Interviews | 6 August 2008 14:03 CET

I Need More Romantic Roles —Chioma Okoye

By Alayande Dayo

Nollywood star, Chioma Okoye speaks about her career and other issues

Q: How do you explain your foray into Nollywood?
a: Actually, mine was a long journey and my first role was a wonderful experience. I must say that I am happy for being part of the success story. Initially I was not paying much attention to the development in my career because of the skepticism that filled my heart, but now, it is a different story as you can see for yourself. So far, God has been wonderful and kind to me.

Q: So far, in how many movies have you featured in?
A: Sincerely, I have lost count now, but I know there are over 30 films that I have featured in so far.

Q: Which among the roles you have played, was most challenging?
A: Personally, all the roles I have played are challenging, but there is a particular one, that I am to play in November which I think will also be challenging.
In fact, let me say it is going to be the most challenging because it requires a lot of hardwork and is tedious. According to the script, it would be going to the extreme as it is going to Hollywood. But I pray we will learn to surpass that height.

Q: It is well know that most Nollywood artistes are being stereotyped, in your own case, would you agree that you have been stereotyped so far?
A: It is true that Nollywood actors are usually being stereotyped and in my own case, I would agree they have tried to do that to me as well. This is because most times, I am being implored to play the role of an aunt or big sister, a young mother and so on. It is true that they have tried to stereotype me and that is what I am trying to work down a bit. Only few times I have played romantic roles. I guess why they are doing that to me is because of my plum size and to put a stop to it, I have decided to trim down. The general belief is that the slimmer you are, the more romantic you are. Meanwhile, I can as well play a romantic role like every other actress you can think of.

Q: Are you now asking for more romantic roles?
A: Yes, I can play them well.

Q: So, to what extent can you interpret romantic roles?
A: As far as the script dictates. I can go as far as it takes me because it is a career job and I can afford to give it my best. An actress can not afford to hide her natural talent because acting comes from the inside and when the moment comes for you to prove your mettle, nothing should stop you. As a matter of fact, sometimes, Nollywood actors fail to play romantic roles perfectly.

Q: Are you trying to say that romantic roles are not well played like they do in Hollywood?
A: Yes, and the reason for that is the kind of moral we project in our society. Just last week, a fan of mine was condemning a deep love scene in a movie and it took sweat out of me to explain in details why it was like that. Of course, some people feel it is outright madness to play love scenes because the partners involved may not have seen each other before, let talk even having anything in common. But in Hollywood, they spend months before recording and during that period, the partners must have rehearsed together before going for proper production because is very necessary for you to put the part in your shoes. That is why you see that most times, Hollywood actors and actresses easily fall in love (and quickly fall out too) with each other after playing love scenes, perhaps due to the extent the role was delivered. I will say they are trying for kissing a person they hardly know and in the process, fall in love with him or her.

Q: I think the difference between love scenes played in Hollywood and Nollywood, is the absence of emotion laden delivery of the roles by Nollywood actors. What do you say to that?
A: I disagree with you because we are trying to prove that here in Nollywood.

Q: But I have not seen any Nollywood product with a perfect love scene.
A: Then, you have to wait till I trim down my stature and begin to play perfect love scenes like no one has ever done. This is because the script I have with me now has a lot of love and romance themes.

Q: Do you think Nollywood artistes have reached the level of taking nude roles to further prove originality in their films?
A: In our society, such person can be stoned to death. There are better stories that can depict all the things happening in this part of the world. Most of us come from very good homes and taking such roles can cause problems between us and our people.

Q: What do you think has given you the leverage over your contemporaries?
A: Modesty is one particular thing that nobody can take away from me. A lot of people have been coming to tell me that my 'works' are nice. It is not as if I am trying to blow my trumpet here, but personally, I think I have really raised my head above some heads.

Q: Among thousands of actresses in Nollywood, what would you say is the unique thing that distinguishes you from them?
A: The fact that I am a nice person. I am aware that God created me to be nice and people have also confirmed that to me.

Q: What advantages have your plum size given to you as an actress?
A: It gives me natural African looks to a notable extent that anybody can guess my nationality.
I am sure you have heard the expression: 'Big, bold and beautiful' before. In Nollywood, that is how I am being referred to. The only disadvantage is that it deprives me of playing romantic roles, forgetting that in Africa it is not our nature to be slim.

Q: Generally, what kind of person is Chioma Okoye?
A: Chioma is a nice and down-to-earth person from Anambra State; the last child in a family of six. I am a student of UNILAG, reading History.

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