By Damilola Sholola
Vulnerably beautiful and sexy Chiamaka Nwokeukwu isn’t exactly a Nollywood household name but the fair beauty is very much on her way as she is having the best run of good streak of her career. In a couple of months, Chinelo, the Shy Virgin star has been nominated in two awards; the Choice Awards and the AFRIFIMO Awards.
At the Choice Awards she was nominated alongside Tonto Dikeh, Halima Abubakar, Yvonne Okoro and Ruth Kadiri for the prize of the Best Actress 2014. For the AFRIFIMO Awards, which holds in the United States of America in September, Chiamaka got two nods; the Best Actress 2014 and the Best African Film 2014 in Chinelo, the Shy Virgin.
Chiamaka who has featured in other films like Love and Lust, Innocent Devil, Play Girls, Between Two Worlds, Kurekere Babies to name a few, met with one of our reporters on location of her recent film The Perfect Snake in Lagos and a conversation capturing her short but illustrious acting career ensued. Excerpts:
What movie are you guys working on now?
We’re working on the ‘Perfect Snake’ with Annie Macualay Idibia, Daniel K Daniel And I.
How many movies have you done so far?
I’ve done more than twenty movies, let’s say fifteen good movies in the last two-three years of my being in the industry.
Which one is the biggest?
The one that brought me to limelight was Unthinkable with Monalisa Chinda and my Unborn Son with Oge Okoye. In my first movie My Unborn Son I played a housegirl that had HIV virus.
Why did you decide to become an actress?
I never had the intention of being an actress. I wanted to be an accountant, work in the bank and all that but when a friend asked me to escort her to an audition all that changed. When I got there they started asking me to try something, since it was free.
It was so akward for me because then I never saw an actress or what an actress should be like but after much persuasion I decided to try. I and a guy were paired to read our script. Our number was 111, just to give you an idea how many we were. After the rehearsal I didn’t think anything of it until I was called two weeks later. Even the girl I escorted wasn’t called. I was the only one that was called. Then I started feeling acting might be in my blood and I decided to give it a shot. That was my Unborn Son.
Have you faced any problems so far in your career?
The problem I face right now is people saying I am bleaching when I am not. Actually before, when I did that my ‘Unborn Son’, I wasn’t this fair but people don’t know that I don’t use cream, I use a very nice soap. The soap I use is nice but inexpensive. The name is Jennifer Lopez Secret but I don’t use cream on my body. My mum doesn’t even like it. She said if i use cream, I would start having green veins and black spots. When I came into the industry, I was not fair, if you watch my Unborn Son, you won’t know it was me.
Is it because of the industry that you started using the Jennifer Lopez Soap?
It’s not because of the industry. Why I started using the soap was because my aunt told me the soap is good and in vogue and since I’m in the industry now, I need something that will make my colour camera-friendly, at least, something that will tone me up. Sometimes, people need to brush up and use good things, even if you don’t use cream, your soap should be nice. When you’re using my soap, you don’t need to use cream.
Which one is your latest movie out in the market?
‘Illuminati Girls’ is out in the market but on internet, it’s ‘Letter From The Sea’. ‘Chinelo, The Shy Virgin’ is not yet out in the market but it’s on the internet. It actually got me an international award, an AFRIFIMO award for Best Actress. I was also nominated for People’s Choice. I was actually surprised that kind of movie could be nominated because they didn’t really use any star in the movie. It was only Ebube Nwagbo that is a known star in the film.
The movie itself was nominated for Best African Movie so I was nominated for Best Actress and Best Lead Actress. After the award, my vote was very high so I came out for People’s Choice, another new award which is going to be airing soon. For the first one, I’ve been called already, and offered free return ticket to America for the award in September. Everything is on them; the accomodation and all.
Would you say you’re a Shy Virgin?
In fact you need to watch that movie. The way I portrayed the character, the viewers abroad must have thought this is real African thing. It was a true-life story and tried my best to bring the character alive as much as I could and it became a success. As for me, I’m not a shy virgin. When I was a virgin, I was shy but when you lose your virginity, you lose your shyness along with it.
You recently said that you can’t have sex for roles?
Of course. You can’t call me for a job and say I have to sleep with you when I know I’ve done so many jobs that speak for me. I’m not desperate, I’m not in a haste. For God to bring me this far just within two years, what else am I looking for? So many things ahead. Imagine, I never believed I can be nominated for an international award, do you understand what it means? So many people are there too, Tonto Dikeh is in the award, so is Funke Akindele and Halima Abubakar- big, big people. Even legendary actors like Olu Jacobs and Pete Edochie are there too.
Can you have sex on set?
I can never. If you watch my movies, I have never and I’ll never do it in a movie. I can’t go nude but I can kiss to make the story real. I’ve done so many movies and I’ve rejected scripts because of that. I’m nothing but I reject scripts a lot. I reject scripts because I dont want to feature in films that will bring me down. I’m nothing but I know I have the zeal. I have people who have told me so many things about the industry so I follow in their footsteps because they’re stars.
You said you dumped your lover for nollywood?
Yes, I dumped him for Nollywood because he doesn’t want me to be a star, he doesn’t want me to follow up my career and he has not proposed to me. The guy can leave me tomorrow and now that I have the opportunity, I need to follow up. God blessed everybody with talents. It’s not easy to have talent, most people cannot act and when you have the zeal and you can do something, you have to use it well. It’s normal for a boy and a girl to meet and if you really love your girl, you would let her go into what she wants. When I get married, automatically if my husband says he doesn’t want me to act again, I will not act again as long as he’s taking care of me.
Was he disturbing you or what?
He was telling me that he doesn’t want me to act, that I’m a very nice person, I’m humble, that when I go into the industry, I’ll meet big people and I’ll become wild and be doing different things. But when I explained everything to him, that I would never change, he didn’t believe me. We just had to go our separate ways because we don’t see things the same way any more.
Do you feel fame changes people?
How can fame change me? I cannot change from being who I am. Even if I become the biggest Angelina Jolie, I cannot change because it’s me.Annie Macaulay Idibia is one person I adore a lot in Nollywood because she doesn’t show off. She has so much yet she’s down-to-earth, humble and not pompous. I’m trying to follow in her footsteps.