By Eric Elezuo and Blessing Ehidiamen Photo: Ken Ehimen
She is young, energetic and ambitious. She is CHIOMA IGWE, a veteran Nollywood actress, who set aside her prestigious Engineering certificate from the Lagos State University to dare the stormy waters of showbiz, and she has not done badly. In this interview, she revealed the’me’ no one knows and more.
Can we meet you
My name is Chioma Igwe. I am from Imo State, and a graduate of Chemical and Polymer Engineering from the Lagos State University. I am an actor, model, a voice-over artist and broadcaster.
What is this about going to school to study Polymer
Well, the study of Polymer involves the production of plastics, just as is used in the production of currencies like naira note.
Apart from going to school, what is so special about Chioma
Apart from going to school, I am an actor and you have to be talented before you can become an actor. I am also a trained broadcaster because I went to the Federal Radio Corporation Training School where I studied Art of Presentation
How did your acting career start or can we say you are an accidental actress
My acting career is not by accident. It started when I was in school. As a student, I needed to find something to do to make ends meet. While schooling, I started with anchoring a show for a movie director, kingsley Omeife, On the Red Carpet. I was the presenter of that show and we were always at events. As a director, he hang out with different actors. The presence of actors around me everyday aroused my interest. So I decided to go for audition, and that was how I got my first movie role in ‘Spider’. I stopped along the line because my father wanted me to concentrate in my education before anything else. When I lost my dad, I slowed down a bit to concentrate in school but after graduation, I gave acting another try.
Have you had the passion for acting before anchoring the red carpet or was it the red carpet prompted your passion to act
I had passion for acting. I actually love broadcasting and as a child, anytime I found myself in any event like cultural presentation, I always love being the leader. I always had it in me, the red carpet was just an opportunity.
Did you ever featured in school drama
I did, during my primary and secondary school days, but in the university, there was nothing like that because I focused on studying Engineering.
Engineering and acting, what is the correlation
I am a professional engineer, trained one with my certificate and it is not useless but sometimes in life, you will just tell yourself that you want to do what makes you happy, and that’s where acting comes
Any special influence about your career change
No, it is just me having a passion for it.
Who are your role models
I always love Liz Benson as a child and Ramsey Noah; he is a very good actor.
What do you love about them
Their delivery; when you see a movie and you are feeling that movie that means the person played the character very well.
If Chioma was not an actress, what would she have been
An Engineer, I am an Engineer so I will just practice
Can you say that the industry, Nollywood has been fair to you
Yes, it has
If you are rating Nollywood, what will you rate it on a scale of 10
I will rate it 10 over 10
Why 10 over 10
Nollywood has come to stay; it has grown over the years. When people try to compare us with Hollywood, I tell them that Hollywood started from somewhere and see where they are now. We also started somewhere and we are there also. People should understand that we are Africans, we have limit to things we can do. They need us to have the standard of the Hollywood, which started like over 100 years ago; you don’t expect our movie to be like theirs. They are given funds by the government, but in Nollywood, individuals sponsor themselves. Financial problem is one factor hindering us from producing good movies; we need the government to support us with funds to produce good and qualitative movies. Right now, we are rated third in the world; it is not an easy feat.
Compare Nollywood when the first movie, Living in Bondage was shot and today, in terms of cinematography, packaging, delivery, sound and so on
We have gone a long way. When you compare Living in Bondage and movies of today, you will see a marked change in terms of sounds, costumes, makeup and everything. Almost thirty years now, it is a whole lot of changes for the better.
How many movies have you done so far
I have lost count of them.
Which one of your movies is more outstanding to you
Every role I played has always been dear to me because I am not a stereotype actor; I can play any role you give to me very well.
Which one is more challenging
The most challenging is ‘Enemy’. In the movie, Oritz Wiliki, a truck pusher, was my elder brother, and you can imagine the age difference. At a point my character, Carol, started dating, and there was a misunderstanding which led to my brother throwing me from the first floor. I was scared and cried as we got to the balcony. while I cried, they were like didn’t you read the script before you agreed to take the role, and that I just have to do it. They encouraged and cajoled me, and at long last, I did it.
Was it with the help of a stunt man
No, there was something on the ground that I landed on but I had to jump like seven times because they need to get you landing, jumping and so on. It was scary but I gathered the courage to do it.
What will you do next when you are done with acting
Actors don’t retire, just like models, and I am a model, who features in commercials. Regardless of your age or size, you are needed for a particular role. Somebody like Bukky Ajayi still acts today. In every stage in life, you have a role that you can fit into.
There is this notion in the movie industry that one has to sleep with either the director or the producer in order to get a role, what do you say to that
Sincerely, I don’t believe in that, if you have the talent, nobody will ever intimidate you. I have seen a situation where an actor can neIther act nor deliver, and he has to be replaced with someone better. When you are casting, you don’t compromise. The most important thing is looking for talent not who you want to sleep with because it will be glaring to everybody that she can’t play that role, nobody will teach you on set because they don’t have that patience.
If a producer demands sex from you as a person before you are given a role, what will be your action
No producer can tell me that because I got talent; nobody can intimidate me. Those lines are to intimate and oppress people who don’t have it. I think I am being frank here.
What is your take on lesbianism in Nollywood
I don’t know because I am not a lesbian, so it is none of my business. And it is wrong for people to identify only Nollywood with lesbianism when it happens in all industries such as banking, Media and among actors, musicians and others.
Can you act nude scenes
We are Africans. Apart from religion, we have traditions. I am a Nigerian, an Igbo girl, I can’t do it, I don’t know about another person.
But kissing and smooching is not African, but we see them in your movies
We have been westernized, but there is a limit to what we do. Like people will say, when you find yourself in a place or in a group, you observe and pick the one you want to pick and leave the ones you don’t need. As for me, I have picked the ones I can do and I decided to let go of the ones I can’t stand.
If you are asked to play very romantic roles that lead to bed, will you do it
I have done roles associated with kissing. When get to that bridge, we will cross it.
Do you also plan to producing because that seems to be the retirement point of every actor
Producing is not a retirement point; you can also be a producer while acting. I can wake up one morning and say that I want to produce a movie. What matters is the finance. We have a lot of young producers that still act in the movie industry. The likes of Uche Jombo, Emen Isong, Desmond Elliot were producers while they were acting. You don’t have to make it a retirement profession. You just have to get used to the profession
Do you plan producing your movie
By God’s grace.
What are you up to at the moment
I am on a set of a movie titled ‘Question mark’. My just concluded movie ‘Dear Emily’ is not in the market yet but it is on YouTube.
What kind of person is Chioma apart from facing the camera
I am a straight forward, easy going and outgoing person too. I am not an introvert. I love traveling and want to be happy, as well as listening to music
What is the negative thing about you
When you do what you don’t want me to do to you, it gets me upset. I don’t like it when people are inconsiderate. I am not a selfish person; I think about others, and selfish people gets me upset
Are you in a relationship
No, I am not
I am not searching
What is your idea man
Someone who is focused and intelligent and good looking
Why are you not in a relationship
Maybe the person is still trying, but has not won my heart. I just have this belief that you have to take your time and not been in a hurry to get into a relationship. When it is time, the right person will come.
Any advice for anyone that want to venture into the movie industry
The most importing thing is know what you want before getting into it. Make up your mind that acting is what you want to do. You have to be focused and patient to grow in the industry