Nollywood actress and producer, Chioma Okoye, doesn’t shy away from controversy and in this interview, she talks about her works, charity and how she is proud of her body. Excerpts:
Late last year, you launched a TV series, ‘Anyanwu Ututu’ which was basically to promote Igbo culture and tradition. How has the reception been like?
Very great. It’s as if people are waiting for such kind of movies. People are calling and asking about the TV series, when it would start running.
Are those just TV stations in the Igbo-speaking states in the country?
No, we’re just starting with the Igbo speaking states in the country first. So, we’re opening a Youtube channel for people in the Diaspora.
Talking about Youtube channel, is it more profitable than making DVDs or taking your projects to cinemas?
All of them have their own advantage. Youtube is at your own personal convenience So, it’s not as if it’s a cinema where you have a time frame that if you don’t get to meet such time, it’s over. So, Youtube is accessible at any time, any day as long as you have time and you have data to watch. But we’re creating a channel for ‘Anyanwu Ututu’ for all our Igbo content because right now, I’m investing on Igbo content, Igbo films alone.
Between producing movies in English and producing in Igbo, what’s the difference?
Producing in Igbo is a little bit difficult because every Igbo is different. My Igbo is different from Mr B’s Igbo. I’m from Anambra State and Anambra does not have one Igbo. So that’s why ‘Anyanwu Ututu’ is trying to discover different dialects because Igbo has 623 dialects. You can imagine. I’m from Anambra but somebody else from Anambra can be speaking a different dialect and I don’t get to understand what that person is saying. We’re discovering dialect by dialect and the series was shot in Omabala dialect. And Omabala is made up of 28 villages. So after Omabala, we’re going to another community again.
Aside being in Nollywood as an actress and producer, you’ve also earned a reputation of raising funds for ill Nollywood actors. What was the motivation for these?
Where I came out to help sick Nollywood colleagues was during Leo Mezie’s kidney issue because Leo is my friend. And when I heard about the incident, I was so shocked. And I believe one thing, when you’re friends with somebody, in times of need, you should be there for the person. I don’t have money so the only thing I did was to have an agreement with him, ‘give me the consent to raise funds for you.’ And he said, okay, let’s give it a try. And I used my own ability and strategy to raise money for him. And in 10 days, we got the money we want.
Then after that, Obi Madubogwu was the next one that was called upon. I tried to shy away from it but people kept telling me, ‘no, no, no. This is just charity work. You don’t have to shy away from it.’ I said no, I don’t want everybody to start calling me because almost 80 per cent of people have problem in Nollywood. So, I said let me just do Madubogwu. In 10 days, I had good result. They now called me for Prince James Uche that has been there in public for over two years asking for funds. On the first day of the outburst, we made about six million naira.
But I felt bad when we raised the money, got the visa, three days for him (Uche) to travel, he gave up. I’m not happy because his own weighed me down so much because at the end, I got to meet his family, his children. The pain was much for me so I couldn’t carry on to raise any money for people. So, even as much as people keep calling me on the phone, I keep telling them no, no, no, I can’t do it.
As you’ve showed you’re a good fund raiser, do you have any vision going into politics to right the wrongs?
Oh yes, I have but not now. That’s why I intended to start from my community. Let me start empowering people because the movie I shot, I didn’t use Nollywood stars much. In Nollywood, we have 24 actors from Omabala but I just picked only six. I gave the rest opportunity. I called for audition for two days. And we did rehearsals for three weeks. And we shot for two months seven days. Now, people know me from my community. Before I will now go to 20, 30 communities, people will know me. So, if I’m coming for any position, they know I’m coming for the masses because it’s high time we youths came onboard.
Big Brother Naija has started and there are controversies about whether it’s good programme for youths. Do you watch the show and what’s your take on it?
I don’t watch Big Brother Naija but I’m an entertainer. Anything that entertains people, I don’t kick against it. If I’m not an entertainer, if you ask me, I’ll now say, ‘it’s very wrong, it’s not educational, it does not add any value to the children.” That’s the irony of life for you. It seems as if negative things works than positive things. But the problem is with we the Nigerians. You might have a good project and go and meet companies, they’ll just turn you down.
Hollywood has embraced the #MeToo, kicking against sexual harassment. From your own career in Nollywood, would you say sexual harassment happens and is something to be worried about?
Hmm… It’s increasing every day, day by day. So, it’s everywhere not just Nollywood. You cannot separate sexual harassment from your daily business. In every business, it’s there.
Have you had close-up experience?
Me? Maybe because I’m not easy-going person, that’s why I’ve not experienced that but people have chased me now. I’m a fine girl. I’m well-endowed so I see people that admire me on a daily basis. Any day I go out, people chase me. So they don’t harass me, they chase me because I’m well-endowed. God blessed me with everything a woman needs to be a woman in a very pronounced way. There is nothing I will wear that will hide my endowments.
So, how do you handle some unwanted attention?
I give them the number of my boyfriend because if I tell you no, you’ll still continue.
There’s also this trend of sex dolls for men which is hitting Nigeria whereas women use sex toys. What’s your take?
We’re at end times so everything goes. If men say they want sex dolls, they’ll have sex dolls. If women say they want their own, they have it too. Do whatever that makes you happy.
Can you date a man that uses a sex doll?
Hmm… Unless the man is blind. For me as a woman to be in his life and he’s thinking of sex doll. No sex doll is finer than me. You can never see it now. My type is not two in the market. Before you see a woman that has big breasts, big hips, tiny waist, it’s difficult. You can barely count people that have that kind of shape that when you come out, you cause commotion. So, if that man has me in his life and he’s thinking of sex doll, then that means he’s not normal.
Last year, gist went around that you prayed for a husband on your birthday. How close is that prayer to being answered?
Prayers are meant for God to answer. If I say I’m praying for a husband does not mean I don’t have suitors. It’s the one of my choice, that’s what I’m asking God for. I don’t want to marry a 419 man, I don’t want to marry a drug man. I want to marry a man that has a very good business that can foot my bill.
And is that man currently in your life?
I’ve not seen the one that can foot my bill yet. I’m still waiting for the one that would foot my bill.
When you say ‘foot your bill’ what do you really mean?
Hmm. What I mean is that I’ve dated rich men. They have spoilt me. It’s affecting me now as a young girl. So, I’ve not seen a man that can foot my bill. Right now, I can’t stay without light. It’s not possible. Instead of me to stay without light, let me not eat. Right now, I don’t play with my three square meals. And there are some foods that I don’t joke with. You must give it to me. No matter anything, I make sure those food are there.
What kind of food are we talking about?
(laughs) Don’t worry about the kind of food. Do you want to pursue the potential suitor that is going to come? Do you want to scare him away?
Well, maybe prepare him
I eat organic food. Everything I eat is organic, natural.
Hmm… even my soap, my cream is expensive, are organic.
Are you saying acting doesn’t really pay your bills?
I’m a producer. I make money myself too. And now I’m venturing into another business soon. I want to start another business before the year runs out.
I want to have a hair line business.
Making hair products?
Yes. That’s why I would advise every actor, every filmmaker to have businesses. Filmmakers are very lazy. The most lazy people I’ve seen in the world are filmmakers, especially in Nollywood. Aside movies, they don’t have any other thing they’re doing. It is even now you hear people say they sell clothes. What they do is just pay courtesy visits to rich men, get some ‘thank you’ for coming. That’s what they survive with, then going on Facebook, chasing girls that have money and live abroad. And the women looking for men that are very rich who can take care of them.
But you also talked about looking for a rich man
Hmmm… when I say I’m looking for a rich man, it does not mean I’m not working. I act, I make movies and now I’m entering into another business again. I’m looking for a rich man not a billionaire, an average rich man. The person must go to school. But before the year runs out, I should be saying ‘I do’ because I’ve found one
Congratulations. Recently you posted a picture on Instagram where you wore black gym clothes and captioned it ‘Body Goal’. What were you celebrating?
I’m trying to lose some flesh in some areas I don’t want. So, I restrain and I go to the gym. I’ve cut down my eating habits. So, I eat very healthy organic foods. In the morning, I might just have lettuce, in the afternoon, I’ll just have fish and vegetable, in the evening, I’ll just have plantain and lots of vegetables. So, I’m building a banging body – the body that you’ll see, you’ll turn.
You’re not looking at a faster route like surgery.
Surgery is not bad. It’s like recreating yourself. Well, I don’t condemn people that do liposuction. It’s the body that you’re trying to modify. Or maybe because I’m not in a hurry to get the desire that I want because I’m not badly created. I’m well-endowed. So, with or without surgery, if I come out, people turn around. Just because human beings that we are, we are never satisfied. We always want something extra. I can do without surgery, I can do without exercise, I’m perfect the way I am.