FAMOUS FACES: Reasons mum was strongly against my going into acting – Nollywood star, Chioma Chukwuka
By AZUH AMATUS
Pretty and talented Chioma Nkemakolam Chukwuka is among the few scandal-free actresses in Nollywood. Since her arrival in 2000, on the set of The Apple, courtesy of top filmmaker, Theodore Anyanji, the slim and sexy actress has remained steadily focused and untainted. “I’m naturally a quiet person. I also try to mind my own business in whatever I do. God has been guiding my every move in Nollywood,” maintains the Oraifite, Anambra State-born screen dazzler, who is also from a polygamous home.
Chukwuka, a final year student of Banking and Finance at the Lagos State University, has also dazzled in over 60 Nollywood movies since she breezed in. The easy-going thespian who wants to produce and direct her own movies soon, in this interview, opened up on several issues affecting her private and public lives.
Enjoy the interaction!
Aside movies, people don’t get to hear much about you like most of your other female colleagues in Nollywood. Why is it so?
I think it is best to lie low in Nollywood. I like it like that. I’m just okay with people watching me in movies. Also, as a public figure, I’m very cautious and conscious of whatever I do in the public.
Your rise in Nollywood is meteoric. How did you do it and looking back now, how does that make you feel?
(Laughs) God is my main secret. Other secrets that took me to the top are hard work, being focused, and luck. It makes me feel good knowing that people like what I do. I’m usually very happy when my fans call to commend my works. It encourages me to work harder.
And how has it been for you coping with stardom?
It has not been easy, but I’ve tried in my own little way. I’m also thanking God for the wisdom and humility He has given me. I’m a normal human being that does what normal human beings do every day. I have vowed never to let stardom get into my head.
As a beautiful, young, and single actress, how do you cope with men?
I try to cope o! (laughs heartily). I play with them and know when to draw the lines the moment they start getting some funny ideas into their heads. You know Nigerian men are very stubborn.
How about the ones coming to you with marriage proposals?
If those ones persist, I also persist on my stand that I’m not interested in marriage. Sincerely speaking, if I don’t want you, you can’t make me change my mind.
So, what appeals to you in a man?
First and foremost, he must be God-fearing, good sense of humour, caring, loving, and should have all those things women love in guys. And he must also be good-looking.
The story making the rounds within and outside Nollywood is that you are planning a secret wedding with your lover. How true is it?
(Laughs) But we agreed not to talk on anything about my personal life in this interview. Just keep your fingers crossed, that is all that I can tell you on that.
So, in essence, you will be walking down the aisle soon?
I don’t know, but not too long, at least you won’t have arthritis while waiting (general laughter).
So, your Romeo that will soon walk you down the aisle, has all these qualities you just listed?
Well, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder; he is cute and good looking.
Could you tell us a bit about him and how your romance started?
When the time comes, you will know him. He is also the quiet type who does not like publicity.
For how long have you been dating?
I can’t tell you when and how we started. The truth is that we have been dating and very seriously too. The qualities I just reeled out to you got me tripped about him.
So, how did he woo you?
The only thing I can tell you is that we didn’t meet in Nollywood, we met outside and he toasted me the way a normal man would toast a woman. And I fell for him flat.
What were the exact words he used that day?
Humh! He didn’t use the usual and outdated words, we started as pals, one thing later led to another and the rest, as they say, is now history.
Currently, what projects or productions are you involved with?
I just finished some jobs back-to-back. I will rest for three days and hit locations again… But it has been a busy year for me, and I thank God for everything.
Like how many movies have you featured in this year?
Maybe six or seven. And surprisingly, only few of them are out.
Aside acting and being an undergraduate, what else are you into?
I’m also a businesswoman, and please don’t ask me the kind of business I’m into. I’m doing legal buying and selling.
Let’s assume you are not acting today, what else would you have been doing?
Sincerely speaking, I would love to be with my family full time if I’m not acting. Since I became an actress, I hardly spend quality time with them. I also love business so much. But I try to stay with them in my spare time. I also try to watch as many of my movies as I can, so that I can improve on my acting.
Still on movies, which was your first and how did you come into Nollywood?
My first movie was The Apple. Theodore Anyanji introduced me to Nollywood in 2000, but Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen directed the movie; Lancelot really encouraged me on the set, he was patient with me on set.
From then till now, how many movies have you featured in?
Sincerely speaking, I’ve lost count of the number of movies I have done. I’ve done much but I don’t know if they are up to 100.
Aside seeing you in movies, most people do not know anything about you. We would like you to tell us more about yourself and family background.
I’m Chioma Chukwuka, as you already know. My other name is Nkemakolam. I’m from a family of 14, my dad has two wives. My mum is the first wife and I’m the second child. From my mum, we are six, three at par. I’m from Oraifite in Ekwusigo LGA of Anambra State. I’m a final year student of Banking and Finance at the Lagos State University. I did my primary school in Lagos and went down to the East for my secondary education. I’m an adult, my birthday is March 12. What else? I was born in Lagos, Bode Thomas, Surulere to be precise.
How was growing up like, any fond memories?
I grew up a normal child and it was fantastic. I’m a very friendly child. The fond memories were the pranks we played then as kids.
Before meeting your current Romeo, were you into any relationship?
This is a personal question I would not like to answer. I’m sorry, please.
Which among your numerous movies really challenged you?
Few have really challenged me. My first movie, The Apple, really challenged me. Disguise, Azima, Moment of Truth, and Romantic Attraction, my first movie with RMD. I was very scared on that set.
You are very romantic in movies, in real life are you also romantic?
Yes! I’m very romantic in real life, very, very o! I’m also very emotional.
Can you fight over a guy in real life?
No! I no fit do that o!
But you can marry an actor?
No! I can’t. I don’t have any reason I can’t marry an actor, but deep down, I know I can’t. As a human being, there are things you like and things you don’t like. Marrying an actor is one of the things I don’t like.
The ban on some of your colleagues is still raging. We would like to know your views on the controversial issue.
Sincerely speaking, I don’t know what to say about the ban issue because it was not officially done. It is a sensitive issue that all those involved need to handle very carefully so that it does not escalate.
And what if your name had been added to the list, what will be your reaction?
Thank God first that my name was not on the list. I would have known what to do if my name had entered the list.
Do you still remember your lowest fee as an actress?
(Thinks) It was N10, 000 then, but I won’t tell you the set. And please, don’t ask me about my highest fee. I earn something reasonable as an actress. God has blessed me.
As a rising actress who has come in contact with many Nigerian men. How would you rate them?
I strongly disagree with those of my colleagues that said Nigerian men are not worth it. Because the Nigerian man I have and love is worth dying for.
Did your parents approve of your coming into the industry when you started, considering the many negative publicities associated with Nollywood?
My dad is neutral and diplomatic in whatever he does. He is of the view that all his children know what they want for themselves. The one question he normally asks us is: “Are you happy with this, is it what you want to do?” And if you say yes and he eventually sees that you are serious, he will stand by you. But my mum was strongly against me going into acting. Then, she felt all the girls in Nollywood were loose and promiscuous. Part of her fear then was that she would lose me once I get into Nollywood. I was later able to convince her that I won’t derail, though it was not easy and did not come easy. I prayed much to convince her.
You are among the scandal-free actresses, what is your secret?
Sincerely speaking, I don’t know how God has been doing that for me since I came in. My life was open for everybody to see and I’m very simple. No pretences. It is God… Because there are always stories in the print media about this actor dating that actress, though, it has never happened to me.
But have you dated any actor in the past?
It is my personal life that is at stake here, so, I am sorry I can’t answer you.
What are your parents into?
My parents are strictly businesspeople.
Did you encounter any form of sexual harassment(s) from some producers/directors when you joined Nollywood?
Thank God for Theodore Anyanji, he brought me in, so there was nothing like sexual harassments from any quarters. He guided me very well and I followed his advice to the letter.
From 2000 till date, how has it been like for you in terms of challenges?
It has not been easy. But as an actress, my biggest challenge has always been interpreting movie roles. I give different interpretations to any role that comes my way. It is also not easy being in the limelight.
As an actress that has acted in many romantic movies with the opposite sex, like how many men have you kissed?
One milion men (general laughter). And for your information, I do camera kisses only in movies and you don’t expect me to be counting them.
And how do you feel having these camera kisses in movies?
I don’t know! How do you expect me to be counting that? No feelings, it’s just normal. There is a way we do it.
Does your guy get angry whenever he watches you in movies doing all these camera kisses?
You are dragging me too far and I won’t say anything about my personal life again.
What is your view on Nollywood, many people say it is still crawling several years after taking off?
I disagree with them. Nollywood is a fast-growing industry. There is much difference. It is an evolving industry that will soon be known globally whenever entertainment is being talked about. I’m proud of Nollywood.
Who are your role models in Nollywood?
I like Joke Silva, Liz Benson, Kate Henshaw, Stella Damasus and, for the guys, RMD and Ramsey Noah.
As an adult, are there things or mannerisms that you don’t like about yourself?
(Laughs) I have learnt to accept myself the way God made me.
As a popular actress, have you ever been embarrassed publicly?
No! I have not had any experience and don’t also pray to have any. Except the occasional comments from fans and critics.
What are your phobias?
I have phobia for creeping stuffs and flying insects, especially cockroaches and millipedes.
In the next couple of years, where do you want to be, career wise?
I’m five years ahead of where I am now. Hollywood is in the picture for me in the nearest future. I will be there.
From your own point of view, what would you say is the biggest problem facing Nigerian actresses?
For me, it is the fact that people still judge us with movies. And most people still believe that nothing good can ever come out from us. I’m happy we are beginning to conquer this problem.
As a good actress, why didn’t you read theatre arts, why banking and finance?
No special reasons. You know variety is the spice of life. But I will still read theatre arts later in life.
Who is Chioma Chukwuka, kindly describe yourself for us?
I’m just a simple and nice girl who is fun to be with. I am also a very lively person. You can also read my emotions from my face anytime.
But how come most of your colleagues and fans are still saying you are cocky, pompous, and arrogant?
It is no longer news to me. I started hearing it right from my secondary school days. I believe it is a front. Those who come closer to me always go back to tell the others Chioma is not what we do perceive from afar. It is not good judging somebody from afar. I am not cocky, pompous, or arrogant.
What kind of legacies do you intend to leave behind when you are no longer here?
I want to be remembered as that actress who joined Nollywood from a tender age, made an impact through acting and the exemplary life she led. Let me also say it here that I want to live above 80 years.
Since your arrival in 2000, what would you say has been your biggest achievement in Nollywood?
I’ve achieved a lot in my own little way since I came in. But I have not really started. My best is yet to come. Right now, my biggest achievement was being able to convince people now that I can interpret roles. Much still to be achieved. I have not even done my own movie which I also hope to direct. I want to do every good thing that I see people do in Nollywood. I don’t want to restrict myself.
If by chance you meet God here on earth, what are the major things you would beg Him to do for you?
Aaah! More money, more wisdom, more understanding, and more foresight. In fact, more blessings.
What is your philosophy of life?
Be happy always, no regrets whatsoever.
First published, June 2005.
Culled from Azuh Amatus’ best selling books, FAMOUS FACES…Interactions With Nollywood Stars And Stakeholders (1&2).