- Becoming Nigeria’s MJ is one of my greatest dreams – Hilary Jackson
Hilary Chinonso Uzorka, popular known as Hilary Jackson is a professional award-winning dancer. He has won various national awards for his passion. Becoming Nigeria’s Michael Jackson is not just a dream for the Delta-born dancer, but also dancing his way through to becoming a legend. In this exclusive interview with 1STNEWS’ Olanike Akinrimisi, Hilary Jackson talks about the challenges dancers experience in Nigeria, neglect in the entertainment industry and other arising issues…Excerpts
What inspired you to become a professional dancer?
Michael Jackson, James brown, and other old school musicians from the 70s and 80s with good funk, pop, rock and old school music and sounds inspired me to be a professional dancer.
How has it been since you emerged Winner Of Lucozade Boost Freestyle Tv Show season 2?
It has been challenging and at the same awesome. Because since I emerged winner I have encountered a lot of competitors in the dance industry. Furthermore, they challenge me to do more and it has helped me grow and expanded my brands.
What genres of dance do you do?
I dance different kinds of dance styles but for the sake of versatility, I dance Hip-Hop, Popping, Locking, Dance hall, Afro Fusion, Choreography. I also engage in dance instructor and entrepreneur.
What are your challenges as a dancer?
As a dancer, the challenges we are face daily is the non-recognition we get from the entertainment industry here in Nigeria. You can hardly find a dancer endorse a dancer as their brand ambassador. This is not supposed to be so. More so, the money we are been paid at events are very low compared to the hours of rehearsal, costumes, logistics and so on we invest on what we do. In fact, some pay us as low as N20,000.
What are your hopes and expectations that have not been met?
My hope is to ensure that the industry is operated by educated dancers. I also hope to see dancers becoming international brand ambassadors to different corporate bodies and agencies.
I think there are no enough platforms for young dancers to thrive. I urge the government to empower dancers, create more platforms to explore other parts of the world and to represent the country at large both for cultural and ethnic reasons.
What impact have you contributed in the industry?
With the few years of experience in this industry, I have been able to establish a dance academy, Hilary Jackson Dance Academy, where we train young aspiring dancers. Nigeria is blessed with raw talents and potential that need wider platforms to harness their gifts.
Who are your role models in the industry?
Most of them international dancers and musicians. My role models of dance are Michael Chambers popularly known as Michael Boogaloo Shrimp A.k.A Turbo, Jeffrey Daniels of Shalamar. Others are Michael Jackson, James Brown, late Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Obi Michael popularly known as Omikel or Michael Popping.
What is your view about the trend of dance recently?
Dance is emerging in the entertainment industry in Nigeria because some dance legends in Nigeria have been contributing in the industry by organising dance seminars, workshop and so on to build and teach dancers about the business in dance and making them believe they are entrepreneurs in the field.
Dance industry in the next 5 years?
The dance industry in Nigeria is growing but soon it will gain more recognition and international awards.
Have you done any collaboration with any international dancer?
Yes, I have done a collaboration with an international dancer with the name “Moiika”. She’s a Jamaican and American. She featured in one of my dance videos in 2016.
How do you think Africa especially Nigeria portrays dancing as a career?
The way Africans portray dance as a career is unfair. Most times, we are referred to as uneducated, hoodlums and jobless people. But now, dancers are becoming more educated. Similarly, dancers are beginning to gain acceptability in performing in corporate events, indoor and outdoors; governments occasions, wedding ceremonies, birthday parties and the likes.
Would you say you are fulfilled?
Yes, I’m fulfilled. I am doing what I love best as a profession and career which is Dance.
What would you be doing if you aren’t dancing?
I would be playing football, acting or become a businessman, because that was what I studied in Lagos State University as a graduate of Business Administration
What advice do you have for young aspiring dancers?
Get educated, be focused, be determined, rehearse constantly, and be a good personality for others to imitate in the society.