“Hello” If there was ever some doubt in my heart, that the number I had gotten earlier may not be the right one, the voice cleared it. It was the vibrating deep tone that is unmistakably his. Ken Erics. He was on the other end of the line speaking easily but not without influence. The sky outside was brighter than a normal rainy night. “I actually saw your missed call… I’m on set. I will get back to you as soon as I can.” He said through a line that was heavily broken. I imagined him to be in a remote village somewhere, shooting the next big epic movie.
Days later when he was finally able to, he did not delay in letting me know that he is just a regular guy who happens to be an actor,…a Singer,…a Keyboardist…and a Guitarist, who runs a band.
Is that regular?
“There is nothing much to me, aside from the fact that I followed my dreams.” He insisted.
Actor Ken Erics’ appreciation for the arts can be traced to when he was six years old, and found himself always drawn to watching performances. That early exposure to theater made a huge impression on his young mind and roused an interest in him that keeps feeding itself with each production he works on or is exposed to. Now his life revolves around art and for that he is grateful.
“I am grateful that I am able to live my dream. And follow that which I’ve always been passionate about.” He said. “I am not much of an extrovert” he told me later, explaining his predisposition to keep a low profile.
Ken Erics’ full name is Ekenedilichukwu Ugochukwu Eric Nwenweh. He started singing at 13 and made his acting debut, playing three scenes as a medical Doctor, in a movie directed by Chris Ubani, in 2001. His next big opportunity did not happen until 2006, in Teco Benson’s ‘Silence Of The Gods’. But before that, he had been in another Teco Benson directed production; ‘Danger Signal’, a role he got after travelling all night, as an extra in a bus to Lagos, for the audition.
I asked Mr. Ken what his perspectives about life have been, as he maneuvered his way to living his dreams and he told me he’s always taken things as they come. “I have learnt in this life to not just be contented with what is at my disposal but also to take life as it is. And be positive. ‘Be positive’ is my watchword. I hate negativity. If I find any around me, I silence it or basically just leave the environment.” He said.
“Also, I think whatever you give the world is what you get back. Whatever you put in the world is what you get back. So I see the world as a place where you come and be the best of your kind: Touch lives. Inspire people. Help people to achieve their goals in any way that you can. Teach those you can teach. Or whatever you can do. You can never tell who is watching, and taking note. Or what that little help you rendered can do in someone’s life…I learnt quite early in life that you can’t have all you want. But if you work hard you can have all you need. So, I believe in hard work. I believe in diligence. I’m not one to cut corners. And it has never failed me.” He added.
But as with every worthwhile venture, Mr. Ken has encountered very high mountains and terribly low valleys. While the details of those moments are not clear, he told me he has always made sure to pick himself up and keep “trudging forward”. “If I don’t do it, nobody will do it for me.” He said. “Life is a challenge. So, don’t be frail in your approach. Don’t let disappointment weigh you down. Believe in God. I believe in the power of prayer. It is very effective… Ultimately, there is no challenge, thrown at you in this world that you cannot overcome if you put your mind to it. Everything depends on how you see it.”
Therefore Mr. Ken sees challenges as opportunities to learn. And learn he has. “I’ve learnt in this life to never be that person that caused another person pain or caused someone to fail. Not a lot of people are kind. You are forced to always expect the worst from people. I’ve come across people who just want to wreak havoc and diminish others; People who are looking for the failures and mistakes of others, to capitalize on. I am not about that life. I have learnt to not be that person. All I want to do is channel my energies to positivity and the advancement of human kind. I think our focus should be posterity, lending a helping hand, touching lives and spreading love. Nothing beats love in this world. Love is the basis of life. It can produce all the right results we want. And that way we will have a better world.” He declared.
So in spite of his humble beginning, Mr. Ken will choose love over money or anything else at any time, because he doesn’t think that anything else can make anyone truly happy. His point of view on that is that “A lot of people think they will be much happier when they have more money, but that’s an error. The only thing that can give you genuine happiness is love for yourself and your fellow human. Have an open and clean heart toward others. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t mete out what you don’t want because it will feed right back to you. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try and understand what people are going through…life puts us through stuff and we need one another to go through these nights when they happen…”
In consideration to fan admiration, Mr. Ken said, “Why would anybody want to be me or anyone else? Every human has a unique personality. And there is a special gift, God has placed inside of you to share with the world that nobody else has. Our gifts and talents may be similar but they are also unique. I don’t encourage people to want to be like anybody else. Rather I say maximize your own potentials. Reach into your recesses and know what sparks a fire in you. When you find that thing, go for it. Give it all the dedication it requires. If you need to study for it, do so. Learn and learn about it some more. Read voraciously. That is what I do. I implore anyone who has an interest in anything, to keep at it. Don’t give up. One day one day, you will be glad you held on.”
He went further to, generously, offer tips to becoming a great actor. His communication was put across this way;
“…I don’t judge people. Instead, I try to find out what is driving a person’s actions. That will give me an inroad into who a person is, what factors shaped them into who they have become. That way I get to understand them. This is what has been helping me a lot as an actor, because there is always a reason for an action…I don’t just pick up a script and act what is written. I try to find out the background story of a character. And where there is none, I build one up from what I have read. That is why I study people a lot, because one day I may need something I learnt from them.”
Also, “I’ve always known that art is my calling. I knew I had the talent. I knew if I tried I could, but I needed to sharpen and learn more about it. Therefore, I studied Theater Arts at the University. Went further and studied Theater and Film studies at the Masters level. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD. For me, I always want to align myself with the things that will make me who I want to be…So go for it so long as it is legal.”
Should women also go for it?
“Women are doing great things in different areas of life. That should teach us to respect them. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to work, access to the basic things of life. Give everyone a level playing ground to be who they want to be. Don’t demean anybody or relegate anybody to the background…because of their gender.”
That means he is a feminist then. I assumed. And he told me,
“The truth is, I don’t know what feminism is. I don’t quite understand the concept.” But he understands the importance of anti-malaria drug to our continent, though, as he is an ambassador of a brand of antimalarial medication.
In the final analysis, Mr. Ken is very happy that he has fans who support his work.
“…That, I don’t take for granted…” he said. “I have been lucky!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t know how big I could be or how much impact my work would have on people. All I had was a dream. Sometimes I don’t feel I am worthy of these but somehow God just decides to do things through me and I hope it continues that way.”