Fast rising actress, Chiamaka Nwokeukwu is gradually warming her way into the hearts of movie buffs courtesy of her stunning looks and talent. The Ohuhu, Abia State-born thespian who hit the limelight after starring in a movie entitled, My Unborn Son, grew up overnight after losing her dad four years ago. Today, Chiamaka has played alongside notable stars including Nadia Buari. In this interview with NKECHI CHIMA-ONYELE, the light complexioned actress opens up on her career. Excerpts:
Tell us about your background?
My father died four years ago. By the grace of God my mother is doing well taking care of us. I am the eldest child of my family; I have three siblings.
As the first child of the family, how did your father’s death affect you?
I was 17-years-old when my father died, so immediately after my secondary education, I started working at Shoprite, Lagos. I also worked at the Lagos International Trade Fair as a sale representative. My father’s death exposed me to a life of struggles because I had to support my mother; she was all we had. Until my father’s death he was a manager at Apapa Boat Club and he was also a major distributor for Promasidor.
How did you overcome those challenges?
I never knew we could survive without my dad. Thank God my mother is a business woman. Sometimes she faced the challenges of her goods being seized by Customs at the border but we have overcome all that now. By the grace of God my mother is doing well and my siblings are in school and soon, I will be through with my studies at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) where I am studying Accounting.
Could you tell us about your journey into Nollywood?
A friend introduced me to Nollywood during an audition in Lagos in 2012. Honestly, I was not prepared for the audition but she encouraged me to join her so that I could at least have an experience of what they were doing. I accompanied her with my undone hair and house clothes; I was not looking very good but when we got to the audition venue, people encouraged me to fill the audition form because of my looks; they told me I was attractive. Initially I felt reluctant to collect the script because I was not well dressed. However, after that audition, God blessed my star and I got a role. Today, I have become a marketable brand.
While growing up did you ever nurse the idea of becoming an actress?
No, I have always dreamt of working in a bank as a corporate lady and earning a good salary because I hate depending on people for survival.
What was your debut movie and how many movies have you featured to date?
It was entitled Innocent Devil. I also acted in Serpent of the Sea and Unborn Son shortly after my first movie. Ever since I have featured in movies such as Illuminati Girls, Innocent Fugitives, Enemy Among Us, Desperate Singles, Play Girls, Games of Love, Love and Lust, Men In Chains, All My Ladies, Kurekere Babies, The Suspense, Letters From The Sea, Happiest Woman, Official House Boy, Bandit, Between Two Worlds, Chinelo The Shy Virgin, andUnthinkable among others.
Who are your role models in the movie industry?
I love Liz Benson for her charisma, Mercy Johnson for her acting prowess and Olu Jacobs is just fantastic!
What has really changed about you since you joined Nollywood?
Honestly my father never gave me the opportunity of doing things freely because he was so possessive. I believe that if he were alive, I wouldn’t have become an actress. He was very protective and always cautioned me about boys and advised I stay focused and wait for the right man who will love and take care of me for life.
In Nollywood there are the good, the bad and the ugly. Which category do you belong?
I must tell you that getting roles in Nollywood as an up-and-coming actress was a very difficult task; it was by the sheer grace of God. However, I was lucky because the producer who featured me in his first movie kept featuring me in most of his movies. In fact, after my second job with the production outfit, I became quite hot because I was every director’s choice.
Are you saying you didn’t face any challenge to get to where you are today?
Fortunately, I didn’t experience those things some actresses call challenges.
What are those things they experience?
Some actresses say that the only way they get roles is through sex-for-role. But I wouldn’t trade my body for roles because I am not a prostitute.
Are you saying you are not dreaming of living large like some of your colleagues?
I have always dreamt of becoming a star and earning over a million naira and above per flick. But sleeping with every movie maker to get to the peak of my career is definitely not my style. I believe in hard work and destiny; God is truly proving Himself in my life. I thank God for His mercies and love.
Which movie would you consider your favourite?
It is Chinelo The Shy Virgin, produced by Victor Ibe popularly known as Dr. Paul. I played the lead character of Chinelo, a shy virgin, who later breaks her man’s heart after he made her life meaningful. I really love that role because it is an emotionally charged movie; I found it quite challenging! However, it was Unborn Son that actually gave me recognition as an actress.
Among the stars you have worked with, who has really inspired you?
I enjoyed working with Annie Macaulay Idibia because of the way she depicts her roles. She helped me to prove my ability as an actress in Letters To The Sea, where I played sub-lead. I also adore her calm nature. I also appreciate Monalisa Chinda. I acted with her in my latest yet-to-be released movie entitled Unthinkable, directed by Richard Omos and produced by Victor Ibe.
What are you working on presently?
I just received two scripts; one entitled Peter’s Cross where I am starring alongside Nadia Buhari and Mike Ezeruonye. I am shooting Cursed Beauty next.
In the movie Unthinkable, you got pregnant for your step-father while your mother was also pregnant and you both gave birth same day. Since you have lost your father, could you in real life date your step father if your mother decides to remarry?
Why would I date my step father? I can never sleep with any man who has made love to my mother; it’s irritating, God forbid!
Tell us about the love of your life?
I don’t want to talk about my love life.
Are you denying you have a boyfriend?
No… alright, I have a boyfriend…
Have you parted ways and why?
He was jealous of my involvement in the movie industry. He was so possessive and since he wasn’t married to me yet I felt kind of uncomfortable. We were always having issues because sometimes I could spend over three weeks on location without seeing him so he was uncomfortable with the relationship and besides, I hardly had time for him and his attitude toward me became so unbearable and that led to our separation.
So, you broke your boyfriend’s heart because of acting?
He was afraid that fame will take over my true person and I might not end up in marriage with him. In fact, it was an issue in the relationship because he was not supportive of my career so I was left with no option than to call off the relationship because I needed a supportive man; we are no longer lovers but mere friends.
What if you get married in the future and your husband is not supportive of your acting career but you still love him, what would you do?
If I get married to my ideal man and he doesn’t like my involvement in Nollywood, I will quit for the sake of his love provided he takes care of me.