We had the basic best of living in a comfortable home. If you passed your exams you got a bicycle, got opportunity to travel. It was that basic, not that my father was rolling in oil money (laughter). In a nutshell, I had a comfortable upbringing. My family is very loving. I love my mum so much. I can literally give my life for my mum. That woman means a lot to me. We are super close. I love my mum because she’s very religious, very understanding. I have an elder sister – she is older than me by two years and of course I have a baby sister, who is five years old. Her name is Amarachi, I love her to death, and she is my biggest fan. She’ll call me brother Ikenna, you are on TV, I saw your movie and my baby brother that is about three years old called, Pappy. My family is pretty close knit, a kind of family you’ll see having dinner together, wake up in the morning have morning prayers back when I was living in my family house. Now, am pretty quite old, I talk to my mum and dad every other day and find out what is going on. In these bad days what keeps you grounded is family and the church.
How did your parents feel when you left Law for acting?
I think I have the best parents in the world because my dad, (let me quote what he said when I was getting into the university), “I don’t care what you study, if you want to study gutter packing in school, its ok, just come back with a degree, let me know that you are learned.” Other parents would say, ‘My son, you must be a lawyer or you must be a doctor.’ My dad had a Master’s degree and PhD; so he doesn’t need to live his dreams through me. In my heart, I have always said I am going to be an entertainer but somehow I studied law and when I got into school, it gave me the opportunity to fraternize, see the arts, do things, be a part of the production process and I loved it; so far it’s been working for me.
What major challenges do you face in the business?
The entertainment business in Nigeria is a work in progress. I see a lot of people go blogs to abuse people in the industry. They say things like, ‘I don’t watch Nigerian movies, I don’t listen to Nigerian songs.’ We can’t grow if you don’t support us. We are not saying we are where you want us to be, but certainly we are not where we used to be. Everyday, we are working harder to put Nigeria on the map. Of all the sectors in Nigeria now, the entertainment sector is pulling strong. You have actors winning awards in Nigeria and America; I just came back from America where I was nominated for the Golden Icon Movies Awards in Houston. We have the likes of Tuface, Don Jazzy winning the MTV Base, channel-O awards, and we are putting Nigeria on the map. We need that collective support. When you see our movies in the cinema go out there, pay for it, and watch it. We need constructive criticism. One of the challenges we are facing is acceptability. In Nigeria, what we need is acceptability; people don’t accept us. For some of these people, everything in Nigeria is fakeing in Nigeria is fake; they should give us a chance; I know we have a couple of not so good movies, or not so good music but we also have a couple of good music and movies as well. It’s just like the stick and carrot thing – you chastise and then you cuddle. Also there is the issue of sponsorship; we need the government and people to recognize the industry. I should be able to go to the Bank of Industry, introduce myself as an actor and say that I need $2, 5 or 10 million want to produce a movie and they give it to me. In Nigeria, farmers are more recognized than actors in the Bank of Industry. As a farmer you can go to the Bank of Industry and collect loan for your agro-industrial equipment but as an actor we don’t have that facility. Maybe they don’t recognize the industry, maybe they do but its not strong. I’m just saying the government should strengthen it.
What about your modeling career?
It’s still strong. For me, acting is the main activity while modeling is what I do on the side because you can’t survive saying, my name is Alexx Ekubo, and I am a model. Modeling comes once in a while. Right now, am trying to build a brand – what I call soft modeling. I don’t want to be anywhere or any magazine. Today you are holding one tyre, tomorrow you are holding one shaving cream as a model. I’m looking forward to build a brand where a conglomerate like Pepsi will see you and say we believe in this guy come let’s do this or do that.
Are you in any relationship?
Shhhh! Don’t let the girls know that I am single and open. I’m a kind of guy who takes life as it comes. I live life each day. If I walk into a set or see a girl anywhere and we get along, so be it. If it doesn’t happen I’m still on career mood.
Who is your dream woman?
She must be God fearing first. The world is evil. You read the paper everyday, I’m a strong reader of The Sun, and my dad always gets The Sun newspaper. You wake up in the morning and see how a wife of five years stabbed her husband and killed the children; such women don’t have the fear of God. If you have the fear of God there are lots of things you cannot do. You cannot take somebody’s life no matter what the person does to you. A woman that fears God will not cheat on you, she will not look you in the eye and tell you a lie that will hurt you, and she will not hurt you and your kids. That is one. Then, you talk about brains. I need a beautiful woman because am headed to the very top. I’m talking of international recognition. I need a woman who can stand by my side and say baby I love you, I support you, I will stand by you. You don’t need a bimbo, beauty without brain. Her head is full of Brazilian hair and make up, and then carrying small dog all around which is the trend now with ladies. For me brains come before beauty. I need somebody that can help me so that we can produce beautiful Nigerian babies that can go out there and contest in Miss world, Mr. World.
You look like an outcast. Who do you take after in appearance?
God rubbed butter on my body. My dad is a very handsome man; people say I look like my dad a lot. Everyday I wake up and I talk to God. I converse with God a lot. I tell him, ‘Father, remold me everyday. I’m still a work-in-progress. I might wake up one day and see that my hair has started curling like oyinbo hair. I think God created me in his image and I was fearfully and wonderfully made.
You are a Christian, fine guy, how do you handle the girls?
Yes. I am a born-again Christian. Sometimes, I think it’s overwhelming. I’m really humbled by the attention I get when I go out. It gets to me when people tell me, ‘I have watched you, I love your movies’ it means somebody believes in you.
You grew up in the north. Do you speak Hausa?
I speak Hausa fluently; I grew up in the north. That was when my dad was transferred to Kano to work and be in charge of the northern states. I schooled at Federal Government College, Daura, Katsina. I came to study law at University of Calabar. I speak Efik as well and I have always lived in Lagos. I understand a bit of Yoruba, but I am an Igbo by birth. So, I’m a complete Nigerian.
Do you travel to your village?
Right from childhood, my dad always made sure I kept in touch with my roots. We travel to the village, to spend time with our kinsmen. He would introduce us to his friends and take us to meet the traditional ruler. We are always involved in activities in our rural community. I love my village so much. Arochukwu is the coolest place in Nigeria.