HAVING finished his degree program from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies/Television, Leo’nel, son of legendary Nollywood actor, Zach Orji, is now ready to pursue his dream in music.
His two hit singles, “Baby Joor and Rockstar” are already making a remarkable impact in the music scene weeks after its production.
“I just finished shooting the video of Rockstar and its being given a fair playtime on both local and satellite TV stations across the country, same with the audio version of the two singles. Radio stations are excited with the songs and they play it religiously daily. It’s indeed a sign of some progress,” the youngster said in an interview last week.
On why he shunned acting, a turf his father made his fame and fortune, Leo’nel said “Music has always been what I wanted to do even though my dad tried to encourage me to go into acting by giving me scripts when I was much younger. I actually was to play a lead child actor role in a big movie that my dad was the lead actor, but somehow I could not bring myself to do it because acting is not in me.
Music is my life so I had to wait till after my university education to begin my career proper because that is the proper thing to do. I am now mentally and physically ready for the challenges of Nigeria ’s music industry and with God on my side, I will make my mark the way my dad made his on the acting turf. In fact, my dream is to surpass my dad’s records in Nollywood, in the music scene.”
Was Zach Orji not disappointed in his son’s insistence on playing music instead of acting? “No, many people don’t know my dad. They do not know that he is a perfect gentleman outside the screen who will respect anybody’s choice in life. He is not a domineering person and that is why he is my mentor, dad, manager, motivator all rolled into one. He respected my choice of music and he had been so supportive that even a manager being paid a million pounds a year won’t have achieved what he has achieved for me within this short period of time and I am always grateful to my dad.”
Leo’nel does not have any problem being Zach Orji’s son. “His name opens certain doors for me and I am lucky to have a dad like him but there will come a time soon when I will drop this ‘Zach Orji’s son’s’ toga because I will have to be my own man.
Yes, for now, I need him and his name but that cannot go on forever, I will have to be just LEO’NEL’ soon. I am lucky I have a dad that has a name, I guess most upcoming artistes are not as lucky as I am, but will that stop me from working hard and marking my own mark? No, rather it will encourage me to surpass his records.”
And his mum? “Wow, my mum is not from this world. She is just spectacular in terms of her support for me. She went out of her way to be with me at the shows I have played so far and I have played quite a some shows, all small shows but there is a big one coming end of this month.
It’s what my media company Media Image Managers, MIM executive called the ‘Acid Test’. I won’t reveal the name of the show yet but it’s one of the biggest shows in Nigeria today, trust me. My mum is my ‘home manager’ because he keeps me on the toes at home, you know, it’s like someone always prodding you when you want to fall asleep.”
However, when he has conquered the music industry, Leo’nel hopes to go into music and movie production and directing. “I will do some directing and producing later in life but for now, its music and music only. I am talking to some big stars for us to have a collaboration in some of my new songs and Baby Joor remix.”
Lionel Chukwuemeka Orji is an indigene of Enugu State in Nigeria but was born and raised in Lagos state. He later moved to the UK to further his studies at the University of Bradford where he studied Media Studies with television.
Leo’nel said has been singing from a tender age but decided to go into it properly in 2007 by recording his first song in the studio and since then, he has been working hard towards achieving his dream and also making good music. The rising act has performed at different places in the UK, and also in Nigeria; from Basketmouth’s Lord of the Ribs in Manchester to MI’s album launch party in Huddersfield to different places such as Sheffield, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bradford, the ZAFAA award nominations in Lagos, the Global News Awards in Lagos among others.