#GSBMeetTheStar: Emeka Nwagbaraocha on His Rise to Fame in Nollywood, Playing Frank in “Far From Home” & Misconceptions
Despite not following him, his tweets kept popping up on my timeline, and I was curious to find out more about this fascinating person. And guess what? The universe must have been telling me something because I ended up interviewing him for “Meet the Star,” and he turned out to be the perfect person to kick off the second edition.
You may have seen him on screen, playing nerdy and shy characters in “Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story” and “Far From Home,” but trust me, the real Emeka is nothing like his movie roles. During our interview, Emeka opened up about his journey into acting, his experiences playing Frank, misconceptions people have about him, and even his hidden talent for singing!
With a string of impressive film titles under his belt, including “Life 101,” “Kasala!” “Prophetess,” and his most recent feature “Far From Home,” Emeka is quickly becoming a household name in the Nigerian film industry. So, if you want to discover the true Emeka Nwagbaraocha and what sets him apart from his movie characters, you won’t want to miss this exciting interview!
Let’s talk about your journey into acting and how you got your first break in Nollywood
I started acting at a young age, participating in plays in secondary school, such as “The Incorruptible Judge.” My teachers recognized my talent and encouraged me to take it seriously. When I joined the university and my fellowship, I wanted to join the drama department, despite being suggested to the ushering department. During my final year of university, I decided to pursue acting full-time after being inspired by the short film “Brave” by LowlaDee, which starred Adesua Etomi and Wole Ojo. I attended auditions, including an acting/reality show, and eventually landed my first TV role in “African Beauty” by Screen Goddess Production. From there, I auditioned for EbonyLife TV’s “Life 101” and landed the lead role, a significant breakthrough in my career.
What was your reaction when you found out that you landed the role of Frank in “Far From Home”?
When I received the news that I was selected to play Frank, I was emotional. It was such an incredible moment that I started crying immediately. I couldn’t believe it, and I didn’t know how else to express my gratitude and excitement. The opportunity felt amazing, and it was a dream come true. The show has met all of my expectations and has been beneficial to my career thus far.
What was the most challenging aspect of playing the character Frank?
I would say that the main challenge for me in playing Frank was trying to differentiate him from similar characters that I had played in the past. As an actor, I’ve often played nerdy characters, so I wanted to give Frank his unique personality and not have him be just another version of characters I’d played before. I wanted him to stand out and be distinct. That was the biggest challenge for me in playing Frank, but I think I was able to achieve it in the end.
I really want to thank Mr @kennethgyang for This scene. This scene is a Product of Great Directing. Mr Kenneth made the Set very comfortable and Safe for me to Perform and I’m grateful that people can see the Beauty in it. Thank you so much Sir 🙏🏼 #FarFromHome #farfromhomenetflix pic.twitter.com/i2uMvOa58D
— Emeka (@Emeneks) December 24, 2022
Your meme from the series has been gaining a lot of popularity, and your social media presence is quite active. Can you tell us about a moment that made you realize your name was becoming a household name in Nollywood?
I remember when elections were going on, and someone reached out to me and said, “Emeka, you’re trending on Twitter!” I was surprised and asked why. They told me that I was one of the top trends on Twitter, and people were talking about Emeka from “Far From Home.” Later, I met with a senior colleague in the industry, and they recognized me as “the Emeka from Far From Home.” I think it was because of the show’s popularity and also because of my vocal presence on social media. People were starting to see me as more than just the character of Frank, but also as an individual with a personality and a voice. That was when I started to realize that I was becoming a household name in Nollywood.
Nollywood has undergone a lot of changes in recent years. What changes do you think the industry needs to make it continue to thrive?
From an actor’s perspective, I believe Nollywood needs to invest in other areas of the industry that will benefit industry practitioners. We need stronger unions, such as the screenwriters union, actors guild, and directors guild, to protect the rights of their members. With an influx of funding and attention to the industry, Nollywood is becoming more visible to the world. Therefore, it’s essential to strengthen our unions to ensure that industry professionals are not exploited and can reap the full benefits of being part of the industry.
Are there any misconceptions about you that you’d like to clear up?
Yes, I think there is a misconception that I’m outgoing and talkative. I’m quite shy and reserved, especially in large crowds. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions on various issues. Social media has given me a platform to express myself and share my thoughts without feeling shy or uncomfortable. While I may come across as talkative on social media, I want people to know that I can be quiet and reserved in person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my voice and opinions.
Aside from acting, what are your hobbies or interests?
Well, I love taking long walks and strolling around my area, but due to my newfound fame from Far From Home, it’s become more difficult to do so. I also love cooking and trying out new recipes whenever I can get the ingredients. Additionally, I enjoy reading a lot of African literature, swimming, and travelling. Acting has given me the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures and people, which has become an extra hobby of mine.
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t think most people are aware of my ability to sing. I’ve been looking forward to playing a role where I can explore that. Yeah, the fact that I can sing.
Talking about music, if you had to choose just one song to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I have to be honest; as a deep music fan, the idea of only listening to one song for the rest of my life is scary and difficult to imagine. It’s not something I could choose.
So, do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with your fans?
Yes, I have a couple of projects in the works, but one I’m excited to talk about is a film called “Onye Egwu,” produced by Uche Jombo Studios. It’s a movie about football that I’m proud of, and it’s directed by Uche Jombo. The film will be coming out soon, and I hope everyone will go to the cinema to watch and enjoy it.
***This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.