American film writer, Lee Daniels once said, ‘Most actors want the audience to like them, and that leads to bad acting’. Pete Edochie has reached great heights in his career. He enjoys doing what he does best without waiting for the audience to cheer him on. At least not at the age of 72!

On Wednesday, November 6, 2019, Twitter went on fire after a tweet that referred to Pete Edochie, one of Nigeria’s acting veterans, as a ‘bad actor,’ went viral.

ALSO READ: U.S. based Illustrator says Pete Edochie is a bad actor

What informed this submission?

The Academy For Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had, on November 4, disqualified Genevieve Nnaji feature film, 'Lionheart' from potentially getting nominated in the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category at the 2020 Oscars.

‘Lionheart’ was Genevieve’s directorial debut and she also starred in the film alongside popular Nollywood names like Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo O. Kanayo and Nigerian rapper Phyno.  [Instagram/GenevieveNnaji]
‘Lionheart’ was Genevieve’s directorial debut and she also starred in the film alongside popular Nollywood names like Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo O. Kanayo and Nigerian rapper Phyno. [Instagram/GenevieveNnaji]

The news got several Nigerians and non-Nigerian agitated over what should have been Nigeria’s first representation at the widely accepted movie awards.

As the dust was clearing off, the seething anger in Nigerians was re-ignited when a tweet claimed Edochie's acting abilities is poor in a bid to point out that most Nigerian films are bad and couldn’t make it to the Oscars. The Twitter user went further to berate some Nigerian filmmakers saying there’s no visible film ready for Oscars in Nollywood.

In the heat of her rant, the Twitter user opined that Pete Edochie was a bad actor because he's been playing the same role his entire life - a statement which is in its entirety wrong and false.

The same personality insisted that all Edochie does is dropping proverbs in his dialogues and this made me wonder if the old man decides what dialogue he gets for any movie role. Obviously no. If the script requires him to make use of proverbs in interpreting roles, it's only professional that he does just that. If his ability to use these proverbs well sits with his age, well, it's just an added advantage and he should not be held responsible for neither his age or the good use of proverbs in interpreting roles as demanded of him.

Zulu Adigwe and Pete Edochie on the set of Forbidden Land
Zulu Adigwe and Pete Edochie on the set of Forbidden Land

Was the criticism right?

Every individual has a right to his or her opinion on any issue irrespective of how vast the individual is on the subject matter. Hence, the right to an opinion or submission of who and what makes a good actor.

Again, some of the points raised for this submissions are largely hinged on being stereotyped and remained complacent having done the same thing for more than three decades.

Pete Edochie in 'Things Fall Apart'
Pete Edochie in 'Things Fall Apart'

The submission was further backed up with the suggestions that at his (Edochie) age and his level of acting seniority, he has the luxury and power to cherry-pick his roles yet he keeps acting the same old tired chief with no personality variation whatsoever shows that he's lazy and mostly talentless.’

This, I find disrespectful to a man who defined his career at a young age by playing the role of Okonkwo in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s all-time best selling novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’.

Edochie’s interpretation isn’t just one of a kind, it was a class act that got international recognition from the British Broadcasting Service that flew into Nigeria to interview him for the role that gave him his first moniker, ‘Ebubedike’.

Pete Edochie wasn’t the only actor that went for the casting of the role, as a matter of fact, he was a young broadcaster, who combined per time acting with his job at Anambra Broadcasting Service. So, this means, he was talented and good to have landed the role.

Since the emergence of the new Nollywood in the early 90s, Pete Edochie has been one of the favourite actors that worked hard to make a name in their chosen career.

Pete Edochie  takes up the role of a soldier in a Nollywood film and he neither used proverbs nor acted like an old chief.
Pete Edochie takes up the role of a soldier in a Nollywood film and he neither used proverbs nor acted like an old chief.

With a filmography of over 200 films, it is imperative to note that Nollywood - most especially the new Nollywood - has a way of stereotyping talents and limiting their abilities to reach their full potentials in the make-believe world.

And this was well pointed out by a Twitter user, who think it’s Nollywood that stereotypes talents. The Twitter user further said if you start your acting carrier as a funny gateman, chances are those are the only kind of scripts you’d get. And before they know it, they don’t see themselves in any other kinds of roles.

Pete Edochie has immersed himself in his roles over and over again but again, he’s only an actor and not a director. He is directed on how best to interpret his roles. How do you suddenly conclude that a man who knows his onions is a bad actor when he has a bad director, who can’t take charge of the set. 

Either he claims seniority or not, he didn’t ask to be born in 1947 and he should command the same respect Morgan Freeman will command as a thespian in the environment where he has thrived.