Talented Nollywood actress Chioma Chukwuka-Akpotha talks working with the likes of Rapper Vector and singer Seyi Shay on set of new movie ‘Lara and The Beat’, her connection with the script, music amongst others with MUTIAT ALLI
What made you connected to the script of the movie ‘Lara and T he Beat?
From the get go, it was a beautiful script, so I didn’t object to anything. First we had the first draft which we did a reading for. You know when you read a story; its one writer, max two or three writers.
But when people get to read it at the round table, you find that one or two people might point one or two things out and you go back to your drawing board.
So we did a back and forth before we finalised and started shooting, so it was awesome. It was awesome coming on set. I got the script and I was really excited. Biola Alabi is someone I have admired, and considering the fact that she had just released a blockbuster, the year before, my thought was “Abeg, let’s do this!” So it was exciting.
What was the part that you found most enchanting about the movie?
It was just the entire production, the quality of the production. First and most of all, I got to understand that in as much as you are of a certain age, you will be required at all times to play a certain age.
When I read the script the first time, I was thinking, “So what role am I playing because I am not seeing myself as one of those young girls that their father died?” They said “You are Tonye’s mum.”
I told them that I did not understand because Tonye’s mum is about 50 years plus. I am not in that range, but they told me “Oh, Chioma, you’ll be fine. We’ll try and age you a little, and considering the fact that most women these days are quite youthful, have you seen the trend, have you seen the forties, they look like they are 26.” So I thought, “Fine, let’s do this, I’m up for the challenge.” And it was awesome.
We heard you sing in the trailer, and they said it was your real voice?
Are you shocked that I can sing like that or you want me to sing so you will hear? I’m not going to sing, sorry. When we did it in the studio, I had to learn. Christy Essien Igbokwe was my mum’s favourite, so we had her records, not CDs, but the plates at home.
So it was easy for the songs to resonate with me. Like I said before, I have not sung in a while, so I was a bit dusty. But they said I would be fine that when they got to the studio, they either take it up a notch or take it down, which they did, they took it down to make my voice a little bit tiny.
So it sounded nice, and I was thinking maybe I would go and do some training again and probably sing an octave higher than what I usually sing.
What was it like working music artistes on a movie for the first time?
It was awesome. Like I said when we were inside the hall that I like being truthful. It was difficult at first. At the initial stage, it was difficult because even though it was still from the entertainment industry, we were coming from two backgrounds as it were, the music and the acting.
And they are used to things being snappy and sharp, they do their thing and they run off. We are used to preparing, first take, second take, third take, camera rehearsals and all of that, so it’s in our system, but they are not used to doing one thing over and over again. They had to learn and we had to be patient.
It was a fusion I would want to see more often. We are entertainers, and the more we marry ourselves, the better the industry becomes and the understanding would be a whole lot better.
You mentioned that you want to do some musical training. Are you giving music a try professionally?
Yes, I will sing to my children. It’s not something I intend to do on a professional level. It’s stressful, it is tasking and it is a lifestyle.
There are some things you won’t do, there’s a way you won’t talk… With an actor, you have to try different voice ranges. You have to be calm, you have to be cool, you have to be angry, you have to be husky and all other moods.
So it takes a toll on the voice, so I think that’s what happened to me after I had my last baby and then continued acting. That’s because when you are pregnant, your voice octave drops- either one octave below or two octaves.
So, I think I dropped by two octaves. When you drop, it takes you a whole lot of practicing to come back to where you used to be. I just didn’t bother.