Entertainment

Had I known I’d have married long before I became famous – Calista Okoronkwo, actress

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STAR actress, Calista Okoronkwo has come a long way in Nollywood. From College Girl movie to Clinic Matters TV series, the thespian continues to be sought-after by many producers who want her for one role or the other.

In this rare interview, Okoronkwo opened up on her humble beginning, challenges, love life and other germane issues. Please enjoy it.

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is traveling. I love to travel, but my greatest fear is having to travel domestically.

For me, the long delay at the airport is always my phobia. Sometimes your flight is scheduled for 7am only for you to get to the airport and spend the whole day before you could fly. Recently, I traveled to Asaba for a shoot. My return flight was supposed to leave by 5.30pm. I was at the airport as early as 1pm
because I checked out of the hotel at 12noon. But my flight didn’t leave until 10.30pm in the night.

So, domestic flight has been the killer for me when it comes to my career as an actress.

What are the greatest sacrifices you’ve made in your career?

I’m a very homely person. So, my biggest sacrifice is having to spend days, weeks, and months away from my family. I’m somebody who is very attached to my

mother and my siblings. For me,
I feel it’s a huge sacrifice because
sometimes when I’m filming,
I’m away for like months. I have
never stayed away from my family
before till I became a busy actress.
Secondly, I had to sacrifice a bit of
my love life, a bit of my relation- ship. I have put in more efforts in
my career than even my emotional
life.

What steps did you take to get to this level in your career?

It’s consistency, dedication and
hard work because in this career,
consistency is key. You have to
always put yourself out there. No
matter what the situation is, you
just have to always put yourself out
there. Consistency; always making
sure you are in the faces of the
people. That’s what actually make
people have you at the back of their
minds.

With your humble beginning and initial challenges, what les- sons have you learnt so far?

What I have learnt so far is that
whatever you are doing when you
feel nobody is looking at you, just
continue doing it. You are doing
something and you feel that you are
not getting the recognition that you
deserve, just keep doing it because with time, somebody somewhere
will give you that recognition that
you so deserve.

What would you like to change in the movie industry if you are given the opportunity?

First of all, most people see ac-
tresses as time wasters, loose peo-
ple. Even when an actress works

hard for it, it looks like her achieve-
ment is gotten by doing runs. It is

something I would like to sensitize
people about. Secondly, I would
like that cliques in Nollywood
are done away with because most
productions are not getting the full

recognition that they deserve, sim-
ply because they don’t give roles

to people who deserve them. They
don’t give you roles based on your

acting prowess, rather they appor-
tion roles based on favouritism. I

feel like professionalism should
play a bigger role in the industry
rather than sentiments. Then as
actors, we should take our health
very seriously. It’s not enough to
always be on set back-to-back or
every single time. We have to take
advantage of the health insurance
scheme launched by the Actors
Guild of Nigeria.

Which of the movies launched you into the limelight?

There were two movies that
brought me into the limelight. The
first one was ‘College Girls’. It was
shot in Ghana. I played the role of a
secondary school girl who was not
really a good student. That movie
sold so much. It was in the days of
VCDs and DVDs; when it hit the
market, it was so big and it made
people know me a lot. The second

one is the TV series, ‘Clinic Mat-
ters’ produced by Paul Igwe. In that

one, I replaced a character called
Nurse Titi. That one also launched
me into the limelight the more.
However, my most challenging
role I think is the movie where I
played the blind girl. I had my eyes
open but I acted like I couldn’t see
anything. It was really challenging
because I had to put myself in the
character. I did lots of research on
what it looks like to be blind.

Do you still keep your old friends, those that you had before you started acting?

Yes, I have a couple of friends I
still move with. I mean the friends
I had from day one. But there are
some I don’t move with any longer,
because they are far away or are
married and they feel like they
don’t want to move with single
girls anymore. And I cannot ques- tion anybody with their decisions
or choices. So, you just let them be.

Do you have something you are currently working on?

Last year, I produced two mov-
ies. One is ‘The Calm Before the

Storm’. It is a movie that borders

around mental health. It is some-
thing that I have never seen a lot of

people talk about here in Nigeria.
I picked that theme and we did
something on it. It has garnered
over two million views on YouTube
since it was uploaded in January/
February.
Right now, I’m hopping from
one production to another. Also,
I’m quite busy with the AGN Film
Festival taking place in Miami in
November. As an executive of the
Guild, it’s my duty to work hand
in hand with the team members to
ensure a great festival.

Looking back at your life and career, what do you think you did wrong that you would like to make right if given the opportunity?

I would have married earlier
before getting into Nollywood.
Right now, it’s proving difficult
to concentrate on a relationship
because my time is more vested

in my career. I’m just concentrat-
ing on making it work. If I knew, I

would have gotten married before
venturing into acting fully.

Is marriage still far or near for you?

No, marriage is not far from me.
In fact, marriage is very near by

the grace of God. I’m in a relation-
ship already.

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