Jim Iyke Esomugha

I’ve spent 14 years of my career breaking every rule – Jim Iyke

Different people have different opinion of Jim Iyke. To some he is Nollywood bad boy. To others he is a sex symbol, the dream of any woman. But what does Jim Iyke Esomugha really think of himself?

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Jim Iyke family background
I am from Enugu Agidi, Anambra state, Nigeria. My dad is an Engineer. My mum is a professional caterer. I believe my mum is one of the best cooks in the world. I am an only son. I was born in Libreville, Gabon. My dad was working there then. After a while my dad had to move to León, France and we all moved with him. We were in France for three years and then we came back to Nigeria. I attended FGC Abuja, later University of Jos, where I studied Psychology and Banking and Finance.

On Acting
I am a method actor. What that means is that I enmesh myself completely in my character. I live my character. I completely become an embodiment of the character that I am portraying. It is not just a recital of script or trying to act. Most directors have come to trust that I am more in my elements when I am allowed to live the character as opposed to constraining me to scripts or lines.

How it all started
He came to the bank where I was serving. I don’t want to mention names for obvious reasons. He thought I should be acting and then I thought he was wrong. I did well in school and my parents were looking forward to perhaps a career in Banking for me. This man then said I should look him up whenever I was in Lagos. When I eventually visited him in Lagos, I did a small movie with him. Yes, he had a hook up with some producers. He introduced me to Tico Benson. We did my first ever film, Curse from Beyond. It was with that film that I cut my teeth and caught the acting bug.

The Break-Through
That was in 2001, the whole bunch of male A-listers then went to the UK for the Nollywood Awards and there was a dearth of actors on the scene and a producer needed a new face and my name came up the radar. It was Prisoners. When I got the role I was scared and shaking. I was waiting for them to come and take it away any moment like they used to do. When I was eventually paid my first twenty five thousand Naira I just couldn’t believe it was mine. I cried for two hours.

Is Jim Iyke very rich?
Being rich is relative. If you equate being rich with bank account balance and acquisition of property I see that as mundane because I have a higher calling. Some people think it is an idealistic way of looking at things, but it is my philosophy. I have tried to impress myself and not anybody. I had bought cars and threw them out. I had spent incredible sums of money buying jewellery. I partied harder than anybody. It was like I was into a competition with myself. But now I can tell you there is no degree of satisfaction more than when I do something for humanity. I have spent same token in an orphanage or in organising a charity walk somewhere. I just finished a seven thousand children march in Abuja. It gives me so much joy. So at some point you are going to go through those throes of introspection, when you have to sit down and ask yourself, what is the higher value? Is it the acquisition and the loading of bank account or these simple things that you do that give you joy? They say the secret of the big is the small. It is the small that are my riches.

How does he cope with the demands of this profession?
By staying in shape. I am a Martial artiste and I have not stopped practicing. I have a black belt in taekwondo-one. I keep a well informed mental archive as well. I read everything, no matter how boring or exciting anywhere I am. Also, when I am not on set I try to do things that give me joy, things that do not have professional propensity so that the equilibrium of my interest can be balanced. I am one that is willing to take risk, to take a big bite out of life, not being afraid to laugh at myself and embrace criticism as well. The thing this job does is that it completely obliterates your social wellbeing. I am socially redundant. I work all the time.

Jim Iyke Relationship with women?
I grew up in the midst of women. I love women. Women understand me better than men. I am extremely comfortable with women. Whenever I find a true friend I don’t care whether you are from the slums of Ajegunle (Lagos) or the highbrow area of New York City. I just want truthfulness.

Your ideal African woman?
She must be God-fearing because you need a woman that can go down on her knees when you are weak. You are the goal getter, but the battle is hers. She takes your case to God. You need a woman that is capable of bringing out that miracle. The second is that she has to be intelligent. I can’t stand a dull woman. She also has to look good.

Being a star and a sex symbol, his phone number must be everywhere…
I change it constantly

The girls will eventually get it. What are they saying to him?
Some say how much they hate me, probably out of misinformation, but I understand. Some say how much they love me. I take that on face value as well because they don’t know me. They fell in love with a character on TV. Some are highly psychological and they give me an in-depth analysis of what they perceive me to be. Some make sense, some don’t. Some want to discuss, to get to know me better because they think I am intriguing. But the ones I love more than any of these ones I have mentioned are the ones that give me the benefit of the doubt. They call me and say I heard stuff and I want to be your friend.

Likes and dislikes
I don’t do awards. I’ve never been to birthdays for the last eight years. I can count how many times I went to clubs. I don’t go to colleagues’ or people’s occasions. I am like a hermit. I make work and my family my life, and God my focus. For me looking good is not just about occasions; it is a way of life. It’s the way I want to be perceived without words. I love to dress to provoke debate. I never dressed to impress anybody. Why can’t I create my own fashion status quo? That’s why I do what I do. That’s why it is poetic licence. I’ve been given the licence to create my own world. So I create my own world.

Three most important things in your life?
God, my family which includes my woman and my career.

What is your philosophy of life of Jim Iyke?
The secret of every big is the small.

On a final note?
I started this game when I was barely twenty-one-years-old. For over fourteen years they have been teaching and telling everybody what to do and what to say, the status quo, the way to carry and comport yourself, the way this game is to be played. And I have spent the fourteen years of my career breaking every rule, not one did I uphold. As I sit here with you, I am still relevant in the industry. So perhaps my way is working and not theirs. Some men are meant to follow the rules; some are not. The point is to arrive at your destination and hold your hands up. Be true to your family and friends. Be honourable to your woman.

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