Despite being a native of Ikom in Cross River State, Ricardo Agbor, has taken to the Yoruba section of Nollywood the way fish takes to water. A leader among crossover acting talents in the land, he spoke with Flora Onwudiwe about his foray into acting and why he has remained relevant till date.
You are a household name today but how did it all start for you as far as acting is concerned?
My romance with the industry started as far back as 1992 when Loe Merenini took me to Fidelis Duker’s offices for an audition for a production that was being done at the time.
That time there was no GSM, so getting information as it is today wasn’t easy. On account of this, I strongly believe that my foray into acting of Nollywood as it were was divinely arranged. But the process was put in motion through a friend of mine that I was coming back with from a modelling audition at the time.
Would you then say your involvement with modelling gave you the expected push when you decided to venture into acting?
It didn’t give me any kind of push, expect that as a model I was better equipped as to what to wear and how to wear it, thereby communicating effectively with my appearance. The only correlation between modelling and acting lies in the fact that both showcase different platforms to make me the cynosure of all eyes whenever I get involved in them and it was very suiting.
But despite being very related sectors, you must have faced some challenges. What initial challenges did you encounter as an actor?
My major challenge was getting my parents to approve my decision to get involved with acting because they thought acting was mainly for loafers. However, I had to take the pains to enlighten them that acting wasn’t demeaning at all as they thought. I had to do this to change their misleading mindset which was very disapproving of anything that has to do with acting. I was very frank in the course of my enlightenment, I told them that I had gone to school and came out as expected.
I made them know that as a result, they should be happy over that and even pray for me in the profession I have chosen. Today, acting is no longer as they thought because I have been able to successfully prove it to them that acting is not for loafers after all.
They have, as a result, taken back their initial wrong beliefs and they are very happy with me as a successful actor now. Today, I am happy about my choice and my parents are very proud of me. I can tell you right away that they now think otherwise about acting.
Many people studied courses that have nothing to do with acting. Is yours similar to what you are doing today?
Oh yes! It is very similar because I read Mass Communication. What we are doing in movies is simply a form of communicating to the masses although it’s is of a different demography. That means some of the members of our audience would be lawyers while we also have doctors, politicians and many brothers.
Did you major in broadcasting which is the closest to the movie industry and what is the effect of that on your career as an actor? First, I would say it has really helped me to deliver my lines clearly, thereby communicating effectively as a role interpreter who actually knows his onions.
Secondly, my majoring in broadcasting has also facilitated my getting more roles and better pay as a professional that I am. What I am doing is to educate, inform and entertain the mass audience through my role as an actor in movies.
How confident are you that you would still be able to do well if you were to leave acting for broadcasting?
Yes, I would if I leave Theatre Arts today because I was trained formally and I thank God that I can speak well as a tutored mass communicator.
Having featured in English and Yoruba movies for a long time, what would you say is the magic of being a successful crossover actor?
All I can say is that I am lucky to have been born in Lagos and raised here too so it is easy for me to speak Yoruba well till date. The same goes for the English language because I went to a school where English was taught with all seriousness and commitment. Although success comes spiritually but it must be back up with handwork but the majority of the success we are talking about here has to do more with the special grace of God.
I want to use my case as a crossover actor to demonstrate this. There is no doubt that there are many crossover actors like me but I may have been given more roles and better days than others.
This is not by my making but by God’s special grace. Aside from this clause, one must learn to be streetwise, that is grabbing and applying some mannerisms popularly with the people. With this well reflected in your acting career, you are bound to be the darling of the producers and directors.
Do Yoruba movies pay as much as the English productions?
Not quite! However, one’s artistic ability plays very important role in either the Yoruba or English movies. I must confess here that most people hardly know that apart from English, I speak Yoruba and that I do it appreciably.
Has your heart been broken before?
Hmm…. I would say for now that I have no heartache.
What heartache I might have had may have to do with things that I can’t help, for instance, I am yet to get certain things or positions which I think is not out of my reach. But with my exposure and social standing, however, I must confess that I don’t really think much about such things because I am one of those who believe in the will of God and of course nobody can change it. That is the simple truth of the matter.
With your stated looks, how do you feel when women appreciate you?
I feel great because women are the thermometers to gauge one’s appreciation or otherwise.