Dazzling and delectable Thelma Nwosu is among the few lucky actresses that started their careers in Nollywood from inception and has still not gone underground or crash out along the stormy road to stardom.
The mother of one sexpot who announced her presence in Nollywood movies on the set of “Frame Up” in 1994, revealed that her emergence was made possible by star actor, Bob Manuel Udokwu and a female colleague. “For me, it was a dream come true”, she gushes.
With over 30 hit movies to her credit, the University of Port Harcourt graduate of Theatre Arts, says her exploits in block-busters like “Rattle Snake, Glamour Girls and Black Powder” are still indelible on her mind. “These movies brought me into limelight…,” she says.
Still speaking further, Nwosu, from Abia State who was once married to a Yoruba man she met in Nollywood, during the early stage of her thriving career, told AZUH AMATUS, that she sometimes feel bad and sad about the over five years marriage, which packed up last year.
The self-confessed born again actress, who maintains she can still act deep romantic roles in movies despite her religious inclinations, aside Nollywood and showbiz, also bared her mind on many other burning issues.
Enjoy the interaction!
You have been away for so long, where have you been?
I’ve been around doing my things quietly. Beautiful things have been happening to me and I wasn’t really away for too long. I went back to school in 1996 after I entered the movie industry in 1994. I finished and came back fully in 2003 and ever since I’ve been around and working. Mind you, my first movie titled “Frame up” was after my diploma in theater arts at Uniport. I got on the set of this movie during my one-year industrial training. It was an Igbo movie.
How did you come in?
I did my I.T with a production company, but I think it was Bob Manuel Udokwu that introduced me to the owners of the production. After scaling through their audition, I was given the role of Obiageli in the movie.
Since your inception in 94, till date, how has Nollywood impacted on your life?
The industry has impacted so much on me positively, but I would not say that it has really challenged me. The period of renaissance in the industry was when I would say things didn’t really work very well. It was the period of multiple debts from producers and executive producers coupled with the fact that the jobs were not forthcoming then. It was during this period that I decided to go back to the university and get a degree. Things were not happening then. But while I was away, it looked as if the industry has picked up again with a lot of people making so much money. As an undergraduate, I refused to shuttle between work and school, because I didn’t want anything to disturb my academics. I also told myself during this period that I was going to come out with a good grade and I did. After my youth service at LTV 8, here in Lagos I decided to face acting full time.
Since your second coming, like how many movies have you featured in?
I have done quite a number of movies; since I came back I’ve done well over 20 movies.
Since you majored in film directing, how many movies have you directed?
(Laughs) Aside my project that I directed before leaving school, I have not directed any other movie. Agreed, I majored in film directing, but I don’t think I have the patience to veer into directing full time in Nollywood. It takes lots of patience and maturity to be a film director. Movie directing entails a lot, especially when you are directing a commercial movie. Besides, I’m very passionate about acting, so I want to remain in acting now then probably, when I’m 50, I will go into directing.
How old are you now?
I’m in my early 30’s.
Then that you newly came into Nollywood, were your parents in support of your choice of career?
Well, as at the time I came into Nollywood, they had already known what I wanted to do. From age 13, I already knew I wanted to act and sing. I’m a good singer and love very much anything that is related with showbiz, I went to the University purposely to do theatre arts; I did not just stumble into it. I’m not like those that would say, I’m studying what JAMB gave me. I chose my course even before the admission came.
But what inspired your love for showbiz?
As a child, I love singing a lot, I remember writing some childish songs while in primary and secondary schools. My love for showbiz is in born. And I have always told myself; I won’t dabble into other areas except showbiz. And my parents knowing very well my kind of person, did not object, they know I’m strong willed. Once I’m convinced about a project and also know that God is leading me, I don’t allow anything to stop me. I always go for my dreams and make sure I get them achieved. I remember promising my parents I was going to make a huge success out of my career. I did lots of stage plays with Prof. Ola Rotimi, at the early stage, all these got to my parents and they felt I was doing the right thing. Even their reservations at the early stage, was very weak. Besides, my parents are liberal and educated. Mum was once a principal and dad, a foremost educationist. They only told me to make a success out of my career and should also not get into troubles.
As a rising and ravishing actress then, did you encounter any form of sexual harassments from some producers and directors?
Agreed it was rampant then and I remember a certain producer coming to me with such crazy demand, this was in 95, ever since, I have never encountered it again. I gave him back his “conditional” script and took a walk and that got me really shocked. The harassment thing in Nollywood is about disposition and how you carry yourself. If you carry yourself properly and know that you are very good, nobody dare challenges or harasses you for sex… If you have your onions, there is a limit to what people can tell you, that is my stand. Again, if you know what you are doing and also not in a hurry to get to the top in Nollywood, nobody, be it director or producer, will take you for granted. It is only God that can get you to the top.
Does it weigh you down that despite your many years in Nollywood, you have not been able to join the A-list?
No! It does not weigh me down. I’m very happy for those who are there at the moment. I always say it to myself that God’s time is the best. My bible also made me to understand that it is not good to be faster than God when you are doing things. Remember all things work together for good to them that love God… God knows better than me, so I’ m waiting on Him. He does not want me to come and shine briefly for three years and go back to the back seats again. Mind you, for over a decade, I’ve been constant and consistent in Nollywood movies. I’m also happy that we started what is today known as Nollywood. If you are God’s child, He would want you to reign for eternity like Him. I don’t want to come and reign and go. I want to reign and remain. So, I’m counting my steps.
Currently, what are you doing?
I just came back from Enugu some couple of days ago. I was there for some movie projects. I’ve also featured in close to ten movies since this year. The Enugu experience was very wonderful and I really enjoyed my working experience on location. I always feel at home whenever I go to Enugu to shoot movies. It was a family movie that would soon be out.
As someone who has been around for a very long time, what would you say is the biggest problem facing Nollywood today?
Well, for me our biggest problem is marketing and distribution of our movies. Also, up and coming artistes should be given the opportunity to grow alongside the big names. They should be allowed to grow and not be restricted to the minor (wakapass), roles often reserved for them as if it their birthrights. We also need to explore the international markets and make more money for ourselves. Still on the issue of minor role actresses, it is funny to juxtapose someone who earns N400, 000 and the one that earns N1, 000 on the same set, the margin is very wide. For me, it is not proper I also want to commend Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, he is doing wonderfully well for the AGN. These for me are the basic problems facing Nollywood.
Financially, have you been reaping bountifully from Nollywood?
Well, I’ve been growing in Nollywood and God has also been helping me. I’m not complaining, I don’t complain or look hungry. Truth is that I’m doing very well for myself and getting better by the day.
Tell us what most people do not know about you
Okay, I’m Thelma Nwosu, the third child of her parents, from a polygamous family of six. I have two brothers and three sisters. I’m from Ovim in Isikwuato in Abia State. I was born and bred in Umuahia, Abia State. Like I told you earlier, my parents were both educationist.
What fond memories do you still remember about your childhood days?
Ehm! Alot. I enjoyed my days in primary and secondary schools a lot. I used to be naughty and stubborn, I went to a seminary school. As a chapel prefect, I was always avoiding the chapel. I also remember vividly the day our principal nearly caught us hiding in the school’s toilet because we didn’t want to go to the chapel. It was fun doing all these then. I sang a lot in my secondary school days too.
Any plans of going into music full time just like most of your colleagues are currently doing?
Well, singing is now in vogue among most of my colleagues, but I haven’t really made up my mind to do that but I know I’m very passionate about singing. It is possible but I have not decided yet. Not now.
What is your love life like?
What do you want to know about my love life?
Are you married or still single and searching?
I’m single right now but was once married.
What brought you back to the singles club?
I stopped being married because I didn’t want to continue being married (General Laughter).
So, you are single and searching right now?
I’m single, focused and can’t say if I’m searching. I will remarry in the future but it is not on my agenda right now?
How soon will that be?
Hah! I don’t know, I’m not God, so I can’t tell. One thing that is certain is that I’m not in a haste to remarry; I’ m taking my time.
But you still have not told us why your marriage collapsed?
So, so sorry, I don’t think I would like to share that with you on the pages of newspapers. It is very personal.
For how many years were you married?
Still a very personal question. There is a four year-old boy to show for the union. Let’s leave my martial and personal life alone in this interview.
As a single, pretty and popular actress, how have you been coping with overtures from Nigerian men?
Thanks for the encomium. But it is a natural thing for men to disturb women; they come my way every now and then. I also don’t believe you have to be snobbish when men come your way; there is a way to go about the whole thing. Even being rude is not called for. It is a good thing for the opposite sex to appreciate you. Some come around basically because they want to be your friend without having to sleep with you.
So, in essence you are saying that you don’t have an intimate male friend right now?
Yes! I don’t have. I only have platonic male pals.
And by the time you are finally set to fall in love again and probably remarry, what kind of man would appeal to you?
Oh dear God, he has to be a born again Christian. I don’t believe in this stuff of being God fearing.
So, your first husband was not born again?
As at the time we were married he was not born again, but right now, he is. The new man in my life when the time comes must be born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. He must also be very truthful and extremely transparent.
The fact that your marriage collapsed, does it weigh you down or sometimes makes you feel bad and bad?
Yeah! Sometimes, not always, it happens because of the kind of society we find ourselves in. It makes one feel bad sometimes. But you have to move on in life. In fact, I was married in 97 and we broke up last year.
Do you still believe strongly in the marriage institution?
Of course yes! God ordained it and God does not make mistakes.
Do you also believe in love?
Of course yes! But most people don’t know the meaning of love. I believe in it because I know what it means, but to some people, sex is love, which is a very wrong notion. Remember the bible says that love does not count any wrong. Love pardons and forgives all. Love is also truthful. Most people here in Nigeria don’t know what it means to love. You love somebody and you cheat on the person, don’t respect the person, and don’t value the person and all those dirty stuffs. You love somebody and yet the person does not mean the world to you. I don’t understand such love and would not want to be a part of that kind of love.
In your next world, do you still want to come back as an actress?
Ten times over and over again. I’m so, so passionate about my job.
What stands you out and makes you unique among your colleagues?
I’m not in a position to judge, but I know that being a child of God makes me different and having the Holy Ghost inside of me also separates me form the rest.
So, as a child of God can you act deep romantic roles in movies?
Yes I can act them very well. It is my job. I can kiss and smooch in movies it is my job and there are no emotional attachments, I‘m just being professional.
Can you marry an actor?
Yes, if he is a born again Christian and has the Holy Spirit inside him. Yes again, if he has been able to build a wall between his career and his person and very truthful and transparent.
In life today, what would you say is your most prized possession?
My God and the miracle of being born again. I feel happy loving God and also knowing that he loves me too. I also love my son with all my life; he means the world to me.
How would you describe yourself?
A: I’m a very simple lady who tries to be as transparent as possible. I love being good to people and can’t stand cheats and dishonest people. I’m also very romantic and can cry a bucket full for love.
First published, December 2005.