No big deal baring it all in movies, London based Nollywood star, Chioma Toplis  –  By AZUH AMATUS

Chioma Toplis

Though happily married to her white husband for over a decade now, London based Nollywood actress, Chioma Toplis, does not cut the picture of a Mrs.

However, and unknown to many too, especially her army of fans, she is also the proud mother of three lovely children.

The acting career of voluptuous Toplis, took an upward swing in 2004, when she was invited home to feature in three movies back-to-back.

After that fortunate experience that was made possible with the help of a Nollywood filmmaker, she met on the Internet, Toplis, has gradually moved to the front rows in Nollywood with a string of successful flicks and applause from both fans and pundits.

Speaking with Azuh Amatus, in a recent encounter, the

self-confessed daring thespian that shuttles between London and Nigeria, based on her undying love and passion for the industry, admitted she can bare-it-all in Nollywood movies.

Vivacious Toplis, further bared her mind on other private and public issues germane to her thriving career and personality.

Enjoy the interaction!

 What’s new with you?

Well as you already know, I’m Chioma Toplis, a Nigerian actress

living in London with my family. I’m also from

Umuahia, Abia State. I’m married to a Briton with

three lovely children. My love for Nollywood drags me

down to Nigeria often, to feature in movies. The new thing about me is that I’m currently planning something big in Dubai, at the right time, it shall be revealed.

And for your information, I have been married for over a decade now and we are still in love and living happily, whenever I’m in Nigerian I come to do strictly movies.

I started coming to Nollywood from London, since 2004 to feature in movies, but have lived permanently in England for more than seven years now.

My first movie as an actress cum co producer opened my

eyes a lot. I came through a director Emeka Nwabueze,

we met on the net and started talking business. On my

arrival, we shot three good movies at a stretch –

Stolen Bible, Carcass and Great Consequence, some of

the scenes in these movies were also shot in the U.K.

  As a new comer, what was the experience like then?

It was fun and challenging. Also, being my first

time of working with top Nigerian stars, I was a bit

nervous; it was also my first time of meeting the

director, whom I had chatted severally with on

internet. Despite being nervous, everything went well and

God saw us through.

What was your husband’s reaction?

In fact, he is so, so supportive, he

was even the one that built my website and chose the

crazy pictures we have there. He usually tells me to

go ahead with anything that makes me happy and I thank

God for giving me such a husband.

Since my arrival, I have done over 20 quality movies.

How has it been shuttling between London and

Nigerian sets?

It’s not been very easy, but thank God, I usually

work with understanding moviemakers. But once in a

while, if it clashes with my programme in London, I

cancel the production. On several occasions, I had

flown straight from UK to Nollywood locations, because

of my passion for the job and not necessarily the

money. I’m gradually seeing the result and reward of

my sacrifice. Barely few years in the industry and

considering the fact that I’m not based here, I’m

already a household name and that surprises me a lot.

It gives me joy whenever people appreciate me and my

work on the streets of Nigeria and even England.

I feel very great and happy. In the past, I used to

admire most of these stars who I now work with as

colleagues and pals. For me, the transformation is

still like a make believe movie script, I still can’t

believe it.

 In the UK, have you ever featured in any foreign

production?

Not really, in the sense that it’s not that easy

but I’m officially registered with some foreign

agencies. Either you like it or not, the colour of

your skin still affects your acceptability as an

artiste in the UK. Since, I’m not too lucky in that

aspect, I’ve pushed my children into acting and they

are doing well in drama schools over there.

It does make me feel bad sometimes, but at the same time what can I do?

You are also into modeling?

Yes, but I have never landed any big job, unlike

my children who are making huge impact in that sector.

Right now, I’m discussing with a big agency, they have

asked me to bring my portfolio for a fashion catalogue

job. I’m optimistic it is definitely going to sail

through.

Are you also comfortable with life as a film producer?

Like I told you, I co produced three movies,

which I did not enjoy the experience, I’m still trying

to get over the shock of that misadventure.

 Why?

I’m not going to talk about the experience; it was

nothing to write home about. But then, I would see it

as part of the personal sacrifices that I made in

order to be part of Nollywood. In every business, you

must have an experience and story to tell… At least, I

have learnt my lessons. And very soon, I would hit

locations for my first movie as a wholly

producer/actress. I’m still studying the industry and

that is good, I’m learning very fast and have also

known many people that I can rely upon and even trust.

 

Please, let us leave that aspect, I’m not going to

say anything further on that issue, though I felt

really bad and still recovering from the loss and

shock. I would have abandoned the industry based on

that ugly experience, but my love for Nollywood still

kept me.

How do you cope with temptations on set, as a married woman ?

Sincerely, there is nothing to tempt me onset

Basically, all I want to do, is to entertain, educate and heal

troubled souls with my movies. I also want to enjoy

myself in the process of doing all these.

Of course, I have also heard about sexual harassment, but have never experienced it and also prays it does not happen to

  1. But will definitely handle it my own way and very mature too,

because I’m an adult, if it happens to me.

At least, I am 35 this year.

How do handle the constant pressure from men, whenever you encounter them and their overtures?

It is a normal thing for men to admire us, but I

get by, by being polite. Every responsible man should

know their limits, especially when a woman says no.

Do people sometimes tell you, you have some striking

resemblances with Eucharia Anunobi?

I have heard that from some people, but can’t find

those resemblances.

You act daring roles in movies, are you like that

in real life?

I’m a bit daring in real life. I would be more

daring in my movies when Nigerian movies grow up, then

I can bare-it-all in movies. Under good environment

like England, I can bare-it-all in movies, their

culture permits that and you also get paid real good.

You seemed to be in your own world, what

stands you out in Nollywood?

I think my personality and way of life separates me

from the rest a great deal. At every time, I’m

naturally myself and very cool.

If tomorrow, your hubby tells you to quit

acting, would you obey?

 

Why not? If he says it, I would obey, but

deep down, I don’t think he is going to do that. We

are both enjoying it; he has also met some of my

colleagues. In fact, I lured my husband and children

into watching African movies, they never really liked

it before now.

Aside acting, what else are you into in England?

I work with the Social Services, I used to do it full

time before, but after graduating from college, I read

Social Child Care, I left to join Nollywood

fully. But I also work whenever I’m in the U.K.

What trips you most about being in the klieg

lights?

The fact that the public recognizes and appreciates what I do gives me joy. But at the same time, I have

to be very conscious in whatever I’m doing in both

Nigeria and London.

With your kind of daring roles, sometimes are you not scared your hubby might raise an eyebrow?

He knows I’m just doing my professional job and no

feelings attached.

 

    What do you hope to achieve in Nollywood?

 

I wish and pray they go higher than where they are

today. I want us to surpass Hollywood some day or

better still, let Hollywood come to Nigeria.

What are the areas you think Nollywood has not done

well and should improve upon?

They are trying based on what is available here.

They are growing, one thing that I know is certain, is that

with time, they will surely get there. They should not

be in haste or rush things.

Why did you marry a Briton, and what is the attraction?

We’ve been married for over a decade now. I met him when I

was at the lowest ebb of my life and he accepted my burden and me whole-heartedly. I don’t think any

Nigerian man would have done that for me. We actually

met and married here in Nigeria. For that, I love him

more than anything and can’t imagine trading him for a

billion dollars. He is an engineer who loves me for

who I am and does not like disturbing me. He likes to

be indoors

When you came in newly in 2004, what were the major

challenges you encountered and how were you able to

surmount them?

I was lucky, I didn’t meet plenty obstacles then,

it was a bit difficult hitting the main stream acting,

which I eventually did through God’s grace and hard

work.

What thrills you most about

Nollywood?

The fact that they produce good movies and are also

third globally, thrills me a lot. In fact, it is

intriguing.

Tell us a bit about your family background?

I am from a family of seven and also the fourth

child, we have two boys and five girls. Most of my

siblings live abroad.

First published, October 2008

 

 

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