Chiege Alisigwe could have become an acclaimed athlete. But fate had something else in stock for her; she became an actress, one of the beauties that make Nollywood tick.
In her early days in school, the Orlu, Imo State-born Chiege was athletic champion for many years, majoring in field events like short put, discus and javelin. She would have gladly represented Enugu State at an earlier edition of the National Sports Festival, but for the politics of state of origin, which deprived her of that opportunity. Chiege had to forgo pursuing a career in sports when her favourite sports coach stopped coaching for some other business.
She gave acting a serious thought after her studies at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu, where she studied fine and applied arts. An encounter with a family friend who was then a recognisable face in the movie industry provided the break. She had expressed the desire to do some serious acting to the family friend who informed her of an audition exercise at the Hotel Presidential in Enugu.
"I have always had a soft spot for acting, so when the opportunity came after my schooling at IMT Enugu, a close family friend told me of a movie audition taking place at Hotel Presidential. I attended and got the lead role in the movie Agu's Wife, but my second movie role was quite bigger, and it was after I played lead in Oganigwe that the doors opened for me."
She has since featured in over 80 home videos. Some producers had thought that Chiege would not last in the industry. They had thought she was a flash in the pan that would run out in no time.
But almost eight years after, she is still waxing stronger in Nollywood, determined, she says, to prove that she is into acting for real.
Chiege took us into her world, her family and childhood experiences.
She explained that growing up for her was fun as she had so many brothers and sisters to play with , though her parents were very strict people, they wanted the best for their 11 children.
"My father was an African man who knew how to look after his family. Maybe that's why he had so many children. I was the last in the line of my fathers children, and they really caged me, so that I would not go astray with worldly desires and pleasures. At the end of the day, I am happy they did what was best for me because it made me have this unique personality today. I never experienced the pleasures of the world until I was old enough to know what a man wants from a woman."
Going further Chiege explained that she was a virgin till she met her husband.
Chiege, who loves talking about her father who is late now, fondly remembers how he pampered her to no end for being the last and favourite child.
"My father was one of the first generation scholars of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he read economics. He was a core family man who knew how to tend to his family."
Some of the movies Chiege has been in include End of Money, End of Dream, Once a Soldier, Message, Traditional Marriage, My Portfolio, Sadist and Under Fire.
On Nollywood she says: "We must begin to get people to specialise. I am an advocate for specialisation. Produce only if you are a producer, direct only if you are a director. People should be able to specialise, that way they would become master of their art."
Chiege Disclosed that she loves taking part in glamorous movies and epics because "it brings out the best in me."
"I love a glamorous movie; it places me where I desire to be. It makes my unique style of acting open for people to see and judge me as an actress who knows how to interpret her lines."
Chiege was once married to a high ranking mobile police officer. The union produced a very beautiful daughter that is now five years old, but the union was short-lived.
"I believed that going into a marriage when a woman is quite young and in her prime is important, and I went into mine believing that all was well, but things did not work out. At this moment, I am living my life with my daughter to take care of."
Chiege described her greatest challenges in life as having to bring up her daughter as a single parent, "while at the same time combining my career as an actress, it is something which is quite tasking and has not been easy."
But she believes that she draws strength from God to excel in life.
"It has not been easy for me but I believe that it has been through God's grace that I have been able to get this far in life when I look back and see where I am coming from.
"My daughter is the centre of my world, and I will do anything to make her happy, because she is such a brilliant girl who took after me in all ramifications. But for the fact that I am still single should not mean that I will not remarry, that will happen at the right time when everything would have fallen in pleasant places for me."
Aside acting, Chiege revealed that she travels abroad to buy stuff like apparels for male, female and children, which she supplies to major customers in Nigeria.
"I have gone into business and I normally shop abroad, where I buy goods for my customers in Nigeria, because I now supply apparels for my customers who deal in men, women and children clothes.
"I also do contracts on the side."
In Nollywood, Chiege could be said to be one of the actresses whose physique is an asset because she stands at six feet plus and when Klieglights sought to know if this attribute has in any way acted as a stumbling block for her, she replied to the contrary,
"No I don't think so. Rather, I believe it is my unique selling point, because most producers have come to accept me for who I am and are more at home with my height and personal assets. They now want me more in movies that would need an actress with such attributes."
Chiege remembers what her shape and physique had done to her, and in her own words, she disclosed that "a man once called me from overseas and said he would want me to give him a child."
Naturally you want to know what her response was. "I was mad with rage that someone I don't know could call me up to start asking me for such improper request. I had to caution him, and later banged the phone on him."
As a person who moves with the trends, Chiege said she buys her clothes mostly from shops abroad, and does this whenever she finds time to travel for vacation in countries like England, France and Italy.
"My clothes could range from the most expensive items and jewellery to things that could go for just N1,000."
The star actress would rather not refer to her marriage to her former husband. She prefers to put it behind her as a chapter in her life that she does not want to reopen by talking about it.
"I had a daughter for my former husband, so what else do you want to know? He is just a chapter in my life that I don't like talking about. I just want to be myself so that I can get on with my life and people should just let me be.
"I'm living my life well. I'm enjoying all the good things that go with it and when the wedding bells ring again people who may want to know something about the man in my life will get to see him then. So, everyone should just relax and wait for it will happen at God's appointed time."