CHINYERE WILFRED, Actress/Producer
By ADAOBI NNEKA IFEBI
Is it not Sister Maria of evergreen The Sound of Music that sang, I have confidence in me? while heading out for her first job as a governess? For Nollywood star actress, Chinyere Wilfred, heading out for her first job in the Nigerian movie industry entailed attending audition- one she attended alongside a star.
Most first timers would shy away but she didn’t. She recalled the experience with a laugh. “It was an open audition. There was an audition notice. We came for audition and were auditioned. Anybody that goes to audition the first time and chickens out at the sight of stars has no dream but when you dream of acting, you go to audition and see stars, you will be encouraged. You will say ‘thank God, this person is here, that person is here.’ That means you have the vision; you dream of acting and once you dream of something, I tell you, go for that thing. If you are determined, you love this industry; I want to be part of it. This is what I want to do,’ you are not coming to while away time, you won’t say, ‘I can’t stand it.’ You won’t chicken out. Whoever you see there encourages you the more.”
One person encouraged star actress Chinyere Wilfred the first time. That was the man fondly called ‘Sheikh’ in Nollywood, Zeb Ejiro, the director of the wave making soap opera in the early 1990s, Ripples.
“I was auditioned with a star; she didn’t really encourage me. I won’t mention her name. After the first reading and second reading, maybe, I was not giving her what she wanted and her countenance was, ‘I don’t have this time. Do this thing and do it right. Oh God! Let somebody else come.’ She forgot that was my first time. I was just coming in then. I was scared so I started fidgeting.”
Tiny Wilfred has come a long way since then. (Oh yes, the star divulged that she was tiny then). She was single and fresh from school. She played the character of a white girl’s friend in Ripples and Chief’s third wife in Taboo. Right now, she is an international actress and producer. Furthermore, she is among the Nigerian actors and actresses sponsored to Italy by International Bio-Research Institute, Enugu and Steadfast Foundation, Rome, Italy.
“I am happy to be part of the collaboration between the two countries’ entertainment players,” she quips.
Interestingly, this is not another ‘first.’ “I shot a movie, Not My Mission in the United Kingdom. Now, I am producing Family Flaws, a family oriented soap opera of a retrenched man that kicks against his wife singing in the night club to pay family bill.”
The star actress does not agree that television actresses are not good at the work of make believe.
“The work is not only about showing off pretty faces. Some actresses are good; they can interpret characters. Some are still in the learning process. I won’t say that they are bad. As they are acting, they are learning and they will come out good, so I won’t say that any actress is not good on the job.”
So far, her ideals of joining Nollywood are being met by the day. The producer of Desperate Housewife and Legend is fulfilled and foresees the Nigerian movie industry offering a lot more in future.
“We are going somewhere. When you sit down and watch our first movies those days, you will enjoy what you watch. You see interpretation, good story and script. The sky is not our limit. We will get higher,” she says.
As expected, her husband is her first fan; surprisingly, he did not meet her, a star. “My husband is my number one fan. He is a businessman. Sometimes, he finances my projects like the soap opera we are shooting now, he is financing it. Sometimes, I get sponsor. He criticises me a lot and encourages me too. We got married after I did my first movie, Taboo; we have three lovely boys.”
She is one actress that is not a divorcee. “Christ is the foundation of my marriage so I will tell you that is the secret,” she says. “Outside being a star, the job is there and the home is there. The character I play and Chinyere are two different people. I am a mother and doing the job. I don’t foresee divorce. I don’t see it coming. It won’t even be my portion.”
Actors and actresses sing; likewise Chinyere Wilfred. She says laughingly. “I think you must have seen me sing Akweke, in Odum na Akweke, the movie about a girl that married a ghost.”