By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Hot and daring, Chelsea Ada Ezerioha strikes you as an actress who is all-out to conquer the screen despite the odds in the Nigerian motion picture industry. Since hitting the limelight after starring in that Vivian Ejike’s “Silent Scandal” movie alongside top A-list actors like Genevieve Nnaji, Majid Michel, Uche Jumbo and many others, three years ago, Chelsea has remained on top of her game, striving to hit it big in the industry. She shares her dreams and fantasies with Showtime celebrity.
The ring on your finger suggests that you are engaged, are you engaged to someone?
This is not an engagement ring. (frowning) And I’m not engaged at the moment.
So, it merely compliments your dressing?
Yes. Every woman should be fashionable in my opinion.
We learnt you are also into modeling…
Yes, I contested for Miss Taraba in 2006 and emerged as the first runner-up.
What actually attracted you to pageantry?
It’s a funny story. After I emerged Miss NASEL (National Association Students of English language and Linguistic) in my department during my university days, I was encouraged by my course mates to participate in the Miss Taraba beauty pageant.. At the end of the day, I emerged as a first runner-up. I was a Tomboy at that time, so, I contested just to catch some fun.
Are saying that the attempt encouraged you into modeling?
Yes, it did. I knew a little about those things because people would see me and asked if I was a model. But because I grew up in the North, I was not exposed to that kind of life. I was also very naive and a very shy person.
After the beauty pageant, I realized the need to open myself up to opportunites and give modeling a chance. I didnt do much then because I was still an undergraduate.
Now, how do you find the world of modeling?
Crazy and more chaotic the movie industry.
Then when you go for screening, you’d be shocked at the number of girls that would show up. Perhaps only two or three may be chosen from among the crowd. It was stressful and fun at the same time. I enjoyed the ‘madness’ especially when it was time for photo shoot. I love being in the front of the camera.
You were brand ambassador to a couple of products right?
Yes. I did a campaign for Liverpool. I also did a job for close-up and one other company which I can’t remember. It was a calendar project.
Would you say it was modeling that gave birth to your acting career?
No. I wouldn’t say so. Honestly, I did not go into the acting world rather, it found me. I once did an audition for Emem Isong in 2007, then as an undergraduate at University of Maiduguri. I come from a family where education comes first.
I didn’t go into acting properly until 2009, when Emem recommended me to Vivian Ejike when she was casting her ‘’Silent Scandal’’ movie. It was a role in the movie, I realized I wanted to be a professional actress. I found passion in acting.
But it did not seem like it was your debut movie, did it?
It was not easy because my name was all over the place. Making a good movie does not just require professional casting alone, it involves good team work. The producers, directors, crew members and actors were awesome.
Before I faced the camera, my director made sure he rehearsed me to ensure that I rightly played the character he wanted me to portray in the movie. I found myself relating very well with others and that was the push I needed to break into the industry.
Between when you entered the industry and now, what would you say has changed about your acting career?
A lot of things have changed my perception about certain things. In the past three years, I matured mentally. This is because one has learnt to deal with a lot of issues. Though nothing has changed about me, I’m still same Chelsea. I’m not a diva per se.
Are you saying you are an introvert?
Yes, I’m an introvert. Like I said earlier, I grew up not having friends. My siblings and cousins were my only friends then. I haven’t changed much since then. But I am trying to break away from it. At least, you can see me at events now.
Do you think the environment you grew up affect your approach to life?
Of course. When I relocated from Kano to Lagos, every thing about me changed and I became more realistic and made new friends. In Kano, you can’t hug a man outside your house. It was unheard of. We were all natural introverts in my house but we’ve broken away from it.
So, living in the north really shut you out of the world right?
It didn’t shut me out of the world per say. I was just naive to a lot of things. When I was still in school, I heard a lot of stuff like homosexuality, Bi-sexuality and other social vices . But I just did not understand them until I came to Lagos. And I saw things for myself.
You have stayed just three years in the industry and your name is all over the place. How were you able to do that?
I honestly don’t know. I have asked myself the same question over and over again. But I just could not come up with an answer. There are lots of beautiful actresses out there. But the fact remains that we do not have more than one beautiful ‘Chelsea the actress’. Every one has his or her unique factor which makes one stand out. And I guess mine stood out well with God on my side.
Tell us about your latest movie ‘Hood Rush’.
‘Hood Rush’ is a musical movie and I played the role of ‘Selaria’, a girl who grew up in the hood but was not a hood girl. You could not tell the kind of person she was judging by the environment she found herself. She had her fears and reservations and there was so much going on but she wanted to stay true to her dream.
In the process, she met ‘Charles’ and they started a relationship. One could see the conflict between family members, friends and loved ones. The moral lesson to be learnt in the movie is for one to stay true to who you are, regardless of pressures around you.
How easy was it for you to blend into the character you were portraying?
I wouldn’t say it was easy but it was a character I was familiar with. I took it as ‘Chelsea’ in a ‘Selaria’ body. Chelsea came from a small neighborhood in Kano just as Selaria came from somewhere and whatever happened around her was strange but she kept her head up. I could relate well to the character because I saw her as a human being.
As an actress, do you have an issue with being a social butterfly because you need to always make an appearance?
I prefer to be seen only where I am supposed to be seen. If I have to be at an event, I would most likely be present.
What is your definition of an ideal woman?
An ideal woman is someone who knows herself. In my opinion, you cannot know or understand what another person wants if you do not understand yourself first.
But you can tell who your ideal man is?
My ideal man is that man who loves and respects me because of the kind of job I do. When I say ‘love’ and ‘respect’, I mean, accepting the fact that I am ‘me’ and my perception on certain issues. He has to respect who I am and try not to change me.
Have you found him yet?
Yes, I have. All I can say is that he is a wonderful being. He may not be perfect to others, but he is perfect for me.
Was it easy meeting someone like that?
It wasn’t at all. You don’t meet a ‘rare-gem’ while walking the street. I’m happy he came into my life at the time.
You called him a ‘rare-gem’, that signifies you are truly in love.
Of course, I am.
If you are so much in love, why are you not wearing an engagement ring?
I think a lot about getting married and having my own children. But I am not the kind of person that rushes into things, no matter how tiny the decision is. I prefer to take my time.
Are you not afraid of the unexpected?
I have my fears but I’m a very strong person. People that know me very well can testify to the claim. One could mix up that trait for stubbornness but it is not. I know what I want and I get it at my own time.
Any man that wants to be with me must understand what I want for myself and support me. When he came into my life, he loved what I’m doing for a living and he supported me from the beginning. We are taking things easy without any rush. We are having fun because a relationship without fun is dead.Every woman likes to be pampered. I love to have my meals in bed and I love ice cream.
How have you been able to overcome the temptations that is associated with the kind of job you do?
I have God and my parents to thank for that. God gave me wisdom and my parents gave me the best legacy which is education. I combine wisdom and intellect when dealing with the challenges that come my way as a result of what I do for a living.
It is good to be appreciated but sometimes, I understand that there are certain conversations that I shouldn’t allow to take place. If you like my personality and admire me, I am very grateful for that but I’m sorry I do not wish to compromise my standard.
Did you find love after relocating from the North?
I didn’t find love when I left the North. But now, I can say I have.
You had your childhood and university education in Kano and Maiduguri. Are you disturbed with the kind of crisis going on in these two cities?
Hearing about all these killings in the north is very devastating. The Kano I grew up, was peaceful and a home to strangers. So, it is heart breaking to watch the mayhem being unleashed in the city now. Kano was a home for me.
I used to be scared because my parents resided there. I called almost every minute to enquire about their state but now, they have relocated to the eastern part of the country. It is a very sad situation and the last time, I paid a visit to the place, I wept.
Would you be glad to serve as a peace ambassador in the North?
Yes, of course, I would gladly do it. I’m very passionate about Kano because my life started there and even if I get killed fighting for peace, I would gladly die.
How long did your parents sojourn in Kano?
They were in Kano long before they even got married. My parents got married in 1987, the same year I was born. My dad had been in Kano six years before he met my mother. He speaks and understands Hausa fluently. He is an introvert. I realized we all got our character from him. He keeps to himself while my mum on the other hand is an extrovert.
Your skin radiates, what kind of cream do you apply on it ?
I use moisturizers. I realised that one’s skin will start having problems as soon as it is dry. So, I use mostly Elizabeth Alden combined with Aloe Vera.
If one should have access to your wardrobe, what would he or she find?
(Laughs)A lot of things, trust me; You will find plenty of shoes, jackets and mini-skirts to compliment my long legs. People say I have long legs. And I think if you’ve got it, flaunt it always.
And you don’t like tattoos like Tonto Dikeh and others?
I don’t have anything against those that tattoo their bodies. But I love my body so much that I can’t afford to do any injurious thing to it.
Do you think women are fairly treated in Nollywood?
I think women have more advantages over their male counterparts in the industry. If that’s my opinion, I do not have any other reason not to believe that they have been treated well. As a child, I used to look up to Genevieve Nnaji. She’s as successful in her acting career as every other actress. I believe the women are outshining the men on screen.
What was the experience like being on the set of Vivian Ejike’s ‘Silent Scandal’ with Genevieve?
The experience was awesome. After the shoot, she complimented my acting prowess and since then, the statement rings in my head everyday. I thought Genevieve is an angel. I didn’t know she is a human being. I grew up watching her on screen. In my wildest dream, I never thought I’d ever get close to her.
Any low moments?
Before her demise, I promised visiting her towards the end of June. But she died two weeks before I could make the trip to my village. I wasn’t myself when I heard of her death. It was one of my saddest moments in life.
Also, there was this particular audition I attended. I performed very well and looked forward to acting in the movie, but unfortunately, I didn’t make the cast. I was devasted.