Emmanuel Ikubese is known as Mr. Nigeria and one of the new faces in the movie industry. From schooling in Kenya and doing MC and DJ to becoming a showbiz personality, the graduate of international relations has done well for himself winning the maiden Mr. Nigeria contest in 2014 and runner-up to the Mr. World contest. The model cum actor speaks to SAMUEL ABULUDE on his modeling career, pet project and the entertainment industry
You’ve added acting to your career being on the SHUGA drama series and other movie productions, how has it been?
Life has been fantastic, coming from Kenya to Nigeria trying to find my ground in the showbiz industry; it’s really been a journey. Huge thanks to ‘Mr. Nigeria’ who gave me a platform and going further to meet the world where I became the first Africa to become Mr. World Africa and coming back and being involved with an amazing project like Shuga. In fact, being part of Shuga is actually one thing that helped me with my campaign on domestic violence because I felt that if we can achieve success in Shuga while campaigning for HIV and AIDS, success can also be achieved in domestic violence. I have seen how much Shuga has helped in creating awareness and how much it has educated people towards stigmatization people have on victims of HIV. So, I am trying to use the same approach for RAW. I want something that will immortalize me when and no more.
Starting a career in Kenya and later coming back to Nigeria, how was it like?
It’s really tough. I finished school in 2010 and I was acting, hosting event, organizing shows and many more. I had a career, a very big one in Kenya. So I was like if I had to give up all of these to come back to Nigeria, then I have to be sure that I already have a place. So, I come home every December and try my luck and just see what is going on. But if it’s not worth it, I run back to Kenya. By 2015, Shuga was launched and by the third season, it was getting a lot of momentum as people actually got to know me. So, I decided to take advantage of that and it gave me couple of roles in movies until Mr. Nigeria came. My fear was what people would say if I don’t win it. But I prayed about it and it come to pass as He crowned my efforts. Regarding my acting career, I’ve done a couple of movies. I have worked with Hakeem Kae Kazeem. There is another great movie coming out in December. I always choose the kind of people I work with; I don’t just jump into any movie role.
After you were crowned winner in Mr. Nigeria contest and emerged as the first runner-up at the Mr. World competition, what are you doing to give back?
I am pushing the “Project Respect A Woman” (RAW). A lot of people don’t understand what it is being a Mr. Nigeria or Mr. World. It is about you contributing. It’s the platform that gives you the opportunity to contribute. All the Mr. Germany, Mr. Mexico and many more have their own contributions. It’s all about charity and how you can shed light on something that is really affecting people. Project Raw is a campaign on domestic violence against women which can be divided into three categories – Awareness, Help and Advocacy. The Awareness is to make people especially women aware of the project RAW, because most women are still not aware that there are things to be put in place for victims of domestic violence, places where they can go and get help and many more. We are trying to create awareness in that area to make people understand that it’s not really their fault whenever they find themselves as victims. The ‘Help’ is aimed at having a rehabilitation home where we can have councillor to assist victims of domestic violence by talking to them and get them back into the right shape of mind, while the ‘Advocacy’ is the campaign which we intend to work with law enforcement agencies that would help bring justice to victims in the hands of the perpetrator. We are also going to partner with the media who will also assist to bring it to the light of the public and we will also be organizing ‘RAW Day’ across all major schools and university campuses in the country.
Why the Project RAW?
It’s the fact that I have always been very passionate about the issue of domestic violence. Funny enough, people usually ask me whether I have ever been in such a situation. But I have actually been around people who are victims of domestic violence. I have seen a whole lot. I just felt something needs to be done. I have never seen my dad beat my mum or abuse her physically, it has never happened. Those are the things I think we need to begin to imbibe among our friends and also teach the kids. I think this will really help our society. A man needs to let people know the danger of domestic violence; both as a man and as a woman. There are a lot of dangers in it, you can kill someone in the process and that’s the more reason the campaign has kicked off.
So the slogan ‘Run Away’ is a way of saying women should avoid been killed?
Yes. ‘Run Away’ for me is more for the younger people because if he persists in violating you, run away. Though we are trying to see how we can put things in place like it’s been done abroad. In abroad, you can’t hit your wife because there are laws that guard them. We need to adopt this in our society to protect our younger ones. Definitely, once we get the Project RAW right and get balanced here in Nigeria, we intend to take it across African countries because domestic violence is not just in Nigeria only, it’s something that affects everyone globally; in Africa and outside Africa. We will do it the same way Shuga was done across the African countries. The women also have roles to . because there are certain things that the women need to understand too. Though women have very strong verbal powers that trigger a lot of things out of a man, these are the things that women need to understand and begin to put to check. Atvthe same time, we need to let a man understand that no matter what, men are supposed to be in control, and not made to hit or beat a woman. Men are meant to protect a woman. No matter what my mum does to me, you cannot slap her because of the respect you have for her. So if a man can’t do that to his mum, why will he do it to the mother of his children?
How come you are into entertainment business despite studying international relations?
I started my career as a model in Kenya, though it was hustling. I did that to reduce the financial burden of my parent. I started modeling, worked as a DJ, and so on. I think I emulated my mum because she’s an MC, she hosts events. I learnt how to DJ while I was doing stuff with her during my holidays. I use to Dj all Nigerian music in Kenya because there is no Nigerian song in Kenya. I did that for a while before I started organizing events, performing and I eventually started making my own music. I released an album, I did songs with top Kenyan artiste, and I even did a song with Timaya and anytime Nigerian artistes are in Kenya to perform, I usually perform last. So, that’s how I met a lot of them – Wizkid, Banky, D’Banj, P’Square and many more.
Did you dump music for acting because you are seen in the industry as a model and actor?
I tried my music at a particular time; I spent a lot of money with the wrong people which didn’t work out. Whenever I come to Nigeria to put in my best and wasn’t yielding any result. I ran back to Kenya, but now I’m trying to restrategise on my music career.