Celebrity | 25 May 2008 12:59 CET


While many wouldn't mind being ranked or more preferably nicknamed after a well- acclaimed successful person, a few people take exception. Our guest today loathes it.
In fact she considers it demeaning. “It's annoying and it totally annoys me. I don't feel insulted but I would appreciate it if people would appreciate me for who I am and stop comparing me with Beyonce. We should stop this, it is insulting to all industry acts”, she blasted.

Her birth collapsed the seventies into the eighties and destiny, her parents prophesied in her name, would lead her to life. Ash, Sexy, Girl Power, Northern Star and of course Beyonce are some of the nicknames admirers have given her.

Ashionyenedue Michelle Ugboh is one of Nigeria 's emerging all-round entertainment divas. Whether on location for movie, a photo shoot behind the still cameras, singing or presenting on the microphones, she is in charge and so strong-willed.

“I don't believe in faking identity or personality because people want you to behave in a certain way. I'm the same crazy person.

I'm strong, independent, a goal-getter, focused, determined, God-fearing, family-oriented, hardworking, emotional, spiritual and sensitive”, she reels out when asked to describe herself in her private diary. What a CV!

For attempting things that are in contrast with her tiny frame, she earned the name 'Chonchoro' in her first year in high school at the all-female Mary Mount College, Agbor, Delta state. Chonchoro, she says, means 'small but mighty'.

“We were three girls of the same age and the youngest in my set that year. I was the smallest looking among the three of us, so a senior student just came up with this name 'You are the smallest of all your mates but you want to do things bigger than you', so I've always been small but mighty- Chonchoro”, she giggled.

Placing fifth in a family of eight kids, the mass communication graduate from Auchi Polytechnic, is at her best when in the company of certain people she calls real friends and says her life has been a blessed one.

“I haven't had a bad life. My life has been joyous and beautiful. I've been privileged to have a beautiful life and beautiful people around me.

I have not had any controversy whatsoever since I came into the entertainment industry so I wouldn't want to hide anything. My life has been great. I have stories to tell. I will actually want to write my own autobiography someday.”

Chonchoro or Ashionye, whichever you prefer, lost her mother fifteen years ago and it seems to be the greatest blow life has dealt her. “It's been tough. I have a step mum now and she is an amazing person but no other person can replace one's mother.

There are no two ways about it. No one on earth can take that place. Your mother's your mother and your father's your father.

I was mummy's pet. I would look for trouble in the house and run and hide behind her. It's still very tough. I cry every now and then. I have four different pictures of her in my wallet and I carry it every where”, Ash squealed.

“As a child, I wanted to be a lawyer. I had this picture of Voltron in my head and I wanted to be Voltron in real life and defend the defenseless.

But fortunately, God had better plans for me so he directed me into mass communication where I majored in broad-casting: T.V., Radio, Music, Acting and here I am.” Ask her if this is the dream and she says no it's only a part of it.

“Wherever the top is which is as far as I can go. I want to win awards not just locally but internationally acclaimed awards.

I want to win a Grammy and if possible an Oscar. I really want to take my acting career seriously. I am looking forward to going to Hollywood soon.

I have had some offers to do some acting here in Nigerian and I have one offer to do same in the U.K but that is still under wraps at the moment. So I am eagerly looking forward to getting to the top where ever that is.”

Winning a Grammy in five years from now seems to be a tall order or castle building in the sky at least to me but not to Ashionyenedue whose conviction is boggling, “One nomination and I'll win it”.

It's quite strange that a beauty like Ash has never been embarrassed before on the account of stardom. She says, “. I've been so blessed. I've never had a torn dress on red carpet nor have I had my boobs do nipple gaze on stage”.

But talk about the rewards of glamour and the first thing she screams is, 'It's drained my pockets'. “Glamour's dug holes in my pocket 'cos I can't go for any event without going shopping for a dress.

Normally I am a very casual person: jeans, top and flat shoes and I am off; but I can't do that to events. Although I agree you spend money to make money”. On another note, 'It's opened so many doors for me. I have met people and gone places'.

It is surprising, anyone will agree, that for a lady who enjoys walking the red carpets and the celebrity treatment, her low points of the glamorous living is her inability to eat at road-side canteens.

“I can't go to mama put any more. That is the saddest thing for me. I started my music career at about the same time my radio career. I like to be free. I like to be me. If I can't eat comfortably how do I swallow my amala?

I like to wash my hands and eat. I don't do cutlery with swallow. No way! The last time I went to a very popular amala joint with my friends in Yaba, that was in 2005. We queued like others collected the amala and ewedu with plenty of assorted meat and looked for a corner in the ding to sit, so people won't see me.

Before I knew what, some girls in a corner were whispering or was it debating 'It's Ashionye, it's Ashionye'. I froze immediately and couldn't even eat my meat properly because they kept watching.

As I stood up to go wash my hand, another girl from another corner screamed 'Ashionye!' I turned and waved 'Hi' with my left hand because the other hand was covered in oil. Right away, I signaled my girlfriends and we left”.

Life can't be more rewarding for the Delta State indigene. Since she signed on her three-year recording with the Orangootan recording company, she's released her first full length album titled, 'a piece of me' and is in the studios again for her second album scheduled for release in July.

As a matter of fact she's just done a collabo with Nigeria 's returnee R&B sensation, Banky W on an R &B love song she titled, 'Can I'- one of the tracks that will grace her coming album.

The singer also lays claim to business. “I've just started my own company. It's an entertainment company and it's called Alleykat Media.

It's about six months old and I have put in a lot of money into it. I am spending so much money that I haven't started making back. We will be doing everything entertainment but for now we are into events, TV and Radio independent productions. We are starting with them”.

Speaking of marriage plans with family-oriented Ashionye who claims; 'I love my family to death. I could actually lay my life down to save someone in my family and I am not joking' and she replies, “The question is, 'will I marry myself'?

I have to be proposed to. There has to be a man to take me to the altar. I can't marry my self”. Ask her how many years from now she sees her marriage coming and, “At the moment, I am on my own.

If it was in my power, I would have been married since I was 20. Right now I don't know, I can't predict. It's in the hands of the man up there.

God's time is the best”, she resigns.
Even though Ashionye does not know when her wedding bells are likely to ring, she is optimistic and quite assertive of the number of children the union will bring.

“I and God have it sorted: two kids- too little, three- not balance, four- yeah that's the perfect number. I'm having two boys and two girls”, she declares.

While all seems perfect for the songstress, presenter and actress, Ashionye's most treasured memories remains times with her late mum, “I always say that if I could turn back the hands of time, I will turn it back and bring her back and she won't go anywhere.

She will be around some more to see her grand kids from all of us (siblings) because she didn't get the opportunity to see any”.

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