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
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
In the UK, have you ever featured in any foreign
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
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.
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
When you came in newly in 2004, what were the major
challenges you encountered and how were you able to
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
What thrills you most about
The fact that they produce good movies and are also
third globally, thrills me a lot. In fact, it is
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