Now, apologies to Mr. Chris Wilfred, but I think I’m in love with his wife. No, not that kind of love you feel, but one that is borne out of respect for personality, nay, achievement.
In the early 90s, what would today be known as Nollywood was born by the hard-working but introverted Paul Ogunjiofor (Jide Kosoko may have something to say about that), and with it stars were also given birth to. While the audience started picking who they felt they loved then (you could hear names like Bob Manuel Udokwu, KOK, Kenneth Okonkwo, Tobechukwu Anadi, Ngozi Nwosu and Ngozi Nwaneto, Barbara Udoh, Nnenna Nwabueze, Ann Ohume, Rita Nzelu, etc), a certain young and innocent face invaded our screen (at least, mine). Tall for her age, pretty in a different way, fair just like an Igbo girl, she was never going to be unnoticed. There and then, even as a boy yet to clock ten, I knew a star had been born. I immediately decided to be a fan of this lady who had run me crazy – Chinyere Wilfred. Recent events have proved I made the right choice.
Married almost immediately she did her first movie Taboo, she has not looked back since then. In an industry where divorce has become a favourite past time, she has managed to hold on to hers, and the sky has been her limit. Favoured not to be one of the stereotyped actors (she has interpreted lots of diverse roles), she has used it in her favour.
Now, these qualities aren’t new. She isn’t the first actress to possess them (and definitely wouldn’t be the last). But there is one thing ‘Sister Caro’ has that her colleagues don’t – Humility. In an era where actresses use the media to make themselves known, she has managed to avoid the press and the attendant scandals that follow. Even in the peak of her career in 1999(when she took part in more than twenty five movies), she never made herself heard.
But there is definitely one thing that has made her my permanent heroine. In 2003, the then 33-year old Chinyere was blackmailed by a fellow colleague and former closest friend Florence Onuma. Threats were made, nude pictures were flashed, the police got involved and The Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN) waded in. At the end, the case was resolved. She knew there and then that her scandal-free status, which she had struggled to protect, was gone. Rather than run to the pages of the newspaper to call names and absolve self of blame like her then opponent did, she quietly left the scene. People talked, questions were asked and nobody got the answers. Soon, when everyone had forgotten there was ever such scandal, not to talk of her, she quietly resurfaced. And, with a bang!!!
Her first movie after the saga was The Legend, and that was the first of many she ever wrote and co-produced. And the movie was a sell-out. She even did a hilarious comedy, Baby Boy, to show the funny side of the scandal. There and then, she won plaudits, and with them, more fans. And she has not looked back ever since. These days, she travels to and fro the United Kingdom, either to produce, direct or shoot a movie or to receive an award or the other. That is what re-packaging entails, and she sure is giving it a new meaning.
Now, we hear the next for this Anambra-born actress is politics. Whether it would benefit her or not, whether she is cut out for it or not, is a case for another day. The most important thing is that her Imo State-born hubby is sure proud of her. Her boys (as she calls them) Chukwudi, Nonso and Emeka are. And we, the onlookers, are too. And Nollywood should be.
Finally, this should be a lesson to our nollywood stars. Do not hope on the pages of the papers to do you justice. Do not backbite, and avoid being backbitten. But, if unfortunately you are, borrow a leaf from your colleague and be proud of her. Ride on ‘Sis Caro’. I am your number one fan.