Not even her status as an orphan could deter emerging starlet, Lisa Onu, from pursuing a career in Nollywood, now the world’s second largest film producing nation. Onu’s first encounter with the make believe world was in 2002, as an undergraduate, studying theatre arts, at the Imo State university. She later left to finish her education, after registering her presence in four hit movies. Today, the sassy and sultry starlet is back and graciously climbing the ladder of success in tinsel town. Speaking with AZUH AMATUS recently, the unrepentant single and searching actress happily unveiled herself. She also spoke on why she can’t stop being a proud member of Nollywood and many more.
Enjoy the interaction!
Let’s start with your background
My name is Lisa Onu, I’m from Abia State, and a theatre arts graduate from the Imo State University. I’m from a family of ten children, and the seventh child, I’m currently a matured orphan. I graduated in 2005 and served in Dutse, the capital of Jigawa State between 2006/07. I also run an NGO on diabetes. I was born here in Lagos, but had most of my education in the east.
What makes you a matured orphan?
Well, I became an orphan some three months ago, a matured one because I knew my parents very well before they died. I lived with my mum for 14 years, before she died in ’94, while my dad just died in 2008.
So, how is life treating you as an orphan?
Well, sometime I get very shy to say that I’m an orphan, but such is life. However, the important thing is that I’m living well. Truth is that I also feel bad knowing that I no longer have parents, but I want to continue making them happy wherever they are.
If your parents were to still be alive, would they have allowed you to be an actress?
Sincerely, to an extent, they will because my mum knew that I had always wanted to be in the showbiz world. Even my late dad knew about my romance with Nollywood. As an undergraduate I was fortunate to feature in four movies in 2002, they were shot in Owerri, Imo State. The first was Stubborn Grasshopper; the second was Swimming with Sharks, followed by two others.
So, how did you come into the industry?
First and foremost, as a theatre arts undergraduate in school, I heard about an audition and attended. Luckily for me, I got a role and ever since, I have not stopped working very hard to get to the top. I came back fully in Nollywood in August 2007. Upon my return, I did a soap, which is yet to start running, with Ralph Nwadike. However, I used to know Chico Ejiro before going for my Youth Service. Fortunately, I reconnected with his production house, Grand Touch, and was auditioned for a role in Treasures, his hit TV soap. I have also featured in True Heroes with them as well. In fact, I have done some movies with them. Some of my current movies include: Philosophers, Arch Angel, Stone Face and a few others.
We would like to know more about your role in Treasures?
In Treasures, my character is called Eva, a senior runs girl in the society. A young girl from a good home, but very spoilt in the city where she lives alone. She has so much power over men in the city and controls them with so much authority.
So, in real life, are you a runs girl?
You know what, in real life I’m not a runs girl and will never live such a reckless life. I can never be desperate in making money. It’s just a role that I was paid to interpret.
How has it been working with Chico Ejiro and his Grand Touch production?
Sincerely, working with Chico Ejiro has not been easy, because he stretches you to the limit. Mind you, he has been there for long and knows the job inside out. In fact, he’s the master and people like us are still learning from him. And the truth is that I’m happy because of the progress I’m also making working with his outfit and the others. Several people are also commending me, because my role in Treasures has also exposed me a lot.
What actually fired your passion for Nollywood?
For me, it’s natural and has always been in me. It is what I love doing, even as a teenager, I used to perform for my parents at home while they were still alive. I also thank God, because the doors are opening, which I’m also very happy about.
Can anything make you quit Nollywood?
Nothing can make me quit Nollywood because right now, I’m much matured as an actress. Again, in life when you are seeking for something, which you seriously and truthfully desire, a lot of challenges will definitely come your way.
Are you married?
I’m not married because sometimes marriage is very confusing, again immediately after marriage your freedom could also become an issue.
So, in essence you are scared of marriage?
I do not want to say anything negative about that noble institution, because I hope to get married someday.
How soon will that be?
That’s a difficult one though, I know I’m old enough to get married, but I still want to get somewhere with my career before settling down. At least, I want to get to the top of my career and revive my NGO on diabetes before getting married.
So, who is the lucky man currently rocking your world?
Sincerely, no man is in my life except my family. Right now, I’m seeing nobody except my career and family.
Is it that the men are scared of dating you or you are the one being choosy?
First is that I don’t like the kind of men coming my way. An executive man would appeal to me, but I’m yet to see him come my way. He must be executive in the sense that he will be very busy with his job. I don’t just want the yoyo guys, because I’m also yoyo.
Truth is that sometimes, every single woman gets lonely. I do not enjoy it 100%, but its life and nature and there is nothing that I can do about it. If marriage eventually comes the way I plan it, all well and good.
What happened to your last relationship?
It’s still there, only that the fire it used to have burnt out. In fact, I can’t say anything about it, because we have not seen each other in months, that’s why I’m saying I don’t` have any man in my life.
So, if an executive guy offers you marriage now, are you going to oblige him?
Oh my God! It depends, if he is going to allow me do what I love most – acting, then I would follow him. But if he says no, it’s going to be difficult following him.
Why did you set up an NGO on Diabetes?
My dad died from diabetes, but prior to his death, we did not understand fully what diabetes is all about. We thought it ends with you staying away from sugar and other sweet things.
In fact, my brother almost died from diabetes and that incident was what brought about the setting up of the NGO. It’s called St. Patrick’s Diabetic Health Centre. We started it 2003; my brother is the founder, while I’m the person running it. It is on hold now partly because of my career and lack of fund. We will become operational very soon.
As a single lady, what part or parts of your body gets men attracted to you?
Funny enough, some men say they trip for my sexy bowlegs a lot, while some trip for my eyes. But the daring ones, always complement my boobs, by saying it’s the finest they have ever set their eyes on. They are 100% natural and I do the right things to keep them firm and in shape.
What would you say you love most about being in Nollywood?
I like first, the fake life in Nollywood, the people living this life as well as those living the real life. I also love Nollywood because it also gives people the opportunity to make a living without much stress. It’s an open industry, if you have the passion and creative mind to succeed.
Aside acting and running an NGO, what else do you do for a living?
Nothing, acting is my life and only love for now.
As one of the many starlets in Nollywood, what would you say separates you from the rest?
Sincerely, I can’t say it myself, I would like other people to say it, but I just know that I’m myself and very confident of my acting prowess.
Who are your role models in Nollywood?
My role models are: Clarion Chukwurah, Eucharia Anunobi, Ini Edo and Uche Jombo. Surprisingly, I’ve not been able to act with any of them, but I’m looking forward to doing that very soon.
Why do you wear contact lens?
The lens that I wear is medicated, due to my eyes problem. I abandoned my normal glasses because it gives me marks on the face.
Do you believe in love?
Yes I do, but can’t tell if love has been fair to me.
My heart was broken the first and only time I fell in love. I no longer feel bad about that experience. We saw last some years ago.
Do you think filmmakers are doing enough to assist the careers of starlets like you in Nollywood to grow?
Some of them are trying, but for them to help you, you must also have the potentials and passion, so that their efforts will not be in vain.
Are you the party and club type?
I’m an introvert and hardly socialize, that has also helped me to stay away from the roving eyes of men.
Who is Lisa Onu?
Well, Lisa Tobechukwu Onu, is a humble and homely person that is also loyal. I love Nigeria so much because it allows us to be free and pursue our goals. Above all, I’m focused and very determined.
First published, June, 2009.