Jim Iyke: Nollywood Bad Boy

By on December 26, 2012

There was a slack in activities. You could see people talking in convened groups of twos and threes. We were at a film location in the Gudu area of Abuja, Nigeria. They were all waiting for something – or someone.  Then, at exactly 10.05am, when a silver-colored BMW X5 with license plates “UNTAMED” rolled into the film location, the set sprung to life. There was a flurry of activities, as every hand gelled to make his entry smooth. The production assistants moved equipment around, the director barked at the cast and crew for readiness.


Jim Iyke (James Ikechukwu Esomugha) was the lead in the movie, a film series tagged: “The Bull in a China Shop: The Hacker.” He wore shades, was all smiles and genial. Quickly, he was costumed and got on set.  Filming had already begun for a few days before InfoNollywood got to Abuja. His filmography over the years has seen him cast in a bad boy, playboy role; a stereotype he cherishes, yet detests as people begin to see him in that light.  Jim Iyke, in real life, is warm, intelligent and meticulous.


In his early Nollywood days, he starred opposite the delectable Rita Dominic in a retinue of romantic thrillers. This set the rumour mills agog with gist of romance between them.  That was not the only rumour that has trailed his illustrious career.  From married women, linking to another actor (Emeka Ike) and on to the notion that he was seeking a green card holder for a wife, Jim Iyke has suffered his share of limelight gossip.  But no matter how damaging, he has managed to come out unscathed. “Time and again,” he pointed out, “I have been vindicated. I have now reached that stage where nothing shocks me. Even my family has become insulated against these damaging stories flying around about me.”


As an only son, with seven sisters, Jim has been surrounded by so much love and care from his family. This has helped to parry his early troubles. His family has provided the support and care he needed. “My family is my refuge from all the negative attention my career has brought my way,” he said proudly.  And this is how he has stayed focused. “But I will not fail to state that my career has brought a lot of fulfilment…and joy to me and my family.”jim[1]


Born in Libreville, Gabon, on September 25, 1975, Jim had his early education in Libreville, then home to Nigeria to attend secondary school at the Federal Government College, Kwali, Abuja.  His extra-curricular activities singled him out as one who was in the forefront of artistic endeavours. Those who knew him would have bet their last money on it that Jim would go on to study Mass Communication or Theatre Arts in the university.


But no, this norm-breaker proceeded to the University of Jos, first to obtain a diploma in Banking & Finance, and then a degree in Psychology soon followed.  “A lot of what I do today in movies and my personal life are shaped by my training in psychology,” he pointed out. “When you spend more time in the thought-process, acting it out becomes easy; almost…second nature.”  After his mandatory national youth service programme, Jim was convinced that his destiny lay in the world of make-belief: movies.  On to Lagos, he relocated.


Now, Lagos, as many people will tell you, is a city that surprises you. It is common knowledge that many young men and women, filled with lofty dreams and aspirations have entered Lagos in such high spirits, only to have their faith shaken and tested by the coldness of the metropolis.  This is a town where friends from childhood could easily lock their doors in your face, not take your calls, and treat you like a leper.  Jim had lived in Gabon, spoke French; then lived in Abuja and Jos. But Lagos was a different kettle of fish.


“It was challenging,” he recalled. “But nothing was going to put me off. Nothing!” Reports have claimed that he got encouragement in the form of a Lagos-based legal practitioner, Victor Opurum, who saw his potentials and backed him up; and so the Jim Iyke legacy was born. His meteoric rise saw him testing his weight among other giants. He proved his mettle, and it was only a matter of time before he became a serious leading male actor and household name.  The Glo (Communications) Ambassador is not only famous at home, but is well-loved by movie lovers all over the world.


Jim Iyke has also produced big budget films with an international cast, including Judy Shekoni and Tangerine Martins.  The entertainment entrepreneur owns Untamed Films, from whose stable he has promised world class movies. He also ventured into music, launching an album that attracted the major players in the entertainment industry, under his own label, Untamed Records.


Why stop at music and movies? Jim Iyke has also applied his business sense in the oil and gas industry, real estate and even the automobile industry.  The widely travelled actor has visited fifteen European countries, the USA, 23 African countries and counting.


At a certain stage in an actor’s career, fame and fortune will instill an unshakable celebrity status.  Only a few take positive advantage of this.  With his influence, he started the Jim Iyke Foundation, a venture he dedicates fully to children with special disabilities. “There is no greater good than to restore hope, put a smile on the faces of these children in dire need,” he prided.  Charity concerts were organized in many cities including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kaduna. There were also concerts in Monrovia (Liberia), Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Accra (Ghana).   He organized the epoch-making‘6000 Child Walk’ in Abuja on the 18th of September, 2009 to herald the launch of the foundation.


The martial arts expert is also a founding member of the Cameroun Movie Industry and a Goodwill Ambassador of the Rochas Foundation (the current governor of Imo State, Nigeria).  His awards include: African Hollywood Award, Achievement Award North Hollywood (California), The Nigerian American Community (USA) Award, Afro-Dublin Movies Award (Dublin, Ireland), MCCTVAwards, API Awards, FAN (Washington), Ghana Fashion & Style Awards (Washington DC), Best African Actor (NET Awards, New York) and several Nigerian movie awards.


His filmography is huge, but of note are ‘2 Dollaz’ and ‘Shades of White’. “I produced these movies,” he informs, “…and they were premiered in New York and London.”  His unforgettable movie roles include: ‘1 Dollar’, ‘Show Me Heaven’,  ‘No Man’s Land’, ‘Between Kings and Queens’, ‘Dirty War’, ‘Desperate Prince’, ‘Palace War’, ‘Generals’ and ‘The Widows’.


Jim Iyke was called upon to play the role of a street champ turned billionaire in the first of a triology of a film series titled ‘The Bull In A China Shop’.  No one else could have played the lead better. According to the producer, Innocent Nwafor, “Jim Iyke is the bull and the bull is Jim Iyke. From the characterization to the delivery, it is a role made for him alone.”jim New 109


Jim Iyke hails from Enugu-Agidi in Anambra State of Nigeria and lists his hobbies as travelling, cycling, long-distance jogging and reading.  He lives in Abuja but is currently engaged to a Jamaican beauty, a woman he described as his centre.


When he calls it “curtains”, Jim Iyke would have walked away with so much ingenuity and verve that he brought to his movie roles.  The Nollywood bad boy holds family dear, and is a very serious-minded individual – a great contrast to his perceived personality drawing from his erratic, spoilt, lavish roles.  Here is one man who can successfully swing between worlds – the good and the bad – and come out unscathed.CEO Untamed Intergrated Services


By: Patrick Ikechukwu Nnamani

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