Nigerian actress Monalisa Chinda of River State. The star has given an extensive interview with the Nigerian Leadership newspaper in late April 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
What Else Do My Fans Want To See?
Sunday, 17 April 2011 02:26
Courtesy of the Nigerian Leadership
Patience Ivie Obhafuoso with Agency report
Some remember her for the divorce with ex-hubby Dejo-Richards, others for helping orphans or as a Glo Ambassador, but actress Monalisa Chinda is more than all that.
Has becoming an actress affected your life in any way?
It has thrown up a lot of goodies really and surely, more than the bad ones.
Becoming a celebrity, by the grace of God, has opened lots of doors for me: it has made me to be aware of myself. A lot of people might not say this, but I know that I have discovered a lot about myself, some hidden abilities that I have, which are presently manifesting.
It amazes me when you find out that some movies in which you have acted, in the past, have somehow touched or changed someone’s life completely. It is exciting and you want to do more. It has really opened doors; people call me from abroad and want me to do some endorsements for them while others want you to grace their events.
Again, you find out that children also want to associate with you. It’s true, nobody wants to associate with a failure, so, kids want to be with me.
What it has taken away from me, which is the price I have to pay for becoming a celebrity, is the fact that people have refused to separate the actress from the real person. They just feel that what you are on television is what you are in real life. It is quite disturbing, because they throw it in your face. But as you grow older in the business, you just take it with a pinch of salt and move on.
Can you tell us how the journey started?
I didn’t set out to be an actress. Acting wasn’t what I wanted to do. My parents wanted me to become a lawyer, and at that time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted for a career, which made matters worse. But I later decided to study theatre arts.
And it just happened like that. Maybe I would say it is divine, because no one influenced me.
I just don’t know now what the motivational force behind it was. I mean, I just got into the University of Port Harcourt and I went for it. Honestly, I don’t know what pushed me into studying theatre arts, but I just enrolled and that was it.
Also, as a student, I did a couple of movies. In 1996, I did Pregnant Virgin, my first major movie and subsequently, when I finished school in 2000, I starred in Above The Law and a couple of others.
How did your parents react when you opted for acting?
My parents objected completely.
They didn’t find it funny, but they later got used to it. My father didn’t understand why I would want to be an entertainer for the rest of my life. He didn’t really come to terms with the profession back then, but not anymore. Right now, they have accepted the profession and they are proud of me.
Despite your fair skin, you don’t seem to expose your body in movies. Is this due to morals?
I am a professional actress. The truth is that my person has nothing to do with my profession. For my person, I am morally grounded. I do not like to reveal too much skin.
I even try to show part of my legs.
I can really be a bad girl in a movie without revealing too much. I can do a lot of romantic scenes and kisses without really kissing or touching. I just create that atmosphere of romance without really feeling it, because it is a business, a profession.
Not showing my skin? What else do they want to see? They have seen my legs, part of my chest and my back.
I cannot go out there and put my tits on the screen for everyone to see. Again, we are Africans and Nigerians, there are certain things that work abroad that won’t work here.
How do you cope with the stress of motherhood and the rigours of the job?
Coping with motherhood has been fun and extremely exciting. I blend the two perfectly well, such that none suffers for the other. My daughter is the most interesting thing that has ever happened to me.
I am happy to be a mother and I have been coping with motherhood and my career brilliantly. I make sure I give her all she wants and besides, I have a personal assistant who ensures the safety and well-being of my child while I am on set. And as soon as I am through, I take control of my duties as the mother. It has been quite interesting and there is nothing too stressful about it.
How difficult has it been as a single parent?
It’s difficult in the sense that I have to do a lot of things myself. On the other hand, I absolutely enjoy the freedom.That’s it.I don’t want to go further.
So, you would not want to talk about your ex-husband’s new marriage?
No, this is my interview. I don’t want to talk about someone else.
Are you in any relationship at the moment?
Why won’t I want to be in a relationship? Am I not a human being? Naturally, I would want to be in a relationship but I don’t need to rush into any. Just taking my time.
How do you manage advances from your male admirers or don’t they come?
Well, if I tell you no, I will be lying. I try to be nice, knowing that I know what I am looking for. I am always polite to my fans and I love them as much as they love me, but whenever anyone of them wants to go beyond that or whenever the obsessed ones showed up, I’m always quick to show off my wedding ring. I draw the line and take my stand as a married woman.
How do you maintain your fair complexion and beauty, despite the climatic conditions in this part of the world?
I keep fit all the time. I drink lots of water, sleep when I have to, wake up, take care of my daughter, eat vegetables and moisturise my body a lot.
Moisturising my body is something I do a lot. I sincerely do not have a registered beauty routine, but I guess I try to always look my best at all times.
Image is everything. As a celebrity, you don’t need to look bulky. I don’t like it when people just try to make excuses, like I have a baby and all that. But the baby is growing up and what are you doing to yourself? I am done having babies for now, so why the fatness?
A lot of people did not like me being big, that is just the truth.
So, I needed to please my fans and look good by shedding weight. I am not there yet, I am still working on the weight.
It must have starved you of your favourite food . . .
Yes, in a way. It has made me more disciplined. Beauty is pain, you know? It robbed me of a lot of things, because I am sweet-toothed. I love pastries; cakes, biscuits and all that.
I exercise for about four hours daily now. Two hours in the morning and two in the evening. It’s really stressful to maintain beauty and for this industry of ours, you need to maintain your beauty and shape, besides having the professionalism.
Tell us about the soap that you are currently working . . .
Cat Walq is the title of the soap that I shot five months ago, but it is being edited at present. We shot it within 45 days, making it the biggest thing Nollywood has ever done. It is going to give a lot of TV programmes a run for their money. I am not boasting, it is a brilliant work. I am one of the actresses in the soap, but there are a lot of up coming acts as well.
We decided not to use too many Nollywood faces, because we wanted to project new faces into the industry. It’s just like Tinsel. We wanted to bring new acts into the picture and give them room to develop their skills, and thank God we got good hands.
So far, so good, but what we are about to launch into the market is the first movie flick I did with my producer, Emem Isong. It is called, It Takes Two. It is due for premiere at an unfixed date.
Can you throw more light on what the movie is all about?
It is basically a contemporary story of young, talented women, who are working and probably have issues with relationships. I am not a very good story teller, but the movie is about three friends. I acted as the very stiff one.
I had a terrible past with men and decided not to go into any kind of relationship, but my other two friends are trying to hook me up in a kind of blind date. It’s a very interesting story line,but like I said I am not a good story teller. Let’s leave it at that.
What other projects are you working on this year?
I am to become the brand face for Vita 500, a drink. We have just finished shooting for the energy drink and it will hit the market soon.
There are other things here and there, but majorly, I am trying to build up my charity home for the orphans. I don’t really want to talk about that yet, because I have been on that for long, but now I really want to concentrate on doing that and it is almost ready.
Why an orphanage; is it that you have a soft spot for children?
I was brought up that way. I want to just give and give until I can give no more. I want to reach out to people who do not have and I am praying to God to give me the resources to be able to reach out to people. People are suffering.
I don’t know why Nigerians are so hypocritical. We keep talking about other countries suffering from ravages of war and poverty and we are dying here. Stop saying you want to go and donate things to Haiti: what about Nigerians who are suffering? It’s a way of giving back to the society.
What is your take on this trend in Nollywood where one person is the producer, director and actor at the same time?
In every work, in everything that you do, you do not want to remain there, you will want to explore other areas, you want to do other things especially in entertainment.
If you are an actor or an actress, you will like to diversify. What I do not like and which hasn’t really paid off is, if you are not a musician from the start and then all of a sudden you become an actor turned musician, I get worried.
It is always easier for the musician to become an actor or an actress. It is easier that way if you check through the track record of people who are swinging both ways.
Their first love is usually music, then they come into acting, not an actor or actress suddenly going into music. I did not plan to become a producer but as I grow older, as I begin to mature in the business, I cannot continue to act these sassy roles anymore.
Come on, I am getting older, it’s either I do other things, go behind the scene or do very few of the acting roles and let the young ones to grow, not to compete with them.
What is your take on the industry in terms of growth?
Nollywood is going places. Things are good, but they could be better. Generally, we are not doing badly and I see us breaking new grounds very soon. For now, I would just want to keep mum about Nollywood. It’s been good, but I would just say we are in it, seriously hoping and praying things get better.
Tell us about your childhood . . .
Of course, you know how kiddies are, they made jest with their skin colours, head shapes and so on. So, they joked and we all laughed over my fair skin. I did same as a child, so no big deal. Another thing was that some thought I was a half-caste, because of my colour.
But the fact is that I am a full-blooded Nigerian. For me, childhood was fantastic. Really.
We were not extremely rich but we were provided for. Everything that we really needed was provided for us. My dad spoilt us but my mother was the strong one, so I had everything going. However, as I grew older, a lot of those privileges were taken away from me because I am the first child and I have to show examples to my younger ones. I was strictly brought up, compared to my siblings. So, growing up was good.
So, are you doing the same for your daughter?
Yes, I am trying so hard as a single parent. It’s not easy but I am trying so hard. Besides, you have to know that times have changed, as compared to when we were brought up. Even if you try to curtail the things your child does at home, when she goes to school what does she do? You just keep teaching and talking to her until she grows older. I talk to my daughter a lot, I don’t force her.
So, how has life been with you?
It has been beautiful and okay. The road has been really smooth. I must confess that it has not been too rough.
There could be ups and downs, vicissitudes, yes, but they have been things I have been able to handle and manage properly. The journey so far has been fantastic, thanks to God.