My first marriage was a matter of life and death – Monalisa Chinda – Nigerian actress


She lounges seductively on a luxurious sofa dressed in a sleeveless, silky, floral blouse and flowing skirt. Her skin glows in the dimly lit space she occupies. Her incandescent eyes brighten her radiant fair skin. She gushes in soft smiles as she is complimented about her beauty. Her gait is that of a beauty queen as her hair gracefully crowns her head. Brainy, bold and beautiful, her heart heaves with generosity and love for humanity. A celebrated movie star, she exudes simplicity and humility with grandeur. A screen goddess, she’s perhaps, the most down-to-earth celebrity you will come across in Nigeria. She’s one of the first four Nollywood actors to be featured on the cover of Hollywood Weekly Magazine. Breath-taking in beauty and performance, Monalisa Chinda, is every movie fan’s dream. In this interview with Oge Ezeliora, Monalisa unveils her dream desire to be married again, feeling being married is better than being single. She also discusses what failed in her previous marriage and her unflinching desire to love and be loved again. As a mother, Monalisa, says her world is incomplete without her delightful daughter and how many children she intends to have for her new man.

How would you describe yourself?
I am a very joyful, determined, hardworking and highly motivated person. I am straightforward and take things in stride in a very positive manner. I am adventurous by nature and love new challenges as it gives me the zeal and impetus to work towards excellence. Acting for me is a major part of my life but I am also very passionate about charitable work which includes promoting autism awareness across Africa. One thing I firmly believe in is that one should always strive towards individual betterment, in whichever form it may be. I have a huge faith in God and he has been always faithful in many ways.
What was your childhood like? 
I’m from a religious background. I‘m an Anglican and all the moral teachings I learnt while I was growing up are still there. While I was seven, I was a member of my church choir. I attended an Anglican school, Archdeacon Memorial Grammar School; it’s a convent school. I’m quite religious.

As a celebrity, what does motherhood mean to you?
Motherhood is the most honourable blessing I have ever received. It has changed the way I live, think, feel and behave. Who knew you could feel so much love for someone? The only word I can think of is to describe it as a joyful experience.

Who is your greatest role model? 
My mother, hands down! She is the strongest person I know; very supportive, caring and spiritual. I am grateful for all her sacrifices. If not her, today there will be no Monalisa. She is a reason why I am alive today. I will always love her. She is a superwoman; indeed, a supermom.

Your daughter’s name is Tamar; why Tamar and what does it mean?
Tamar means the tree planted on the desert; it is a symbolic name due to the beauty and fruitfulness of the tree. The wind blows, the storm comes but the tree stays still. It also means the graceful and fertile woman. I have a good reason for naming my daughter Tamar. Besides, she is just too beautiful. She is everything I need now and each time I set my eyes on her my heart is filled with joy because she is a blessing to me. She is a special gift sent from above.

What is the thing you would like your daughter to associate with you?
One, she has got a phenomenal mother who the youths look up to and most important, that she is got a mother with a good heart, that is after God’s heart. She’s got a unique mother that cares and loves her to a fault.

What, if any difference are there from how you were raised and how you are raising your daughter? What have you retained and what has you changed?
There are no difference from how I was raised and how I am raising my daughter. My mother taught me very good morals; to always put God first in everything I do; keep his Word in my heart and hold unto his promises for my life. These principles are what I have retained and use in raising my daughter.

As a single mom what advice will you give to single working mothers over there?
Everything comes in stages; they need to have a lot of patience, be flexible and hardworking. As a single working mother, I know it gets hard sometimes to raise a child on your own. Through your busy schedule, it can be easy to forget that you are not alone when you have so much to deal with. Building your own support system gives you a shoulder to lean on when it comes to all the things that come with raising a child. It’s great to surround yourself with life-minded people or people you trust to be involved in your everyday life. In my case, I am incredibly lucky to have a wonderful family and close friends who are always ready to help as needed. And every day I feel enriched by everything that is going on in my life. I am so proud to be a mother.

What favourite activities do you have with your daughter?
So many things; I do a lot of things with my daughter especially during weekends. Tamar and I do her homework together. We do colourings and watch her favourite TV shows. We even watch cartoons together. (Laughs) – Yes, I am serious we watch cartoons together and I enjoy it. We also do some outdoor activities such as playing on the swing, bike riding and shopping, which we both enjoy a lot.

As a working mother, how often do you have time to take care of your daughter?
My daughter is my happiness; so I always have time for her. For me, I try to always work around my daughter’s schedule. By doing this, I give my all to my profession and her upkeep. Most times, we sleep together and I make sure she doesn’t miss my presence when I am out on set. At times, I take her out to most of the places I go to and at the end of the day she is tucked into bed. I set aside some time for myself and plan how to work for the next day. This is the time I will reflect over the day’s work and prepare for the next day.

As an actress, does your daughter watch your movies? How does she feel seeing you on screen and how does it affect her perception of you at home? 
No, she does not watch them too often because of age; but each time she sees me on screen, she will scream ‘That’s my mummy!’ You know children and excitement. But she understands that I am an actress and she is happy.

What are the difficult experience in life or challenges you can share with us?
So many times; from my broken marriage to other physical challenges that I will not like to mention. Listen, there comes a time in any person’s life when you will surely undergo some difficult experiences in life. How you react to these difficulties is the challenge. As for me, I embrace them as they come and I trust in my God to do that which only him can do – give me resolution on overcoming them and moving on to the next phase in life.

We learnt that you are planning to go into marriage again. Is it true?
I would love to remarry. In fact, I’m designed to be under a man. I’m not going to lie that I like this single mother nomenclature. But whereby there is no one at the moment, one is bound to get used to the situation. It’s not a do-or-die affair because I have been there before. Anything I’m going to do now, it has to be done right. I’m not in the school of thought where the first one happened and perhaps, the second one. No, any bold step I have to take in settling down again, it has to be right. I’m not ready to make another mistake. But I will definitely remarry. I believe in the principles of marriage. Whether you like it or not, marriage is a better option.

So you have found love again?
It’s neither here nor there. I’m a lover and I love to love. Is there anything wrong with that? I just replied you that I love to love. What else do you want to know?

People are alleging that you are pregnant for him – is that correct?
You can see that I’m not pregnant. Naturally, I’m not pregnant for anybody.

Your marriage to Dejo Richards, crashed some years ago. Why did you choose to give marriage another chance and when are you tying the nuptial knots?
I love the whole concept and idea of love. I am open to love and marriage that would work. Marriage is always a better option and I love to be loved. I am currently engaged to the best man in this earth. We just concluded the introduction ceremony. The white wedding is scheduled to hold soon but I will not disclose the date. But it will take place this year by the special grace of God.

If your ex-comes back to you today, will you accept him again?
God forbid! He’s a closed chapter in my life.

Your fans would want to know about the man in your life at the moment?
Yes, there is a man in my life and that is all they need to know about him for now.

How many children do you intend to have?
Although it depends on my husband, I hope to have more children because I love children. I have always wanted to have three children. Three is just perfect but it depends.

Do you still have any close relationship with your ex-husband?
No, because I am engaged to be married soonest. Yes, he is the father of my beloved daughter. He speaks to his child whenever he wants to.

What is your view about divorce?
One thing I regret most is the fact that I am divorced. Where I come from, I am the first daughter. I am from a royal family; it was never on record in my family that the first daughter would walk out of her matrimonial home. But it (my marriage) was a matter of life and death. Otherwise, I would have stayed back and make my marriage work. I tried to make it work, but it takes two people to tango. That’s the only thing I regret, having to raise my child without the father. It’s a bit painful. But I have to live with it. It’s better that way than to expose my little daughter to all sorts of domestic violence. It will definitely disorient her and affect her upbringing. She will be dysfunctional. God knows the best. May be, I should have been more careful and make my marriage work.

How do you stay fit and maintain your gorgeous figure?
I do a lot of exercise and I drink a lot of water and watch my weight a lot. Most times, when I notice I have put on some weight, I reduce the way I eat and do more exercise. I also combine it with healthy balanced meal daily, so that is my secret.

What is your view of Nollywood?
Nollywood is really growing fast. We are really exploding all over the world, not just Nigeria alone. I wish to see more impact outside Europe and Africa especially and I pray that God will help more people to be involved.

How many movies have you featured in since you started?
I have done so many. I have honestly lost count now and there are so many that have not been released and I am still doing more currently.

What turns you on?
Humility; music; I love lovely and romantic music.

What turns you off?
I hate people who are proud.

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