I wanted to become a pilot or an aeronautic engineer – Ramsey Nouah
In this interview, a-list Nollywood actor Ramsey Nouah narrates how his growing up was like and how he stumbled upon acting as a career.
See excerpts of Ramsey Nouah’s interesting interview with Kore Ogidan below:
Tell us about your background
I was born in Costain, Lagos, where I began my early life before moving to Aguda, Surulere. I lived with my mother and half-brother. My father was never in the picture. I was very playful and I must admit, it’s rubbing off on my kids, and I’m not liking it very much. I was also very artistically inclined. I was fascinated by comic books and drawings, although I wasn’t exactly great at that. My elementary education was at Atara Primary School, Orile Iganmu, Lagos, and for my post-elementary education, I attended Community Grammar School, Surulere. I also got a Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Interestingly, my life has been a tale of grace to grass to grace. I was born with a silver spoon but shortly after, everything changed and our wealth went to zero. This made me understand the two sides of life; living a life of plenty and a life of not even having enough to eat. As rough as the experience might have seemed, it actually helped me gain a balance in my profession as an actor; being able to comfortably switch between the roles of the prince and the pauper.
Did you always want to be an actor?
No! Even though I knew I had a dominant creative side, I was sure I was going to become a pilot or an aeronautic engineer. I was obsessed with planes, machines and gadgets that flew and I knew I had to be involved somehow; whether by actually flying them, creating them or building them so other people could fly them.
When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?
I needed money to take my GCE external examination and I just couldn’t get it, no matter where I went. So, I remembered that my friend had told me repeatedly that I had a gift in acting but I had never taken it seriously.
When I needed money desperately to pay for my exams, I decided to give it a try and source some money from it. In 1990, I had a cameo role and in 1991, I had a role in the series, Mega Fortunes, which aired in 1993 and lasted for just a year. After that came the advent of home videos and it’s been a roller-coaster ride since then. I really just went into acting because I needed the money and not because I thought I could act. Over time, I realised that I had a strong passion for acting and thought to myself that acting could really just have been my calling.
What was your mother’s reaction when you told her you wanted to be a full-time actor?
I was already involved in acting before I decided to tell her and when I told her, she had the same angry reaction as any parent of that time would have had if their kid told them they wanted to go into acting. She asked if something was wrong with my head. Eventually, the series I acted in came on air and when all her friends began to tell her that they’d seen me on TV, she was happy with the accolades and positive reactions from people.
How did your father’s absence affect you as a child?
Honestly, I didn’t feel his absence. I couldn’t even tell that my dad wasn’t in the picture. That’s something that my mother would probably have been more concerned about because it would have been easier if he were there to help her in raising me.
Tell us about your first pay cheque.
We had been filming Mega Fortunes and we didn’t get paid till about the eighth month when I finally got N1,100 (about N80 per episode). As soon as I got the money, I ran to Yaba market to buy a pair of secondhand chinos trousers, leather brass belt, black tee-shirt and moccasins. That’s all I could buy with the money. I couldn’t even afford to get transportation back home; I walked from the market to Aguda, Surulere, but I was very happy with my purchase as it changed my wardrobe.
What’s the biggest moment in your career?
That would have to be when the United Nations invited notable stars from around Africa to persuade the people of Liberia to have a peaceful election before Ellen Johnson became the president of the country. We, the celebrity guests, were at the centre of the main bowl and there were wires parting us from the crowd on the outside, and they were standing drenched in the rain, screaming for me and shouting my name. I was the Nollywood face that got called from Nigeria and it was very touching to see them react that way. Since I had no song or dance to perform for them, I just went around to touch them, hug the ones I could and speak to others from between the wire partition. It was beautiful and I felt them show me much love.
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