Chelsea Eze, a Linguistics graduate of University of Maiduguri has long gone from being a rookie to a force to be reckoned with in Nollywood since her exploits in her debut movie ‘Silent Scandal’ in 2009. Her recent efforts in blockbusters like ‘Hoodrush’, ‘Two Brides and a Baby’ confirmed her arrival on the scene.
In a recent chat with our reporter, Chelsea opens up on her route to acting and other things that have shaped her life. Excerpts:
I’m Chelsea Eze, Nollywood actress. I love the simple things of life, so I guess I’m a good girl.
How did you start acting?
I guess I was at the right place at the right time. God put me in line with people that mattered at the time to help boost my career. My friend was shooting and she said it seemed you’re bored at home, follow me to see. And then I went and I met Aunty Emem Isong and they said: “Let’s put her on camera and see what she looks like”.
So they had a mini-audition for me, after that, they said: “Fine, now we know what you look like on camera and if we have something we’ll call you ”. And I got a call after a long time from Vivian Ejike and that was how I did my first movie, ‘Silent Scandal’ in 2009.
How has the journey been?
It’s been great and I really thank God. Starting out, I’m not going to lie,it wasn’t really easy. Then, again, when I did ‘Silent Scandal’, I wasn’t so sure if I wanted a career in acting at the time. It was just something I felt, “Okay, this is here now, let me just do it”. I didn’t know if I wanted to do it long term.
When Silent Scandal broke,when the movie came out and it got the kind of reviews it got, a lot of people stated saying, “Chelsea, why don’t you take this seriously” and I thought to myself “Well, maybe it’s time to take acting seriously”. It’s been a very long journey, but in the end, I give glory to God.
What challenges have you encountered so far?
Well, being a ‘rookie’, you are bound to experience some difficulties, because then I didn’t know what I was doing, I was just there, I didn’t necessarily know what to do, what to say, how to act and behave. But I learnt on the job. I’m so grateful I have the people I had around me, who are veterans in the industry like Genevieve Nnaji, Bimbo Akintola and so many of them.
They’ve been there. When I have a challenge or I’m not sure what to do at a particular time, I just call them for advice and assistance and it works. I had a lot of challenges trying to stay relevant, it’s a big deal trying to stay relevant. We have loads of actresses out there, so as an up-comer, you want to be seen and when you are finally seen, you have to put in a lot of work to remain there. The fact that you’re there doesn’t mean nobody is coming after you, there are ‘trucks’ of them coming, so you have to just keep up your game going and try and maintain that place that God has given you.
How do you intend to do that, maintain your place in the industry considering the stiff competition?
To be honest with you, it’s all centred around God. I know what I want to do, I have that drive, I have the passion for it, but I end up committing everything to God and ask him to just lead me. I don’t have a strategy like “Okay, I must do this to get there “. I just ask God to take the lead, He gave me ‘Silent Scandal’.‘Silent Scandal’ gave me three awards by His grace. I couldn’t have done that by myself, so I’m just like “You (God) who put me there, I trust you to take it from there.
Most upcoming actresses are desperate, how far can you go to get movie roles?
I am not desperate but hungry. I have that hunger in my spirit which is equal to passion and drive. I feel desperation is negative, if you’re desperate, it’s negative. I will not do anything out of desperation, I will not put myself in a negative light or in a crazy situation just because I want to get something. I’ve always believed that if it’s yours, it will come to you.
Maybe it has to do with the way I started because I wasn’t out there on the streets looking for a film, it just happened. I remember I was somewhere with a friend and I got that call. At the end of the day I think it boils down to how you start, where you’re coming from always determines where you’re going to. Because God has helped me thus far, I just feel like “ Chelsea, there’s no need to be desperate, just relax, everything will come in due time”. And I’m patient, I’m still young, come on.
Which movies have you done so far?
‘Silent Scandal’, ‘Hoodrush’, ‘Two Brides and a Baby’, ‘Tears of Passion’, ‘Closed Door’, ‘Laugh won kill me die’, ‘The Kingdom’ and so on.
If you have the power to change anything in the industry, what would that be?
I would change the minds and the thinking of our industry people and I would leave it at that. To change a community, you start from yourself and the thinking of other people because if you think positive and I think positive, together, we’ll do positive things. I want us to think outside the box.
Nollywood is growing and I’m so grateful to be part of it at this point when it is evolving. If we, as an industry can come together and think outside the box, Nollywood will become the biggest because we have the numbers. First of all, we have to change our thinking and mentality and then everything is great.
Do you have plans of going into production?
I do. I actually have a script, it’s a very personal script. I want to do that at some point, though I don’t know when. I’m trying to find the perfect time and I don’t want to confuse or contradict the image I’m trying to put out there. First of all, I’m an actress before any other thing. I think going into production is a way of broadening your horizon, you have to also see what it’s like behind the scene. So, I have plans of doing that, I also intend going to film school as well, take some courses in directing and editing because I love the concept of directing and editing.
How do you handle your fans?
I don’t know, I just smile and laugh, let’s just be happy. I just try and do things to make them happy by first of all, putting out good movies . Then, every now and then, I get calls and messages from them and then I try to respond to them. But, most times, it’s not enough. So, most times I just put out a message saying, “ I love all of you”. I just try to be nice to everyone.
What’s the worst rumour you’ve heard about yourself?
At some point, I heard people say I’ve been married before. I remember a guy was chatting with me recently and he asked me, “How did the divorce go”? And I was like “What? I’ve never been married before!”. I also heard I was a lesbian. I’m very straight.
Talking about lesbianism in the industry, has anyone ever approached you or try to woo you?
Have you been sexually harassed by producers or directors?
I’m not ignorant of the fact that there is sexual harassment in the industry, just like in every other industry, but personally I’ve not had that experience.
What was your childhood like?
I had an amazing childhood. I grew up in Kano. I have three siblings. We were a very small family but I had a lot of cousins growing up with us. It was great. It’s so sad, Kano has changed. As a child, I had everything I needed. And then as a child, you don’t really want a lot. But now, growing up as an adult, I just realise I want a whole lot of things. I thank my parents, they did the best, they gave me that one thing that any parent can give their child, which is education. When you have that, whatever you decide to do in life, you’re secured.
Do you do any other thing besides acting?
I do a whole lot. I do interior decoration, I do a bit of catering as well. On a low key, I deliver food to specific organisations. I do anything that brings money genuinely.
How do you unwind?
I love my house. I would say I’m an indoor person, because even when I have the opportunity to go out, I’d rather just seat at home with friends, have wine, play cards, monopoly or whatever. But, when I need to go out, I go out and I make sure I have maximum fun. But basically, I love to be indoors.
What’s your sense of fashion?
I am simple, elegant and chic. I don’t like to go with the trend, in the sense that if something is trending right now, I won’t wear it, because everyone is wearing it. But give it a few months, when everyone has calmed down, then I might just come up and rock it. I like to keep it simple and elegant, because I’m young, I don’t want to overdo it and look too old.
What’s your message to your fans?
I love you all, you guys are amazing.