Chiagoziem Nwakanma popularly known as Chy, is a Nigerian actress who came into the limelight for the role she played in the ‘This is It’ series. She has been constantly on the screen ever since then and in this interview by FAVOUR BOLUWADE, she speaks on how she has been creating a niche for herself in the Nigerian movie industry among other issues. Excerpts:
When did you start acting?
I started acting in 2007, when I decided to give acting a shot, and I went for an audition at a local theater in Chicago, United States called “Freestreet Theater”. I got into the after-school programme and that kicked it off for me.
What influenced your decision to move to Nigeria to pursue your career in acting?
I came back for my NYSC so that gave me time to try out the acting scene here in Nigeria and it’s been quite favourable I must say.
Were there times you wished you stayed back abroad?
Of course. I go through that phase at least once every month, Nigeria can be quite stifling and frustrating.
Your role in ‘This is It’ was marvellously acted, was that your debut in the Nigerian movie industry?
It was my breakthrough role in Nigeria. I had done some other minor projects but “This is it” is what brought me out and I’m still recognised till date because of the series. It was a launch pad for my career here in Nigeria.
The movie brought you into limelight, how did you feel about it?
I was really nervous when I got the role because it was my first lead role on screen. But once I got on set, everybody was so supportive. We had the same goal, which was to make a great series and I believe we achieved that.
What challenges did you face being the lead actress?
As a lead, I felt like I had to carry the entire show. Before I got on set, I was a bit overwhelmed but after the first day on set, I felt a lot better because we had created a safe environment for everyone on set. My co-actors also made it a lot easier for me. We clicked from day one, so the energy was natural. The director, I can write a speech about her. She’s special. She had the best production team with her as well.
What other movies have you been featured in?
I’ve mostly done TV series. There’s “Hustle” and “Eve” currently showing on Africa Magic channels during the week.
How did you join the cast of ‘Castle and Castle’?
I just made a cameo appearance in one episode on “Castle and Castle”. But I went for the audition and got called for the role.
How has the experience been, acting in a law-related show and other movies?
It’s actually funny because “EVE” is also a legal drama. The experience is always similar and different at the same time, no matter the type of show. You have expectations but never really know what to expect. Does that make sense?
Are there roles you would never act?
Not really. In the beginning, I used to limit myself but as I grow in the industry I want to do it all.
You have a small stature and I must say, it raises one’s eyebrow; has this posed any challenge for you, especially in the industry?
Why does it raise one’s eyebrow? I’m petite, I’m not disabled. The way I see things, if it’s not meant for me, it’s not meant for me. If I don’t fit your role, that’s fine. There’s room for everybody. Has it posed a challenge for me? I would say no because there’s nothing I can do about it. Same way some people are light skinned and some are dark, it is the same with height. It either works for you or it doesn’t. I don’t let it define me.
How has the lockdown affected you?
Of course it has affected me, just like everybody else in the world. This is the longest I’ve been away from set. I miss being on set and shooting.
Do you do other things aside acting? Can you tell us about them?
I act full time. When I’m not on set, I’m taking an online course on any skill that interests me at the time.
Is the lockdown the best measure for curbing the COVID-19?
Of course. The first step to winning against the virus is to stop and contain the spread. The lockdown is meant to do that.
What do you advise the government to do to help ease the burden?
It’s quite simple. Find a way to put money in people’s accounts. Majority of people are not earning this period, so the least the government can do is provide a means for them to at least feed themselves.
What languages do you speak?
Igbo and English
Are you in a relationship?
I’m always in a relationship!
What are your hobbies?
At this point I don’t even know anymore. The things I used to enjoy, like staying home, watching movies, food, sleep etc are becoming boring now, no thanks to COVID…I need to find new hobbies.
Tell us about your background and education.
I’m Chy Nwakanma, I’m an actress. I was born in Aba, Abia State. I lived there in my early years, and then moved to the US for about 12 years and now I’m back here in Nigeria. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a BFA in Performance and a Communication degree.
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