Getting celebrated Nollywood actor, Ramsey Noauh, to agree to an interview, was a tough call. In between shooting films and his involvement in charity, he has indeed been busy. After a series of convincing, the 46-year-old actor finally gave in.
At the Eko Club in Surulere, Lagos, where this interview was conducted, Ramsey cut a very different picture from the tough guy he portrays in movies.
Unassuming and down-to heart, the actor occasionally took breaks from his squash game to oblige photo requests and banter with excited fans.
Quite reserved, in this exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the father-of-three opened up on his marriage, addressed stereotypes and his childhood.
PT: Your most recent film, 76 THE Movie, is the talk of town
RAMSEY: The movie is outstanding because a lot of work went into shooting the movie. Portraying a soldier in the movie was a lot of hard work. It took two to three months of rigorous military training to get me into a military state of mind. Principal photography took us six months.
PT: I hear there were times exhaustion crept in during the training.
RAMSEY: Oh yes of course but I never felt like giving up at any time. We were given proper military drills and often times, I complained to the sergeant who took us on the drill. We were drilled mercilessly. We complained but I could not give up. At some point I shouted at the sergeant that I am an actor and not a soldier. The movie was shot in 2012. The movie itself spanned about six to seven years. The pre-production phase was two years; this was before we got the nod of the Nigerian military.
PT: Why were you drawn to the script from the onset?
RAMSEY: From the very first day I read the script I was very concerned. This is because I have always wanted to shoot a historical Nigerian movie. For some reasons, we don’t keep records of our history and this is a sad reality of who we are.The film didn’t totally dwell so much on the assassination of Murtala Muhammed. It just had a bit of it. The story is centered on the struggle of the soldiers and their families.
PT: So there are still certain aspects of the movie that can be explored further?
RAMSEY: We didn’t really shoot the story behind Murtala Muhammed. So it is still very pending. It is the soldiers behind his death. The plotting of the coup and the story was more about the low rank soldiers involved in the coup and what their families went through when they were found guilty of treason.
PT: Aside from acting what have you been up to lately?
RAMSEY: I have been spending time with my family. Whenever the need arises, I get involved in humanitarian and charitable activities. It has been more about film, family and giving back to the society.
PT: Ramsey, your marriage appears to have stood the test of time. You have been married for 15 years now. Some of your colleagues have been unlucky in this regard.
RAMSEY: Contrary to a widely held notion, the success of a marriage largely rests on the woman. But these days, a lot of marriages are based on equality. A woman wants to get 50 per cent of whatever she is giving into the marriage back from the man. This has led to the breakdown of many marriages. From time our mothers used to be the women that held their marriages. They were in charge of the home. Our mothers took charge of everything but today women don’t want that kind of responsibility. Hence, it is affecting marriages.
PT: So, your wife has fared well in this regard?
RAMSEY: My wife belongs to the category of “our mothers”. She believes in sustaining our marriage and holding it strong.
So whenever I am asked how we have been able to keep it together, I tell them my wife is the woman who has actually held our home.
PT: Do you also accord her rightful place in the home?
RAMSEY: She doesn’t have a place because she owns the home. It’s her call however (way) she wants things done. She is the driver of the family and her decision is final. That is why I say she is not an ordinary woman. She is a triple woman.
PT: Is she comfortable with your romantic and kissing scenes?
Ramsey: When some people ask me “how does your wife cope when she sees you kissing other women in the movie?” and I tell them that my wife is special. She is not an ordinary woman. She understands things in a way many other women don’t. That is why I say, an actor or actress, has to find that special person. It is not love that will bond you. Forget love, love dies. What sustains the marriage is companionship. If you cannot find companionship in your partner from the beginning, then you do not have a partner. Don’t lust after a woman because of her beauty and don’t lust after a guy because he is handsome. You must lust after the companionship that bonds you together. It should be like “for some reasons you cannot do without her; for some reasons there is something about her that brings you home”. It may be her sense of humour; or the way she keeps the home. Same thing applies for the ladies; there must be something about him that you cannot do without. If this quality is not there, then you don’t have a companion.
PT: So, you guys have had it smooth sailing in your marriage all the while?
Ramsey: Don’t get me wrong, don’t think that do have our moments of disagreement. But it depends on the way we handle it. Women cannot stand the heat in the kitchen anymore and they just want to run. That is why marriages are crumbling. A lot people don’t want to work hard anymore, because marriage is hard work. So when you talk about marriages crashing, it’s not my call. The only problem that I have is to make sure I provide food for the family.
PT: Any counsel for your colleagues who have been unlucky with love and marriage?
Ramsey: Nobody gives advice when it comes to matters of the heart. People say they are going for counseling and all but at the end, it is what is in their heart is still what they want to do. Because those things in your heart are laced with emotions and emotions are very hard to tackle. When you have emotion that is full of jealousy, hate or anger, it is hard to break it until you exercise it. That is why when your dad screams ‘do not follow that boy’ the teenager does not listen until she has satisfied what her heart desires from the boy. Most times, you learn by experience. Companionship is not easy. When everybody is running into marriages as if marriage wants to go out of fashion, take your time and be ready for it. Be ready to accept someone with his flaws. My wife has her problems and I also have mine. A lot of it actually and I know. You must be able to accommodate the other person.
PT: Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Is acting your dream profession?
Ramsey: I wanted to be an aeronautic engineer. I wanted to build planes. Unfortunately I never did sciences in class and I was drawn to the arts.
PT: Why so? Where you bad in mathematics?
Ramsey: Yes, my mathematics was terrible. I would have loved to be a pilot or be in the air force.
PT: Divorce is on the rise. Why do you think this is so?
Ramsey: When a woman believes she earns more than the man, the man should start doing the work of a woman like sweeping, changing diapers. There is no sense in that. A woman’s place should not change and the same applies to the man. I am not expecting a woman to overwork herself with house chores. I help and support my wife when there is no help in the house. I sweep when I have the time.
PT: In what ways do you also help out in the home?
Ramsey: I cooked two days before having this interview. I am a great cook. No woman can do shakara for me oo. I made my stew and rice with smoked chicken. I grew up with my mum and with her, you must know how to sweep and do many other chores.
PT: Some of your fans cannot picture you doing house chores?
RAMSEY: The thing is that everyone now has the perspective of wanting to live larger than life, forgetting the reality. We keep forgetting that if we don’t do it, who will do it? At some point my wife got tired of house helps. We have three kids at home and we have to fend for them. I cannot leave everything for her, so I help out. Sometimes we tell the kids to wash their plates. At some point I realized that my 12 and 13 years old could not sweep and that was very wrong. So we started forcing them to clean. Most kids of these days cannot sweep or clean. All they want to do is do is make their nails, make their hair and carry big phones and tablets around.
PT: Were you rebellious while growing up?
RAMSEY: No I wasn’t. My mother beat discipline into me. I was very playful and I always got into trouble. My mother taught me that my pride as a man is my ability to differentiate between right and wrong. That is why I cannot handle many people at the same time because I cannot sweet talk. I am not very diplomatic.
PT: Are you romantic?
RAMSEY: Don’t judge me by my movie roles. I don’t think I am romantic. My wife does not think I am that romantic either.
PT: Many people wonder why you do not step out with your wife on the red carpet?
RAMSEY: My wife and I have an understanding. And this is one of the reasons our marriage is still standing strong. We avoid the public eye because the public has a way of messing up relationships. Sometimes, my wife goes ahead of me into the event, so we don’t do red carpet. It is the same people that harass you for not taking your wife to red carpet event that will sit back and point fingers at how you both look.
PT: Some say you don’t take your wife to red carpet event because she is not beautiful?
RAMSEY: That is what they think. My wife is very cute. May be because my wife is not loud or flashy when it comes to make-up or wearing long weaves. She is very natural and she knows that I love her natural looks.