Bob-Manuel Obidimma Udokwu is from Nkwelle-Ogidi, Idemmili North LGA of Anambra State, Nigeria. He is of Igbo extraction. His father is Geoffrey Nwafor Udokwu and his mother is Ezelagbo Udokwu. He was born in Enugu State in the 1960s on 18th April. He is the fourth child in a family of 6 children. The Nigerian actor, director, producer and politician came into limelight after starring in the Nigerian TV series, Checkmate from 1991-1994. He has about three decades of professional media experience. This is in addition to his being one of the pioneers of the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood. Also, he is an award-winning actor and has starred in hundreds of Nigerian movies.
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He attended St. Peters Primary School (now Hillside Primary School) in the Coal Camp, Enugu, Enugu State for his elementary education and for his Secondary school education, he attended Oraukwu Grammar School, Oraukwu, Anambra State from where he proceeded to University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Rivers State in 1986 where he obtained a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Theatre Arts and graduated in 1991. He bagged a master’s degree in Political Science with specialisation in International Relations from the University of Lagos, Lagos State. Also, he had his National Youth Service in Ibadan, Oyo State. As a Corp member, he served as the Coordinator of the NYSC Theatre Group between 1991 – 1992.
For Bob-Manuel, acting is innate. He only went to school to hone this skill. He began to act from primary school and in 1972, he got more popular while in primary six. After leaving secondary school, he became more serious with his acting. Later on, he joined some amateur theatre groups and became a guest presenter on FRCN, Enugu.
Then, in 1986, he was admitted for a certificate program in Uniport. Next, he was awarded Best Student Actor of the Year (Second Runner-up) in 1987. As a result, he moved on to earn a degree in Arts (B.A). As a student, he became the National President of the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Students Association (NUTASA) in 1989. Before the end of his tenure, while preparing for one of its general programs, Bob-Manuel was informed about an upcoming soap opera. He auditioned and eventually got a role in the Nigerian TV series, Checkmate.
Break into the Big Screen
Checkmate was written by Amaka Igwe and sponsored by Lever Brother Nigeria. From 1991 – 1994, Bob played the role of Richard Haatrope in the TV series, Checkmate. He starred alongside Francis Agu, Mildred Iweka, Richard Mofe Damijo, e.t.c.
Subsequently, he made a debut in the movie, Living in Bondage (1992). Next, he began to feature in other films such as When the Sunset (his first romance role), Evil Genius, e.t.c Also, he has starred with several A-list actors like Ramsey Nouah, Kate Henshaw, Patience Ozokwor, Pete Edochie, Genevieve Nnaji, Desmond Elliot, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde e.t.c
Some of the films he has starred (and this is so far from an exhaustive list) in include;
Living in Bondage, 1992
Circle of Doom, 1993
Black Maria, 1994
Most Wanted, 1998
My God, 2004
Risky Affair, 2004
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The Good Samaritan, 2004
Years of Tears, 2004
Cover Up, 2007
Seed of Problem, 2016
The Diamond Secret, 2018
Living in Bondage 2, 2020
Awards And Recognition
Bob-Manuel Udokwu is an award winning actor who has also been recognised both within his state and the media industry. For instance, he was honored with a traditional title. Eze Chukwuemeka Eri (A king in Anambra), conferred on him Onye Anagba Nkili (Someone that people rush to behold) in 2015.
Also, he has received the following awards including;
- Student Actor of the Year (Second Runner-up), University of Port-Harcourt, 1986
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role ‘Checkmate’ Thelma and Reel Awards, 1998
- Special Lifetime Achievement Award, African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), 2014
- Best Nollywood Actor, Karifest Award, 2014
- Excellence/Man of Honour Award, National Grammar School, Enugu Old Boys Association, 2014
- Best Actor, GIAMA Awards, 2014
- Best Actor, Best of Nollywood (BON), 2014
- Award of Recognition as Outstanding Figure & Role Model for the Youth, Anambra State Students Association, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 2014
- Creative Professionals Awards, Anambra Book and Creative Festival ANBUKRAFT, 2016
Bob-Manuel’s Opinion about Nollywood and the Film Industry
He is of the opinion that, “We shouldn’t be talking about competition in the African movie industry, rather we should be talking about collaboration because there are many stories to be told in Africans by Africans.” More so, he says that Nollywood should be applauded for pioneering the story-telling narrative for the continent. He states. “The rest of Africa should be grateful to Nigeria – Nollywood- for telling the African story and making it big around the globe.” He has however lamented that the industry is now run by non-professionals rather than by professionals, which has made mediocrity the order of the day.
As regarding fulfilling purpose, he states that, “Life is meaningless, especially if you cannot use your God-given potential to affect your environment positively.”
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