Ramsey Nouah’s face is better known around the black and African world than the face of the president of Nigeria. Born in July 1973, his face has sold many Nigerian home movies at home and abroad. Ladies melt with love for him, especially for his numerous “lover boy” roles in romantic movies.
Here he speaks to Naijarules editor Sola Osofisan.
Sola Osofisan: I see you here in the gym. Do you work out regularly?
Ramsey Nouah: I try to.
SO: And what does it do for you? Is it to keep the belly in (laughing)?
RN: Oh yes. Absolutely. You have to like stay fit to be an actor actually. You must. In our profession, you can’t have (a) port belly or a paunch. It’s not good for the profession at all.
SO: Your name, Ramsey… You’re Ramsey Tokunbo Nouah, Jr. Where is the Tokunbo there from? In addition, explain your name.
RN: Yeah, Ramsey is my father’s name. He’s the senior. I’m the junior. That’s why you have Ramsey Nouah, Jr. The Tokunbo… my grandmother gave it to me. That’s my mother’s mother. I adopted the name when I was having problems with Nigerian government because they needed – for me to get a passport, certain business registered and all that – they needed to know if I was a true Nigerian or a foreigner because of the name. So I had to adopt Tokunbo.
SO: But you know you look more foreign than Nigerian.
SO: Has it helped you in your movie career?
RN: Just maybe. As a light skinned fella, you sort of like cut across somehow very quickly, you know, in Nigeria. Because I’m light skinned, in everything people quickly get to notice me. I mean if I walked alongside most of my colleagues, I’d be picked out by fans from a distance. So, sometimes, it’s good. Sometimes it’s not.
SO: They call you “Lover boy”. What does it feel like? Even right here, there are ladies hanging around looking at you, waiting for a chance to talk to you. What does it feel like?
RN: Its just the same way they would like to have a chance to talk to another actor. I don’t think there’s anything special to it particularly (smiling as the ladies around freak out) that they’re really interested in or something.
SO: But it’s very flattering?
RN: Maybe (Laughter).
SO: Ramsey, back to your name briefly, there are different spellings of it. Give us the real spelling of your last name.
SO: So there is a “U” there.
R.N.: There’s “U”.
SO: Good. Let’s wrap up this issue of the mixed race before moving on. Your mom is from where and your dad is from where?
RN: My mom is from Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria – and my father is Israeli.
SO: And you grew up in Nigeria?
RN: I grew up in Nigeria, on the streets of Nigeria.
SO: Which was the very first movie you did?
RN: Well, I did a few which were not like major roles… my major was Silent Night.
SO: A lot of people remember Silent Night.
RN: Yeah. It was a fantastic story and movie.
SO: Over the years, you have exploded in terms of your acting capabilities, range and depth. How did this come to be? Is it that you have had more experience or you were able to dig deeper to become characters? What happened?
RN: Fortunately for us, we shoot movies like no man in the world, you know…. We churn out movies and that give you very quick adaptation to professionalism. I shot quite a number of movies and with each movie, I grew, became matured and got professional.
SO: Is there anything else you’d like to have that you don’t have right now?
RN: Well, I wish that I could have my privacy, my life back without the fame. Yeah, I wish so.
SO: There’s a whole load of people out there who would like to be what you are today.
RN: Oh yeah, I would like them to walk a mile in my shoes.
SO: Are you happy?
RN: Yeah, I am. I am. I try to be. I mean I have no choice. It’s not as if it’s that bad. No, its not as if the fame is so terrible and all that, its weighing me down, no. It’s just that I wish I could have my normal life back. There’s something about us humans, alright? I long for my life without fame, but at the same time, if I go out and I’m not being recognized at certain times, I feel bad sometimes. It’s just human nature.
SO: How far do you want your acting to take you?
RN: As an actor, I think I’ve gotten to a point where I’m satisfied. I want to direct movies, like Mel Gibson did with Passions of The Christ. He’s an actor and now he’s directing and he’s a great director. He directed Braveheart too. Tremendous movie. Denzel Washing-ton too has directed, you know.
Its just that as an actor… you see certain shots from particular points of view that sometimes, whoever is directing you will not see and you wished you could ask for that shot, and you wished you could make that shot possible. Do you understand me?
SO: Wrapping up now Ramsey. There’s a lot of crossover work going on. People are doing Yoruba movies, doing this and that. I don’t know if you’ve done any. I’ve never seen you in any.
RN: I’ve done a Yoruba movie. I was the first crossover actor from English to the Yoruba sector. And it was a tremendous success.
SO: You have a wife?
RN: I do.
SO: What’s your wife’s name?
RN: Emelia Philips-Nouah.
R.N.: A son. Quincy Camil Nouah.
SO: Thank you Ramsey.
RN: You’re welcome Sola.