Chika Ike: On The African Diva Project
Nollywood actress and humanitarian, Chika Ike, broke into the Nollywood scene over a decade ago with a dream in her heart and a smile on her face. She made her way up the ladder in the entertainment scene, gradually distinguishing herself among her peers until she became a household name. She holds a degree in Human Kinetics and Health Education from the University of Lagos (Unilag) and is also a two-time Africa Movie Academy Award nominee. Chika is currently a UN Ambassador for Peace and a solid humanitarian who believes in empowering youths. In this interview, she speaks on her work as an ambassador, career and her African Diva project.
What was growing up like for you?
Growing up was fun. I grew up in a close-knit family of six. I had siblings to play with and interact with. My parents never failed to apply discipline in us. I grew up in a block with a lot of people who were my age mates; we rode bikes together, played under the rain and played some childhood games. It was almost like a story book setting that never leaves my mind.
Was acting always your dream or was it just a hobby?
Acting has always been a dream of mine. It has always been something I have always wanted to do. I could remember, right from secondary school, I loved to perform in front of my class mates. I was also part of the church drama team; initially, it wasn’t a career choice but over the years, it developed and I made up my mind to pursue it as a career.
Was it difficult breaking into the Nollywood scene?
Breaking into Nollywood came with its own challenges. Initially, it was tough as having a break through with anything is mostly tough at the initial stage, because you are constantly trying to prove your ability and create a brand for yourself.
What was your biggest fear when you started auditioning for roles?
My biggest fear was the fear of rejection. I think we all have that because we all want to be accepted especially for a career we have so much passion for and when you finally get the role, you only hope to be a slave to the character as it demands of you.
Are there any roles you would turn down or have turned down?
I like to challenge and stretch my strength as an actress and be as versatile as I can be but I have and will turn down nude roles.
It’s been over a decade since you started acting. How has the journey been so far?
The journey has been rewarding, challenging and a roller-coaster of emotions. It has been full of hills and valleys and I embrace them all.
You studied Human Kinetics and Health Education. How did you go from that to movies?
I feel they are both inter-related as Human Kinetics, besides being a course that studies the anatomy of the body and human movement, we also study sports and sports entertains people just as acting entertains people. But acting was driven by passion.
Do you make use of what you studied now in aspects of your life and do you plan to in the future?
I make use of it every day as I know the right exercises and sports to engage in and, as an actress, fitness is very important. You use up a lot of energy while filming and Human Kinetics has helped me to recognize that fitness is key.
Congratulations on being a UN ambassador. What does this role entail?
Thank you very much. As a UN Ambassador for Peace, I encourage the youths on matters that have to do with peace keeping. I stand up in matters of the youths and the UN; on any matter that relates to them.
You are involved in quite a few humanitarian activities. Can you tell us about that?
I have a foundation called the Chika Ike Foundation that focuses on street children. We support them as much as we can. I also affiliate my brand with other credible organizations.
You are the CEO of Fancy Nancy Collections. How is it running a business in this current economy?
The economy is at its low right now so it hasn’t been easy. Thanks to the clientele I have been able to build over the years, their patronage has sustained the business.
How do you shuffle between career and family?
My family understands my career as they have been supportive since the early days of my career. My brothers and sisters are my greatest critiques and cheer leaders so it’s easy to shuffle when you have that support system.
You have become quite stylish over the years. To what do you owe this new you?
I think, over the years, my style has evolved. I have come to understand how I want to be seen. I owe my new style to discovering ‘me’.
Tell us about your ‘African Diva’ reality TV show.
‘African Diva’ was borne out of a desire to empower and promote the virtues of an African woman. African women have a voice now and it’s really exciting to see women hold powerful positions in government and companies. I really want to preach that gospel more through the show and let them know that they are good enough. That is what ‘African Diva’ show represents. ‘African Diva’ reality show is an African series and interactive competition.
The series is a reality, docu-drama that focuses on the search for the ideal African woman. Women from all over the nation will get a chance to compete for the privilege of being called an ‘African Diva’. The show will be internally judged by me and a panel of judges that will be both regulars and guest stars. Twenty two contestants are transported to an undisclosed location for a period of 4 weeks. Each day, the girls will compete in a task. Judges will rate the girls on their domestic skills, hospitality, entrepreneurship, sports, child-care and their knowledge of Africa.
At the end of each task, the contestants will be assessed. There will be winners and losers. Every episode will see the eviction of at least one of the contestants. The contestants will be winnowed down till only three finalists remain in the house and a winner will emerge.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on building my real estate company and other side projects.
Any words for your fans?
I am grateful to them for their support throughout the years and still believing in and loving me regardless. May God grant them their hearts’ desires and make their dreams come true.
By Pamela Echemunor