Fast rising Nollywood actor, Benjamin Lugo Touitou was a guest at the Pulse TV studio.
In an exclusive interview, the actor talked acting in Lagos Cougars, kissing Monalisa Chinda, changing Nollywood amongst other interesting topics.
The Ibo and Jewish born actor also dished out on 10 things his fans didn't know about him.
Ben Lugo is popular for his role in the movie 'Lagos Cougar' which earned him a nomination in the Best of Nollywood 'Best kiss in a movie' category.
Ben Lugo is also popular for his role in the movie 'Desperate House Girls'.
How Did You Get The Lagos Cougars Role?
It was an audition and I had previously auditioned with Royal Arts. It was a private audition prior to Lagos Cougars.
They liked what they saw, so when it was time for the actual audition, I came, I auditioned like three or four times.
I think they liked what they saw, so I got the role.
How Did You Build Your Connection With Monalisa Chinda in the movie 'Lagos Cougars'?
It's all about feedback. She is a wonderful actor. Desmond Elliot, Uche Jombo, the cast and crew of the movie all helped to create the connection.
I won’t say we had to go hard. It came naturally. Of course on the first day you would be intimidated that you are working with Monalisa, she is way older than you are.
Monalisa encouraged me. I think it was good from then on. We got to know ourselves, and we did it as it came.
What Are The Similarities Between You and Your Character in Lagos Cougars?
You know what they say about acting, you have to have a bit of the character in you to be able to play the character.
So, I think if people recognized it well enough to be one of the best kisses in Nollywood in 2014, I think it is kind of true.
If you want some references or people who can testify, I can help. I think it is a lot better in real life than on camera.
How Has Lagos Cougars Influenced Your Career?
It has influenced my career. I’m barely officially a year in the industry. It changed my career because more people got to know me.
I got to meet a lot of top producers, and people were like “I would love to work with you, but you look so young”.
I got a lot of roles after that which demanded me to look buffer, so I had to hit the gym to work out.
It put me on the spotlight. I have gotten a lot of feedbacks from people outside the country.
They really send in nice words saying “You are really doing very well. You should do more movies.”
But you know with such a platforms comes lots of expectations. You have to also be careful not do just any kind of movie.
After Lagos Cougars, I started getting a lot of cougar roles. I got like five of them, I had to turn down a few.
What Kind of Role Would You Reject?
Let me start with the kind of roles I want. I’m looking for something with more drama, more comedy.
I speak very good Ibo but people don’t know.
So, I wouldn’t really mind being in an epic movie or doing a very funny movie with AY, Bishop Ime Umoh or Osofia.
I really would love to do something that has lots of drama, layers of emotions like revenger, anger and jealousy.
I can’t really say the kind of roles I can reject now. But I think I wouldn’t do a complete nude.
How Do You Remain on Top of Your Game?
I always say this to people “Everyone’s journey is different". I can’t say I’m light skinned and this other actor is doing so well and he is light skinned, so I should follow everything he does.
That doesn’t exist in Touitou’s world. Everyone’s journey is different. So, I have to discover what it is about me that people like.
Every actor needs to find out what is their selling point and make it their marketing strategy.
For me I stay focused on what makes me unique. I try as much as possible to sharpen edges, and not copy, but I also learn from a lot of actors.
I won’t go about rubbing shoulders with actors. I rather find out what makes me unique. Sharpen it and forge ahead.
Who are the Actors You Learn From in the Industry?
I have known Majid Michel for a very long time. He has taught me a lot of things on set. For example he taught me the shortest cut to crying, to building up all that emotions.
There is also Alex Ekubo, sometimes he talks to me. I think those are the two people. The rest are people you talk to and share ideas with.
For Influence, the characters that really influence me as an actor are not really Nigeria based actors.
There is Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and ohnny Depp.
Another person is Denzel Washington; people are really amazed at what he does. He said “I’m not a celebrity, I’m just an actor”.
These are guys you look up to because somehow you feel a connection. They are so focused on the art and what they want to achieve.
How Do You Handle the Fame?
Honestly, I never came into the movie industry because of the fame. I came in with a different plan.
The fame doesn’t really get to me. The only prayer I pray is that the whole celebrity thing would open more doors.
Let me use the power to influence more people
Sometimes people think you don’t have the time. Sometimes people just point at you, but the slightest time I get, I say “It’s fine if you want to take a picture".
Prior to now, when I was in secondary school and University, a lot of people were attracted to me because of my looks.
Being a celebrity now hasn't changed a lot of things because it is similar to what I was in the high school when I did a lot of drama and poetry.
I used to be in a singing group, I did a lot of break dance, so, I got a lot of attention.
It’s just that now the whole world is involved and you are in the spotlight.
I try as much as possible to manage myself and remind myself “hey, you are in public, you can’t do this”.
What Would You Love to Change About The Industry?
I would love to change Stereotype. Let actors be given more varieties. I would prefer that people gave a lot of other actors challenges.
In Nollywood, I have noticed that a lot of producers, marketers and directors are very intuitive.
They can look at you and just say “You have really strong eyes, you should do more masculine roles”.
I would also love to breach the gap between Nollywood and Hollywood as much as possible. We need more of cross-country movies.
Find a way to team up with strong companies in Nollywood, and do some kind of cross-country movie. I know it sounds easier said than done, but there is always a way.
Two or three people have done that already. They found a way to reach these guys, and they did it.
A lot of us want to be thrown in the center of the heat. It is when challenges come that we find our strongest point.
What is Your Ideal Movie Genre?
In show business, you have to understand your audience, and then give them what they want. In Nigeria, if I want to make an action movie with explosions, it could be received well if done right.
If I want to start, I would really love to start small. Comedy is something that would always be accepted in this country.
Romance comes with a streak of comedy. There should always be a tiny pinch of comedy in a romance movie.
It’s really not about the genre, it is about the story line where people will laugh and stay tuned through out to the end.
What Projects are You Working on for the Year?
I’m presently working on an international series with Ebony Life, It’s ‘Desperate Housewives Africa’. It is an African adaptation of the American version of ‘Desperate Housewives’.
It is a very beautiful project, and I really get to work with International people. You might find my character in the series a bit familiar. I’m looking forward to a great acceptance.
I also have a couple of movies scheduled with Emem Isong, and a couple of producers in the east.
I can’t really mention the other ones because there are still in the pipe line.
Ten Things You Didn't Know About Benjamin Lugo Touitou.