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Sunday, 17 April 2016

''What I'll Tell Buhari On A Chance Meeting'''-Theodora Ibekwe


She's terrifically industrious and doggedly result oriented; that's how best to introduce the good looking serial entrepreneur who has traversed quite a number of daring genres of the entertainment business. A trailblazer by all standard, Theodora Ibekwe-Oyebade is one of UK's visible players who hold sway as a movie producer as far as the black community is concerned. The dynamic lady who's a perfect prototype of a real African woman cut her teeth as a Teacher after her first degree in Nigeria before she opted to relocate to the Queensland in search of the proverbial greener pastures where she eventually evolved as a reference point in the show business world. In just few years of her involvement, the high profile Benin Chief has won many awards, ''I think am almost losing count but as at the last time, I've got 65 awards' plaques hanging in my house, all these are as a result of my goal-getting skills''. She told editor, Tunde Moshood in London recently how she's able to cope as a TV Presenter, actor, movie producer, publicist, script writer, brand ambassador of Chamy perfume, and CEO of Miss Elegant UK amongst other things.

Tell us the story of your HRM or is it HRH?

Ibekwe is my maiden name. I grew up in Benin and that's why I got the traditional title of Ada Ka Ibeya 1 with my husband, my family is from Owerri, Imo State. I met my husband, Ayo Oyebade, a few years ago and we both decided to have a secret wedding to avoid "spoilers" wrecking the ceremony.

You're a part of the Nollywood story in the UK, can you give us the script?

We have Actors Guild of UK Nollywood here and not yet affiliated with AGN. This is a work in progress. I am the founding President.UK Nollywood is a collection of filmmakers much like Nigeria. I can't give you a full history as I was not there at the commencement but I'm glad to be one of the trailblazers. There are Pioneers that I know and others that I don't. Prince Sam Anwuzia, the CEO of ZAFAA Global Awards and Director, Obi Emelonye have been in the industry for much longer. Each Producer does his/her best to raise the finance to produce their movies and lay on premieres to showcase their work. 

How marketable are the films produced in the UK? 

We have had some successes with our movies here. Shameful Deceit had some limited distribution worldwide. However, most films produced in UK Nollywood, on the face of it, have had no market.
 
Who're the major players in the movie industry here?

I would like to think I'm a big player but there are numerous others including Talking Drum Entertainment, whom are Distributors of Black Content; Director Obi Emelonye is the God Father; Ruke Amata, from the Amata Dynasty; Malcolm Benson of Benalex Media; Godwin & Helen Gold Osabutey; Tolulope Yesufu who scored a big hit with Murderer-in-Law; Philippa Chiedu Abraham, Writer/Producer/Director of the smash hit Basira in London; there is also the prolific Toyin Moore and, George Kelly Toghanro. 

Why are established actors in Nigeria not always invited to spice and lift up your production in London?

We do realise that to get a good market in Nigeria we need a box office star to come over, however, funds are a problem. Producers have taken the opportunity to use some of the stars when they are over on holiday. If we had more financial support we would definitely bring over more stars.  

What would you say is the biggest problem confronting the movie industry in the UK?

Needless to say, it's MONEY. We need sponsorship, we need grants, I dare say we need some of that pot of gold in the Bank of Industry made available to Nollywood. We have oodles of talent here and we would like to bring talent from Africa but we invariably have to use our own money. In my case, I had a sponsor and my now husband, Chief Ayo Oyebade also invested in Shameful Deceit. Others have to work on tighter budgets. 

Can we have an insight into your background; education, family life and relocation to the UK?

I was born in Benin, grew up there with my parents and three siblings; went to Auchi Poly where I studied Education and taught for a while before going to Lagos to attend UniLag, to study Accountancy. I worked briefly at Water Parks, in Ikeja, Lagos State as a Resident Manager before deciding to come over to the UK. 

If you have a chance meeting with President Buhari, what will your request be?

Hmmm... it would be a good thing to have a chance to chat with President Buhari. I was at a very short reception that he attended, in London, recently. As a UK based Producer, I would like to ask the President to set up a task force to look into the great work that UK Nollywood is doing, representing Nigeria and Africa in a positive light and, can we get access to the funds available for Nollywood.

What other things do you do aside movie production?

I started out as a TV Presenter; started organising talent shows and beauty pageants (I am the CEO of Miss Elegant International); I am a Promoter; a Publicist and; an Actress.

There was a time you a misunderstanding with Miss World Organisers, what really transpired?

The issue with Miss World was a storm in a teacup. It really was to do with branding. I called my global beauty pageant Miss Elegant World and the Miss World Organisers took exception. However, the matter was resolved 

Are you planning to come home any time soon?

God willing, I will come over to Nigeria to shoot a movie later in the year or next year.


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