By Bridget AMARAEGBU
Chinyere Nwabueze has been in the movie industry for sometime now. She is a plus size actress and her size which many may consider an inconvenience has been her strength in the industry.
Apart from her motherly roles which brought her to limelight, the actress who is also a producer tells us how her size projected her in the industry.
Recently she won TERRACOTTA’s best supporting actress for her role in ‘Spider’ and has also been nominated Africa’s best actress at the ZAFFA awards in London coming up in October.
She takes us through her romance with the make believe world, her perception about Nollywood and more. Read on:
Can you tell us how your romance with the make believe world has been?
It has really been a long journey and I’ll say it has not been bad. This is about my 9th year in the industry; I joined in 2001. It’s been a tortuous journey but I’m beginning to enjoy it now.
Would you explain what you mean by ‘a tortuous journey’?
The acting world is a highly competitive industry with too many frustrations. But if you remain focused and determined, you’ll surely get there. I’m beginning to enjoy it now because more jobs are coming my way and of course more exposure. I just managed to escape from Asaba to come and do some scenes in Spider.
What is this sitcom Spider all about?
Spider is a story full of intrigues, romance, blackmail and scandals. But I represent the family of Eze Okorocha which is like a comic relief in the whole story.
How does playing Eze Okorocha’s wife differ from the real you?
People tend to believe that there’s a bit of me in the role. Apart from my role in Spider, I’ve always played the reserved wife in home videos so I’m just playing the opposite for the first time and people think it’s real.
Do you play other roles aside being a wife and mother?
I think the motherly roles keeping coming because of my size. But recently, I’ve been playing some bitchy roles. There’s a particular one I did with Mercy Johnson. I was stereotyped somehow before now but I think I’ve been delivered from that stereotype.
So what are you doing about the size?
(Laughing) I’m not complaining because I believe it has been my strength. In fact I got noticed because of this size. Even when I was much younger I’ve always played the role of a mother. All I need is wear the make up and carriage and that really projected me this far.
Apart from Spider, how many other soaps have you done?
There’s another one called Half a dozen. It’s a comedy. For movies, I’ve done countless numbers. Beginning with the most recent When the King decides where I played Pete Edochie’s wife and Eze Abata the kidnapper with Nkem Owoh.
There are some more that are still in the studio and I don’t get to know when they finally come out because they change their final titles from the working titles.
What else do you do when you’re not acting?
Ah! I’m always acting o. I’ve been very busy in the last two years.
What’s your general perception of the industry?
I can tell you that we’ve come a long way and can only get better. Right now Nollywood is going into collaboration with Hollywood actors so we’re getting there.
Who’s Chinyere outside acting?
She’s just an easy going and down to earth kind of person. I’m from Ohafia in Abia State. I studied Theatre Arts but I first worked in the bank. I left during the period of distress in the banking industry.
And before hitting it big, I used to be a location scout which many people know me for. I’ve also tried my hands in producing. I produced The second Adam in 2006 and I’m working on another major production which is a soap opera. It will be ready before the end of the year.
Lets talk about you and Eze Okorocha. How were they able to get both of you to translate the characters so real as if you’re actually married to him in real life?
I must commend the producer for a job well done because from the onset, she already knew what the outlook would be. They had a specific age, complexion, stature and tribe so the audition was a very rigorous one.
It lasted for about one year then the casting which I believe they got in me and Eze, and our daughters too. The story is looking real because the casting was different from the everyday casting in Nollywood.
The Okorocha family is that of a typical Nigerian home that is so much riddled with poverty and frustration. It’s away from all the glamour and painting we see in movies. Amaka who’s Eze’s wife is a pretty woman who got married in her teens with the promise of a good life when she gets to Lagos.
Only to leave her village and come to Lagos and met Eze as a driver in a one room apartment never having enough. So she became frustrated but has consolation in her beautiful daughters that’s why she’s always aggressive.
In real life, is Chinyere married?
Is there anything you miss doing as an actress?
No, nothing. I still go to the market even when people keep calling me those names I bear in movies. Like recently, someone was chasing me in the market and shouting ‘Amaka Okorocha, that husband of yours will not kill you’ and I didn’t even know they were talking to me. I’m not conscious of the fact that I’m an actress at all.
Have you had any embarrassing moments as an actress?
I remember one day when I was walking along Allen Avenue and someone shouted my name “Chinyere Nwabueze, where is your car? Where did you park it or don’t you have one?” I just felt like I should disappear.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced to get to this point?
One of them is that people expect so much from you. They always want you to appear as glamorous as you do in movies. Somebody called me one day and said “Aunty Chinyere, please I need money to pay my school fees” and I was wondering how they got my number.
Some people will call and say they’re orphans and will want to come and live with me. And when I go to the village, some of my relatives come with very outrageous demands because they see me on TV.
How much of the price for stardom have you paid?
The worst of them is that I’ve lost my privacy. People try to make your business their own. As for scandals, I’ve not really had any but I don’t deliberately stay away for them.
I live my life like any other normal woman and I’m reasonable. I also believe that trouble will not come looking for you if you don’t get yourself into one.