I can’t live without Nollywood –Dolly Unachukwu
On screen, London-based Nollywood diva, Dolly Unachukwu is highly respected by fans for her acting skills. Since her debut in the 1994 Nollywood blockbuster movie, Deadly Affair, the fair-complexion actress has warmed her way into the hearts of most movie lovers. She has featured in a number of movies and Soaps including Deadly Passion (1997) Glamour Girls 2 (1995) Mirror in the Sun and Fortunes (1993) among others.
But in real life, Dolly insists that playing the role of a mother and living in a conservative city as London, is very tasking.
The native of Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State disclosed, “What I miss most about Nigeria are simple things, things that you take for granted in you can end up in jail for these include, the way of life, the simplicity of Nigeria compared to the conservative life being led by people here.”
The mother of two, Odera, 15 and Hazel, 5 in an on-line interview with http://nollywoodgists.com bared her mind on several issues including, her acting career, life in London and when she hopes to return to the country.
Why I'm still in London
I am in London because of my little girl. I ealier planned to relocate toNigeria after my graduation at the University of East London where I studied Directing last year but when I saw how happy my girl was, it struck me that I should not take her away from the people she was used to. These include her friends, her cousins whom she is so attached to at home, her school and the environment which she is used to. If she were a little older say around 10 it could have been easy for me, but right now I dont see myself leaving her alone with my family and returning to Nigeria.
The most chalenging thing about motherhood I would say is the sleepless nights you go through after giving birth but the joy supersedes all the pains you go through at that time. Motherhood to me is a natural thing. I come from a large family and I have always looked after my sibblings especially the girls, so it looks to me like an extention of my love and care for my siblings.
Being a single mother
Being a single mother is tough as one is left to play the dad and mum at the same time, you make a lot of sacrifices. But then they are things you do for your children so they simply don't count. I am blessed as I have always had the support of my family as regards bringing up my kids, they have always helped me out one way or the other.
My kids love me acting and I feel they love acting themselves, I have managed to feature them in one or two of my films and I see them loving it. I think my son would love to pursue a career in acting, though we want him to face basketball full time since he had the height (he is 6ft 5inches at 15) and I am sure he has added more height in the past year, but then whatever he chooses to be. I will suppport him fully, my girl is still very young to know what she wants to be.
Between my ex husband and myself
My ex husband and myself are very good friends. We do talk about anything and that is great because we have kids to bring up. The kids know who their father is and they have personal relationships with their dad. They know daddy doesn't live with us because mummy and daddy are longer married. This means from the environment they were brought up, they understand what divorce means. The most important thing is that they are loved and they know that.
When people ask me why I am not acting any longer, it brings tears to my eyes. I love acting so much that I could not anything else. I can never abandon acting because it gives me joy. I think Nollywood has improoved tremendously and I am very proud of it. I am proud to be associated with this industry that is growing from strength to strength, there may be problems here and there in Nollywood but I believe every industry must face challenges in order to get sanity and direction. Not all films from Nollywood are great but the strenght in which they are working makes you realise that the Nollywood dream is actually going places.
What I miss in acting
I miss acting so much and I miss Nollywood too. I miss my fans like hell but since I've been on facebook (social interaction website) and I am able to communicate with my fans through that avenue I kind of feel better.
I have a lot of projects this year which I won't disclose but my fans should be sure I would return this year. This is what I can promise them. Apart from acting, I have tried my hands on several other things like business, working nine to five, but I have found out that I am never fulfilled in any other occupation, I'm not just happy doing them, it's not me. I am an actress. I just turned a director and that is who I am.
Breaking into UK movie industry
I have tried to break into the industry in the UK, but my agency has told me the gospel truth about the chances of getting a permanent job in acting here. I dont have a british accent, and I simply don't speak like them so it would be difficult, the only roles get are specific ones such as an African woman which are rare indeed. So there is no way I could make a living as an actress in London because these jobs might come in like every two to five years. Come on, I can't hang on wasting my life here. That is why I decided to study Directing, that way I behind the camera.
Life in London
What I miss most about Nigeria are simple things, things that you take for granted in Nigeria and here you can end up in jail for, the way of life, the simplicity of Nigeria compared to the conservative life here.
There is no place like Naija trust me
One major thing I miss most is having someone who can help you look after your kids. In Nigeria, all you do is get your little cousin back home to come and live with you and you will have all the freeedom to run around for your business. But here, you are stocked because you have children and you just have to plan your life around them.
The last film I featured in was Sisters Love in 2007. Really, it wa just a cameo appearance. Before that, I had released my own film My Empire which I shot here in London to the Nigerian Market.
Most challenging film
Deadly Affair was the most challenging role ever and it was my first film too. It was because I had just finished playing Fadeke in Fortunes in which I played the role of a quiet good woman and what I got as my next outing was Issabella. Oh my God, it was really tough switching to the character and speaking all the three Nigerian languages.
Most of the time when my colleagues come here for one thing or the other, I feel like I am home and when they leave they take a part of me with them. These days all my dreams are filled with Nigeria, I close my eyes and I see myself in Nigeria, that is where I should be and soon I will be home.
Mirror in the Sun (TV) 1986, Fortunes (TV) 1993, Deadly affair1 1995, Glamour Girls 2 1995, Tears for Love 1996, Deadly Affair 2 (1997), Wildest Dream (1997), Love Without Language (1998), Brotherhood of Darkness (1998), Father Moses (1999), Full Moon 1&2 1999, War of Roses (2000), The Empire (2005), Sisters Love (2007), Final Decision, Deadly Passion, True Confession, Deborah and The Dragon among others.