I’M IN NO HURRY TO MARRY – CHIDI MOKEME
Chidi Azubike Mokeme is one of Nollywood's most popular faces. He was the host of the first two instalments of Nigeria's premiere television reality show, Gulder Ultimate Search. A newsmaker any day, CORRESPONDENT, Temitope Ojo met him recently and he opened up on what he's been up to lately, his exit from the reality TV show and marriage.
You have been off the scene for some time. What have you been up to?
I have been on break, taking my time; reorganising and repackaging myself. I guess that is one of the basic rules of life; at every point in life, one must look back, make an assessment of where you are coming from, where you have been, look at where you are going and decide what your next step should be.
You're said to have a label GQ, is it still on?
Everything I wear is from my label. And that is why I am talking about repositioning. It is a big part of what we are doing now. We are charting a new course to where we are going and how we intend to get there. The moment we have something the press will be the first to know.
What really led to your absence at the Gulder Ultimate Search III?
What happened last year was that the organisers decided that they wanted to try something different. This year, the decision is up to the organisers. Gulder Ultimate Search is the best reality show around. As we speak, the organisers have not gotten in touch with me but if they do get in touch I wouldn't mind.
Which would you say are the most memorable movies you've done
Every movie I have done is memorable to me. It is a job. Every time I pack my bags and go on location, I'm going in for serious business. So every movie has it's own memories that I take away with me.
You quit modelling for acting, when you 'stepped aside' from acting what occupied your time?
I consider myself restless. I am driven by thoughts. I like to just keep thinking of what to do. I have a production outfit in the making. I have a security outfit called Renny Gate Security on ground. We are into protocol services, executive car rentals, macho guards, and corporate guards, all sort of protocol. My production outfit is about taking off. We hope to start doing our own movies. That is part of why I have not been in any movies lately. So, I have been doing a lot of underground work.
What prize have you had to pay for stardom?
I think the biggest prize that you pay is to sacrifice your anonymity and your privacy on the altar of fame. But then, if you look at it there are good sides to it because you can always turn your disadvantages to advantages. When people intrude on my privacy, it is usually an opportunity for me to let them walk away with a smile or learn something from me. I let them know something that they didn't know about me before then.
How rewarding has stardom been?
It has to be rewarding. It is rewarding. It's got different sides, both good and bad. In every situation you find yourself there must always be a way to convert the negative into the positive, a way to make sure the positive outweighs negative, otherwise you have no business in the business that you are into.
Do you have hobbies?
I just enjoy life basically. I love to watch movies. I love to travel. I love to just make people happy. I think I give a lot of myself and at the end of the day it makes me happy.
Have you ever spared a thought for stage acting?
I actually long to go on stage again because I did some stage acting while I was in secondary school. I have not done stage acting commercially. But I think where the problem lies is that there is no money on stage. Stage does not pay the bills for anybody.
So, there is no motivation. Stage is the basics. Stage is the platform on which to grow, it is the medium where you have complete expression. It is a place where you require total unadulterated concentration to do what you are doing.
The television medium takes away that kind of commitment because you can do one thing over and over again until you get it right. But with stage your commitment has to be total so that you can run your lines through without breaking.
However, we are living in the real world, bills have to be paid. So, I am not going to tell myself that I need to be on stage to prove something to people. Truly, I don't need to prove anything to anybody. I think what is most important now is being able to pay the bills.
What does style mean to you?
I think style is individual. I always tell people that the first thing you need to do is to love yourself. If you love yourself then you will discover exactly who you are, then you'd do things that only complement you as a person. You have to be comfortable with what you wear. I try to be as comfortable as possible in stuff that I put on.
I also follow my instincts too. If I look at something and my mind says take a look at that again, it means that there is something special about what I saw. Then I will look at it again. I try to invest in quality and not quantity. It is better to invest good money in a pair of suits that will last me 10 years than buy five pairs of suits for less but will only last me a few months.
Another thing is that you must know the basics. I try to groom myself on the basics. I know how to do a basic tie knot, different tie knots, different bow tie knots, and different cravat knots, different sash ties. You must also know how to tie your shoes properly.
If you have all that knowledge, it will be easier for you to always do combinations spontaneously; otherwise the lack of knowledge in one aspect will cramp your style.
What's with you and sun glasses? You are always wearing one – day or night
Shades are one of the accessories I love the most. If you ask me something that I probably will not be able to do without I will say shades.
First, there is plenty of sunshine in the environment that we live in and the eyes need protection. Shades have become a fashion accessory than just a protective accessory.
I am also in a trade whereby people will always look into my eyes to get attention. Shades help me to comport myself in some way that I don't get to attend to everybody at the same time. So when I am talking to you then I am talking to you.
Even though another person wants my attention I might see that the person wants my attention but the shades help me not to give the attention. But without the shades we can make eye contact and that makes it easy for people to grab me. So shades help me to remain in my shell and keep focused on exactly what I want to do and the way I want to do it.
Are there movies you've done that you are not so proud of?
Looking back, I will say I might do things better if given the chance to do it again. As a matter of fact, I probably watch only my movies and foreign movies. Every movie that I have made can be made better and every decision that I have taken to be on a movie set, really, I would have thought at the time was properly calculated. If at the end of the production, it does not come out up to expectation, I have a way of not blaming myself because I really could not have known that the end product will not be what I saw from the beginning.
Some people say you're sexy, do you agree?
I don't know about being sexy or not, I just try to be myself. But then, maybe there is something sexy about me. I appreciate myself anyway.
What's your philosophy?
To do all the good that I can, in all the ways that I can, in every place that I can, at every time that I can, everyday that I can, for as long as I live.
Why is marriage taking this long in coming?
Marriage will come at its time. When wedding invitations are ready I will send you a copy. When I send the wedding invitations then people will know that I am ready.
A word of advice to new entrants into Nollywood
First, to recognise who you are. Once you recognise who you are, the voice within you will tell you if you are going in the right direction or not. You don't try to be an actor because the other person is an actor. You have to create passion for it. Once you are passionate about it then the sky is your limit. Nobody can stop you. Whatever the hurdles you face, no matter the obstacles, as long as you are passionate about it, the obstacles will be nothing to you.