In 1990, Ramsey Nouah kicked off his acting career. He starred as “Jeff Akin-Thomas” in classic TV series, “Fortunes” which aired between 1993 and 1994.
It’s 2018 and Nouah boasts a career that spans decades, with a host of awards and nominations including an Africa Movie Academy Award win, and an Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award nomination.
“I was just passionate. I didn’t realize that I was going to be this famous or this rich. Hallelujah somebody,” Nouah jokes. “That’s why it’s so hard for me to sometimes handle the fame. Usually, I just want to run away.”
Critical acclaim and AMVCA nominations (76, The Figurine) box-office record (30 Days in Atlanta), classics (Dangerous Twins, Power of Love, Silent Night), Nouah has, over the years, remained a relevant actor in the Nigerian film industry.
Nouah attributes his relevance to going with the tide, flowing with the demography of the generation that has been from his time till now, and being selective about the movie roles he went for. Before accepting any role, he considers certain factors: the story, the character and the technical quality of the film. “Then after that, we can start discussing fees, backings and all of that,” he says.”
In 2004, Nouah, alongside seven other actors - Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Richard Mofe Damijo, Genevieve Nnaji, Emeka Ike, Nkem Owoh, Stella Damasus and Jim Iyke - were banned by movie marketers.
According to Nouah, the DVD market was beginning to think that they owned it [all] and could decide to turn someone’s life around, so they [actors and filmmakers] delved into the cinema business, which he described as an alternative market.
“Now the DVD market is almost dead and gone. There’s so much piracy going on there. It’s not a regulated market so even if you make your big movies and you want to take it to DVD, it’s selling little or nothing.”
But, not all films should make it to the cinema. Just like his colleague, Rita Dominic, who recently came under attack for criticizing certain cinema films, Nouah doesn’t think every film should make it to the cinema. “I don’t know why she is getting all the backlash. Now, we are thinking about upgrading Nollywood, we are thinking about making it better, [then] why are we encouraging negative forces dragging it back down?”
Nouah believes that the bad films that make it to the cinema affect the good ones. He says that in an era where there’s YouTube, there’s no excuse to not go through the proper way of filmmaking, cinematography and storytelling.
Influence of Hollywood on career
Nouah remembers watching Hollywood while growing up. A learning curve for him, he cites action heroes such as Sylvester Stallon and Arnold Schwarzenegger as an influence. If he is given a chance, he would love to collaborate with Al Pacino, an actor he describes as “spontaneous.”
He says that with “Godfather,” “Scarface” and “Scent of a Woman,” Al Pacino portrays three distinct characters to show his ‘versatility’ as an actor - something he considers important as an actor.
He loved their work, and when Nollywood started making movies, he hoped that the industry would one day, be as good as Hollywood. Not just in acting, but also with the production quality.
There was no YouTube in the 90s, so Nouah sought out write-ups that would help him understudy how best to upgrade the Nigerian film industry. “So I am one of those people that you could say flew the New Nollywood flag. You know like, ‘let’s do it right, let’s get better,’ ‘let’s move the industry forward.’
Movies he would love to wipe off his IMDB
Just like several other actors, Ramsey Nouah has featured in movies he isn’t proud of. But he wouldn’t mention any titles, he thinks it would hurt the producer if he did.
Most times, he accepts a “bad” role based on sentiments. His friends come up to him and say they want to make a film and they need his help. So he helps.
“We learnt and got burnt in the process. Now I don’t allow friendship and sentiments in work anymore. Because my face is out there and it’s just going to mess up all the stuff I have built all these years.”
So these days, when they come and say ‘ah Ramsey, just do it for us,’ he refers them to his manager.
“It takes away the sentiments and emotional blackmails.”
Off screen, Nouah possesses a persona that is considered private and charismatic. On social media, he is active with over 780 thousand followers on Instagram, yet, for most part of his career, Nouah has successfully kept his private life private.
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In his opinion, he has given all his life to TV and movies and deserves to keep a part of his life private.
Also, the social media world just feels unreal to him: he can’t reach it, he can’t feel it, he can’t touch it. “I I’m more of the real world. I’m more of me and you, the physical .
He doesn’t want to be there, but he doesn’t think he has a choice. So he still finds a way to make sure he ‘touches base and reach out to certain people.”
The social media world is ever buzzing with controversial topics. Recently, it was a conversation about Yahoo boys. Several celebrities joined the conversation, but not Nouah. He rarely shares his opinions online.
According to Nouah, issues such as fraud should be dealt with in a comprehensive manner that takes a lot of things into consideration.
“So if I wanna talk about issues like this, I want to tackle it from the roots and not just tackle it from the stem. If you want us to find ways around it then let us look it from the roots, take it out from there then we can work it out to the stem.”
Nouah is of the opinion that, apart from sharing views online, Nigerians should come together to look for ways to tackle the situation.
Nouah describes his style as simple and sophisticated. He believes one could be sophisticated and simple at the same time.
He doesn’t want to be all in the place. He loves fluidity and doesn’t love to be locked down in so many costume.
“I don’t like to come out looking like a mannequin. I like a situation when I talk, I still have the freedom of movement and gesture, and all of that.”
“I flow all ways. I could do hip hop, but not saggy pants. Moses Inwang does saggy pants,” he jokes about the director of his latest film, “Crazy People.”
In an industry where becoming an A-List actor is a difficult task, Nouah believes there’s no structure to becoming a Genevieve Nnaij, Rita DominiC or RMD.
“Most of all these people that were mentioned weren’t concerned about the money behind it or the fame. They were just concerned about the work and the art.”
When they started, they loved the art and gave it everything they had, irrespective of the money.
For 28 years, Nouah has steadily made an indelible mark on Nollywood by carving out a great career for himself in front of the camera, which provides him all the experience to cement his legacy with a stint behind it.
This article was originally published in Pulse