Many people know him as James, the actor in the popular television series Jenifa’s Diary, while some know Ogbolor, the comedian. Michael Uba is a familiar face in the Nigerian entertainment industry. He is an actor, a comedian and also an On-Air Personality. He is also a marriage counsellor, even though he isn’t married yet, and just clocked 40 years today, August 12.
In this interview by Legit.ng’s Femi Oguntayo, Ogbolor talks about how he is standing his ground against being stereotyped in the industry and some of the challenges he faces acting an effeminate role in movies. The movie star also touches on why he took a break from being an OAP, among other issues.
“I have got scripts this year wanting me to play Gay role”: Ogbolor on what he has been up to in 2022
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Ogbolor being an all-round entertainer, has revealed to Legit.ng how he has been joggling between acting and comedy in 2022. He has received over 16 scripts this year, wanting him to play the same kind of boy-girl role in the television series – Jenifa’s Diary.
He also revealed that one of them wanted him to play a gay role which he immediately declined. Instead, he explained that he decided to venture into movies this year since he has some time on his hands now that they no longer shoot Jenifa’s Diary like they used to.
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"At the beginning of the year, we started the series – Just Us Girls; it will be a Netflix series which will be out later this year. Other things have been coming, but they are things I don’t think I want to venture in because it seems a lot of producers want me to come and repeat the same thing I have been doing on Jenifa’s Diary.
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“This year alone I have gotten like 16 scripts so far asking me to come play an effeminate role and the 15th one actually wanted me to play a gay role and I just always declined them. Because I think if I am doing that for Jenifa’s Diary, that is enough.”
He also added that aside from receiving those kinds of scripts, he had been very involved in three stage projects, one with Koffi Tha Guru, Yaw and another with a series of Nollywood veterans in the industry.
On why he took a break from being an OAP
Even though many people know him more as an actor and comedian, Ogbolor is also an OAP who anchors many television and radio shows and has done that for more than seven years.
He, however, revealed to Legit.ng that he is staying more focused on acting and comedy than being an OAP these days.
According to him, his acting on stage has been comedy, and he has been going from show to show, cracking jokes and has also been doing his acting.
“The radio thing, I took a break. I was on radio and Tv for like seven years, so I am just taking a break. Though, before the end of the year, I should be going back on TV. What people don’t know is that TV and radio can be so demanding but I just took some break so I can also build on other areas. When I was on TV and radio I was barely doing acting and comedy, now I am focusing a little bit more on those areas,” he said.
Michael Uba speaks on getting stereotyped in the industry and how he got his name Ogbolor
Recently on Instagram, Michael Uba, in a video, ranted over the fear of being stereotyped as playing a particular type of character. When asked if being known for a particular type of role isn’t a special advantage over his contemporaries, he said:
“I don’t think it gives a special advantage actually, yes, it has given me a type of respect in the industry for the actors who see me and say I killed that role and to my comedian friends who see me and say you make us laugh with that thing. But I don’t want to be stereotyped.”
He, however, spoke on the history and how once you are known for a particular role, you wouldn’t be able to play any other role. Ogbolor noted that accepting to play just a particular role every time is restrictive, and one wouldn’t do much until such roles come one’s way.
“What would happen is that they will use you and once they are done using you and nobody wants to put that same character in their movies anymore because the character has been overplayed, then you are stuck. It is wise that you just jump off that boat.”
Speaking on the fact that he plays other characters well, he noted that there was a time on stage when he played the role of an imbecile, and people loved it and told him he killed that role.
“That was where the name Ogbolor came from,” he added.
“Why I will never play a gay role”
For Ogbolor, acting is more than make-belief; he believes acting is also spiritual. As a devoted Christian, the actor said he would not play a gay role no matter the money offered for it.
He also noted that he has his don’ts, and homosexuality is one of them, and he wouldn’t play a role in any movie that promotes it.
“As one who has been in the entertainment industry for a long time, I have learnt a lot. I have learnt to sit down and ask questions, does this align with what I want to achieve or what I want to be remembered as. I am not that actor who really feels because I am an actor and I want to do make-beliefs, we still live in a society that doesn’t understand a lot of things. People could even manage me playing an effeminate role, but I was still called gay by a lot of people,” he said.
Ogbolor also noted that there was a time in the Jenifa Diary series that Funke Akindele had to make sure they included James (his character in the movie) having a girlfriend in the script. So that people will see that the guy was acting like a female but has girlfriends.
“So at some point in the movie, I was dating two different girls. All this was just to water down the idea that this guy is gay. Also it is not an ideology I believe in, I am a Christian first, before anything. A strong one at that, I am not just the Sunday-Sunday attending Christian, like I carry am for head. So, I believe in certain things and I have my don’ts and homosexuality is one of them,” he told Legit.ng.
However, he added that he could still play an effeminate role in movies if the pay is good, even though it would only be a one-time thing. Michael also noted that he wouldn’t act naked because his spirituality would battle with that.
He said: “That doesn’t mean I am spontaneous, I am but there are just some roles I wouldn’t do. But at the same time I would have played other kind of roles too just to create a balance. The kind of society we have, I have seen people turn me down to anchor their event all because they felt this guy is gay or that is naturally effeminate in real life. I have been pulled off events just because of that too. But there are a lot of blessings that have come from playing that role too, which supersedes the challenges.”
Comedian Michael Uba Ogbolor confirms support for Peter Obi
Ogbolor, who is known for his role as James in Jenifa's Diary, during a chat with Legit.ng said he is very 'Obidient' and that Peter Obi is the only hope Nigeria has.
The actor also added that Obi's good works when he was Governor in Anambra State are his antecedents which is why he is supporting him for President.