Hot and sexy are the words that come to mind when you hear the name Bryan Okwara, but he is more than simply another pretty face in the movie world. You may remember him as the hunk who won the 2007 Mr. Nigeria competition and also reached the semi-finals in the Mister World 2007 competition.
Today, Bryan is more than all that. He is an international model and a sensational actor. SATURDAY INDEPENDENT’s TOMI FALADE was able to chat with him at the official unveiling of the 30th edition of the MBGN pageant, and he spoke on his successes, challenges and most interesting of all, finding love.
Your dreadlocks are kind of your trademark or logo as it were. Is there anything that can make you cut it or change the look?
The decision that made me put it on would be the same decisions that would make me take it off. It’s just decisions in life.
What made you put it on in the first place?
Decisions. I made a decision to put I on.
Will love ever be the catalyst for such a decision?
Love! Eh! Can you see what we are calling love? Love o! You see, it is not everybody that finds love o. But who ever finds love definitely has found a good thing. So for love, if you chose to do crazy things, I think it is fine. It’s allowed.
Aren’t you worried about how you would look without you locks? Aren’t you scared?
No. Why would I be scared? Everything is a look. A man’s most valuable asset is his confidence, so confidence is what I look out for.
The theme of this year’s MBGN is domestic violence themed. Do you think confidence is one of the attributes that may help women battle the scourge that is domestic violence?
I think what a woman needs to fight domestic violence is information really. If a woman is well informed about her surroundings and what is really going on instead of just walking into situations without knowing what is really going on ignorantly, she is armed. I think she needs information first of all and that is what we really need to drive that message to a lot of women out there who pursue ambitions blindly without knowing the full implications of what they are going into or who they are dealing with. So I think young women need a lot of information so that they can be prepared. When they face these things, they are better informed instead of being without any information whatsoever.
You are generally cast for your looks and perceived persona in certain kinds of movies, are you planning to delve into genres that are different from your traditional fine boy roles?
I have actually featured in different genres and played different roles. What I am saying is that I have already shot different types of movies, but they haven’t been premiered, so you haven’t seen it. So if the producer decides to premiere it, then you will see it.
So are the wedding bells tolling for you anytime soon?
Wedding bells? Ah! Well, I think everybody who is destined to be a man would one day find a woman and leave his house and join with her, but that’s just God’s calling. When it happens, it happens so I am just going with the flow.
What are your biggest challenges as a ladies’ man?
Eh! My goodness! My biggest challenge is that God should give me the strength not to be a ladies’ man (laughs).
You don’t like being a ladies’ man?
There is something you need to understand about being a ladies’ man. Yes, you are, you can’t run away from it, it is something that your charisma has committed you to be or become. But at the same time, there is also a 50 percent to that coin and the other 50 percent is that people tend to stereotype you and see you as you are, so people hardly take you seriously. Any woman would automatically assume and say that “Yes, is he not a fine boy, we have seen him, we know his type”. And I’m like “what do you mean!” So, sometimes, it is a good thing that you walk into a room and every woman looks at you and admires you, but… people that like that and that’s all they want for themselves is fine, but people that actually see the other part of life and see importance and value will not really like that after a while. Because I would like you to see me for who I really am and not just what I present myself to be.
How has that affected your love life? Have you lost love for this misrepresented identity?
Well, like I said, not everyone finds love. People find love for different reasons, people love for different reasons, but for me, I think it just depends on the kind of person that you are in love with. The kind of person you give your time to. If she understands you, understands your work and the kind of person you are, I think that’s just the best situation between a man and a woman. But when you are with a woman and she doesn’t understand you, she is always going to second-guess you, nothing you do will please her.
Anytime you come back, whether you have been working or playing, she is always going to just take whatever examples she has experienced from a previous relationship and use it on you. So the basic thing is just to understand who you are with. So yes, I can say that I have lost friendships being a ladies’ man.
If you had not been in entertainment, what else would you have done?
Well, as an Igbo boy, I would have probably been selling cars, making money (laughs).
So you love cars?
Yes. I have a distinct love for cars. I really love fast cars; I love performance cars.
What’s your ‘batmobile’, like your dream car?
Well, currently, I’ll say a Camaro SS is my favourite car.
What do you drive now?
I drive a Camaro SS (Laughs).
You are one of those who made the effort from transitioning from modeling to acting look easy, how were you able to manage this?
First of all, thank you very much. The truth is that everyone works hard, but it is God we give the glory to because he is the one that will really pick you out of the bunch and make you something. So I keep blessing God for it. And then hard work of course. It’s been hard, I have changed teams, changed managements, rebranded a couple of times… so it’s just your personal knack for wanting to make it in life and not just being too rigid saying “I started out as a model, I am going to die a model.” Or “I started out as an actor and I am going to die as one.” The entertainment industry and the sky are too big for you to lose or simply limit yourself.
You need to be flexible, you need to explore yourself, be other people. You need to take steps, be bold, dare to be different and by doing these things, you better understand yourself and your situation. By the time you get to where you want to be… You know, when you are going on a trip or planning something, if you don’t know where you are going, you will not know that you have arrived there.
That is what happens to a lot of people. But if you have in mind where you are going, you simply can’t stop. Even when you get to a business that is paying you, you can’t stop because you know “this is not where I am supposed to be!” That’s what people need to start to believe. Dream big. A lot of people are afraid to dream big. They say “ha! Me, a millionaire? Never! How will it ever happen?” Those that are millionaires, how many heads do they have? So people need to dream big; that’s just what kills a lot of people.