Following her emergence in Nollywood in 2008, sexy actress, Collette Orji has made a name for herself in the industry as one of the most sought after due to her excellent role interpreting prowess. Unknown to many however, the Ufuma, Anambra state born actress who has featured in several epic movies thereby earning the tag, Nollywood queen of epic movies is not only about her beauty and curves as she is committed to serious philanthropic moves with her foundation which she launched in August this year. In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the Chemical Engineering graduate speaks passionately on the project, career, love life and much more.
Acting became my full time career in 2008 after I finished school and took the final decision. I registered in 2004 but couldn’t do much then.
What has been your highest point and gains since you started?
The fans, they make you so happy. You don’t know how popular you are until you’re in the middle of some strange city. You go on holidays and some stranger tells you who you are, what you do and even brings a copy of your movie to you, tells you about your other movies. Experiences like this make you blush. I love it and I feel honoured to be the reason someone is happy.
You have quite a number of movies under your belt already, how has the experience been in Nollywood?
It hasn’t been easy. Now, I remember what some old prominent actress said to me when I was still fast rising some years ago…she said Collette, you say it’s not easy right?, I tell you, getting to where you are now (as at then) is easier than maintaining stardom. And I tell you, it just doesn’t come easy at the moment. Am all grown up, I want to do more, take care of my fans, some friends, do what I can for the society, manage my business, write more stories, do more movies, be sure to meet up with your friends calls, and appointments. The responsibilities only pile up but it has been a good one really and I thank God.
How many movies have you acted in now?
50 and above.
Which role was the most challenging for you since you started?
There was War against Tradition from mega movies where I was this very poor girl with a blind mother, with Emeka Ike, Nonso Diobi, Olu Jacobs, Joyce Kalu, Queen Nwaokoye. It was a really big deal for me and there was the wrong man also know as bullet directed by Afam Okereke. And the current released movie, Demonic Angel, sequel to Angel in me….you do some jobs, and your life changes. Something awakens in you, and you loose interest in the vanity and noise of life.
What else do you do apart from acting?
I am a business mogul; a screen writer, actress, model, I have always believed in me. All I need to do or be in life is in me so, I make sure I begin with what I have. I have my business, Coco House, we deal in wears, cosmetics, both men and women. I have my magazine Collette, which is rocking its end and I can’t be happier, I have my NGO Coco Medicare Foundation which was recently launched on my birthday, August 10, 2013, and I’m working on producing some movies. I am also about to go into food business, and agriculture, I’m still having some meetings on that. I really want to see if I can get 25 employees on my list this year but if I don’t, I prepare for next year.
Your birthday celebration which culminated in philanthropic gestures and the NGO launch cost about how much?
The reason my agriculture and food business delayed till now is because of this. I didn’t know I could do it. It seemed bigger than me. I spent my money so much and I’m glad I did it. Some friends and colleagues assisted me, some friends and colleagues also disappointed me. All in all, from the moment we agreed to plan and register the NGO until its after launch, and we have sent the number three client to India for medicals. It’s taken millions from me and I can tell you now that I’m working hard now to save up again.
How did Coco Medicare Foundation come about?
My mom suffered a very serious arthritis for a while which led to us seeking medical help in India. A surgery was carried out on her knees and she has been doing great for over nine months now. The hospital in India and I came into partnership on how we could inform, educate other mothers, women, ladies on what to do, how to go about avoiding surgery if possible. Let the knife be the last option.
Who’s supporting the project?
I’m in partnership with Wockhardt Hospitals, India. So it’s just Wockhardt and I. Prior to the launch, Ministry of Health supported me, Soft link Import and Export Company from Dubai supported me, some companies and friends who want anonymity. I was so blessed. It was a dream God turned to reality and my heart is filled with joy. Till date, this NGO is bigger than anything I’ve ever done. I am so happy, I’m in a beautiful place right now and I bless God for it.
What’s your education background?
I have an advance level in Geology from Cameroon, and an HND in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Management and Technology. Enugu.
Tell us a little about your family?
We are six, I’ve got five brothers, and they all live in the U.K. I am the only girl, and I’m based here in Nigeria. I lost my dad last year March 23. My mom is here with me. Sometimes, she does some petit business in the East and spends more time in UK because my brothers are all there, but whenever my mum is in Nigeria, I don’t even like to work anymore, I just go home and take care of her.
How was growing up for you?
I was the biggest tomboy you’ll ever know. I was a boy for most part of my life and only just became a girl some few years ago. Growing up was fun. If I was told all I will be having now are memories of how those years were, I’ll be like wow. Honestly, growing up with my brothers, we had about 16 boys working for my dad in the quarters, we had a house full with like 30 guys and just about five women. That, for me was life. And that’s where every foundation was built and is what it is today.
Are you in a relationship now?
Now, no I am not.
Come on, didn’t you expect this. It’s not exactly easy, you know… Please stop expecting to hear more.
Do you believe in marriage and are you looking forward to it?
I believe in marriage, yea. Sure, I should be able to do that someday, right?
What do you look out for in a man?
As you grow older, lots of things you thought you wanted, you realise that they become childish. But some things will always be definite. First, I will be really happy it’s love, I want love to make these decisions for me. Love, respect, and civility, with God, I will be able to handle the rest.
– DANIEL FAYEMI