Photos courtesy of Chioke Dmachi
Chioke Dmachi (pronounced Che-o-kee Dee-Mah-chee) is an actor, singer, and songwriter. Ever since he was 13, he knew that he wanted to be an entertainer. Dmachi’s acting credits includes appearances on television and film such as House MD, Crossing Over, Drake & Josh, CSI Miami, and the Independent feature film comedy, Cuttin Da Mustard. He has also starred in a numerous television commercials his first at the age of 17, Pepsi spot directed by film icon John Landis.
In 2009, he produced the comedic short film, Manscaping, which has won numerous film festival awards including the Silver Lei, at the Honolulu International Film Festival. In 2012 Dmachi wrote and executive produced his second short film project a drama titled, BY the Way.
BY the Way is a short film that tells the story of an ambitious graduate student faced with losing the love of his life if he doesn’t reveal a provocative truth. More importantly, however, BY the Way forces us to examine our very perception of love. It’s a very simple story about how we complicate love, life, and relationships.
Dmachi wore several hats in front of and behind the camera in BY the Way. The multi-talented performer talked about why he started his own production company FocusGroupFilms, the challenges he faced with this project and described his greatest joy – acting.
PRIDEINDEX (PI): I want to thank you very much for agreeing to do the interview.
CHIOKE DMACHI (CD): I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity.
PI: What is your nationality?
CD: My nationality is American. If you are asking what is my ethnic background I will tell you its very diverse and I am proud of that.
PI: Do you identify as multiracial?
CD: I identify as Chioke Dmachi, a human being just like anyone else. However the world would identify me as black or African American and that is fine with me too… I am at this place as an artist/ filmmaker where I am realizing that it’s too easy to focus on the things that make us different and it can cause division. It seems as a society we are neglecting the truth, which is that at the core we are all the same. ; It is so important to first remember that, we are all human beings trying to figure out this life thing. Regardless of what my physical representation might be I’m certain I can relate to you on some level and you could relate to me if we all start from the truth.
PI: In terms of your filmmaking background, tell me a little bit about that and when did you know that you were going to become a filmmaker?
CD: I started my career in acting at 13, I have been on different shows including House MD, and I have been blessed to be in some cool movie projects. As far as being a filmmaker, I have always liked tell stories through my acting so, actually producing projects that allowed me to do what I love to do, seemed like a natural progression. The first film I produced is called Manscaping and that went to the Honolulu International Film Festival and won the Silver Lei Award. We at FocusGroupFilms are excited for the other projects that are in development. To be completely honest my reason for wanting to participate behind the camera was because there is this narrative being told in the world that doesn’t depict the world as I see it. I feel it’s through film and art that we have the opportunity to share our perspective.
PI: Tell me about some of your filmmaking or artistic influences?
CD: I love Quentin Tarantino; he brings his own unique perspective as a human being, coupled with imagination. He creates worlds that are diverse. He allows all the things that he deems to be true to be exploited. I honor that because he is honest in how he tells stories and how what he wants to convey to audience.
I love Tim Noland; his movies show these beautiful dark sides that make you feel an appreciation for things that are not necessarily desirable.
PI: If I were to ask you to just narrow it down to one person and only that has influenced your artistic style who would you say?
CD: I could not say only one. I feel like I enjoy art and the art that vibes with me there has just been so many people. I will say a name that really resonates with me, and he is not an artist or an entertainer at all. That name is Martin Luther King. As he said so simply in his I Have A Dream Speech (and it is the one part of the speech that I love most of all), it is “I have a dream that one day people will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the contents of their character.” That is the most inspiring thing that I have ever heard anyone say. It breaks my heart that some people still do not get that; they celebrate him, but they don’t accept his words. I was emotional the other day because I’d heard about the controversy surrounding the Cheerios commercial where there is this little girl who ask her mom are Cheerios healthy and her mom says yes they are good for your heart. So the little girls go and pour the box all over her sleeping dad’s heart. The whole commercial is beautiful; it’s about family and love. Someone said there was some controversy around that commercial, and I was blown away. I asked why? The person told me it is because the family is biracial. I look at the world like this, Love is love. Family is family, yet some folks want to look at how we are different. It’s just love. That’s why Dr. King’s speech is so important and the driving passion for how I see the world. His words are so inspiring to me.
PI: That’s Powerful
CD: It’s just truth.
PI: Tell me about your filmmaking experience with BY the Way. What was it like to work in front of and behind the camera?
CD: This was the first time I ever wrote anything as far as a screen play for a movie. I am a singer-songwriter, so it was the first time I’ve ever done this; it was incredible. It was a beautiful collaboration with Shanti Lowry the director. Everybody who worked on BY the Way has been in the industry for at least 10 years. It was amazing to work with all my friends all the people that I love. People that I have believed in and people that have believed in me over the years. We all did this project because of what it’s about, Love. For the two days that we were on set, it was a lot of hard work. We shot that film over an 18 hour period nonstop. It was like go, go, go, go, and go. It was so fun!
CD: I really love the music in the film. Shauney Recke the music supervisor brought to the table this amazing artist, Jasmine Ash, she created the soundtrack. I had a blast when I got to write the title song called “By The way” with Jasmine. The song “BY the Way” plays over the closing credits of the film.
PI: Where did you get the idea for the film?
CD: I had a relationship that was very significant to me and my life, and it ended around the same time I decided to make the film.
PI: What did you like least about making the film?
CD: Honestly, what I like least about it? (Sighs) It was the first time I executive produced a project, wrote it, and had many responsibilities that were on my shoulders. It was difficult and challenging, but what I loved so much about it was that as an artist, as a producer, as a human being the experience was like the playoffs, and there was a feeling of “can you handle it?” Can you do it? It was the moment of truth when you stand up and do something that you really want to do. It was one of the most amazing things for me at that point of my life, and I did it. I had faith and it was scary, but it ended up being perfect and amazing.
PI: Therefore, in the future, can we expect to see more projects that are similar to this?
CD: Yes absolutely! My production company, Focus Group Entertainment, is in development on our next short project and then we have two features.
PI: What projects are you working on next?
CD: I just got back from traveling with BY the Way to Frameline37 in San Francisco. Then I went straight into rehearsals with my music production team, to get ready for my performance at the EOTM Awards show in Los Angeles, held on August 4th. My music video “Luv On You,” was nominated and won for “Best Music Video male.” Now it’s back into the recording studio.
PI: What film festivals will By The Way be shown next?
CD: It premiered at Frameline37 and will be shown next at Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival – sometime during August 16-24 in Los Angeles. I don’t know the exact date just yet the film will show.
PI: Where will it show after that?
CD: To Be Determined
PI: Is there a possibility that you will show By the Way at Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International film fest?
CD: There is a possibility. I have submitted BY the Way to many festivals including to those in Chicago, so it is to be announced.
PI: What else would you like to share?
CD: This film was done out of love.
Chioke Dmachi ‘s music click here
The 2013 Entrepreneurs On The Move (EOTM) Awards click here
Click here to see cast and crew commentary