By Ishola Balogun
UN Ambassador and Nollywood actress, Chika Ike knows her onions when it comes to interpreting her roles in movies as well as engaging in buying and selling. Having featured in several movies since debuting in the industry nearly a decade ago, her dexterity in the interpretation of roles has endeared her to most movie directors.
Recently, the 27 year-old actress showed her stuff in a multi-million naira flick, ‘A Minute Silence’, where she was meant to pose for a shot with a live python. In this encounter, she recounts the horrible experience and explains why she prefers to keep her private life out of her acting career.
You are already a brand after putting in nearly ten years in the industry. What is your staying power?
I can only attribute my success to God because without Him, I’m a nobody. I’m also a sucker for hard work. I believe that in whatever you do, you’ve got to put in your best in it.
In a highly competitive industry with multi-talented actors and actresses, it is not easy. But I give God the glory, I’m a very spiritual person. Without God, I can’t really do anything. I grew up under the influence of my parents who inculcated the values of discipline, hard work and tolerance in their children.
Would you ascribe your success in the industry to your excellent interpretation of roles and professionalism?
Yes, that is what I actually mean by hard work. You have to be very professional in whatever you are doing in order to achieve success.
So, it is a combination of spiritualism, favour of God, hard work and professionalism.
What frightening experience have you had in the course of your acting career?
Basically, every job has its own hazards. Acting also has its own challenges too. I have had a lot of experiences. As an actress, you have to be at different locations. I shot a film recently that I was in the forest for seven days. You know, the sight of reptiles and animals can be very frightening.
There could be scorpions, monkeys and other dangerous animals hidden in the bush but as an actress, you’ve got to put that behind you and do the job. I just finished a movie recently where I had to pose with a live python. It was the most frightening role I have ever played in recent times. Carrying a python that can turn against you at any moment can be very frightening.
What was going through your mind when you were carrying the python?
A lot of things went through my mind. I felt anything could happen because animals are not easy to control. You can only try your best, human being sometimes might not be able to control wild animals. I felt the python was going to turn against me. Even when a colleague was encouraging me to carry the snake,I was praying it didn’t to attack me.
It was frightening; very scary. It took me a while before I could carry it. People were like telling me not to be scared. I was like running away but they kept telling me Chika, No! No, it won’t attack you. Later, I agreed to carry it with one hand but the director insisted I must hang it around my neck. I screamed and screamed , but I finally did it.
It means you can do anything for money?
No, I will never kill for money.
What if you have a Hollywood script that you’ve got to act nude for a whooping sum of money?
I will not take the job.
A big sum of money in dollars sometimes is irresistible?
Honestly, I won’t do it. I will not go naked for any movie.
A lot of rumours are making the rounds about your crashed marriage, could you please put the records straight?
You see, human beings are terrible, but the issue is that as long as you are breathing, people will continue to talk about you. Even if you are dead, people will still talk about you whether positively or negatively. Rumours will always come up, especially when one is in the limelight. So, let them continue to talk about me, I don’t want to talk about it.
But that will not help the situation either; is it not better to put the records straight, or you have decided to move on without a man in your life?
Basically, it is my private life and I don’t want to talk about it. I think private matters are handled privately. So, issues about marriages, relationships, friendships are personal, people are entitled to handle their own issues their own way. So, I like to keep my private life private.
Your birthday is around the corner.What are the arrangements?
I’m going to celebrate my birthday in Enugu this weekend. I will be giving out a discount of 50% to all the customers of Fancy Nancy shops. And they will also get a Fancy Nancy free bag. The party will hold at Peekay Gardens, Enugu.
Apart from that, I’m planning to embark on a vacation. I have not had a rest this year. So, in December, I will be going on vacation and I’d be planing to travel to some countries. That will also serve as a birthday treat for myself. It is going to be a round trip to Paris, London and Dubai.
Apart from acting, what other things do you do?
I have a foundation called Chika Ike Foundation which is geared towards helping children on the streets, giving them hope and encouraging them to become better persons in future. I launched it officially in May 27, this year, where we organised a party for over 3,000 children in Lagos.
The party was themed “Educate a Child” and we gave out over 3000 Customized CIF (Chika Ike Foundation) school bags containing school materials, T-shirts, lunchboxes, note books and snacks. It was held at the Light Chapel playing ground.
It was a fun galore. I visited public schools in Enugu and Delta States recently and I’m planing to replicate the same in other states before the end of this year. It has actually been taking my time, but I love it because I’m passionate about it. Again, my fashion business: Fancy Nancy Collections is another area that takes my time. The Lagos branch is going to be opened soon. So, it has been a handful of activities for me.
What inspired you into setting up the foundation?
I grew up in a neighbourhood where people could not afford the basic necessities of life. I saw my mother helping them when they needed help. I saw a lot of kids being exposed to violence, child abuse, peer pressure. So I learnt from my mother’s generosity to the kids and her gestures towards caring for others. I was close to them and I could feel their pain. Since then, I told myself, ‘if I’m going to set up a foundation, it has to be one that has to do with kids. That is my passion.
Some of your colleagues have taken the initiative to premiere some movies. Are you thinking in that direction?
Yeah! It is good to be ambitious, and anybody that is ambitious will think of doing something special and worthwhile in the industry. Of course, I give them kudos for doing it and I’m assuring you that mine will be out, hopefully very soon.
What are you doing right now then?
I’m currently shooting a movie in Enugu. We will finish the production very soon. The movie is entitled, Kleptomania. It’s about a girl that has a sensation and spur to steal. This was actually brought about by a curse by her old mother while stealing her money to help her own boyfriend. The old woman cursed her and she started stealing. At a point in the movie and in the story line, she had an accident and her legs were cut off. It was physically challenging.
Are you the lead actress in the movie?
Yes I ‘m. I worked with Pete Edochie. It was a beautiful storyline, with lovely casts.
How much did it cost?
I really don’t know, but I know it cost the producers a lot of money. If you put all the casts and cost together, it is huge. It is not easy getting Uncle Pete Edochie and myself in a movie like that.
When is it going to be out?
Hopefully in March 2013.
If you look back into your life, would you regret any of your actions?
I don’t really like looking back at life in such a way because I see everything you do in life as a learning process. I am not somebody that would not try and later start skulking and wishing it had never happened. Of course, I will feel bad, but I don’t allow that to weigh me down. I just have to move on and take it as one of the lessons in life. That way, it makes you stronger.
I have heard people call you African Sweetheart, why this name?
(Laughs) Of course I’m an African Sweetheart. I don’t really know why they call me that but I believe I am one. Every African woman should be a sweetheart. But I gadly take the name. Come to think of it, if you look at me, you’ll know that I am a full blown African woman and I am proud about that.