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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Mirror

I know what I want in a relationship –Madam Eba Ano Mama Christy Okonkwo’s name may not ring a bell instantly. But a closer look at her will convince you that she has featured in so many movies and stage dramas. She is popularly known for her motherly and comic roles. In this interview with Adaeze Amos, she speaks about her acting career, relationship with her fans, and dispels the rumour that she was down with a terrible ailment. What was your transition from youth to womanhood like? I don’t like talking about it. Not that it was too rough, tough or whatever. Why I do not like talking about it is because I always feel like crying each time I recount it. I lost my father very early in life. He died in 1973. So, I don’t like talking about my growing up because there is no way I would tell my story without remembering him. My late mother tried her best to raise me and my siblings up. I am her first child and I knew what she went through. You wouldn’t

know how it feels narrating that part of my life. Did you study Theatre Arts in the university? No, I did not. The acting job I’m doing is a gift from God, or I should say I’m talented to do it. This is because when I was in secondary school, I used to act in the church. I was also part of the old ‘Village Headmaster’. I acted in the ‘Yam Festival Episode’ in the 1970s. I have really endured in the acting world. Having endured in the industry, what are those evergreen experiences you won’t forget easily? There is however nothing to regret about. Some would ask me if anybody has made advances at me. All I know is that actresses are human beings. God created Adam and Eve and that is man and woman. There is no beautiful person that people would not make advances at. Even if you are ugly, they would still make advances. But it depends on what you want. What I wanted from acting was fame; not even the money. The money would come when you have fame. If you are not known, you won’t be getting jobs. So, what role or movie gave you that fame? It was Charlie Boy’s show that brought me into the limelight. It was on his show that I popularly came to be addressed as Madam Eba Ano. Today even on the street, in the market, shopping malls and anyway I go, people would call me Madam Eba Ano gladly. They recognise me at a quick glance. Today, I’m reaping the sweet fruit of fame. How do you cope with fame knowing that you have no privacy? I manage fame very well. I don’t allow it to get into my head or control me in any way. I’m neither arrogant nor pompous. I’m friendly with everybody. Even when you see me first and look the other way, I would be the first to call and greet y o u . S o m e times when I enter public or commercial vehicle, my fans would call me and say mama you entered commercial vehicle today. And I would smile and gist with them. I’ll ask them why won’t I enter commercial bus; am I not a human being? I re-

late well with people. That I’m a celebrity does not mean I should not enter a bus. If I don’t enter commercial vehicles, people would say because she is a celebrity or star, she doesn’t want to enter a public bus. I’m down to earth. I go to market to buy foodstuff unlike when I hit stardom newly. But it is no longer like that today. There is a friend of mine who avoids market because of fear of embarrassment from her fans. I asked to go with her so as to douse her fears. When we got to the market, they didn’t even recognise her. I was the one they were hailing and I was also responding happily. They asked me to introduce my colleague to them, and when I did they said they didn’t know her. Mine is different because it’s been long. I started acting in the 70s. Where do you draw the line with regard to some fans that may want to get intimate with you? The relationship with my fans is just friendly, a platonic one. I know where to draw the line. Even on Facebook, I always watch it. You know I’m a mother and by the special grace of God, soon I will be a grandmother. Why should I be having intimate relationship with anybody? Does intimate affair have to do with age or being a granny? I know it doesn’t have to do with that but why should I be doing that? What do I benefit from that? Having affair depends on what you want. I don’t want any intimate affair with any fan. It’s not because I have come of age; it’s just my nature. This is just how I am. Everybody is my friend but there is nothing more than that. You can see how everybody is calling me mama. That is what I want because when they start calling you auntie Christy, some of them may start having another thing in their minds. They start thinking otherwise. I wouldn’t tolerate such a behaviour from anyone. There is no room for that because I know what I want for myself. What is that scandal that nearly broke you heart? As for stories, I don’t think there is anything written about me that is scandalous. The only thing that I would say that happened is that last year, one of my friends called me from Aba in Abia State. She said my enemy is dead (that I’m dead). I was shocked when I heard that. I told her that it was not true, that I was even shocked to have heard that from her. I was on set when her call came. I told her it was a mere rumour. As if that wasn’t enough, I went to Benin June or July to shoot a movie for one woman. I did a movie where I interpreted a character of someone who was down with a terminal ailment and was rushed to church where she was healed. I just interpreted a character. Some people who watched the movie thought that I was seriously down with a terminal ailment. Hence my friends started calling to sympathise with me. I want to make it categorically clear that the news that I was down with a terminal ailment is a fallacy, it was a movie. When I called the woman I shot the movie for, she said I should ignore the rumour. If truly I attend the church, I would not be fixing weave-on, paint my nails, wear make-up or trouser as I’m wearing now because Lord’s Chosen members don’t wear all those stuffs. What do you do when you want to unwind? I stay at home and take care of my children. I cook for them and watch movies; both the ones I featured in and those I didn’t feature in. I also watch foreign movies. I’m a home person.