Nollywood actress, Chelsea Eze speaks with Ademola Olonilua about her career and early life in Kano
My dream career
I would have been an aeronautic engineer because I loved physics at school. I studied English Language at the University of Maiduguri. Before then, I wanted to study mechanical engineering. I had always liked airplanes. I always dreamed of them. I loved movies that had settings in airplanes, such as Airforce One.
How I became an actress
I acted in a movie for the first time in 2009. In my first movie, I played a role alongside Genevieve Nnaji. I was her daughter in the movie. I auditioned for an Emem Isong in 2007 when I was still an undergraduate, but I never took it seriously. Sometime in 2009, Vivian Ejike wanted to do casting for Silent Scandal.
They were looking for a fresh face, somebody that would pass nicely alongside Genevieve. My name came up and I was invited for auditioning and I was selected. When I was shooting the film I did not know I wanted to be an actress. I felt it was something that just came my way. I had finished school then and I thought I should just play along. When the movie broke and it was made on DVD, I watched it with my mum. I think that was when I decided to take up acting professionally. Initially, my dad kicked against it.
He wanted me to work in a commercial bank like him. After Silent Scandal, I decided I wanted to do movies. Now, he is comfortable with my choice of career. He just saw me in the movie titled, Two brides and a Baby and he was very excited. He said I did a good job. Coming from my father, it meant a lot to me. I think acting in movies has made me more open to people. Before then, I never really liked to talk to other people.
I was a happy child, but I did not want to mix with other people than my cousins and other relatives. I would attend parties only in company with my cousins. Being an actress opened me up because I meet a lot of people. I had no choice than to socialise.
My first time as an actress
I was very nervous. The crew played a prank on me. They had set up and the director, TK, asked me to sit into the shot. I had never done film acting before, except the little I did in church and camera was not involved. I did not know anything about the film acting register. The director said, ‘Chelsea, please sit into the shot’ and I was just looking around.
Then he said I should just sit on the chair. I sat down and he said, ‘Chelsea, you look very good on camera, come and see.’ I stood up from the shot to go and see myself on camera. I was very nevous, I had never done anything like that and I did not know anything. The production crew and the directors were very good and the director was very nice. He understood that I was new and he cut me some slack in some areas. He kept explaining things to me. Genevieve was amazing. They all knew it was my first time and they put me through. I felt as if I was acting and rehearsing at the same time.
My take on Nollywood
Growing up and watching Nigerian movies, I always thought that the celebrities lived in their own world. I didn’t think they were human beings. I was quite young at that time and I didn’t fully understand what was going on. I just thought the actors and actresses were just people I saw on television often, that they were just angels camped somewhere. Then I became an actress and realised that they are just people. I met some of those people and I discovered how much work goes into making a movie. It made me appreciate them and their work. I used to watch and say all sorts of things about the people. Now I know it is not easy to make a movie. I appreciate the movie industry more now as an actress.
My worst moments as an actress
During the BON Awards event, a guy walked up to me and said he was a movie fan. We introduced ourselves and I walked in for the event. When I was called to receive an award, I stood up and somebody tapped me. It was that same guy. I thought he wanted to request my phone number or BlackBerry pin. I did not know why he was tapping me. Then he pointed at the tag on my dress. I was putting on a new dress and I had forgotten to remove the tag. I was very embarrassed. The whole place felt so small. In my mind, I said to myself that if I was a normal girl I would not even be bothered.
My role in the movie, Hood Rush
I had learnt about the film through a friend of mine called OC. I heard Dimeji was holding an audition. I missed the main audition. Fortunately, OC talk to Dimeji on my. I was auditioned separately and I got the role. I acted the part of the character, Shakira.
Growing up in Kano
I was born in Kano and I attended primary and secondary school there. I had a fantastic childhood. At that time, Kano was better than Lagos. As an undergraduate of the University of Maiduguri, I always felt tightly drawn to Kano. I speak Hausa better than my native Igbo. I left Kano when I had to serve. When I was growing up I did not have everything money could buy, but I had had everything I wanted at the time. My dad never wanted me to associate with strangers. So he did everything possible to keep me at home. We had a big compound and I would ride my bicycle round the house up to 10 times till I got tired and sleep. Kano was great place in those days. It’s so sad to hear about what is happening in that used to be my home. Sometimes I feel like crying whenever I hear about the killings taking place over there. I pray for the people that are still there and the families that have been affected by the crisis in the North in one way or the other. I really wish there was something that I could do to help.
A peep into my relationship
I don’t really want to talk about my relationship because it is my private life. I am not searching. My ideal man is one who fears God, loves and respects me and my work. I love honest people.