Nkechi Chima Onyele, Abuja
Pope Obumneme Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope, is one of the regular faces in the wave making NTA sitcom, Professor Johnbull, where he plays the professor’s son.
Tall, intelligent and good-looking, the father of two made his debut in Secret Adventure, a movie directed by Tchidi Chikere in 2007. The University of Nigeria Accounting graduate, who is married to his soul mate, Jennifer Awele, in this chat speaks on his acting career, family and the many evils of Nollywood.
Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I am Junior Pope Odowondo. I hail from Ukehe, Nsukka, Enugu State. I was born into a family of 10, five boys and three girls. I am the sixth child of the family of Chief Luke Odonwodo. My mother has been living in America for sometime now with my siblings.
What was your growing up like?
I was born on May 7, 1984 in Bamenda, Cameroun. I attended both primary and secondary schools in Cameroun before relocating to Nigeria. My father taught me how to be a hustler while my mother trained me to be a gentleman. However, growing up in Cameroun was fun; I grew up in a loveable family where my older siblings supported our parents. My father is a disciplinarian. During my university days, I did some terrible things but my father’s words of advice kept me focused; it restricted me from not going against the law despite the pressure of youthful exuberance.
How did your foray into acting begin?
After my graduation, I started my acting career in Enugu. I must appreciate my inspiring director, Tchidi Chikere, for believing in my ability. He gave me the platform to actualise my dream by casting me for my first lead role in Deeper Than Faces, a mind-blowing movie that brought me into the limelight.
Having studied Accounting, do you regret not practicing what you studied in school?
No! I don’t have any regret because I loved calculation as a child and also had flare for acting. So, I feel fulfilled accomplishing both in life. However, my certificate and experiences in Accounting have helped me succeed as an actor and in life generally. And I’m happy to have achieved my destiny because my desire while growing up was to put my name in the world book not just Nollywood. I thank God for all His mercies and grace; it could only be by His grace that my dreams are coming to reality.
You rapped in one of Tchidi Chikere’s songs; do you have any plan of going into music?
Music is part of entertainment. If I have a good platform and there is an opportunity of veering into music, I will, because it’s part of my job.
How did you meet your wife?
I met my wife on Facebook. We started chatting on Facebook; she started by appreciating my works and we gradually became friends. It’s written that ‘men are moved by what they see and women are moved by what they hear’ so, I saw this angel and immediately I told God that this lady is mine. Thereafter, we started dating. Luckily, she lives in Asaba, Delta State. Honestly, with the kind of life in Nollywood, you wouldn’t want to marry, thinking you still have time for worldly enjoyment. I always tell people that devil is the king of Nollywood, because of the atrocities being committed in the industry. It is in Nollywood you see high level of homosexuality and lesbianism. There is no kind of evil that you wouldn’t see in the industry. But I thank God we eventually got married and have lived happily together.
How long have you been married now?
We got married on July 26, 2014. We have been enjoying a blissful union, blessed with two lovely sons, and we hope to continually celebrate many more happy years in marriage.
You play Professor Johnbull’s son in the popular NTA sitcom, Professor Johnbull, could you tell us more about your involvement in the production?
It’s a wonderful experience featuring in the sitcom produced by Globacom. I thank God for being part of the lead characters in Professor Johnbull and it’s a good development for my career, because it helps to break barriers and open more doors for me, as well as add to my worth as a celebrated actor. I must appreciate my good-natured director, Tchidi Chikere, for his benevolence and contributions towards my career, and I also appreciate Globacom for this opportunity. However, I enjoy playing in the sitcom because it’s educative, inspiring and captivating. In fact, the sitcom challenges me as an actor, it exposes me to the lifestyle of Nigerians, and most importantly, to the lessons on how to improve our lives as citizens and make Nigeria a greater nation for everyone.
Could you tell us about your fatherhood experiences?
Fatherhood is a wonderful experience. I thank God for blessing me with children. As a father, you don’t think like a child or bachelor but as a responsible man. You have to do everything within your reach to make your children better persons in the society. Though, fatherhood also has its challenges, sometimes I ask how people like my parents reared over eight children. I always celebrate them whenever I look at those challenges. I also celebrate the woman in my life for making my family peaceful and fun.
How do you relax?
When I’m not working, I hang out with my family. I take them to recreational centers, and sometimes we party together.
What would be your advice to the up and coming actors?
I will advise them to get the basic training before venturing into acting. Though, you may not necessarily study Theatre Arts, you need to be knowledgeable in your roles interpretations. Also, you need basic education to be able to speak fluent English. And for the young ones in the profession, you must remain focused, determined, courageous and hard working to get to the peak of the career.