I LOVE BASKETBALL BUT MY HEIGHT WON’T LET ME PLAY — CHINEDU IKEDIEZE
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Popular actor, Chinedu Ikedieze, aka Aki, tells KORE OGIDAN about his career and other related matters
What kind of childhood did you have?
I had the typical childhood that every other kid had. I played with my mates, did normal activities that kids around me did. I grew up with my grandmother and she gave me the opportunity to mix with other kids around me. I did things like going into the bush where I hunted animals. I enjoyed every moment of my childhood as it was a lot of fun. Comparing me then to now, my childhood affected my life in a positive manner. I do some things now and I get inspiration from my childhood experiences and the life I had as a child. I don’t think I can do just anything without taking a cue from my childhood.
How grown do you feel on the inside in spite of your height?
I have a very high IQ and it has nothing to do with my height. Regardless of how I look, I am very clever and good at whatever it is that I set out to do. I really enjoy being who I am.
Did you ever secretly wonder who had the upper hand between you and Pawpaw?
I never thought of that; I do my job and he does his. We are both different individuals who work together by bringing our own different qualities to the table. We’ve always and still have a very good relationship both on the job and in other areas. He’s my buddy and it’s always great to work together.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I like to relax at home with my family when I am not working. Since I love watching television, I watch a lot of movies and documentaries when I have a day off from work. I also like playing video games –PlayStation. I invite my friends over, sometimes, and we play games and hang out. I’m a happy person and I love to see people happy. That’s the kind of energy I like around me. Life has no duplicate.
What’s your favourite sport and what sport can you play?
I love sports and my favourite is football. I’m a huge football fan and a supporter of Arsenal FC and Enyimba FC. My dad played football and I can play football as well. I actually enjoy playing football, and when I’m not playing on the field, I’m playing it in video games. I have a football academy called Cityfut Escola. I also love basketball but unfortunately, my height won’t let me play; however, I watch it a lot. I used to support the Celtics but I’m currently a Cleveland fan because of LeBron James.
What was your experience when you realised that you had become famous?
My first experience of fame felt like I was dreaming. People began to acknowledge me by pointing at me wherever I went. I got that reaction a lot and it increased daily. It was nice but it deprived me of my private life and the things I’d generally enjoy with my friends. At some point, I was actually a bit frightened and started to think of if I was always going to have my life in the public eye. Nevertheless, I’m in it already and I’m fine with it.
Do you sometimes secretly feel like running away from the spotlight or you no longer care about the effects of being a celebrity?
Honestly, I’ve grown to see my life as a popular figure as part of my being. I really can’t run away from any of it – cameras, blogs and so much more. I just try to stay positive and remain true to myself. I’m careful not to pretend to be who I’m not. The moment you begin to live above your means, you won’t only be calling for attention that is mostly negative, you’ll also begin to battle with yourself and the public. I don’t run away from my life as a celebrity; I see these activities daily. I won’t exactly say I enjoy a lot of it, especially when it’s damaging because before anything else, I’m human. But whatever form they come in, I’ll embrace them.
What was your experience when you travelled abroad for the first time?
The first time I flew in an aeroplane to America, I was in awe. I was like, “What if something happens and they tell us to go back?” Entering America, I just kept saying, “So this is the almighty America they talk about.” It was an awesome experience. If I have become the president of this country, I’ll make Nigeria to be like America.
Have you ever been involved in a road accident?
Yes, I’ve had two experiences. One was in 1999, when I was coming from Aba. I had just finished shooting my second or third movie, whose title I don’t recall now. There was a burst tyre and the car went into a ditch-separator on the expressway. This was between Okigwe and Umuahia. Some passengers were injured but I was blessed to have come out unscathed.
The second was when I was going to Enugu from Aba. I’d been driving in company with my friends who drove behind me. My driver applied the brake to change lanes, but our friends were too close to us and we hadn’t seen them, and I doubt they had seen us signal to change our lane. So the moment the driver applied the brake, they hit us from the rear. It wasn’t a pleasant experience and I don’t pray to ever have to experience another of such.
Have you ever driven a car?
I have and I can drive flawlessly. In 2003, I bought my first car and I drove myself around the hotel where I was lodged at that time. I imagine things and like to actualise what I picture in my head. Years back, I lived with my uncle and when he’ll tell me to wash his car, I’ll start it, reverse a little, move around a little and all that. Of course, he didn’t know. At a time too, his driver taught me a little driving.
What do you fear the most?
I fear poverty! I detest poverty, honestly. I don’t want to lose my current standing; rather, I want to improve daily and make more money. I also want to expand my business. Truthfully, I don’t want to ever experience poverty again and it will never come back, in fact. In all fairness, no one likes poverty.
We know you lost your brother a while ago. What does death mean to those who they leave behind?
It was a very sad moment. When you lose a loved one, it’s a very difficult place to be and nobody fills the vacuum they leave. He was not just my brother, he was my very good friend, and we were very close and I miss him. It was hard, to be honest. Losing a dear person is very difficult, because you’ll always think of the person and you’ll always talk about the person when you’re with family or people you had mutual relations with. It’s always a moment of sober reflection whenever we think of them and for my brother, I know he’s resting in peace, wherever he is.
What’s the strength you find when you have to rush back to work when you actually need time to grief?
For me, maybe it’s because of the love and passion I have for my job and for the fact that my job is a part of me; nothing keeps me off set. There are times I’m tired or not in the mood or even grieving, but I remember the people I’m inspiring with my work and how much I love my job. I get up and get back in the game. To be honest, it energises and motivates me to make the people happy. Even when I’m not on call, I just want to be on set; I miss being on set when I’m away. It’s the desire and urge to constantly be on set and interpret roles that actually give me the necessary push and energy to work when the body might not be willing.