If not for her mother who encouraged her, actress Chiamaka Nwokeukwu couldn’t have gone into movie production.
Having conquered her fears and anxiety, Nwokeukwu is today the brain behind such entertaining movies like Wrong Thought, Arabella, Awaken, Unknown Damage, Blind Violence, and Lucy’s Dilemma.
In this interview, Nwokeukwu opens up on her experiences as an actor and filmmaker. She also talks about her latest movie and ideal man among other interesting issues.
What actually inspired your first movie production?
I noticed that producers were just using us and paying us peanuts. And at the end of the day, you see your movie everywhere, making waves. As the lead character, people are calling you all over the place, thinking that you’re making money.
But you can’t do anything about it because you don’t have any rights over the movie. I did my calculations and I found out that production pays better, and you know, when you pay people, you have exclusive rights to your works.
What was your first production experience like?
At first, I was scared and anxious! You see, it is not easy to bring people together, put them in a hotel and feed them for weeks, but I did all these after my mom encouraged me.
Before I produced my first movie, I had to float a company, The Ship End Production Nigeria Ltd. But at the end of the day, I will say it has been a thrilling experience.
Were you not afraid of backlash from industry big names when you decided to go into film production?
I thought that they won’t give me jobs again, because they would be like ‘she wants to show herself by producing; let us see how far she can go’. The truth is that’s the exact reason some people don’t want to produce their own movies, because they don’t want to lose the opportunities they already have.
Producers don’t like the idea that you are trying to overshadow them. I still want to work with them but I don’t care as long as I am making money. Most times, they call me and say ‘hmmm… you are now producing, so you want to show us now that you are good, that you can actually do what we are doing?’
But I am like ‘don’t see it that way. I need money as much as you do. I have about N2 million and if I don’t invest it, I will spend it all within a short while. So, I need to invest in order to secure my future’.
What kind of movies do you make?
I do urban movies but currently I am working on an epic movie. I came up with this storyline and then I got a seasoned scriptwriter to help me bring it to life.
What has been your greatest challenge?
You know, on set, that moment when everything seems to be on your head, if you are not calm, you might end up collapsing. The requests keep coming ‘Chiamaka, I need this and that… the lights are bad… this and that are not working’.
But you have actually spent a lot for these things. For instance, your miscellaneous is N200,000 but something could crop up that will gulp N500,000 suddenly; something you never planned for. That is the kind of challenge I face.
Sometimes, you budgeted N2.5 million but you end up spending N3 million. And you have to spend, because if you don’t finish the production, everybody will leave your set and you will be the loser.
What’s the character you played in your last movie, Wrong Thought?
I played the character of a confused lady. Her intention was to get married to someone she really loved but her mother had other ideas. She wanted a rich man for her but there was this poor guy who was actually loving and caring.
Her mom eventually pushed her to marry the old but very rich man. After everything, the poor guy traveled out of the country but came back very rich and wanted her back but she was already married with a kid.
Desperately, my character sought for divorce from her rich husband not knowing that the lover boy, who just returned to the country, only wanted to get back at me because my mom and I really tortured him. Then, after I had divorced my husband, he decided to marry my best friend. It is a very interesting movie.
How best can you take care of a man?
I am a loving and fun-to-be-with kind of lady. I don’t put things in mind; I don’t harbour grudges. I know that God has reasons for everything. I don’t like to be stressed. If somebody dies and people are crying, I just feel that God has a reason for it. Things don’t bother me at all.
Have you ever been in a relationship where you gave your all and yet it didn’t work out?
When I meet a man and things don’t work out, I just tell him ‘you’re not for me, your woman will come’ and I move on.
How do you handle stubborn fans that won’t keep their eyes away from you?
I don’t answer them; I decline (their offers).
What’s the craziest thing a fan has done to you?
That was when I went to a crusade and a guy popped out of the blue and suddenly lifted me up the ground. I was really scared. He said I look decent and that he likes my movies. Also, he said he loves me because I don’t always expose my body in films and that anytime he sees me crying in movies, he pities me.
Are you single and still searching?
I am single. I haven’t found the right man yet; I haven’t found the apple of my eye.
Could you describe your ideal man?
I don’t like too much ‘cool’. If you are too calm or too nice to me or you want me to be in control always, I might just overshadow you. I don’t like a man to start acting like ‘oh, I don’t want to hurt her’. I like guys that would tell me ‘look, what you did is wrong, don’t do it again’. I need a strong guy that can handle me.
Have you had a female fan making sexual advances at you?
There is this lady that has a lot of followers on social media and she keeps chatting me up. She keeps saying that she sees me in her dreams and that she likes me naturally. What makes me feel she is a lesbian is that she always makes advances at me.