Onyeka Emechebe is an actress and the first runner up in the Next Movie Star where a Ghanaian won. The delectable actress, who is playing the lead role in the new season of the popular soap, Everyday People, shared with us how sexual harassment almost ruined her career…
Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Onyeka Emechebe. I am 27. I am a graduate of Economics Education from Nnamdi Azikwe University. I am from Anambra state. The first of five children and I am an actress.
I have always been in drama right from primary school. I acted a lot of drama in primary and secondary school. It has always been part of me. I have always had passion for acting and watching my senior and colleagues. It motivated me, professionally. And while in school, I registered at the Actors Guild of Nigeria but wasn’t really consistent till after my service in 2012. I would say I became consistent and professional in 2012 till now.
It is interesting you emerged the first runner-up in the Next Movie Star competition. Can you tell us how you felt about that?
Oh! I felt very happy. It feels amazing. It was a great surprise because it was a very tough competition. Lots of talented actors were there. It was tough but I thank God I made the first runner-up.
Did you envisage getting to that level?
I knew I was going to make the finals because I know what I have, I know my worth, I know what I can do. In as much as we all wanted to clinch the first price, I believe we are all winners. I feel like I am a winner even though I was the first runner- up. I thank God, it was a very wonderful experience in the house. I learnt a lot and I wanted to win, that is the truth. I wanted to take home the cash price and the jeep but it is just God’s will that I didn’t and that doesn’t change the fact that I am a winner.
When it was between you and a Ghanaian, what was going through your mind? Were your expectations so high?
It is not a matter of whether a Ghanaian wins or a Nigerian wins, we are all actors. Whether a Ghanaian won or not, it doesn’t matter. I just know that he is a Ghanaian and very talented. We both knew it was going to be between the two of us. It has to be one person. I don’t know how, if it’s vote or the judges, all I know is he got it and I am second.
I am sure you won something too; can you tell us about it?
I won a cash prize of N250,000, shopping vouchers from Jumia, air-conditioner and one year movie contract.
How did your parents and friends feel about it?
They felt glad. They felt happy. Even though some of my friends felt I deserved to win, they were still happy that I came out as the first runner up. It doesn’t matter who goes home with the star prize. We are all winners, that is what I will always say. My parents knew I would go far in the competition which I did and they weren’t disappointed. They know the kind of child I am. I made them proud.
After that, what doors have been opened for you?
Yes! It has actually opened a lot of doors for me now and I know it is still going to open a lot more for me in the future because being the first runner up of such a big reality show, a show that has produced a lot of stars like Tonto Dikeh, Annie Macaulay, Uti Nwachukwu. It is a great achievement for me and I know it is going to open a lot of doors for me. I am very optimistic. And I will like to say big thank you to Digital Interactive Media for providing the platform.
What is the secret of your success?
It is first, because I don’t think I will be where I am today without the grace of God and the fact that I am passionate about the things I do. I don’t compromise when it comes to acting. I am very focused, very humble because your character counts. I can interpret any role given to me. I think that is what has been steering me forward.
What have been the challenges?
Having to go for numerous auditions, you know as an upcoming actress, you have to go for auditions. You go for like 10 auditions and get called back for just two. So, it has been challenging and some harassment in the industry. Though some claim there is no harassment, there are. It is not just in the movie industry but everywhere in the world. I have been working with professionals who are very straight forward and open minded and it has been working for us. I thank God for everything.
How have you been able to handle sexual harassment in the industry?
I have been able to handle that. If you know your worth, you know the kind of person you are, then you don’t have to give in to sexual harassment. If you are talented and very good at acting, people should give you roles based on your worth and what you can offer. So, when you know yourself, you don’t have to give in. I think it is only people who don’t know their worth and those that are bad actors that give in to all those things. But I have been able to handle that well, I don’t have issues. Just that it is challenging, but the grace of God is keeping me.
What are you working on presently?
I am working on a T.V series Everyday People for ONTV Production. I am actually playing a lead role in it. We are shooting first week of March, so I have the script and working through it. I am not working at the moment. I am just rehearsing for the T.V series.
We learnt you are working on your video Show Reel. Can you tell us about it?
I am actually working on my Show Reel. I have done about 14 movies and one TV series so far and I am just taking some clips out to do a show real of myself and publicize it on blogs, YouTube and other social media.
Among the movies you have shot, which can you say shot you to limelight?
I don’t know a particular one but, I have done a lot of good movies among which are Out of hand, Adaobi and Adaeze, Dumebi in School, Superstar me, Husbands of Lagos, Evil Women, Barren Women, amongst others.
In the industry, who will you consider as your role model or mentor?
I have two role models. One is Joke Silva and the other is Omotola Jolade. These women are very iconic; they have touched my life in a special way. When I watched them back then, they motivated me to want to be a professional actress because of the way they interpret roles. They bring out their best in interpreting and up till now, Omotola is still my role model because I love the way she balances her personal life, career and family. She balances them so well. She is a successful actress. So, I love them so much.
It is supposed to be private to me but I am engaged and getting married soon.
Most guys don’t like marrying actresses because of the stories that fly. How has his response been to you as an actress?
He has been very supportive. I have never dated any man as supportive as he is and that is why I am so much in love with him. Not many men want to marry an actress. A lot of men shy away from that but he has seen my movies even before we started dating. He is my number one fan and he loves the way I act. He is always supportive, he encourages me. Though he says I should be selective with the roles I play, I just like the way he supports me. We share our lives together and he has been amazing.
What is the craziest thing your male fans admire about you?
That he wants to marry me (laughs). Definitely, I am beautiful and talented, I have many male fans and admirers but they are just there, nothing brings them close. I just respect them because they are my fans, I talk to them politely. So, nothing extra-ordinary. They try to buzz me on Facebook, Twitter, etc but there is nothing serious.
What part of your body can you call your prize possession or which part of your body turns your male fans on?
I don’t know o, they have not told me. I think it is my hips, my natural endowment, and my beautiful smile. I love to smile a lot.
Tell us what defines your style and fashion.
Simple and classy. I am very simple and very classy.
How do you unwind?
I love to watch movies a lot, I go swimming, I love to dance. Dancing comes first. I am a dancer actually; I have been dancing from secondary school. I used to dance in a dance club while in secondary school. I joined a group in the university. We dance, rap, sing, everything, all on stage.