also known as
GAYLE THOMPSON is ready to walk
Ngozi Igwebike speaks to African Dazzle about her new found love as her role in award winning director Obi Emelonye’s ‘Onye Ozi’ (The messenger) movie make a global wave. This movie is the first Igbo movie set in London UK and the first of its kind.
Hello Ngozi Igwebike, can you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
You’ve been known with some few other names like Gayle Thompson and Ng Thompson, which is your real name and how did the others came about?
Hi Noellin, thank you for inviting me to this interview. I will answer both questions at the same time if I may because its easier that way.
My full name is; Gayle Ngozi Thompson-Igwebike. This is my real name. Some people refer to me as Gayle, others call me Ngozi. None of them is made up or unreal. In Nigeria, Ng(pronounced as the initials n & g) is an affectionate term for Ngozi. The Thompson part is my own father’s first name. I come from a huge family and one way of identifying which branch of the Igwebike family I come from, is by my dad’s first name. So as you can see, there is no mystery there whatsoever. I have a mouthful of a name and people prefer to shorten it to suit them. That’s all.
You have been known as a model and a writer for C.Hub Magazine, I know those are full time jobs, so what made you plunge into acting?
I have always liked the idea of acting and always wanted to act, but I really don’t know what it is that made me go for it at this particular time. I guess it’s a question of being at the right place at the right time and everything else falling into place.
What is it like modeling for Mahogany Model Agency and how long will you carry on modeling?
I absolutely love modeling. It is a passion, just like acting. It is fun and cool and crazy and I am not planning on giving it up anytime soon.
Modeling for the agency just means that I have certain protocols or rules to follow; like making sure I comport myself in a professional manner always and representing the agency in an outstanding light. Of course we cant be having a model fighting and crying on the streets now can we? (she laughs) But at the same time, as an agency standard model, it means I get sent for certain types of work that are more of a higher standard than the normal everyday jobs!
You have been to most movie premieres in London this year, how do you classify most African actors and actresses, what are they doing right and what needs changing?
In truth, I am very impressed with what I have seen so far of the African actors. I think they are doing great. Of course, I really can’t complain as I am new myself and have a lot to learn from them. I know there is room for improvement, as with every other thing in life, but generally, they are doing well.
Talking about acting, what made you decide to go for a role in Obi Emelonye’s Onye Ozi Igbo movie, instead of the other English ones?
There are a few reasons for my accepting this role in the ‘Onyeozi‘ movie, but the most important reason was the fact that Obi Emelonye is very well known to be one of the new generation of directors/producers that are changing the face of African movies and the face of Nollywood especially, by setting very high standards for others to follow. I want to be on that band wagon of people making a change for the industry and so I thought, what better opportunity than this movie, Onyeozi? It’s pioneering as first ever all Igbo film shot in London England and one where the director has a passion to see Nigerians revive their culture and language through films, for posterity’s sake. I really could not have asked for a better opportunity.
You took the audience by surprise in ONYE OZI the movie, did you see that coming?
Never in a million years. I was worried the whole time during the showing of the film at the premier. I was literally twitching with anxiety about whether the audience would like the film or what they would think of my acting. So I was very humbled when I realized they loved the movie and gave me credit as well. It’s been such an unexpected blessing. I have not stopped smiling or thanking God!
Since the audience took your acting, would you consider taking it further?
Oh yes I would. It is definitely a career and not just a passing fancy. I cant wait to dig my claws into more projects, more so now that I know the audience have loved what they’ve seen so far!!
Between modelling, writing and acting, what other talents are hidden or have you got under your sleeve that we do not know about?
Hahaha…. I think you have pretty much covered everything I do Noellin. Other than the small tv presenting that I do every Thursdays on Ben tv Sky 182. I give news on happenings around fashion, entertainment, politics, sports and health (in no particular order) both here in the Diaspora as well as in Nigeria. It’s very informal and is a part of a popular show called, ‘Politriks with .K.O’. Check it out!
And that’s it for my talents. So now you know everything I do. Very boring huh? (LOL)
Who are the directors, actors and actresses you will like to work with in the future?
Working with Obi Emelonye, in the Nollywood side of things, have really set a high standard, that means I have to aim high and align myself with the best in whatever I do. So I look at people like Biyi Bandele who just directed ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, his first, and I think he did a great job of it. I look at Sunny King, a brilliant young director with an open mind to learn and do more. You know, generally People I can work with and learn from. In terms of actors, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nonso Anozie, Omotala Jalade, Genevieve Nnaji, Olu Jacobs and of course, my all time favourite person, his wife, Joke Silva, who I really do aspire to, so if I get the opportunity to work with her and the others that I have mentioned, I will be singing a happy tune.
What are your future plans so far?
My future plans can be described in two words; ‘WORK HARD’. That’s me right there. Always have, always will. Funny you would think that after the promotions of the movie and the premier of ‘Onyeozi‘, it would be time to chill, but no, now is the time to work even harder. And because this business is such a fickle one, I need to be up on my game always. It’s crazy but I’m loving every second of it!
ONYE OZI (The Messenger) will be premiering in Silver bird Cinema city mall, Lagos Nigeria this friday the 22nd of November. If you are in Lagos, its a most watch. Come and check out this hot babe along side Okey Bakasi and others, because they will not fail to make your evening a night to remember.
Interviewed by: Noellin Imoh
Photo credit to :
Jeffery Osdei-Tutu of JOT photography