Desmond Elliot is one of the top talented actors in the Nigerian movie industry popularly called Nollywood. An unassuming and God-fearing person, Desmond is the story of a hardworking and focused young man. With diligence, hardwork and perseverance, his rise to the top was rapid. The boyish-looking and handsome man has acted in so many movies. Some of his works include Magic Moment, Last Oath, True Romance, With Love, and Wild Rose. In this interview, Elliot takes a look at his career, highlighting his strengths, mission and vision.
What were your younger days like?
I remember those years as the good old days. I grew up in Jos. My father was a Civil Engineer, while my mother ran restaurants. While those years were fun and nice, they gradually became tough when depression came into Nigeria and things. It was nice and tough. At a very tender age I became a Christian, which went a long way in controlling me and shaping me into who I have become today. My father is a Yoruba man from Lagos State, while my mother is an Ibo woman from Anambra State. . I had my primary education at Air Force Primary School in Jos, from where I went to St Johnís College, also in Jos. I studied Economics at the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos and graduated in 2003.
Why did you choose to become an actor?
My dream was to go abroad to settle down. I was denied visa then, and so I came to Lagos. While in Lagos, I was jobless, as I really wasnít doing anything tangible. A friend of mine talked me into taking part in movies and I decided to give it a trial. It actually started as a hobby, but today, it is a career. I first started with soap operas such as Everyday People, One Too Much, Wale Adenugaís Super Stories and Saints and Sinners.
How did you meet your wife and what was the attraction for her?
We met in Jos, at fellowship. We were members of the acting group. My wife and I never really liked each other. While she thought I was carefree, I thought she was too much of an introvert. But as time went by, we began to know each other better. It was a gradual process because we started off as friends. Later, one thing led to another and today, here we are as man and wife. I dated my wife for about eight years before we finally got married. My kind of job may have exposed me to the opposite sex but the truth is that my wife means the whole world to me. I appreciate my wife and I married her basically for love and nothing else. She is so understanding and caring. These are the two vital attributes I find lacking in most women of today.
What are her names?
She is Victoria Ima-Obong.
Since she always thought of you as carefree, how does she cope with your acting, especially with you having to kiss other women, which you do quite often?
How will you feel if somebody else kisses your husband? It makes her uncomfortable, but she now knows the tricks behind it and it is not much of a problem now. There are things I do she does not like, even on screen, and she tells me. In all, we always try to arrive at a compromise. That is what life is all about.
What of female admirers?
How does she cope with their advances?Well, thatís one thing that endeared her to me. In my profession, you meet people everyday; male and females alike. While there is no need to be a snub, you also have to be cautious about being over-friendly.
Have you had any embarrassing moment from your female fans?
So many, please donít even go there. So far God has been delivering me and I still pray for his continuous deliverance.
Could you be more specific?
Some ladies call to have a date with you. Some others offer me money just to sleep with them; they make passes at me. Acts like these are embarrassing to me. The point is this, how many fine girls are you going to date? You just stick to the one you love and life would be easier and more enjoyable. Women chase me because I am an actor and if they donít do that, it simply means that I am not yet an actor. In fact, being chased is not the issue, what matters is that whenever I perceive that I am about to be chased, I run. I run because I have an ambition, which I donít want women to ruin for me. I run from them if they want to go beyond the level of being my fans to another level.
Are you serious?Is it that bad?
I just told you.
So, you think it is your being a Christian that has saved you? For those who offer money, I hear the figures are so tempting you young men are hardly able to resist?
God forbid. I am a Christian, I love my wife and children dearly. I am not prepared to jeopardise the peace and love that reigns in my home. For young men who cannot resist these women and their money, good for them. People are different and so our priorities. I had always wanted to settle down from as young as when I was eighteen, but somehow, it didnít happen. I am a strong believer in the family. A man who wishes to succeed in life must keep the home front happy and the way to do so is to flee from temptation.
How would you assess the movie industry?
The fact that the Nigerian movie industry is growing is a positive development. I am grateful to all those that are making it happen such as the marketers, directors, producers and others. Nollywood contributes to the nationís economy because quite a number of people are involved and are earning their livelihood from the industry. The only problem is that our government is yet to fully realise the great economic advantage that lies in tapping into the industry. America and India have tapped into Hollywood and Bollywood respectively and the result is quite rewarding.Government should come and invest in the industry, the marketers have done great jobs by investing their money to prove that the sector is lucrative.
Who would you say has contributed the most to who you have become today?
My talent is a gift from God and whatever comes from God is mine. At the same time, God gave it to me and reserves the right to take it back if you fail to use the gift to make people happy and contribute to the good of humanity.
If you had not become an actor, what would you have been?
How comfortable are you?
I eat everyday, I drink water, I pay my bills, and I also support people whenever I can. I thank God for that.
How do you relax?
I love to stay at home with my family, watching movies. Family time is special and very relaxing.
Which day would you say has been your happiest?
Day, you mean. The day I got married and the day my wife was delivered of our twin sons.