Saturday

I started acting after I gave Uncle Mark Angel an Apple - Kid comedian, Emmanuella grants her first media interview




Popular online comedian, Mark Angel, the owner of the Mark Angel Comedy and kid comedienne, Emmanuella, his right hand, are prominent on the social media for their comic skits. Their short videos have continued to go viral on major online platforms where they have become household names. In this interview, the Port Harcourt-based comic acts tell NEWTON RAY-UKWUOMA  about the journey, passion and life as online comedians.

Is Mark Angel your real name?
Yes. Mark Angel is both my real and stage name. My surname is Angel and my first name is Mark. I live in Port Harcourt. I am a showbiz entertainer. I come from Orlu in Imo State.

Emmanuella, introduce yourself.
My name is Emmanuella, but you can also call me Ella. I attend Brighten Primary and Secondary School in Port Harcourt in Rivers State.  I am in Basic One. And I am five years old. I love watching cartoons. I like games. I have many of them. I like eating. This is not my real face o.
(General laughter)

When did you start doing comedy?
Mark:We started making comedy in 2011. We opened our official social media accounts on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and launched the Mark Angel Comedy company in 2013.

What inspired the Mark Angel Comedy group?
First, we started by just calling friends together. I come from a Nollywood background. I am a cinematographer. I grew up seeing people make movies in Surulere. I have done some productions. I am also a film editor. But Nollywood wasn’t what I wanted initially. My dream was to be in a position to create contents that will sell African culture and values to the world. So, I decided to begin with short films. I felt it was an opportunity to enhance my knowledge of cinematography.

Did you factor in comedy from the beginning?
Yes, though I wanted to do short films, my genre was comedy. I like to laugh a lot. And I like to stay around people who make me laugh. That was how we started putting videos together. We compiled a lot of it. We tried to be consistent, to learn from every shoot and to work on improving the next. We did that for a couple of years before opening the social media accounts for people to see.

At what point did you start getting surprised by the views your videos were generating?
I think it was in 2015. One of our videos got so much attention in days on Youtube and other platforms. That really motivated us to do more. The video hit a million views in three days. I think it was because we had established ourselves on social media before then. Before then our videos had  gone viral and because we did not have social media accounts, nobody knew the source. It was a big lesson for us. That was why we opened the social media accounts. We started linking people back to the source.

Was Emmanuella in the picture then?
Yes. The video that got us a lot of mileage was the one Emmanuella was featured.

What is the title of the short film?
It was the ‘Landlord’ video.

The one the landlord wanted to collect his rent?
Yes. That video gave us a lot of presence online. After that, we did a couple of other videos with Emmanuella, including “This is not my real face.” God used that video to bring out her brand.

At what point did you decide to use Emmanuella as the main face of Mark Angel comedy?
A lot of things kept unfolding. My approach about comedy kept changing every day. I noticed that she was getting attention and that was because there was a huge vacuum in the comedy industry: a lot of children didn’t have content to consume. Using Emmanuella became very strategic as we wanted to also reach the children.

Let me paraphrase, I mean, how did you find Emmauella? What is your relationship with her?
It is a long story.

That is why I am here.
Emmanuella is a family friend. On one occasion she came for a long-term holiday at the family house in Port Harcourt. She was one of the kids who came around me. I love kids. I discovered that I connected a lot with her. She would know when I was around and when I was not around. She was younger than the kids that come close to me, yet she made me laugh the most. I used to watch “Kids Say the Damnedest Thing”, an American programme. I began to see Emmanuella in the characters of that programme. Emmauella can say a lot of things and she was spontaneous. I enjoyed having her around. I would ask her a lot of questions. There was a time I needed kids for a shoot. I called some kids for audition. I was thinking  of using her for a show, not the shoot, a stand-up comedy show. I was already branding her for a character that time, because she was spontaneous. When the kids came I selected three. I was trying to feed them the lines for the shoot, but they weren’t getting them. It was for one comedy called “Who Mess?” feeling frustrated, I called Emmanuella to come and try. She was just playing while the kids were struggling. In minutes, she was taking the lines off them. Then, I asked two of the kids to go home. I then started training her and the other kid. I found out that Emmanuella had talent, though it did not show at that time. Not many people could see what I saw in Emmanuella. I think God helped me see that. She was a child. She did not know what she had. So, we used her in that video, a video we spent eighteen hours shooting. She endured all through the time. I deliberately refused to give them lunch. I wanted to know the strength of the kids. I wanted to know which kid would complain first. Emmanuella did not complain. She was excited about the whole thing. Just because of her excitement I confirmed that this kid had what I wanted. We spent 18 hours to shoot one short film that lasted three minutes. After that video, I met her parents. We had a long chat about her future, about fame. It took a lot of convincing to finally get their approval. That was how we started.

How has it been working with a kid?
I always try to allow her a lot of freedom. I allow her to behave like the child she is, though we carefully tell her that she is a superstar.

Emmanuella, how did you feel when you were asked to act?
Emmanuella: There was a time my uncle (Mark Angel) was calling other kids to act. He didn’t invite me but I joined them. I was happy to act. When he called me, I gave him an apple so that he would allow me to act.

You mean, you bribed your uncle? Did he collect it?
Emmanuella: No. He said that I was ready to act.
Mark Angel: I forgot that. Emmanuella bribed me with an apple.

How did you know you could act?
Emmanuella: I just knew it. The spirit of God told me I can act.

How did the spirit of God tell you?
Emmanuella: Sometimes I would pray and in my dream I will be acting. I just noticed that I was funny. I was two years old when I started acting comedy drama in school and in the church.

Mark, what are you doing to enhance her talent?
For now, I want her to grow into it without knowing so much. She does not know the full impact of what she is doing. I want her to have a normal childhood. So, I am not trying to mould her in any way. I just allow her to have fun on camera. She told me that she wants to be a fashion designer. So, right now, there is someone taking her through it. She is learning fashion designing and make-up. She likes make-up too. Emmanuella is going to move from online platform to mainstream Nollywood. That is what we are working on right now.

Do you make money from the online platforms?
Not much. Right now, money has not started coming from the internet. The only thing we get is some money from Youtube, which we use for upkeep and all other expenses.

In spite of the views, why don’t you make money from your videos?
The truth is that to make money from the internet, your views would have to be generated from a single source, that is, your account on Youtube. Most of our views are generated from popular channels, from bloggers. Not many people knew that we had a channel even. So, when we upload from our channel, it is circulated on other channels so that when the video gets a million views in a day, the million views may be from these internet gurus and we may get about 100,000 views.

In other words, people make money from your videos?
Yes. Sometime ago, someone sent me a mail. He was honest with me. He told me that in total he had made $18,600 at that time from circulating our videos online. He said he had a channel dedicated for our comedy.

How does that make you feel?
It gives me a good feeling actually. I asked if he was Nigerian. He said, he is a Nigerian leaving in Spain. He was thanking me. He said he wanted to send me some money. Much later, he sent some money to Emmanuella. It made me happy to see that we are doing something that can employ Nigerians. Beside satisfying our fans, our goal is to create jobs for people. There are people who are living off our comedy. There are people who depend on it to make a living. And we can’t afford to restrict people.

Do you have a car?
No.

Do you have a house?
No.

Where do you live?
I live with my parents.

You live with your parents after years of doing comedy?
Yes. The thing is you cannot force anything to happen. What I have decided to do is to work and work. No matter what happens I will continue to work. I don’t think we have worked enough.

What is your educational background?
I am an SSCE holder. I dropped out of Medicine because of this. I really don’t like talking about it.

People would like to know you better. Do you mean you dropped out of school for showbiz?
I was studying Medicine at the Obafemi Awolowo University. It was in my second year that I felt I needed to leave. It was not only because of showbiz, I wasn’t getting much financial support. I asked myself one day, after I watched Basket Mouth perform here in Surulere, if his education got him where he was. That question changed my life. I went back to school, picked just my bag and left. I left Osun State to Lagos and did not go back. My roommates took the rest of my property. I went to learn cinematography.

Now, do you want to go back to school?
Yes. I miss school sometimes. I will go back to school someday. Whenever I decide to return to school it wouldn’t be to study Medicine, but Business Administration. There is something about school that I am missing, that is affecting my approach to my business.

When people meet you for the first time what do they say to you?
Emmanuella: They say, “Emmanuella, I have watched your comedy”.

And what do you tell them?
Emmanuella: I will say, “This is not my real face oh!” It makes happy. In fact, I am always excited when people wave at me.

9 comments:

  1. is it just me or what cos i never find any of this little brat's joke funny at all

    ReplyDelete
  2. Me too oh i dont know what people see in that her nonsense this is nt my real face video, so boring

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good decision to go back to school.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You shot 18hours with a five year old before telling her parents? What?

    ReplyDelete
  5. This interview is too long biko

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  6. People could be so mean and cold. Welldone Mark Angel and Emmanuella, keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete

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