By Bridget Amaraegbu
One of Nollywoodâ€™s A- list actresses,Â Chiege Alisigwe, is our celebrity for the week. The actress who has featured in seevral A- list movies, including the famous â€˜Oganigweâ€™ where she played her firstÂ lead role, speaks onNollywood, the baby she had from her failed marriage, her rumoured pregnancy and more.
You seemed to have disappeared from the movie scene. What happened?
The truth is: I was out the country for some sometime. Again, you and I know too well that the industry is no longer what it used to be. So, I couldnâ€™t afford to just sit down here and fold my hands doing nothing. But Iâ€™m fully back now and I have some wonderful projects Iâ€™m working on.
So, what other things did you do while you were away?
Ha! They are too private to talk about. All I can tell you is that Iâ€™ve written my own script which will roll out next year and Iâ€™m also organising awards ceremony this year. Iâ€™ve been so busy but decided to slow down because of the festive period.
What kind of awards are you talking about?
I donâ€™t want to let the cat out of the bag for now. But Iâ€™ll let you know when everything is set.
Your first movie role was in 1998. Was that your first encounter with showbiz?
My very first role was Igodo after which I played a lead role in Oganigwe.
What was the experience then?
Really, I didnâ€™t have so much in mind then. I was just like any other teenager who just finished secondary school and wanted to catch some fun. So, playing that role for me was just for a past time. I never knew it would take me to where I am today.
Which movie exposed you?
Iâ€™ll give it to Oganigwe, after that came My Love which was like a bombshell.
Can you compare todayâ€™s Nollywood with yesterdayâ€™s?
Financially, it canâ€™t be compared but all I can say is that we had better movies with better story lines then. Today, we earn higher but recycle our story lines which can be very boring. Permit me to say that even with all the repetitions, there are certain happenings now which didnâ€™t happen then and vice versa.
You are very tall. Did you ever contest for any beauty pageant?
Yes, in 1991, I contested for Miss Enugu and came out first runner up (laughing).
You were a bit tensed in the beginning but now youâ€™re laughing…
Yes, Iâ€™m laughing because youâ€™re taking me down memory lane. I remember I was the tallest of all the contestants then.
As a growing child, were you given anyÂ nickname because of your height?
While in secondary school, I was given a nick name, which I wonâ€™t tell you. But I remember that each time my school was going for any sporting competition, they didnâ€™t go without me because I used to be very good at any sporting activity that had to do with throwing.
I also know that my height intimidated even some of my peers in school. Even as an adult, my height still intimidates some men, not because they are not man enough but it just happens.
So, have you been lucky enough to have men as tall as yourself approach you for a relationship?
Yes, why not? Short men naturally are attracted to tall women but in my own case, both tall and short men come around.
A lot of things have been said about you. Can you tell us who the real Chiege is?
It all depends on what people feel and think about me, and at the same time, I would say everyone is entitled to his own opinion. The real Chiege is just one lady out there that is down to earth and very friendly with people. You can never tell about anybody when youâ€™ve not had any personal encounter with that person. Iâ€™m an actress, a business woman and a mother.
What kind of business are you into?
Like most women today, Iâ€™m into buying and selling. But I have people who sell for me. Iâ€™m equally into contracts and supplies which depend on the order, especially when it has to do with furniture.
After your daughter- there were stories that you got pregnant again. How true it that?
Ah! I reallyÂ donâ€™t want to talk about that now.
I just want you to deny or confirm the story…
Why would I say itâ€™s not true when I lost the baby? Yes, I was pregnant but I lost the baby. And I have my partner whom I wouldnâ€™t disclose because heâ€™s not the kind of person that would want to be read on the pages of newspapers. I may not have been wedded in the church but Iâ€™m not single.
What were those challenges you passed through when you had your first baby?
Iâ€™ve always been an independent person who does not wait for anybody to do anything for me, and it has helped me so well.
So, when I found myself in that situation, I adapted immediately. Yes, I felt bad initially but I woke up and bounced back to life. I started struggling almost immediately to make ends meet and I thank God for his mercies. Scripts were coming, so I had some money to cater for myself and my daughter.
Iâ€™m not saying everything went rosy then because breaking up a relationship is not easy. But I didnâ€™t grieve over it for too long. Iâ€™ve always been a very strong person that some people say I should have been created as a man.
And how is your daughter doing now?
Sheâ€™s doing incredibly well.
How old is she?
She is just six but very intelligent and equally tall like her mum (laughing).
Does she sometimes ask after her dad?
Why do you want me say all this for crying out loud? Anyway, sheâ€™s still a child but someday, sheâ€™ll get to know everything. Her father used to call me on phone and when he does, I give her the phone to speak with him. I still respect him because heâ€™s the father of my child but I can never go back to him anymore. Though, I am single, I have a partner. This is not in the movies where I said I needed a man, â€œI donâ€™t need any manâ€. (Laughing aloud). As an adult, I have someone by my side.
You said you were hardworking and scripts were turning up when you had your daughter. But at a point,Â there were stories that you were so broke that you had to move in with your parents.
No, I didnâ€™t go back to my parents because I was broke. I had a robbery attack in 2006 which I think wasnâ€™t just a robbery attack.Â I call them hired assassins.
The first time they stormed uninvited into my house, I was homeÂ but they didnâ€™t succeed in making it in and the next day, they came back and made away with so many things. They didnâ€™t end there. They also went to my shop, made away with everything and almost killed my manager.
Even when I ran to my family house for safety, they came back. That is why I insist they were hiredÂ killers. If they were mere robbers, what else would they be looking for when they had already made away with everything I had?
So, I didnâ€™t run to my parents because I was broke. Who knows what would have happened if Iâ€™d stayed back in my own house. I didnâ€™t bother myself with all those things people were saying about me? Of course, my name is Chiegeonu.
After all that incident, I travelled abroad and now that Iâ€™m back, Iâ€™ve moved into a new apartment. If I was truly broke, how would I have gone abroad? I may not be very rich but Iâ€™ve always been comfortable.
Back to Nollywood, where will you place Nollywood in three yearsâ€™ time, with all the conflicts surrounding it today?
Iâ€™m sorry but I canâ€™t place the industry anywhere with the way things are going today. I can only do that if only these troubles will come to an end and we start all over again.
Are you saying that we should start from Living in Bondage once more?
Yes, if itâ€™s possible. We should start from electing the right people to run the industry, doing things right and only then can I place Nollywood.
This is an industry we all built with nothing and weâ€™ve come a long way. Why are we now trying to bring it down? Iâ€™m not happy about the way things are going in the industry. If you permit me, I want all these things to fade away so that weâ€™ll start all over again.
What are some of the challenges you face as a celebrity?
The first one is being a mother and an actress at the same time. And the second issue dwells on how I handle the different men who come my way.Â As a celebrity, so many men would want you and itâ€™s not possible to attend to all of them and I consider it a very big challenge.
Finally, what advice would you give to the youths in terms of relationship?
Iâ€™ll advise our youths to keep their eyes open when theyâ€™re falling in love. Please donâ€™t try to love foolishly and donâ€™t try to categorise life as a bed of roses because it is not.
Secondly, always commit your relationship to God and let him direct you and prepare your mind to whatever comes out of it so that if it fails, you can always move on.
For me, itâ€™s the grace of God that has kept me going. Iâ€™m one person that likes to call a spade a spade, which is one way you can be happy. Cry unto God when the road seems tough and your burden will be light.
Please tell my fans that I still love and appreciate them because theyâ€™re the reason for my being. They should expect a bumper package from me soon and Iâ€™m sure it will make them happy.