Kalu Ikeagwu: The reliable actor reigns supreme
The acting space in Nollywood is one space where an actor hardly reigns for a long time, because the factory machine usually throws up new acting talents. In fact, there are usually two or more for each season and when they are introduced, they occupy the space until new talents are thrown up again.But even then, there are some actors who have remained evergreen and whose relevance as actors has almost refused to patter.
One of them is the well built, good-looking and unpretentiously friendly son of a University teacher and English graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Kalu Ikeagwu. The debonair Kalu, who shot into national limelight playing Jeny, a loving and very supportive husband to Ada in the television soap, Domino, and who has, with hardwork and commitment, established his presence in Nollywood, has emerged the darling of most industry audiences.
A busy actor, Kalu is presently in hot demand and in a couple of movies meant for the big screen that are at various stages of production or post-production.
He is in Patrick Doyle’s riveting political drama, Madam President, starring Ireti Doyle, Paul Adams and Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, where he interpreted delightfully the role of President of the parliament in the drama that would screen in cinemas across the country soon. Kalu also plays lead in Roberta, another riveting story produced by StephNora Okere and directed by Ema Edosio. Roberta is among the series of over a dozen film projects that have received support of the development bank under the BoI Nollyfund (BNF) scheme.
The movie stars Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, Wale Ojo and Nigerian dance queen, Kaffy, among others. Those who have seen these movies agree that the strength of Kalu’s role delivery is one reason the movies would be applauded.Born in England, his father wanted him to study medicine, but Kalu said he couldn’t at that time, because he was not particularly friendly with the sciences.
But Kalu, a good fan of Williams Shakespeare, Charles Dickson, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and other literary giants, had a passion for literature, which was why he settled for English when the time came for him to proceed to the University of Nigeria after his secondary education.
He revealed that the literary icons propelled his interest in literature and made him develop the love for it much to his father’s disappointment.Described by close friends as very reserved, Kalu caught the acting bug by chance during a production at UNN. While studying English Literature, he participated in many campus stage productions, including Esiaba Irobi’s Hangmen Also Die and Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband has gone Mad Again.
Kalu graduated with a Bachelors of Arts and left for England in 1993, where he continued to hone his skills at local community theatres in London.He returned to Nigeria in June 2004 to join the growing and popular Nollywood film industry and has since appeared in several movies and television series, including, but not limited to, Darkest Night, ’30 Days, For Real by Emem Isong, Uche Jombo’s trilogy, Damage, Broken, Mnet’s Doctor’s Quarters and AIT’s Dominos.
A model, whose face has graced a number of television commercials, mostly of blue chip companies, Kalu admires the acting abilities of a few of Nollywood substantial actors and is a great fan of the deep actor, Richard Mofe Damijo, Segun Arinze and Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, who he described as a very humble and highly intelligent personality deeply committed to professional excellence.
He revealled that he unwinds by reading and travelling and loves to step on a car gas too, but added that given a chance, he would not want to drive in Lagos.“You need guts to drive in Lagos, because everyone is in a hurry to head somewhere and so most times, you find people just bumping into you and they would make it appear as if one does not know how to drive,” he stated.
Outside travelling and reading, Kalu, who described himself as an idealistic, fun-loving and God-fearing person, disclosed that he spends most of his off screen period at home bonding with his family, writing and watching movies.He says of his past time: ‘I am particularly an indoor person. I hardly just hit the road. I must have a reason for wanting to go out. One thing I also spend more time to do now at home and when I am not working is reverencing God. I love God. In fact no one would say that he doesn’t because he has done so much for his creation. I also like to sing and I love meeting people particularly those who are progressive in their thoughts and disposition. I do not have much patience for lazy people. I do my best to avoid them because they can make you loose track’.
Kalu favourite local delicacy is ‘Fufu’ and any of ‘Edikainkang’, ‘Afang’ or ‘Ora’ soup. He also loves to dress simply and he revealed that he wears formal dresses only when it is necessary to do so. ‘I am not a suit or tie person’ he says adding ‘and that’s because I like to appear simple…just in my jean and shirt. I once worked as a computer programmer but I had difficulties observing the shirt and tie dress code and that is because I am a jean man. I wear the jean because it helps you move around freely and without hindrance’.
Asked to state his career ambition, Kalu replied‘ it is to be the best that I can be and the best that God wants me to be’. His other aspiration is to work in Nigeria and overseas as an actor. He says: ‘I want to work extensively in Nigeria and abroad as an actor and in doing that I want to be the best that I can be. I like to hear people say that I am doing well as an actor but I don’t ever want to see myself as a good actor. I want to see myself as someone aspiring to be better and someone who wants to be the best in his chosen profession. Also I look forward to producing my own movies and making the right time, I would love to produce my own movies’