Lessons to Learn from the Career of Nollywood Legend, Pete Edochie

Pete Edochie
Written by Omolola Akinyemi

Veteran actor and award winner Pete Edochie is a legend in his own right. With experience in the Nigerian broadcasting and movie industries that has lasted a couple of decades, he has plenty to teach upcoming acts. The authenticity and skill with which he has consistently delivered his acting roles is awesome. His iconic role as Okonkwo in the 1980s TV adaptation of revered novelist Chinua Achebe’s book Things Fall Apart is unforgettable.

Pete Edochie has won notable local and international awards for his acting prowess. He received the Industry Merit Award from the cable broadcasting giant, Africa Magic. Pete also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Africa Film Academy. He is also a recipient of the national award of Member of the Order of the Niger (2003).

When he acts laid back, he is genuinely laid back. When he simulates emotion and energy, he is not faking it. The robust actor is an unbeatable role model for any African actor or actress to look up to. Let’s go down the memory lane to reminisce on the making of Pete Edochie – the acting legend.

About Peter Edochie: His Background

Born in Zaria in March 1947, Peter Edochie hails from Anambra state in southeast Nigeria. He moved through primary school in Zaria, to St. John’s College for his secondary education. After obtaining his Senior School Certificate (SSCE), he worked briefly in the Nigeria Railway Corporation, then proceeded to England thereafter. Pete graduated from the School of Journalism and Television in London, England.

Pete returned to Nigeria and enrolled as a junior program assistant at the Anambra Broadcasting Service. He was just 20 years old at the time. Steadily, Pete rose up the ranks until he became a director. By the time he had reached the stage of Acting Managing Director, there was a stumbling block. Apparently, the government began to issue directives that did not augur well with senior staff members. Subsequently. the entire management staff were ordered to quit service – including him. 

Luckily enough for Pete, he was already enlisted on the screenplay of the famous Things Fall Apart before leaving broadcasting. He was also interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), not long after his role in the famous screenplay. HIs performance on the set subsequently earned him a number of  international awards. The BBC interview further exposed Peter Edochie to international recognition, and boosted his chances at engagement in the movie industry. 

Promptly, he took up full-time acting roles ever since then. Pete Edochie has acted in well over 70 movies till date. He has also journeyed through his illustrious acting career, accompanied by talented Nigerian actors and actresses till date. They include Richard Mofe-Damijo, Olu Jacobs, Mercy Johnson, Jim Iyke, Funke Akindele, Rachael Oniga, and Genevieve Nnaji, to mention a few. 

Pete Edochie: Awards

Nollywood veteran, Pete Edochie received the following eight notable national and international awards till date. 

  • Movie Personality of the Year by City People’s Magazine (1999).
  • Best Actor in Africa by Censors Board (2002, 2003).
  • Best Actor in Nigeria by Censors Board (2003)
  • Member of the Order of the Niger award by Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo (2003)
  • Special Recognition Award by Best of Nollywood (2013)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award by Africa Movie Academy Awards, (2013)
  • Industry Merit Award by Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (2014.)
  • Life Impact Award by Time Heroes Awards (2017)

Pete Edochie: Personal Life

Pete Edochie is a father of six children (5 sons and a daughter), as well as a grandfather. He has been married to Josephine Edochie, a trained lawyer and TV presenter, since he was 22 years. Two of his sons (Yul and Linc) are also successful actors in the Nigerian movie industry; and Yul is particularly prominent. 

Vital Lessons to be Learnt from Pete Edochie’s Career

Have a Vision, and Dedicate Yourself To It

For a man who is an accomplished broadcaster and seasoned actor, Pete Edochie needs not aim for anything higher. He is a fulfilled man. 

Pete Edochie honoured an interview by The Vanguard newspaper in 2015. He recalled how his friend urged him to go for the audition of the play ‘Things Fall Apart’. He was still in the broadcasting world at that time. And he got the role. Recounting what occurred during the audition, Pete stated: 

 ‘The moment I walked into the auditorium, the white woman who was invited to handle costuming and other things saw me. She said, “If this man could act, that’s the man we want for the role.” She never met me before that day. I walked in, and was given the script. Other people were also given the script to read, and when I read mine, they shook hands with me and said, we are good to go. They said there was no point continuing with the audition; that the role is for me.’

Pete further stated that one can only become successful if he/she is dedicated enough. On being asked why he is not interested in producing or directing a movie, he replied that he is quite comfortable with acting alone. He has maintained his focus without regrets.

Make Your Role Exciting, and Maintain a High Standard

Pete Edochie insisted in his interview, that an exciting career is always full of success stories. And that his role in ‘Things Fall Apart’ presented him clearly as a custodian of culture. He has refused to compromise in that portrayal ever since. 

Not only that, there were cases where he rejected a role. Because he believed either the production or script would not excite his viewers enough. Pete also believes in sustaining quality performance and high standards in one’s job right from the beginning, while you can. With that mentality and with determination, anyone could succeed. 

Create and Maintain Your Personal Brand

Pete Edochie not only stood up for the preservation of culture. He consistently proved it with his carriage, mannerisms, and the string of proverbs he dished out on screen. He never failed to impart wisdom into his listeners through his well-chosen Igbo proverbs, sometimes with a twist of humour.  One such proverb goes thus: 

When one’s goat gets missing, the aroma of a neighbour’s soup gets suspicious”. 

Pete Edochie had the honour to have worked and interacted closely with the renowned author, Chinua Achebe himself (now late). And naturally, Achebe imparted him with the skill of using proverbs. 

Give Back Positively in Your Own Way

Pete Edochie is widely respected by his colleagues (both young and old) in Nollywood for his sound judgement and high moral values. Whenever he had the opportunity, Pete does not fail to give wise counsel and advice. 

Inspire, Counsel, but Do Not Force 

In recent years, Pete Edochie was at Abakaliki in Ebonyi state to attend a Nollywood event. He was met by a reporter who asked him a few questions. And Pete was enquired on if he had any role to play in his son, Yul, also joining Nollywood. 

Pete replied that truly he could have inspired his son to study Theatre Arts at University of Port Harcourt. But that his son chose the course himself; he was not forced to. In fact, Yul focused on directing and not acting. Pete, however, encouraged his son to consider acting as well. In his words:

Okay, let’s put it this way, perhaps I inspired him to do a course in (Theatre Arts). I didn’t force him; he chose it. And he majored in Directing. But I told him, ‘Boy, listen, I am your father and I am old in this business. Being a director will not explore your innate potentials to the full. You have a very good voice, you are a brilliant young man, and you are good-looking. Why don’t you go in front of the camera instead of going behind it?’ He did, and he still thanks me till tomorrow. 

“Let’s put it that way, but as a rule, I don’t make choices for my children. Whatever it is that you want to be; it’s all right by me. Whenever they want to get married, bring the girl to the house. ‘Daddy, I want to marry this girl’, I say ‘go on’. That is the kind of role I play.

Learning Never Ends

In response to another question about his true personality, Pete Edochie made reference to his many years of broadcasting and acting. He reached several levels of Directorship in broadcasting even as a young man. And he insists he is still learning. 

“I was a broadcaster for 31 years. I trained professionally as a broadcaster with the BBC. Well, if I say I had a distinguished professional career as a broadcaster probably I might be sounding immodest, but that is the truth. 

“I retired as a Director, and in the history of the establishment, I was the youngest man to get to that level. So, by the time I retired, I was still under 60 years, and I had been a Director for 11 years. There was nothing bigger than that except you are waiting for a political appointment. 

“So, I was received with open arms by the movie industry. I answered a question there in the studio, and I was praised. Most of the people in the movie industry today, especially our young girls, the moment you do a write-up on them and praise them, it will get into their heads and they will start misbehaving. By March 7, 2020, I will be 73 years, and I am still learning. The moment you stop learning, then no way for you, but if you keep learning, good for you. 

“I have a very big library, both for books and music. Also,  I am in love with classic music. I think I can say with every authority that I have more classical music than any individual in this country. It is very expensive but that is my area of interest. Anybody travelling overseas asking ‘what will I get for you?’ I’ll tell such person to get me classical music. 

“So, if I am not reading, then I am listening to classical music. I don’t go out any longer. When I was much younger, the spirit of adventure was pushing me around, but today, no.’

Hold On To Your Integrity 

Pete Edochie was asked to comment on the trend of fellow actors in Nollywood lobbying for political appointments. And why he is not interested in doing the same. In his reply, Pete stated that he cannot lie, but instead chooses integrity above political games. And that has kept him in the place of respect any day. Besides, he has sons to mentor correctly – as his father mentored him in honesty. He vaguely suggested that he lacks nothing by doing so, and should not sell himself out 

“I don’t like politics. Number one, the kind of temperament that I have, I can’t succeed as a politician. Why? I can’t lie to you. When we were in the elementary school, we were told that when 11 birds are perched on an electric pole, if you shoot one, the rest would fly away. In politics, they will tell that you, ‘shoot one (bird), the rest would remain’. I can’t be a politician, I just can’t be. You know, it will be difficult for me to lie to anybody. And my father told me never to lie, no matter the situation. And I have many sons, so I have to raise them like that. I can’t lie.”



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About the author

Omolola Akinyemi

A Computer Science graduate of UNILAG, I hail from Ekiti state of Nigeria. An astute teacher, learner & admin assistant of many years experience. I love technology, innovation, and Nature. A problem solving mentality is important to me. The future is only seconds away, and I believe I can define the future now. You can also.

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