By Amara Iwuala
In a country with an abysmal doctor-patient ratio, exacerbated by the ongoing mass exodus of medical doctors and other health care professionals to wealthy nations in search of the Golden Fleece, it is also interesting to discover that there are sectors of the economy and national life, including entertainment and Nollywood, which compete with the health system for some of the remaining doctors.
Of course, these young doctors in Nollywood are all aware that the commonest word among Nigerian doctors today is PLAB – the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board, which is the examination that doctors who wish to practise in the United Kingdom must pass. They also know about the recent protest by their colleagues in Quebec, Canada, who called for the cancellation of their own pay raise.
It is, then, safe to say that if the primary motivation of these Nollywood doctors is pecuniary, then they know where to go. However, their interests seem to be piqued by the desire to lead their lives on their own terms whilst contributing to the advancement of Nollywood.
Their activities in Nollywood are wide-ranging: from acting to production, artiste management and film criticism plus screenwriting. One of them has even bagged a Master of Fine Arts, MFA, from the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA.
- Wilfred Okiche
Dr. Okiche is a 2012 Medicine and Surgery graduate of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. At the moment, he is a medical researcher in the sphere of Infectious Diseases and also a film critic, whose reviews have appeared on y!naija, 360nobs plus other online and printed journals.
Okiche has attended Talents Durban and the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) Trainee Project for Young Film Critics where he also served as a juror on FIPRESCI (the International Association of Film Critics). He has also attended a theatre critics’ workshop in Lagos facilitated by the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC).
His reviews have attracted reactions from film-makers, who think that his opinion about their film is harsh. A popular female film-maker took to one of the social media platforms to lambast Okiche for rating her films poorly in an annual assessment which the doctor wrote. Miffed by the film-maker’s utterances, the journal’s publisher rose to Okiche’s defence, reprimanding the said actress, writer, producer and director.
Okiche remarks, “It is a lot of work juggling both jobs. I have to deliberately make out time to see films and write about them, but I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing except, maybe, travelling the world and writing about that.”
On his plans for the future, Okiche says, “I could spend the rest of my career, doing film criticism and consider it development enough. We can’t all be film-makers. Having said that, I may become a curator and programmer for a film festival that shall go unnamed, for now, because it is still in the works.”
- Isioma Osaje
Remember that moment when Blossom Chukwujekwu stepped on to the stage at the 2015 AMVCA to receive his award as the best supporting actor? The young woman, who accompanied him to the stage and stayed by his side whilst he delivered his acceptance speech is his manager, Dr. Isioma Osaje.
Multi-skilled Isioma, who studied Medicine and Surgery at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, runs Agency 106 Talents and Company Limited, a talent management, agency, consultancy and film production firm. Before becoming a talent manager, she did stints in broadcasting, online and print journalism as well as Public Relations.
Some of the actors she has worked with or continue to work with include: Blossom Chukwujekwu, Ireti Doyle, Linda Ejiofor, Michelle Dede, Adesua Etomi, Tope Tedela, Deolu Adefarasin and Timini Egbuson.
In 2017, her company, in collaboration with some associates, released their maiden feature film Something Wicked starring Ireti Doyle, Adesua Etomi, Ivie Okujaye, Okey Uzoeshi, Gabriel Afolayan, Beverly Naya amongst other actors.
- Ifeanyi Dike Junior
Dr. Dike, like Isioma Osaje, also graduated with an MBBS degree in Medicine and Surgery from the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, and was a house officer at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja, Lagos. He holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Acting from the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA.
Dike Jnr. became popular, following his 2012 role as Titan on Tinsel where he played Salewa’s love interest. Apart from landing his first role in a feature film, that of the lead character Uzoma, in Abba Makama’s Green White Green, Ifeanyi has equally acted in Gidi Up, Shuga , Desperate Housewives Africa and participated in a reality TV Show, BET’s Top Actor Africa, which was filmed in South Africa.
For three years, he worked as a writer and online content creator for the Nigerian Idol music talent show. His pieces have appeared in y!naija, 360nobs as well as FAB and Arise magazines. The 27 year-old is undoubtedly poised to distinguish himself in the creative industry.
- Harris Oboh
Oboh, who played a role in Stanlee Ohikhuare’s Common Man in 2015, obtained an MBBS degree from the University of Benin in 2009. Incidentally, Harris played a doctor in the film, which stars Kiki Omeili, Deyemi Okanlawon, Omotu Bissong and Lord Frank.
He notes, “I am still primarily a medical doctor, but I use my free time for my other passions. Sadly, my acting career has not received much attention in recent times, but it surely will, in due time.” As Oboh, who is also a graphic artist, tries to juggle, at least, 3 balls, he will, hopefully, find the balance he craves.
- Kiki Omeili
Omeili is a doctor, health advocate, actor, TV presenter, radio host, screenwriter and producer. Her notable works include: Lekki Wives; Married, but Living Single; Deluded and Gbomo Gbomo Express. In 2016, she wrote and produced a short film, Unprotected, which got the laurel for best screenplay at the 2016 InShort Film Festival.
Her first feature film as a producer, Run, is presently in post-production. Apart from Kiki herself, the cast of Run include: Rotimi Salami, Greg Ojefua, Kelechi Udegbe and Rotimi Fakunle. Needless to say, Omeili is in Nollywood to stay.