If you aren't familiar with Nigerian names, then not for once would you ever doubt that Mawuli Gavor is a Nigerian. The Ghanaian actor has over the last few years been able to fit perfectly into the already highly competitive Nollywood industry.
The actor recently starred in the movie 'Joseph' with Jamaican movie star, Kevoy Burton and the two gave a flawless interpretation of their roles in the movie. The movie gives an in-depth on what it means for one to leave their overprotective parents and do what exactly they find fulfilling. Obviously, the two had an amazing 'bromance' during the shooting of the movie.
We had the chance to speak with the seeming ladies men at our studio on Monday, January 27, 2020, where they both got to talk about the movie and their newfound friendship. We also got to chat about Kevoy's future plans in Nollywood.
The first thing I wanted to find out from both actors was how they felt when the script for 'Joseph' was first handed to them. According to Mawuli, it came as surprised to him when he received the call to come to Jamaica to shoot a Jamaican movie.
"It was confusing, I have to be honest because I got the call from Jamaica, you know...you get a call from Jamaica to come feature in a film in Jamaica. Not to come feature in a Nigerian movie that is been shot in Jamaica but a Jaimaca film and am I how did you find me? I guess the internet and they must have watched some of my films.
"So it was fascinating that our work, what we are doing in Nollywood is going so far that there is an appreciation of it from the other side of the world. So for me, that was the initial reaction like this is crazy, Nollywood is going really far, so I was grateful. It started as an idea then we discussed it a long time ago then we managed to pull it together with some amazing partners and here we are," he said.
For Gavor who is visiting Africa for the first said the moment he was told he would be travelling down to the continent, he was sold on the script. According to him, he didn't even need to read the script as he was too excited about travelling to Africa to turn it down.
"My very first excitement came from going to Africa, from knowing that I was coming to Africa. I heard it was Ghana and I didn't have to read the script to accept. So my manager called me and she said, there is this film you have to audition for and it's about going to Ghana and I was like Ghana! I have always heard of Ghana on the Internet but I have never been to Africa, so coming to Africa is beautiful.
"Another is that when I read the script it was about a different character. Because Jamaica has this prototype, I won't call it a prototype but its always someone trying to make it from either music, from the ghetto, they have to face some type of adversity, from poor backgrounds etcetera etcetera...and this is a doctor who is from an affluent family, he has enough money to move to Africa and trace his roots and find his origin. It was beautiful so I just accepted," he said.
Mawuli plays the role of a Ghanaian living in Jamaica who helps a friend through the journey of travelling back to Africa to discover his roots. I asked the actor how he felt telling the African story in the movie.
"The interesting part about this movie is that it wasn't about necessarily about Ghana per se. It was about Africa, it was about the connection to Africa, Ghana just happened to be the place we used to showcase that thing. It's not just Ghana that Jamaicans are largely from but West Africa and all around Africa. Obviously, it is impossible to shoot in all these countries. So for me, it was not just representing Ghana but representing entire Africa. We are not just saying come back home to Africa, but the fact is we are linked period. It's just a fact that we were literally transported from one side and dropped on the other side.
"When I was on the other side I noticed that we are literally the same. Apart from the fact that we talk alike, we listen to the same type of music, we have the same affinity for dance, we do the same type of bad activities, we like to indulge in some natural remedies (General laughter). So it was interesting to see how similar it is, that was like the interesting part, trying to portray Africa in that way to show that I'm representing a continent to pull this guy who is in the Caribbean who wants to find his roots and Oya na let's bring him home," he said.
Kevoy's first stint in a Nollywood movie saw him star along with some of the biggest names in the Industry. So I asked him how he felt about filming with some of the biggest names in the industry.
"I googled all my cast members (Laughter) and these guys are huge. I mean the thing is there are really cool people. It's an honour to work with these guys. They are the big names, they are young people who are doing well, they are the ones who are making waves in Nollywood in Nigeria, in Ghana and everywhere. And so for me it was huge, but it turns out that they are really really cool people," he said.
Mawuli and Kevoy both believe that they had similar challenges while shooting the movie. According to Mawuli, this was the first time a project like this was being shut. The movie saw them flying across various countries just to get all the scenes right.
One major question I asked my guests was the lesson behind the movie 'Joseph' and what message it plans to pass across to the people who would be spending their money in the cinemas to see it.
"So the film, 'Joseph' is about a Jamaica doctor who is trying to find his roots in Africa, that's the general premise. It's a story that everyone can relate to whether you are from Africa or the Caribbean. It's about the obstacles that he has to face, obstacles he has to overcome, stuff that we all face when you feeling in your heart that you want one thing but your parents or society wants another thing. Its a story of trying to overcome obstacles, trying to overcome parental suppression. Even though your parents always want the best for you, but at the end of the day we always have to do what's in our hearts," Mawuli said.
For a lot of people who aren't aware, Mawuli Gavor didn't start as a child star or an actor who hit the entertainment industry during his teenage years. Rather, the young man started his career as a banker outside the country years ago. I wanted to know if he had any regrets switching careers.
"There is a zero chance that I am ever going to regret ever doing that. The reason I quit for the record is that I was working in the corporate world, I had the passion and everything but the job that I had moved into wasn't really the best. I was unhappy at that point in my life. At that moment I was unhappy and another offer came that was in a different direction and I was going to make all the money that I make in a year in one day. I was trying to juggle both jobs and they were like listen 'How much do you earn in a year because we are tired of you going to work...how much do you earn in a year? Just write it down for us?' and I topped it up a little and gave it to them and they were like we will give it to you today.." he said.
Surprisingly, Kevoy Burton revealed to us during the interview that he is relocating to Africa. According to him, he would be moving to Africa in the coming months and plans to star in more Nollywood movies. 'Joseph' is presently showing in all the cinemas across the country.