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BN Saturday Celebrity Interview: ‘”Watch Out For Me” Emerging Nollywood Actress Chelsea Eze aims for the top

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Twenty four year-old Chelsea Eze is lucky…We’ll tell you why. Shortly after obtaining her degree in English Language from the University of Maiduguri, she began her journey into the world of acting and has had a number of lucky breaks since then. Her role in her first movie, Silent Scandals, earned her an AMAA (African Movie Awards) nomination in the same year, 2009. She went on to win the award the following year as the Most Promising Actress, AMAA 2010. She also won Best Upcoming Actress, Zaffa Awards 2010 and Revelation of the Year, Best of Nollywood Awards 2010. She has featured in hit movies Two Brides and a Baby, Twist and Timeless Passions setting herself apart as an actress to reckon with. She speaks with Adeola Adeyemo about her entry into acting and her future plans.

There are few young people who you spend time with and they leave you with the impression of being in company of an older person. Chelsea Eze is one of them. With an aura of self-confidence and maturity around her, she easily strikes one as someone ready to take on the world. A chat with Chelsea reveals someone who is easy to hang out with and is very sure of her talent.

How did you start off as an actress?
Aside the fact that I’ve always loved the arts, I had a friend who was shooting a movie at the time (Emem Isong) and she said “why don’t you come around and see what we do”. So I followed her and she happened to audition me in 2007. She liked what she saw but I really couldn’t do anything because of school. My parents are very particular about school.

Where were you schooling then?
I was at the University of Maiduguri studying English Language. I graduated in 2008.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Kano, grew up in Kano, had my Primary and Secondary Education in Kano. I used to come to Lagos for short breaks but I formally moved in 2008. My parents are both Igbo but I guess they fell in love with Kano. They are still there.

Even with all the crisis going on over there?
They are planning to leave actually, hopefully before the second quarter of the year.

What were your parents’ reaction to your decision to become an actress?
Honestly, my parents were not the most excited parents when they realized that I wanted to act. My dad always wanted me to finish school and go and work in a bank because he retired a banker. When I decided to do this, it wasn’t something that was embraced but I love my parents because they like to give you the benefit of a doubt. My mum did not understand but she said if it makes you happy, let’s try, let’s see how far it gets you. I was the kid that got bored easily. My mum especially felt that I would do it for a while and come around and say maybe I wanted to go to the bank. But they gave me the benefit of a doubt. After Silent Scandals came out, and it got good reviews and my parents got to see it, they were like OK, maybe, Just maybe.

You had a lucky first break into acting with your role in Silent Scandals. How did you get that role?
Sometime in 2009, a friend of Emem, Vivian Ejike was going to do a movie Silent Scandals and my name came up because Emem remembered that she auditioned me. I pretty much matched the physical appearance of the character and I was called and I auditioned and that’s how it started.

Tell us about your character in Silent Scandals?
I played the character of Ella. Ella happened to be an only child of a single mother (Genevieve Nnaji). My dad supposedly jilted my mum for her cousin so my mum raised me all by herself. As a teenage girl, you get to a certain age where you want to explore and sometimes tend to be rebellious. Ella was a rebellious child and she did a lot of things to get attention. At some point I went out of the country and I returned to find my mother having an affair with my boyfriend (Majid Michel).

What has been your most memorable movie role so far?
My role in Two Brides and a Baby. I love that movie. I played the best friend and the maid of honour to the bride. It is a movie about everything that happens in just two days prior to a certain wedding.

How about your most challenging movie role?
The character I played in a movie called Hood Rush. I would say it was very challenging because I got to put the musical part of me to work, because it was a musical movie, just like High School Musical or Sound of Music type of movie. It hasn’t been released yet. That was very challenging for me, because I had to get my notes right, I had to act right and all that.

How were you chosen to act a musical role? Do you sing professionally?
I just sing really. I sing in Church, I sing at Karaoke, sometimes I play with gadgets and sing on top of it. I’ve gone to the studio to do professional singing when we were shooting Hood Rush, but I’ve not gone back and it’s something I might try out one day.

Are you saying we should be expecting to hear you record a song or an album soon?
Maybe, Just maybe.

What are your criteria for selecting a movie role?
I pretty much just look for good scripts because for me, it is not necessarily about just being in the film industry, I want to be relevant. I look at my senior colleagues and people that have been there before me. I look at the quality of films they’ve done and realize that these people have done some really good films and that has also helped them get to certain places that they are. I want to learn from that. It’s not about the money because I know that if you get to some certain point, the money will come. So I’m not saying I’m doing free jobs, I’m just saying that when I get a script, I don’t say how much are you paying me first. I first of all read the script, understand it, and try to relate with it. If it is a good script, then fine.

And when you’ve found a script you like, how do you interpret your character successfully?
I see the character as a person. I don’t see it in abstract. For me, every character that I’ve played, I have related with the character as a human being. The character breathes, the character hears, the character talks, so I sort of take my soul and put it in that character.

You’ve had quite a quick rise to stardom, probably because you’ve acted in some top quality movies since you started. What would you say is responsible for this?
Honestly, it’s just God, really. I thank God because I’m not the best actress out there but somehow He just finds me worthy to be part of certain projects and when these projects come to life, they go all the way up. It’s pretty much God. And my mum.

Who are the people you would say gave you a good push at the start of your career?
Two people – Vivian Ejike, producer of Silent Scandals and Genevieve Nnaji. Vivian did not treat me with kids gloves. She pushed me. She made me go beyond my limit and that is awesome when somebody knows you can do better and doesn’t accept less.  Genevieve, because she took her time to pretty much give me a crash course about things I’m supposed to do, helping me interpret my roles. What they imbibed in me, I carried it on.

What do you want to be remembered for in the movie industry?
Honestly, I can’t explain it, because this is what I love so much. I want to get to a point where you talk of the movie industry and you talk of Chelsea Eze. Not just even the movie industry, but in Nigeria. The movie industry, as big as it can get, whether Nollywood, Hollywood. I want to be a point of reference to a lot of young and upcoming actresses at the time.

What should we expect from you in the near future?
The future holds a lot. Expect more excellent work from Chelsea. I have a good team and we are doing a lot together and all that would be made known very soon. It could be movies, music, fashion, anything. I want to be dynamic, I don’t want to restrict myself. Movie is my baby, but the other thing I love is music.

How do you socialize, have fun, relax?
The kind of things I would like, a normal 24 year old might not like them. For me, chilling is just having fun and being in my house with good music and maybe a couple of friends, movies, and we’d just chill, and play games and I will be so satisfied. Once in a while, I go out, but it’s not something I do so often. I like to travel and I like to read.

Who are your favourite designers?
I love Ituen Basi. I think her style is just unique and very chic as well. My favourite designer of all times is Taiwo Okunuga. She does a lot of stuff for me. As for international designers, I love Valentino, his style is simple, you don’t see so much drama. I like a lot of Italian designers too.

Tell us about your personal style?
I am simple and chic. I’m the kind of girl that you’d give a jeans and a tank top and I would rock it like it’s not a jeans and a tank top.

What do you say to your male admirers that surely flock around you?
I’m grateful, I smile, I say thank you. It’s a good thing when somebody appreciates you- whether it is your work, whether it’s your face, whatever. It’s a good feeling so I enjoy the moment and I say thank you.

What has been the most embarrassing thing someone has ever said to you?
I was at an event and I was being called up. So as I was standing up, some guy I had already spoken to who said he was a fan and all of that now tapped me and said the tag of my dress was showing. I was so embarrassed. And I couldn’t reach it so he had to help me tuck it in. I felt like I had borrowed a new dress to wear.

Egor Efiok (Chelsea's Manager) & Chelsea Eze

Are you dating anyone presently?
Yes

Nigerian movie fans often fuse the characters actors play with their real personalities. Tell the real you, not what we see in the movies?
I’m not a loud person. I like my own space. I don’t necessarily like to hear the sound of my own voice every time. Sometimes people tell me I act older than my age.

Who are your role models in the movie industry?
I love Genevieve Nnaji, Bimbo Akintola, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Kate Henshaw, Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde. These are people I grew up watching and I said to myself it would be nice to actually do this thing. Internationally, I love Natalie Portman, actually she is my favourite actress of all time. I love other ones but I don’t think there is any Natalie Portman movie that I haven’t seen. I love Angelina Jolie as well, Julia Roberts and I think Al Pacino is awesome.

Among all the actors and actresses you’ve worked with, who are the people that stand out to you?
I’ve done a movie with Stella Damasus and oh my gosh, I love Stella. Also Uche Jumbo, Bimbo Akintola, Patience Ozokwor, Ebele Okaro, Eucharia Anunobi, Majid, Chidi Mokeme, Jim Iyke, OC Ukeje.

What would you say to people who like and appreciate your movies?
Please keep liking and appreciating what I do, that is one of the ways I’m going to be here for a long time. I want to say a big thank you to all of them and I really appreciate them. Sometimes, I get some kind of messages and I feel like I want to cry. It gets so personal sometimes. Maybe it’s like that for me because I look at where I’m coming from and I look at where I am now and it’s like this movie where they just pressed fast forward.

Tell me something really weird about you, something a lot of people don’t know.
I can use my teeth to open a can of peak milk.

Photo Credit: Andrew Osamuyi Bourdillon of Osadrew Studios 
Make-up: Joy Adenuga

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at www.deolascope.blogspot.com

42 Comments

  1. Admirer

    February 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I love her. She’s cool and real. Keep it up Chelsea.

  2. Lekki

    February 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

    “I can use my teeth to open a can of peak milk.”??? Wow, you strong girl!

    • MizzCJ

      February 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      lmaooooo i swear!

  3. Judge

    February 11, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Grew up in the north? She must be able to speak Hausa.

  4. partyrider

    February 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    awww..she’s the chick that played Ella..i loved her in that movie,she has a good diction and of course she’s a pretty girl..
    wow..all those awards for just one movie,congrats babes..keep working.
    Looking out for more movies,you started with a good movie, so dont do any apkako movies oh..hehehe
    all the best..
    err wait the opening of milk thing..wow..hahahaha

  5. babe

    February 11, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Chelsea, since you have played such high profile movies right from the start, pls keep up with it and dont settle for less. I’m watching out for you. And BTW, i’m a Natalie Portman fan too. High Five!

  6. Secrets

    February 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Why wont you tell us about your boyfriend now? Anyway, love you sha….

  7. its moi

    February 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

    cool interview. maybe i should watch one of these films and judge for myself.
    teeth to open peak milk now thats major.lol

  8. Onyinye

    February 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    she’s so pretty and down to earth!

  9. UsaveOne

    February 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Goodluck (not jonathan) to you my gurl friend Chelsea! >Plz only believe in God and not human if you want to succeed. Producers/Directors can fail!
    Plz check..
    http://usaveone.blogspot.com/

  10. Sia

    February 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Pretty girl. She seems very focused and polished. Thank God for that one.
    All the best Chelsea.

  11. Annabel

    February 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Love to see young naija chicks hungry for success and going for it. All the best o.

  12. Nikhe

    February 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Wow..smooth..way 2 go gurl..

  13. oma

    February 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Wow am so proud of my girl, keep it up the World is ours to conquer….

  14. Dee Nina

    February 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    She sounds down to earth. Keep it up, girl! God bless you.

  15. bukioni

    February 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Wow, she’s gorgeous and she’s got a level head on her shoulders, she’ll defintely go far. Looking forward to seeing her make strides and achieve great things x
    http://www.emblemofbeauty.blogspot.com

  16. gina A

    February 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Coool chic,I like her personality.Av been vendicated ooooh cuz my friend was argueing with me wen we watched d movie silent scandal that she must be related 2 genevieve.come see 4 ur self girl…..

  17. caramel

    February 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    This is the kind of person that is supposed to be going for MBGN. #thatisall

  18. cassycassie

    February 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    igbo gals sabi fine sha

  19. bimbim

    February 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Give it up for unimaid chics,back then d slogan was if u wanna b made u gat to go to maid!!!!!
    I don’t know if boko haram will still let dat slogan work anymore…….smh

  20. NigerianExperience

    February 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    She looks great in these pics, but they still don’t do her any justice. Shes gorg in person. Good to know she has such a passion for acting! Good luck in all your endeavors Chelsea!

  21. Beverly

    February 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Girl, save your teeth, da hell? I enjoyed her in Silent Scandals.
    Meanwhile, what’s with the random picture of the manager ? *sips tea*.

  22. Purpleicious Babe

    February 12, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Beautiful…….. keep doing good love… U will surely go places.

  23. Onyx

    February 12, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Interesting interview and she sounds really focused and articulate, maybe an actress whose work could introduce a gust of fresh air into the staleness of Nollywood. That last line killed me though… Haha! Girl, you must have some razor-sharp incissors!

  24. T.S.

    February 12, 2012 at 1:11 am

    She is gorgeous. I haven’t seen any of her movies yet. I’m so behind, I need to catch up with the latest naija movies.

    http://www.titisule.wordpress.com

  25. pelola

    February 12, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Pretty gal but that frst picture is photoshopped beyond belief

  26. feyi

    February 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    before reading interviews of coming up actors, singers & writers first thing i do is scroll down to see who their role models are. from that i tell what kind of artist they likely will be. all chelsea choice as role models are endowed with talent,she is learning from the best that’s why she is in another level

  27. jay

    February 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    awww she dosent lyk her voice to be heard

  28. mekhi phifa

    February 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Pretty don’t dirty, 2 posh 4dt crazy industry n though Ibo but dt northern element in her might not take her far sorry

    • Okitty

      February 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      seriously dude….you obviously can do better than that…why the cynical statement?? abeg free the gurl o and have some faith..if not in yourself then in others…but a wait a minute…you obviously can’t cos you dont even know what it is…such a pirry

  29. Chi

    February 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    You can open a can of milk with your teeth? Wow! That’s scary. The mere thought of it is even making me cringe in horror!

  30. nia

    February 13, 2012 at 2:22 am

    very pretty grirl

  31. ty

    February 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    seriously, i cld swear she is genevieve’s daughter…she looked so much like her in dat movie…silent scandals….wow,….she is beautiful

  32. amaka

    February 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Nice interview with a nice girl buh why do ‎​I have this feeling that D̶̲̥̅̊ Hood Rush she talkd about wd b a copy copy of August Rush?let’s sha keep our fingers crossed for the movie.

  33. Stella

    February 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I love your acting gurl, keep it up.

  34. fan

    February 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I saw her in Silent Scandals. Interesting role. Would definitely watch out for this one

  35. Okitty

    February 13, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    @mekhi phifa…dt was for you….way to go…she gave me a run for the spent watching that movy..keep it up..peace

  36. partyrider

    February 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    BN i see you didnt post my reply to @mekhi phifa yeah? ok

  37. bonita

    May 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    love her role in Silent Scandal…she is pretty

  38. Nelly Don

    December 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    she is a storm, i lyk her nd i lik her movies. Tanx

  39. Hi

    December 30, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Congratulations to Chelsea Eze.

  40. lexes lay

    November 9, 2015 at 3:32 am

    when i watch u act it blows my mind…. u do it so perfectly nd samtyms i jux dnt understand i love u soo much…..

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