In 1993, Living in Bondage solidly established the career of Kenneth Okonkwo after he played the iconic character Andy Okeke. As we commence a new decade into the 2020s, the movie’s sequel: Breaking free is about to do the same for new generation actor Jide-Kene Achufusi.
Now regarded as Nollywood’s breakout star of 2019, this charismatic personality isn’t just an overnight success; he has since featured in over a dozen productions since after starting out in a 2011 television series, Campus Games. Best believe he has paid his dues.
A refreshing new year, a refreshing new face. I wondered why the talent for a long while had gone with the moniker Swanky JKA, a question I was interested to ask although, probably after realizing the nomenclature difficulty or confusion, he now mostly goes by the full initials. Truly, your name in the business is your representation, identity and everything. One would need a professional, yet catchy name to recall their brand by. Or if you don’t know the dynamics and politics that goes to your name as a figure in the entertainment industry, then ask Vin Diesel whose real name is Mark Sinclair!
But Jide-Kene is not just a typical talent who landed on the limelight and is therefore eager to be anywhere and everywhere. I was quite surprised knowing that he has his own strong views about the industry. From our discussion, I got to know that he has a rather specific direction he is heading and would most likely only work with professionals in the industry headed for same direction.
The talent who was born in the coal state of Nigeria is taking steady steps to ensure he hits the right notes, or gets the right scripts, non-literally He professes Hollywood’s Jason Statham as a figure he would want to emulate, and so, he is careful about his next project, which has to be one that can stir both fear and excitement. “I refuse to be overused or to be on every set or project. I have goals and plans. I want to mirror Jason Statham’s career where he’s up to something in all his films and he’s stellar at it. Difference is that I’m a better actor, maybe not a better stunts man.” An over six-feet standing Jide-Kene said without holding back.
The pay system in Nollywood remains a widly private matter; only the insiders really know how mostly unfavourable it could be, especially for new comers. Veteran actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde lamented on the lack of proper structure, incentives and long-term packages during an interview session with Ojy Okpe of Arise TV while promoting the first edition of her new initiative, TEFFEST. The long standing acts have remained basically because of the love for the craft. The international entertainment industry like the fashion industry is constantly in search of a new face, if Jide-Kene were to be in Hollywood, we bet that his calendar will be super full by now, even up to the next two years, but in this part of the world, producers play safe by putting their money on the “known” talents, one of the reasons we don’t have a Tom Holland, a Timothee Chalamet or a Zendaya.
We are however thankful for the new squad of under-30 talents consisting of the likes of our Q1 2020 cover star, Nancy Isime and the few others that are rising fast and making their millennial presence felt in a rather ageist environment.
Zealous, the 28-year-old is optimistic about what the future holds after revealing how he wants to preach and inspire people through his films. The year has just started and there is so much to look forward to. We are on this ride with Jide-Kene Achufusi and we can’t wait to see where he takes us next.
Jide-Kene Achufusi is our 2020 First Quarter Cover star feature. Written by Justice Okwudike (EIC)