Nollywood actress, Nnenna Rachael Okonkwo is famous for her role in Nkoli Nwa Nsukka, a movie series which has run up to six parts. Born in Enugu State, Nkoli Nwa Nsukka as she is popularly called began her journey into the movie industry in 2005. In this chat with MUTIAT ALLI she recalled her journey into the Nollywood, her ideal man and why the movie industry needs more funding amongst others.
How did you journey into Nollywood begin?
I joined Nollywood in 2005. I acted about 7 movies and stopped because the experience was terrible. I then joined the music industry as a dancer. I danced and danced until people started calling me ‘ote egwu’ because I appeared in most gospel music videos in the market then. I went back to Nollywood and continued acting until the movie Nkoli Nwa Nsukka came and gave me the breakthrough.
Aside movies what else do you do?
Property management. I buy and sell properties.
How was your growing up days like?
My growing up was not rosy at all probably due to the early demise of my father. I hawked corn, groundnut and did other menial jobs just to survive and help my family. But I never lost focus.
Did you foresee yourself becoming this popular?
Not really even though I always believed in myself. I must confess the fame actually took me unaware. I give God all the glory.
Can you share one your best moments as an actress?
One of my best moments as Nkoli Nwa Nsukka was when we were shooting Nkoli Nwa Nsukka season 5 & 6. We got to a location and people did not allow me to shoot because they saw Nkoli Nwa Nsukka. I never knew I had become that popular. In fact, I ran back inside the car and started crying though it was actually tears of joy.
Were your parents in support?
I lost my father at the age of 13. My mother did not support my acting career initially because she felt I was not on the right track. But after I disappointed her expectation, she became my biggest fan and supporter. Her prayers and that of my siblings and fans keep me going.
How do you deal with stubborn male fans?
I try to manage them very well because I see them as my well wishers. Without people like them, we won’t feel appreciated. God will always bless my fans them for me.
Any embarrassing moment with a fan you can’t forget?
Yes o. I came out of my car to inquire something from someone and on noticing I was the one , the young man jumped up and kissed me right on my lips. And this happened in traffic; so, many people saw it. I can’t forget that day in a hurry. I felt so embarrassed that I felt like disappearing from there. Na one of those things sha.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by God, kids and love for humanity. Nothing gives me joy like touching lives positively.
Can you tell us about your last event?
It is called Nkoli Nwa Nsukka Children’s Easter Carnival. It is a means I have chosen to give back to the society after all that God has been doing for me. It’s actually a big carnival where we have not less than 20,000 kids in attendance. I have thousands of gifts for the kids such as bicycles, school bags, food items, clothes, books and other writing materials etc.
So it’s actually meant for children alone?
Yes but because their parents and siblings normally bring them to the arena, they all join and together we have fun and virtually everyone in attendance goes home with gift items.
Seems you love kids a lot, how many do you plan having?
As many as God gives me.
When should we expect the wedding bells to ring?
As soon as ‘Oyom’ is ready for us to walk down the aisle (laughs).
Are you currently in a serious relationship?
What’s your ideal kind of man?
A man that understands me more than all the men in the world. (Laughs). A man that understands the nature of my job is hard working and has the fear of God in him. And of course no man is perfect but kudos to those that try.
Do you plan to go into movie production?
Yes but not anytime soon. Right time, I want to concentrate on my acting career and so far so good with it.
What makes Rachael different from other Nollywood actresses?
She doesn’t try to be like anyone else. She believes in the uniqueness of man and wishes everyone well because she doesn’t believe in competition.
Who are those actresses you were looking up to before you joined the industry?
I looked up to Genevieve and still look up to her because she has lasted in the industry and is still holding it down. She is indeed an icon. I love and respect Tonto Dike very much. She is strong and passionate about her career. I can’t forget her words of encouragement the first time I worked with her. Funke Akindele is another actress I admire so much. She is in her own world and I respect her for that. Angelina Jolie is a role model too.
Did you ever encounter sexual harassment at your early stage?
No, I have not. It is not the way people talk about it.
What makes you cry?
Worship songs because they remind me of God’s goodness in my life. I can be so emotional with such songs.
Have you ever been heartbroken?
How did you deal with it?
I picked up the pieces of my heart and moved on (laughs). You know how it feels watching someone you so much cherish leave you probably for another girl but thank God someone better has taken the place.
What do you think should be done to take Nollywood higher?
We need more investors. Funding has been a major challenge. Marketing is another challenge but with proper funding and monitoring of the market, we can take the industry to the next level. Shout out to those who have remained steadfast in the game. The industry keeps getting better by the day.
What has fame deprived you?
Privacy though I still try to be the same old me.