Pius Okaba, otherwise known as Codread is a Nigerian-born model, singer, songwriter, actor and movie director, who has proved his mettle as one of Europe’s most sought-after thespians. His grass to grace story simply depicts hard work, resilience and focus.
Pius was born in Maroko, a volatile slum that would later be demolished by the Lagos State Government under the military leadership of General Raji Rasaki. Maroko was a community in Eti-Osa Local Government, Lagos. It was adjacent to Ikoyi and east of Victoria Island. It was a low-income area that attracted a lot of migrants due to its proximity to economically robust areas.
In July 1990, the Lagos State Government, under Raji Rasaki, evicted the residents of Maroko and demolished the community. The government said Maroko was below sea level and needed to be filled in with sand and needed infrastructure improvements. About 300,000 people lost their houses and valuables. It was one of the largest forced evictions in Nigerian history.
Pius Okaba was born in Maroko but grew up in another rural area in Ajegunle, Ikorodu. Irrespective of crime and other social vices that were synonymous with the slum, Pius remained focused, as he only engaged in sporting activities – soccer and boxing, the two most popular sports in rural areas. “Soccer was to socialize with my friends while boxing was to protect myself from enemies,” Pius quipped.
As a child, Pius said he “sold vegetables for my Mom, fish for my neighbours and kito/sanders for my older sister’s boyfriend, and this was how I developed an entrepreneurial skill which has shaped my life today. When I became a teenager, I wanted more, so I found my way out of the remote area to live with my brother in Victoria Island where I learned barbing. I tried to get into Lagos State Polytechnic where I studied Business Administration but I dropped out in the second year because my brother who was supporting me financially had just lost his salon and I couldn’t continue my studies.”
However, one beautiful afternoon, as he went for a stroll around the neighbourhood in Victoria Island, he met a friend, Charles Toye who introduced him to Modela, a frontline designer and modelling agent, who trained him as a runway model.
“A few years later, I became one of the first Glo ambassadors in Nigeria and I had my face on billboards, interstate buses and on advertorials. During a Glo advert shoot, I was introduced to the Creative Director of the production company in South Africa that got me and two other models from Modela signed by a South African modelling agency called Noir Models and this was how I left Nigeria to start my international modelling career,” Pius reminisced.
Today, Pius Okaba has emerged one of the toasts of the European film market. The Berlin, Germany-based thespian has over his 10-year career in the film and television industry worked in various fields such as Format Buying, On-Air Image Design, Content Acquisition, Content Development/Management, Airtime Sales, Directing and Production for both the film and television industries.
An alumnus of The New York Film Academy (NYFA) where he studied acting and he holds a Master of Arts Degree in Film Directing from the prestigious University of West London, Pius is currently pursuing a second Masters Degree (MFA) in motion pictures and is a residence lecturer at the Prague Film Institute in the Czech Republic. His controversial film AYE, released in 2019 sees a wide acceptance across the European film industry.
AYE won the award for Best Short Film at the Africa In Diaspora Cinema Festival in Florence, Italy and was nominated and screened at I Will Tell International Film Festival, London, United Kingdom, Black Star International Film Festival, Accra Ghana, The South African International Film Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa, Africa international Film Festival, Lagos Nigeria, and Inshort Film Festival, also in Lagos, Nigeria.
Pius’s role as a witch hunter in the most anticipated Czech fairytale film of all time, Princezna Zakletá V Čase (Princess Lost In Time) which is expected to be released in cinemas across Europe in March 2020 has made him a household name in the acting scene in Europe.
Although, his appearance on Berlin Tag Und Nacht, a daily series on German television RTL II was a highlight of his acting career in Germany. He is currently working on his latest film which will be released in the fall of 2021.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, he was on location with other Hollywood stars shooting Orisa, a film he is producing. Orisa is a Yoruba word for shrine, as the film centres around kidnapping, child rape and human trafficking.