My body is priceless – Chioma Chukwuka
Decent? Yes. Selective with her roles? Yes. That is Chioma Chukwuka for you. This Anambra State born screen goddess is no doubt a viewer's delight ... any day. She made her first appearance years ago and had since moved to the top of her career as an actress and a singer. Although in this interview with the Nigerian Compass on Sunday, alluring Chukwuka refused to talk about her musical career but she tells the story on her career as an actress and her joy of being a mother to Funmi Salome Johnson. Excerpts:
How is life with you?
I am fine thank you.
How has motherhood been treating you?
It is stressful but it is okay. I cannot complain. I am happy.
So what is the secret of your youthful look?
Chicky? And I actually thought I look like a mother. Well, that is a plus and it is okay. Thank you. There is not much secret to it than God and a good husband.
How do you joggle between the home front as a wife and a mother and your career as an actress and a singer?
With every opening in your life, I don't know how God does it, but He still gives you the capacity to adjust and adapt. It is not easy but I am well and good and I am managing it well.
So who takes care of the kids when you are on location?
When I am on location, I have my mother come round and she helps me with the kids.
What is the trick you have played to shield your marriage away from the eyes of the public, taking into consideration the many broken marriages of your colleagues?
It has been great being married. I have been married for some years now and it has been beautiful. Yes we have our little quarrels here and there but the ability to make amends and move on from that point is what really matters. Being a mother too has made it easier because you are not as strict as you used to be. You are more open minded and you are more loving because the kids are there and they need attention.
Will you say your being a mother has impacted on the way you interpret your roles in movies?
Yes, it has impacted a great deal, especially when I am given a role to play someone's mother. It comes naturally because I don't have to imagine what and what a mother will do because I am a mother so it makes it very convenient for me to do. It is beautiful and easier for me because of the experience I have as a mother.
Have you been embarrassed at any time for playing a particular role in movies?
There is none that I can remember.
Does your husband watch your movies?
He rarely does. He is not a home video person.
If he does, do you think there is any he will find uncomfortable?
I don't think so. If he watches one, for instance, what he does normally is to tell me what and what I should have done and where I need to improve. It was never that he is angry with me for a role I played or something.
How did you meet your husband?
It is a long story, let's not go there.
What is your impression of Nollywood?
There is room for improvement. We are not yet there. I cannot say we are still a baby but we need to be nurtured as in funding and so many other things and we hope it will come in no time. Nollywood is growing but as I said earlier, there is still room for a whole lot of improvement.
What is your take on the ongoing sanitisation campaign in the industry?
If there is any move to sanitise the industry and it is going to be good for the industry, I support it. I will not say the census board is doing this or doing that or the movie producers are doing that but if it is for the good of Nollywood, I steadfastly stand by it. Because the lapses we have are not just from actors and actresses alone but from everybody and we need to buckle up. We need people that really know what it takes to handle the industry to come in and help. We cannot just say that we should continue from where we are. Like I said earlier, we need to continue, we cannot just say we are third in the world without moving on because our being third in the world is based on quantity and not quality. If the sanitisation is going to help in the improvement of the quality and the quantity as well and everything that has to do with Nollywood, I will gladly go for it.
Using your career as a platform, how have you given back to the society that has given you so much?
There is something I am cooking to give back to the society that has given me so much but I will not disclose that now because it is still cooking. Apart from that, in the movies I do, I try to make sure that the role I take and interpret have a lesson to give back to the society. The story I am telling has to give something valuable to my society and fans. So even while I am acting, I still give something back to them. If the script is not giving any values, I don't take it.
Does that now mean that you are selective with the roles you accept to play in movies?
Yes I am very selective. On the other side, my personal contribution to the society is still in the cooking and will come up soon.
How do you unwind?
I spend more time with my family, I watch movies and I go shopping.
How do you feel when you watch yourself on set?
I hardly watch my movies because I criticise myself too much and that is not too good for me. So I think I need to grow to be able to accept me as me. I hate watching myself.
If you were given a billion dollars to play nude, will you do it?
That is a large sum of money but I will not.
Because I cannot go nude. It is for my husband only. I cannot. My body is priceless.
What extra thing do you do to prepare for your roles?
I read my scripts over and over again to get the character and assimilate. I try to blend with the character so that I will know and interpret it the way I feel it should be. It also depends on the type of character. If it's a regular one, I will just watch and observe and have a good look about their daily lives.
If you have a chance to effect any change in the industry, what will it be?
I will bring in professionalism, qualified practitioners; I will bring in money and also eradicate piracy to the best of my ability.
Which of all your movies do you find most challenging?
Azima, it was my first epic movie and I cannot forget the challenges that went with it.