My most embarrassing moments in Nollywood – Actress Chinenye Ulaegbu



Nollywood Actress and filmmaker, Chinenye Ulaegbu, is fast etching her name as one of the personalities to look out for in the movie industry.

She is among a few actresses who have gone through intensive training on filmmaking and directing at Del-York Creative Academy.

In this interview, the soft-spoken actress shares her traumatic secondary school experience, journey into the movie industry, love life and much more, reports The Entertainer.


Can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m from Enugu State. I’m the second child among six. I was born and raised in the North. I speak fluent English, Hausa and Igbo. I graduated from the Institute of Science and Technology Enugu. I studied Banking and Finance. I love filmmaking, fitness and dance.

Tell us about your journey to Delyork Academy. How was the experience?

My experience was a beautiful one. I did not know how to direct. Everything I knew was taught by my instructor, Mr. Chinendu Ben Omerie. He was patient with us and he made sure we left with more than enough information. The journey changed my perspective of what I thought filmmaking was about. It changed my view on life generally also. It changed the way I see people and the things around me.

What are you bringing back home to Nollywood?

I intend to change the narrative in the film industry. I will not just keep this knowledge to myself. I intend to put my creative mind and skills to work by making good movies and telling stories that will resonate with people, especially stories on social issues. I want to use film as a tool to create awareness and educate people about our culture and ways of life.

What prompted you to take this bold step?

What prompted me to take the bold step towards learning about filmmaking and directing was my passion for art – The art of filmmaking. Filmmaking is an art that has the power to transport audiences to different worlds, evoke emotions, and tell compelling stories. It’s magical and beautiful to have the power to create a story and characters, giving them different personalities, struggles, needs and wants just like real-life characters and making them believable. You do this collaboratively with other creative departments in film. There’s the writer who pitches the story, an executive producer who is interested in investing, then the producer who hires and brings the director on board, the director does the casting and actors are hired, then the set designer comes on board, the makeup, the stylist. Then there’s the cinematographer who captures the actors in frames and shots, and then the sound engineer who records the audio. The editor and sound designers finish the work and make a complete film. If this isn’t art, then I don’t know what it is. I wanted to be a part of something this poetic and magical.

Can you recall your journey into the movie industry?

Yes! I can recall how my journey to Nollywood started. A friend of mine Debbie Nebo was my first connection to Nollywood because she introduced me to a family friend of hers who gave me a role in the movie, Stone of Justice, where I played alongside some reputable actors. After that, I decided to get into Nollywood through film school because I didn’t understand anything that was going on during production. I was lost amid professional actors who knew what they were doing. I could tell the director was not so impressed, so I decided to invest in learning about the basic techniques of acting.

After I graduated from film school, I auditioned for a role in a TV series, Ojukwu, for Roknigeria and I was selected to be a part of it. I was ready, I knew it. I knew my strengths and weaknesses as an actor, and I knew what areas to constantly improve on. I kept reading my script until it was time to be on set. I learned a lot watching everyone on set and I didn’t stop learning. Film set became my learning experience till this very moment.

Who were the popular faces you admired before you ventured into acting?

The actors that inspired me to act were Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Nkiru Sylvanus, Stephenie Linus Okereke, Rita Dominic, Kate Henshaw, Mercy Johnson, Liz Benson and Omotola Jalade.

Why did you choose to release your latest movie on your birthday?

I chose my birthday to release ‘Cry Me Awake’ (a film by Smart Edikan) produced by my humble self because I have a special connection to the story. ‘Cry Me Awake’ tells the story of a young teenage schoolgirl who was wrongly accused of being a witch and got bullied by some girls in the boarding school hostel. This topic is a social issue that gets overlooked – labeling someone something they are not and bullying them. This can cause long-lasting psychological damage to a person. It can also cause serious anxiety, depression, fear and lack of trust for the people around them. This can automatically affect their behaviour and relationship with others.

Did you also experience bullying or wrong labelling in school?

Yes, I was labelled a witch in school and I got bullied almost every day for it. I faced physical bullying and verbal harassment when I was in secondary school by some of the students.

It started when a friend of mine claimed I came to her in a dream. She told her roommates and they compelled her to report to the school authorities.

She did, and she reported me to the vice principal, before I could even defend myself, he told me to never appear in her dream again.

After a few days, the rumour travelled fast and circulated the entire school and… boom! I became notorious for being a witch and people avoided me.

How did you pull through the trauma?

Truth be told, the bullying and side talks became a norm to me. I just learned to keep a deaf ear. After my WAEC, I left the North to study in Enugu. I kept my experience in for too long. I never told anyone even my family. I just noticed a change in my behaviour, the fear I always carried and the negativity that came from my experience. Ten years later, I finally spoke up, I opened up to my friend who also shared her story with me about being called a python when she was younger. I felt safe with her and I told her about my own experience, that was when my healing started. I had nightmares afterwards and I had terrifying thoughts and flashbacks that brought back the horrible memories. I guess I needed to get in touch with them to help with my healing process and it did.

I’m healed now but the memories will never leave my mind, the good thing is that the thoughts don’t scare or cause me pain anymore. I didn’t let it break me. Instead, I made a movie about it and I can’t wait for the world to see it.

What would make you reject a movie role?

I think the number one thing that can make me reject a role is if I don’t like the story. To me, the story is everything. I just have to like the story. Secondly, if the pay is poor, I can reject a role if their offer is way below my current worth but I can reconsider if I love the story. I can also reject a role if nudity is used as a theme of the story.

How did your parents react when they found out you’re into movies?

My family has always been supportive but my Dad wanted to make sure I’m making money from it and not just chasing fame and being used by talent.

How about your man? Does he feel jealous seeing you play romantic roles?

Yes, he does.

How do you pacify him?

By reminding him always that it’s make-believe.

Ever had an embarrassing moment on set?

Yes, my most embarrassing moment on set was when my costume tore. Revealing my butts but only a few people saw it. I ran to the changing room and locked myself in.

How do you handle stubborn male fans?

I’m always busy, and I hardly have time for meet and greets. So, I only have to deal with most fans online. My male fans are respectful. They only fantasize about making me their wife or woman, and they are not aggressive towards me at all.

Most embarrassing DM you have gotten?

A dick picture was sent in by a male fan.

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