Producers seem to remember Queen Nwokoye when they need someone to play the good girl role. In this interview, the actress, who has made a name for herself in the movie industry, tells ’NONYE BEN-NWANKWO about it all
Why are you not living in Lagos?
Lagos is too busy for me. The lifestyle is different from what I’m used to. I’m more comfortable in the East. Everybody is rushing in Lagos. I don’t think I will like living here. I would rather come and go back after doing what I came for.
Don’t you think it will cost you some jobs since you are not on the ground like some other actresses?
No way. We don’t even do a lot of movies here in Lagos. It is just that sometimes, I might miss out on social events, which mainly hold in Lagos. Apart from that, there is nothing I miss.
And now that you said it, a lot of actors and actresses enjoy being seen on the red carpet. Are you not bothered that you are not seen in red carpets events?
I don’t really mind. I know I’m not doing badly. I will not lie anyway. I wish I was here to attend one or two events. But if I can’t make it, there is no big deal. The truth remains that I cannot live in this city.
You came into the industry some years ago and somehow, you have managed to become so popular. How did you do it?
I’m surprised as well. I guess a lot of people enjoy working with me. It means that I’m interpreting my roles very well and they are comfortable with it.
Tell us how you came into the industry.
I came into the industry in 2004 after my youth service. I will not say I have always wanted to be an actress. All the while I was in school, I never thought of becoming an actress. But when I finished school and I had no job, I started thinking in that direction. I watched a movie. That was actually my first time of sitting down and watching a Nigerian movie. I got interested. I was impressed. I started going for auditions and I finally got my first role.
Was it the role of an extra?
I wouldn’t really say so. It wasn’t a big role anyway but then, it still wasn’t the role of an extra. I had three scenes. I did another movie and I got the same number of scenes. I was so angry. I even wanted to leave the industry.
I was angry because I thought I would get the lead roles immediately I entered the industry. I would go for auditions and I would be cast to play a six scene role and all that. Each time I saw my name for that kind of role, I always walked away. In fact, the day I made up my mind to leave the industry was the day I got my big break. I wanted to just dust my certificate and go and look for a job. It was that day that I saw one director, Andy Chukwu, he asked my name and that was how he gave me the lead role in his movie. He said he was looking for somebody who would act as a virgin in that movie and act it so convincingly. He saw me and he felt I could do it. After that job, I started getting other jobs.
What did you study in school?
I read sociology and anthropology at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
Did your parents like the idea of your going into the movies?
Yes. My parents are very supportive. My mother told me that she knows she has trained me very well, as such, I should know what is good and bad. They told me to go out there and make them proud. I was shocked when she said that. I thought she was going to tell me not to be an actress.
So, how have you managed to come up since you came on board?
It is not getting there that is the problem, it is being there and remaining there. I don’t think I’m doing badly.
Your colleagues are becoming producers now. Have you thought of doing your own movie?
Yes. But I don’t want to rush into it. I want to take my time. I don’t want to join the bandwagon. I want to do my own movie and I will take my time.
Are you satisfied being an actress?
Sometimes it is good. Sometimes it is bad. Acting gives you the opportunity to be something you may not be in real life. What I have got so far in acting wasn’t what I bargained for. But I guess I have to live with it.
Have you been embarrassed before?
I don’t know if I will call it embarrassment, but people always tell me this is not how I look in movies each time they see me in real life. I hear that almost 50 times in a day. It is very embarrassing. I also have a lot of mothers as fans. Each time they see me, they start telling me how they would want me to marry their sons. I cope well with my fans generally.
You have somehow managed to stay off scandals.
I think it has to do with my upbringing. I had extra-strict parents. My grandfathers were headmasters. My parents are knights of the Catholic Church. I have a strong religious background. My life was almost triangular. I went from home to school and to church and back home. Even up till my first year in school, I always woke up to go and mop the altar in the church for the morning mass. I was the president of the Block Rosary (Catholic prayer group) in my area. I’ve younger sisters and I need to show them good examples. They look up to me. I’m the first and they look up to me. Now as a grown person, there are things I can’t do.
Some people feel you play stereotyped roles.
At a point in the industry, I was stereotyped. I don’t know why. It may have had to do with my face. Nobody gave me any other role apart from the good girl role. At a point, I became so bored. I was always playing the good girl role. I wanted to show the world that I’m versatile. But there are roles that I will not do. It is not because they are bad, but because they go against what I believe in. I might not be comfortable playing such roles.
So you can’t play semi nude roles?
No way! Nigerians have a way of overdoing things. There are roles that you may not be nude, but you have to do something extra to interpret that role. At times, some directors will even want you to do the real thing. I can’t act such roles. I’ve done three movies that are not close to what I’m known for. One of the movies is out. Till today, people still call me to talk about the movie. I didn’t have to go all naked in the movie, but I interpreted it very well.
You don’t wear all these revealing clothes, even in real life.
No way. I’m a jeans and tank top person. I love T-shirts a lot. My friends look at dresses each time we go shopping, but I go to the jeans area. It affected me somehow. When I got to the movies and I was given miniskirts and such attire to wear, I found it difficult to wear them.
When are you getting married?
I knew you will ask me that. Marriage will come when it will come. Marriage is not something I want to rush into and rush out. I’m not the kind of person that gives up on anything. I don’t believe in getting into marriage and coming out of it. My parents have been married for a long time and they are still together and so much in love. I’m not going to say I don’t believe in marriage. I do believe in it.
So, who is your boyfriend?
Right now, I’m single. I’m serious. I’m single, but I’m not searching.
Have you dated an actor before?
No. We have very hot actors in Nollywood. But there is really something about dating somebody you work with. I’m not cut out for that. I’ve never had anything to do with somebody I work with. I’ve not dated any actor.