Monday May 15, 2017 – Regina Chukwu: I’m More Comfortable Working With Yoruba Movie Stars
Excerpts of Nollywood actress Regina Chukwu’s recent interview with Dupe Ayinla Olasunkanmi.
This is 2017, what are the works you have on ground?
I have some new movies like ‘My husband, my concubine.’ I also did a movie ‘Bridal shower’, but it is still work in progress. But I have a movie coming out soon; it is titled ‘Stella’. I have a lot of projects line up for the year.
Why your movies are titled in English and end up as Yoruba movies?
My movies are usually done with an English working title. But when I am done with production, it comes out as Yoruba, but subtitled in English. I would have love to shoot them as English speaking movies, but for now I still want to work more on my Yoruba movies. The reason I am yet to shoot an English movie is because you have to take your time in doing such projects. Mostly I am more comfortable working with my Yoruba cast.
Are you saying its more challenging working with the English cast?
That is not the issue here, it is not that I cannot communicate properly in English language, but the reason I focus more on the Yoruba cast is because it is cheaper for me. So when I want to go for an English movie, which I plan to shoot later in the year, I have to look for more funds.
Are your saying there is a class relationship between the two sectors?
I am not saying that, what I meant is that I feel more comfortable with my colleagues. I can relate with them well, than the English cast. I cannot just call them and say I want you on my set, but if I have the funds; my money will do the talking. That is because they do not believe in ‘friend stuff’ like the Yoruba where we can call on each other for support and bargain on the fee.
But as an Igbo lady, it should have been easy for you?
That is a fact, but if I don’t have my money and I don’t mingle with them on a regular basis, it can be a bit difficult. I am yet to be called to feature in an English movie. That is because I feel; they think I don’t have anything to offer. But when I produce my movie and bring it to the table for them to see the content; I am sure their perspective will change about me.
Few of your colleagues have featured top English actors in their movie?
Yes, that is true. I think it might also have to do with mingling like I mentioned earlier. I don’t attend social events where this people usually meet with each other, so that might be a disadvantage too. Funny enough, I have gotten invitations, but I am usually busy. But I intend to do more of that now.
Do you feel threatened?
No, I have gotten to a stage in my career that I know if my name is mentioned, people will nod. Maintaining the fact that you are here is not the problem, it is about what you have to make people put your name among the list when lead cast are needed; meaning your name cannot be substituted for another.
Staying relevant is very challenging; it needs hard work and dedication. It is different from what it used to be. Then for you to be a member, you have to belong to an association and learn the skill. But it is different now, once you have your funds, you automatically become a producer. It is very high with the ladies; which means to have to top up your game. You have to keep making yourself relevant, for you to keep getting roles.
Losing your husband at a young age, how has the journey being like for you so far?
It hasn’t been easy. I started career about 13 years ago and my kids were still very young at that time. But today, my daughter is 16 and my son is 14, I am grateful to God.
But not that they are grown up, it gives me more time to be able to pursue my dream to the level I want to take it to. Not that I have attained that dream, because I am yet to receive some awards that I want my name on, but so far, it has been great.
It is not that I don’t worry about their welfare, but I have my mom and my siblings to fall back on their wellbeing, wherever I am not around.
So how is it like being a single mother?
I don’t like being referred to as a single parent. The fact that I lost my husband does not make me a single parent. I just want to take God, for the way they have turned out to be. I am my daughter’s best friend.
You have also maintained a good look, what is the secret?
The fact that you have to watch what you eat is painful. I don’t do gym, because the money get wasted, that is because I don’t have time to go there.
How true is the talk that it is expensive to be a star?
I don’t agree to that; it is how you want to portray yourself to the world. I don’t go out of my way to satisfy people or make them believe I live an expensive life. The fact that you are a star does not make you different for other people.
That is my belief. Whatever I don’t have, I am satisfied. I don’t go ‘borrow-posing’ and claiming to be what I am not. Whatever I want to do in life, I consider my kids first; that is because they are old enough to read, see and hear what goes around. When I wanted to pursue this career, my mother called me and told me her stand. Pointing out some things like her stand in Christianity, and told me to always put the future in the picture first before taking any decision. What she meant was that anything I do now will still come around to either affect my future or stand as a breakthrough for me.
Is it because of your kids that you have decided not to remarry?
Actually, it is because of them that I decided not to remarry then. Like I said earlier, I won’t call myself a single parent, because I am Igbo; the fact that you have lost your husband does not mean that you are still not married to that family.
So as it is traditionally I am still married to my husband family; I am still their wife and if they want to do any family function, I am considered and called upon. I still belong to the community wives meeting. When my husband passed away, I was called and asked if I wanted to remarry. The condition was for me to leave their children and go ahead. But I looked at my kids and they were still very young and I decided to stay. My children have been asking if I won’t remarry; they want a baby sister or brother. But I don’t know what God has in plan for me. I am open to whatever God is says will happen to me.
Are you saying you are free now from your late husband’s family?
If I decide to remarry now, it means whoever I want to get married to will pay my bride price and my parents will then go back to my late husband’s family to return the bride price they paid on me. It is tradition telling them this lady is no longer your wife. But when it is not done, I still remain their wife. I still paid my mother-in-law a visit last year.
Do you still visit Iyana Ipaja, where you were once a seller?
I still go by that road and their reaction is always like ‘come down Regina and come and settle us’, ‘see Iya Chiamaka is here’, and you see others coming out. We exchange greetings; I am still part of them. I thank God, I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be.
[Interview by Dupe Ayinla Olasunkanmi, The Nation]