Desmond Elliot is one of the top Nigerian actors in Nollywood and not only does he act Elliot has also secured a place as a top director, he has starred in over two hundred films and a number of television shows and soaps. On Saturday 22nd October we saw the release of his new move Kiss and Tell which he both acted in and directed. I got a chase to catch up with him the next day for a exclusive one on one interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAB – I hope you’re enjoying your stay in the UK?

Desmond Elliot – Yes, it has been ok so far. I don’t really come to the UK unless to work.

 

FAB – Which country do you travel to the most?

Desmond Elliot – America as it’s always a place where I can just relax. But I also have business to do there too.

 

FAB – A lot of people see you on their screens not knowing who you are. Who is the real Desmond Elliot?

Desmond Elliot – Well I come from a big family of 11 children, my Dad had 2 wives, I am the 6th but the first from my Mum. I’m married with 4 beautiful children.

 

FAB – When you’re not working, what do you spend your time doing?

Desmond Elliot – I’m just at home, as I’m mostly filming or travelling it’s a opportunity for me to just chill and be with my family.

 

FAB – You graduated in ‘Economics’ at the Lagos State University, so what made you want to become an actor?

Desmond Elliot – well actually I started to act before I even started at Lagos university so it was also there but my main goal at that time was to be in the banking sector, to me acting was always just a hobby rather than the career it is right now. I never thought it would be my main career. I just thought I would do acting on the side just for the fun of it.

 

FAB – What did your parents think about you becoming an actor?

Desmond Elliot – well from the start my dad loved everything. Everything I was doing was just ok by him. My mum though, she had more of the let’s wait and see kind of attitude. One day it got to a point where she called me and said “you are just going out in the morning and coming back late at night”, she had not seen a film or any acting job so she was like am I sure I know what I am doing?! It’s just been a wonderful time but of course there were struggles that they saw, but are glad I have pulled out of them.

 

FAB – In 2001 you ventured into soap operas and T.V series such as Everyday PeopleSuper Story and Saint and Sinners. Would you say that those are the soaps that brought you into the limelight?

Desmond Elliot – Yes of course – I did those as I thought I needed the experience, and series and soaps provided that platform to learn more about acting and being certain characters, so it was just perfect for me before moving onto film.

 

FAB – Yesterday was the premiere for Nollywood movie Kiss and Tell, which was wonderfully directed by you. How did the direction come together?

Desmond Elliot – The movie was one of those scripts that while reading I really, really enjoyed. I was only supposed to direct only but when I read it I had to act as well. I loved the war of words and the exchange of words that the characters used – it was brilliantly written. I wasn’t totally satisfied with certain things like location and where we shot but those are little Nigerian factors that unfortunately we can’t help right now. It’s always difficult to get certain locations and record. I do wish that the locations were a lot better and talking from a technical point of view, if we did get the locations that we originally wanted then I think the movie would have been more out of this world. But still, it was well received both in London and America, which is good.

 

FAB – What would you say were your weakest and strongest points when directing Kiss and Tell?

Desmond Elliot – The strengths I think were the actors – having an assembly of good actors worked – also as the script was so strong it helped me interpret what myself and the producer were trying to portray. Weaknesses would be that technically I needed more movement but I was incapacitated because most of the sets were really small so we could hardly move with the equipment. We had to do more of a still chase instead of moving pictures. Another weakness was trying to act and direct, as it’s almost impossible to do both at the same time. At times it felt like both parts were suffering due to this.

 

FAB – In Kiss and Tell you played Bernard, an arrogant, funny and bold character who never liked loosing anything. Is Bernard a character that you could related to?

Desmond Elliot – No, I have no relation at all with him (laughs). I don’t even think I can be friends with someone like him. For one, I don’t kiss and tell.

 

FAB – So you don’t mind loosing certain things?

Desmond Elliot – If I see a game from afar and I can smell that I am going to lose, I don’t even go into that game. So I don’t even try if I foresee any form of loss.

 

FAB – Who would you say has been the biggest influence in your life?

Desmond Elliot – Wow, honestly I can’t even think right now. I mean, while growing in the industry I used to look up to Alan D, not that I don’t look up to him now – I still do, but in terms of influences… Ok well, amazingly, when I look at someone like Donald Trump, my mind keeps going back to him as in his nature, his feisty nature and his personality towards business. I think any time I enter new projects I try to be like that. So in a way, indirectly he kind of influences me. I listen to a lot of his interviews and the way he talks, he has a commanding presence. I’m not saying that is a positive thing for me but I try to go into his mind and wonder what makes him say and do the things he does. So yeah let’s stick with Trump.

 

FAB – Who out of the Nollywood actors and actresses would you say you get along with the most?

Desmond Elliot – There is a lot of them but I would say Uche Jombo is one friend and sister that I move along well with. Also Ini (Edo) – we fight a lot but we are still very close. Monalisa (Chinda), Genevieve (Nnaji), and Ramsey (Nouah) is my grooviest pal.

 

FAB – You are married to Victoria Imabong with four beautiful children. How have you managed to handle travelling, work and your family all at the same time?

Desmond Elliot – Well it’s a two-way thing that you can’t handle alone. You will always need the love, blessing and understanding of your spouse. And in my case (my wife) has been more than unbelievable. Because at some points you ask yourself ‘how am I going to tell my wife that I have to travel again’ – sometimes I find myself waiting till the last minute to gesture it or you try to down play it in your head; you think of a trip and say ‘oh I’m going to South Africa but before that I have to stop in London first and on the way back I need to have a meeting at so and so place’.

 

FAB – Do you and your wife plan on having more children?

Desmond Elliot – Definitely, I want to have a big family, so thinking 7. But not now, when my wife is more rested and the kids are grown more and also when I have more money just so I can give them all the best. I love kids so yes, definitely we’ll have more.

 

FAB – How does your wife cope with your female fans?

Desmond Elliot – Oh she is cool, very cool. She has other things to think about like work and the children, so, she won’t start bothering herself about who is calling me and who is not calling. She trusts me and knows I’m cool.

 

FAB – What has been the most surprising thing that a fan has ever done?

Desmond Elliot – I think just travelling from a different county to another just to attend a show I find quite amazing. Actually, there was an elderly Nigerian man on Saturday after the Kiss and Tell premiere that stopped me and said “I don’t watch no other African film accept for the ones you are in.” His wife was there, and DJ Abass who was also there, turned to the guy and said “hmm well I’m sure that’s what you tell everybody,” and the guy said “no, ask my wife.” His wife then nodded in agreement (laughs). The guy said to me that he was meant to go out with his family but at the last minute he said he was not going when he found out about the movie premiere. He said he liked the movie so much that he could watch it 10 times over! Even DJ Abass at the end said “that man was so lovely.” Yes, so to see elderly people to come out and show that kind of support, it really and truly is amazing.

 

FAB – What do you see yourself doing in 10 years time? Acting, producing or directing?

Desmond Elliot – I want to be seen as one of the best and greatest distributors of African film in Africa.

 

FAB – Do you plan to make Nigeria your retirement home or do you plan on relocating to another country, like America, seeing as you travel a lot there for holidays?

Desmond Elliot – No, No, No… the thing is, I love the states as I like to relax there, rest, vacation and meet a lot of people from different countries, but there is just no place like Nigeria; it’s so unique. The only problem we have in Nigeria is our political climate. Nigerian leaders are not concerned with putting all the resources together to make Nigeria that much better. I mean, the leaders of today are much better, so there’s more that they can do, as the country they met was really bad. Trying to fix the nation is going to be a very slow process. But, imagine a Nigeria with great leaders; it will be even more unique. I’m one of the greatest ambassadors of this country! (Laughs).

 

FAB – So will you do the Arnold Schwarzenegger thing and be the next actor turned governor?

Yeah sure, I have that in mind, but I work with God and wherever he directs me, I’ll just take it.

 

FAB – Where do you see the Nigerian film industry in the next 10 years?

Desmond Elliot – With more cinemas and more technical work being done with the films, we should be seeing the next Hollywood.

 

FAB – Do you have any upcoming movies that are going to be directed by you?

Desmond Elliot – Yes, with The Stables of Royal Africa and we’ve just finished a movie called Weekend Getaway, which has a fusion of very experienced actors and also new and up-coming actors, which I liked. It also has actors from the UK like Bobby Obodo, Beverly Naya and Uru Eke. It’s a very wonderful script and a feel good movie – I am directing in this movie only so didn’t make the mistake of acting at the same time. I have also finished co producing and directing a film with Caroline Danjuma called In the Cupboard, which stars Alexx Ekubo, Uti Nwachukwu and Ini Edo, and a array of very new actors as well. This movie will be premiering in the US and the UK next year, then Nigeria eventually.

 

FAB – What advice would you give to people trying to break into the acting industry?

Desmond Elliot – Just be good, focused, disciplined and also work on your character art. For people coming from other countries to do African movies, then you also need to work on how to speak like an African as well – that is very important because the audience will be African so they need to familiarise and understand what you are saying.

 

FAB – Where will you be heading to after leaving London?

Desmond Elliot – I go to the states to rest for a week then I am back in London, then finally after that back home to Nigeria.

 

FAB – Do you want to say anything to your fans?

Desmond Elliot – To all my fans, thank you for watching my films and supporting me and also for your criticisms – I have taken them on board, as I try to make you happy. I pray that God blesses us all and you notice the growth in Nollywood as we try to aspire higher.

FABulous Jumoke with the dreamy Desmond Elliot at the Kiss and Tell premiere

 

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