Interview: Those Who Sleep (with producers) For Roles Aren’t Good Actresses- Nollywood’s Naomi Ihemelu
She never remains the same in different movies, she is not stereotype. With her baby voice, Naomi Nkechi Ihemelu hit the limelight playing the lead role in Clinic Matters. Fondly called Nurse Titi by her teeming fans, the Anambra-born actress wears a smiling face all the time even when the going is tough.
Smart, sexy and a fashion freak, the student of History and International Relations of Lagos State University is not relenting on her acting career as she has vowed not to quit acting for marriage. In this interview with The Entertainer, she tells her story as it is. Excerpts:
My name is Naomi Nkechi Ihemelu, I am in my 20s and right now I am in my final year in Lagos State University studying History and International Relations. Basically, we are five girls and a boy in my family and I am the last child of my family.
Growing up was interesting for me; I grew up in the boarding school. I schooled at Federal Government College, Ikorodu, Lagos. So, I grew up in Lagos. I grew up among different kinds of people with different backgrounds and different upbringing. In fact, growing up in the hostel is the best thing that can ever happen to anybody. When you are in a boarding school, there is no way you won’t be smart and intelligent, you get to learn different things. I am a Christian but I know how to pray in the Islamic way. So, growing up wasn’t too challenging but I know that I learnt a lot of things. Then in school I never thought I was going to be an actress but I knew I loved entertainment. I loved socializing to the extent that they made me the Social Prefect of my school. I never had it in mind that I was going to act.
Silver spoon kid
I was born comfortable. I was born eating three square meals in a day. For my parents to put me in a boarding school, I think we were comfortable. They were caring for six children and taking good care of them. I still have everything that I need to be comfortable and it is by God`s grace.
How I ventured into acting
I joined the movie industry before I gained admission into the university. I have the flair for acting, even while I was still in secondary school, I was acting. Then I used to participate in church drama and other activities. When I finished in secondary school, I told my mum that I wanted to act and she said ‘okay’. I took a bold step and got myself fully registered with the Actors Guild. My colleagues were updating me on the auditions going on in town. So, I started attending auditions. I think that was in 2007.
Rise to stardom
It’s not by my power, its actually God. I did a couple of movies back then, When I hit the limelight was when I did Clinic Matters in 2009. When we had the audition, there was so much crowd, it was tough because we were more than 400 girls and they needed only three. But I trusted in God. At the end of the audition, I was among the three persons that were picked, Theresa, Nurse Abigail and I, I played Titi and it was so interesting that I couldn’t walk on my street and other public places. People started calling me Nurse Titi even till date. I thank God that Clinic Matters brought me into the limelight.
At the initial stage, my dad was not just comfortable with my acting. Not that he didn’t support it, he wasn’t just comfortable with it. It was normal in those days when every parent wanted their childern to be doctors, lawyers or something big. My dad wasn’t comfortable with my acting but my mum was fully in support of it. Then she wouldn’t say much but would encourage and give me transport money. My father later consented because I had an aunt in the industry who was doing well at that time. I am glad that today all members of my family are happy with me and they want me to do more in the industry.
I have had many challenges jumping from one place to another. It wasn’t easy especially the auditions were very hectic. Another challenge I had was getting a script and going home to work on it only to find out later that the same movie has been released without them informing you. I thank God it is not happening anymore.
The Nigerian movie industry is growing. It is amazing when people compare Nollywood and Hollywood. These people started years before us but today we are being rated alongside Hollywood. By God’s grace we are going to reach there.
My unique selling point
I think it is my smile. When people look at my face they would say that I am smiling. But it is not always good because people hardly know when you are sad. They will always keep complimenting you even when you are sad. My smiling face and my legs are my unique selling points. People like my legs especially when I am on heels. The way I walk, I think I have carriage. People fancy me because of who I am and the way I carry myself and the kind of things I do despite the fact that I am not all that tall. Most times what people keep telling me is that they like the way I dress, the way I package myself and the role I play in the movies. A lot of people appreciate my fashion sense because I love fashion a lot.
What it takes to look good
Well, it takes good money to look good. I spend good money to look good. I spend a lot when it comes to fashion. I love fashion a lot even when I am 100 years old I want to look good. When you see Naomi Ilumelu that is fashion for you. It’s not everybody that can wear white uniform from morning till night without staining it. When we’re shooting, we put on white uniform from dawn to dusk. So neatness in Clinic Matters is like five and six from the beginnning to the end. Cleanness is Godliness.
I am shooting a movie entitled, College Girls Reloaded. It is about college girls. In the movie, I play the role of Cindy, a secondary school girl who knows everything and who starts having sex while in school. She does everything bad and she gets to deflower most boys in the school. She is just a crazy person. And eventually she doesn’t make it in life. That’s the project I am doing right now and I am also acting in Tinsel. In two months time, I am going to release my own movie.
Impression about sex
On a general note, sex is ordained by God for every man and woman who are joined together. I believe sex is for those who are married, they should have it and enjoy it. I wouldn’t say anything on my sex life now until I am married. It’s then I can open up on my sex life. My ring ? Oh, the ring I am wearing is just for fashion. I am not engaged. I am still single.
Men do toast me
Men are plenty on my list, they keep knocking on my door but I know if I get any man now I could get distracted. I wouldn’t say I am searching because I am so focused on my job. I don`t have time to hang around with men here and there. It is going to be a distraction for me which I really do not want right now. So, I am single but I am focused. I am too busy to have extra headache, I am not saying guys are headache but for now I don’t have any man in my life. It’s because I don’t need any distraction. Maybe when I graduate from university I can befriend one.
I am not a lesbian and I will never be. God forbids that nonsense. I totally don’t support it. God doesn’t approve it. On love, of course, I do believe in love. Love is a strong thing and I believe in love.
My ideal man
My ideal man must be God fearing. He must be tall, dark and handsome, and capable enough to take care of me. I would like him to give me attention. I like a good man who is humble. I don’t need a noise maker. I need a man who can connect with my visions and dreams.
I actually started as a model and you know that acting also entails fashion. In the movie industry, you have to be smart and clean. For fashion, I will say I grew up with it; my mum is a fashionable person. She loves fashion and she sells pure gold accessories. In fact, I grew up wearing gold. That’s what inspired my fashion sense. My own kind of modeling is photography modeling.
God is my strenght. Before I do anything, I have to go on my knees and pray. I am focused and I know what I am aiming at, so if I get a little distraction I can lose focus. I am managing my time well. Any little time I have, I make use of it. I still go back home to do my house chores; cook, wash etc.
My male fans and I
I will tell you the truth it is not easy. My male fans especially the stubborn ones never want to leave me alone. Even when I don’t attend to them, they are still pestering me. In the first place, I try to accommodate them. I don’t look down on them like trash or shout at them or be a snub. But when the interaction is getting out of hand, I will quietly excuse myself. You might call me or send email, I wouldn’t answer.
Crazy thing a fan did to me
I have this crazy fan that any time I go to my facebook page, all I see is recharge card airtime. He keeps sending and sending and I would say ‘okay, thank you don’t send any more, I appreciate it. I don’t want to reject your airtime’. But he keeps sending and asking for my phone number. I can`t give him my number. I don’t have to impress everybody.
What I miss most
I have missed a lot. I am a fan of boli (roasted plantain) and groundnut. I remember on my way to the National Theater for auditions in those days, I used to by boli and groundnuts from a woman. She knew me very well that I would equally buy on my way home. But since I became famous I couldn’t stop and buy boli again even when I tried to hide under a dark sunshade. Sometimes, I want to eat amala in a bukateria but I can`t sit down and eat or buy and take away any more. Sometimes, I would go to an event where an enticing meal is going round the table but due to a lot fans that are staring at me, I wouldn’t know what to do, I would rather leave the food.
On nude roles
I have never had any experience of sex for role because I am good at what I do. I think people who are getting these offers are those who are not good in what they do. Acting nude ? No! I could play semi nude; wear bra and pant but playing totally naked for the whole world to see, no!
Fight over love
Never, if I caught my man with another woman that means he wants to belong there. He can go. I can fight for my man when it is right, but not when you dabble in with another woman and you still expect me to come and fight for you, no! I can`t fight for love because another man will always come. When one door closes, another will definitely open. I can`t break my head for love.
Advice to young ones
Whatever you do, just be focused and make sure you have the vision of where you are going to. You have to strive to make good plan and have a target. You don’t allow any distraction to pull you out of it. You will get there for the fact that you are prayerful.