It is almost a given that award-winning filmmaker Onyeka Nwelue always turns to new faces when choosing the major cast for his screen projects. In Agwaetiti Obiuto it was Bugzy Dvinci (Obinna Nwokedi), among many others. In The Great Masturbator, it was Richard Emeruwa. Now it is Anthony Felix, popularly known as TKinzy.
TKinzy is a pop artist who has been on the African music scene since 2012 after signing for one of South Africa’s biggest labels, Gallo Records. But the artist, who is now signed to South Africa’s World Arts Agency, says he has always wanted to do some acting.
“It’s true that I have always been a singer but acting has always been one of my callings,” he says. “I never took it more serious than my music career, but now I am giving it my all as I wish to excel in the movie industry as well.”
The new film, ‘A Day Journey’, which has TKinzy as the lead actor, will be shot on the streets of Johannesburg and Lagos.
It will be another test of Nwelue’s ingenuity whose previous projects have garnered bountiful critical acclaim. His first feature film, Agwaetiti Obiuto won Best Feature by a Director at the 2018 Newark International Film Festival. His documentary film, The House of Nwapa, based on literary icon Flora Nwapa, has been screened in festivals and locations across the world, including at Harvard. For Nwelue, the bar is already quite high; can TKinzy level up?
“Despite the fact that this is my first movie, I know I will do great because I am not forcing anything,” the artist says. “Acting comes naturally. You have to go with the flow. That’s what I am going to do.”
He is also banking on Nwelue’s extraordinary talent – exemplified by the latter’s talent consultancy experience – of polishing rough diamonds to shine.
“He discovered the talent in me, so casting was not a struggle as he was willing to give me the opportunity in order to build my confidence,” TKinzy says.
“He has always used faces that are not popular in his films. From Agwaetiti Obiuto to The Great Masturbator. He believes in discovering new talents. I know he loses money as a filmmaker because of that.”
The film will also give TKinzy the opportunity to return to Nigeria from South Africa where he is based and has produced most of his work.
“Nigeria will always be my home,” he notes. “I honestly don’t go to Nigeria often but due to this project, maybe I will be in Nigeria often because I will probably be working with more actors/actresses in the movie industry in the near future.”
He also believes there is abundant opportunity for new faces to thrive in the local film industry.
“We don’t have more artistes/actors more than America,” he says. “So the sky is big enough for any star to shine. If you are talented enough, definitely you will be seen. However, as we always say, talent is never enough. People need to widen their social circle.”
However, TKinzy’s foray into film is not the end of his musical pursuits. In fact, he is stepping up that aspect of his career
Can you tell us a little more about your music? How big a part does this your music have in film culture?
Been in the music scene since 2012, I got signed to one of the biggest labels in South Africa called Gallo Records. Had great songs and hit songs and also working new projects too.
“I believe music and acting go hand in hand so it won’t affect my music, rather it will be boost it,” he says.
He had taken a break from the music scene after his days at Gallo Records because he “wanted to rebrand”. But after signing up with World Arts Agency, the artist “will be dropping new songs and music videos.”
“When it comes to my music, I am very versatile,” he says. “So I can switch anytime and my songs are never boring. I know a lot of my listeners can testify to that. I can’t wait to start putting out my projects for everyone to see.”
To the younger generation, TKinzy says they need to work harder and pray for their talent to be seen.
“Nigeria is a great country,” he points out, “but our leaders should please do better so we the young generation won’t have no reason to leave the country.”
Solomon Elusoji is a freelance journalist.