Actor and Producer, Keppy Ekpenyong-Bassey sits with Chude Jideonwo host of #WithChude to discuss his career in acting, and how his relationship with his parents formed the kind of father he is.
“As a little boy, I wanted to be a soldier, a doctor (just like my father). When I became an actor, I realized that I have accomplished everything. I have been a doctor, soldier and everything. Becoming an actor has been a fulfilling part of my life. And because I find so much joy, I seem to be ever there. There are no regrets, even when there were down times, I am still up there because it is always what I wanted to do. Acting has taken me through real-time. Everything culminates in that career, everything we have ever done culminates when we are transitioning from one character to another.”
Speaking further on how his career in acting kicked off, he shared, “Tade Ogidan and I were from the same hood. He has always been a big brother in my life. He just saw me and said, ‘come and play armed robber for me’. What polished me was acting in Ripple (Zeb’s Ejiro’s film). It ran for 5 years on the network from 1987. It ran at a time when NTA was the only TV on the continent of Africa. So, all over Africa, you had to watch us. We all became part and parcel of it because we all invested our life in our character, and we also sowed a lot into the production. That was Kenneth Okonkwo’s first acting experience, he came in as my co-pilot. The time he came in, he was shaking, but by the time we built him through, his first excitement was when Kenneth Nnebue called him to play the role he played on ‘Living in Bondage’. He was paid 500 naira for that role. On his way back from the east, he said everyone on the night bus recognized him on Ripples. He couldn’t believe the power of the media.”
Keppy also shares on his time in theatre, “When I got into NTA for my youth service, I met Fred Amata, Dede Mabiaku, Patrick Oke, Olisa Adibua, RMD, quite the same kind of people. The misconception is that the theatre offers a kind of release from incubation. The training for most people helps them to be more comfortable with people. In being more comfortable, a lot of traditional postures were broken, you were not conscious or pretentious. Then we could dare to wear clothes that show parts of our body because they were costumes, and we were not the characters. But the audience didn’t know this, if they did, that conception wouldn’t have come up at all. We need to be able to help people redefine their perception”.
Keppy also shared his relationship with his parents and how it influences him in life and parenting, “I remember my mum and dad in everything I do. They were and are still present in everything we do. In my formative years, we had a very cordial relationship. My father was someone who would scold you and cry as he’s spanking you; ‘why did you do that, you shouldn’t do this’ and then he was a military officer. We had guards at the gate and everything, and then when he spanks his kids, he’s the one crying, but we had that kind of interactive relationship. My mum was a rascal, everybody knew, even my friends knew till tomorrow. When I was in the University and she’ll come visit, she’ll come with bottles of brandy, rolls of cigarettes. She’ll sit down with us. Because I lived off campus, she’ll light a stick of cigarette and call everybody, ‘come let’s drink’. So, it was easy to speak with my parents, it was fun. On many of those occasions I have had discussions that have formed my life. Now I’m grown, I have children of my own and then we have some of their friends stay over and they think it’s easier to speak with us than their folks and I don’t understand how it works in other homes. Because with my kids, my son can walk up to me and pull my ears and say, ‘old man with your big ears’ and I wouldn’t think anything about it. But there are some people who see it and they cringe, and they are afraid because they can’t and wouldn’t dare relate with their folks that way. We also have come to find out that if you close doors of communication between you and your children, you’ll be really shocked at who you think your children are because they would hide behind those closed doors, and you don’t want to know when you get in. There is no book for parenting, you have to form your path as you go.
Watch the excerpt here