“I’ve been working professionally as an actor since I was 20. That’s going to be 25 years soon. So, that’s a veteran. That’s a big-time veteran. I’ve had some great successes, and I’ve had some not-successes.” – Michael Imperioli
Necessitated by the incessant and drivel use of the word ‘Veteran’ I decided delve into reviewing the meaning and application of the word in relation to specific persons. And first up is the one time ‘fine-boy’ of Nollywood, who is now in the Delta state’s government house, Richard Mofe Damijo.
The Wafi born actor-turned-politician’s journey to stardom wasn’t a stroll in the park. No. He traveled the whole 6 degrees o success and had ups and downs. But,h is trip to stardom is not our focus now. The question being asked, is that is he truly worth being called a veteran?
Don’t get me wrong, RMD is a wonderful actor, but being a veteran is more than being a wonderful actor. For example, just as no analysis is needed to know that O.C Ukeje is a wonderful actor, no analysis is also needed to know that he is not yet a veteran. While O.C Ukeje is great, he presently lacks enough experience in the filed to be referred to as a veteran (honest truth). So, has RMD earned the stripes?
Who is a veteran?
Now the dictionary really isn’t helpful here, as it plainly defines a veteran as someone with experience, who is considered experienced in something. But we need more than that to go on. So, here is who I think a veteran is. A veteran has been there, seen it all and done it all. A veteran must have gone through thick and thin and come out with a proud gait. A Nollywood veteran must have not only experience, but also means and drive to pass on the experience and knowledge. Of what use is experience if it can’t be passed on to the younger generation? So on this basis, does RMD make the cut?
Richard Mofe Damijo claims he is not worthy to be called a veteran. Humility? Well maybe. On The LizMani show, RMD replied (when referred to as a veteran) that he cannot call himself a veteran when there are the likes of Olu Jacobs. He asserted that he was working towards being a veteran, but he still has a lot to learn. This might be a move to present himself as humble, but is also the truth. Yet, on the flip side, RMD was the first to be honoured with the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the maiden edition of the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in 2005 – an honour that currently lies with the late Justus Esiri. That clearly shows that he has come a long way in the game. But is that enough to earn RMD a place on our Nollywood Veteran’s Wall?
There is still a gap in RMD’s illustrious career (well, not really a gap. more like a yawning on his part) that has seen him feature in over 60 movies. RMD desires to go on set with Willard Carole Smith Jr. (Will Smith), though topmost on his list of actors he would love to act with is Denzel Washington. While I personally think that it would be a test of the best when differentiated from the rest, RMD claims he wants to do this because he thinks “…his [Denzel] intensity on and off screen is amazing”. Well, this means that RMD a graduate of Theatre Arts (UNINBEN) and Law (UNILAG) has been there, seen it all, but he hasn’t really ‘done’ it all. He personally testifies to this by revealing his quest to work with the two aforementioned Hollywood acts. But is that really a glitch in his career?
On whether he still retains interest in Nollywood, RMD made it clear that he still is very much in the industry, commissioner or not. He reminded The LizMani show that he featured a bit in the TV series Tinsel when there was a break in government. Also in an interview granted to Samumukoro.com, Richard not only reflected on the quality of works currently in the industry, but he also confirmed that he missed acting. Amongst other things, he made it clear to samumukoro.com that he currently teaches acting as a volunteer teacher at FABA, which is the Film and Broadcast Academy in Ozoro run by the Ejiro brothers. This means that he is keen to pass on his knowledge to the next generation. What else does he have to do to truly be called a veteran?
Who is a veteran again?
Richard Mofe Damijo is.
Written by Innocent Ekejiuba