Excerpts from an interview the actress granted Azuh Amatus of E Express
Honestly, I don’t like talking about my past, but if truth must be told, I didn’t walk out of my marriage, I practically ran out of it. I truly respected my ex, besides he’s the father of my daughter. Again, for posterity sake, I want to be careful with the words I use in this interview. My failed marriage was far from being normal, it was not a normal union.
There were several cases of domestic violence on my person. I will be foolish if I do not admit there were several cases of violence and assault on me. At a point, due to the high level of violence, I started acting as if I was crazy, it was that bad. I carried on like a wounded lion for five years thinking it would get better, but it was escalating and killing me gradually until I said the final no. There were constant fights and l left when it was beginning to look like I was going to die in it. I left home on July 10, 2009.
Even though my mum, family members and close pals never supported my marriage then, they still felt very bad when it crashed. I am a princess on account of the fact that my dad used to be a traditional ruler of my community in Ikwerre. I am an Ikwerre woman, an Ada in the family. So, when my marriage crashed, my mother, in fact, was very bitter because it has never happened in the clan of Elelewon, in the history of the clan’s royalties; they never had a history of divorce, and unfortunately mine happened. I can’t blame anybody but myself, I can’t blame it on anybody.
I was naïve about love and got carried away. Each time I sit down to look at the whole thing, I usually end up laughing, because, the attraction for my ex then, was weird, funny and very silly. I now know that I was naïve, hoodwinked and completely carried away. He had all the nice things to say in his mouth.
Our meeting then was coincidental and it was in 2002. I remember that very day; I was going to church, while he was coming from church, somewhere in Lekki, Osapa London, to be precise. One thing led to the other and I thought I had found true love. But I fell into wrong hands and paid dearly for it.
We eventually got married in 2004. The major lesson the whole experience taught me is that people should look before leaping and we should always seek God’s face before making a major decision like marriage. We should also listen to the advice from elders and strive to get the blessings of our parents and family members at all times.
When my marriage crashed, my family members were not happy. It’s not something they are proud of. But it has happened. So we all move on. No life was lost; we thank God for a very calm break up. Even though they were not really happy about it, but there was nothing they could do. They wanted the safety of their daughter. It’s only natural, the other party too wanted to protect their own as well. So, it’s a matter of families protecting their interests. On the other hand, my family and close friends are very happy that I came out of that marriage alive. I could very easily have died prematurely in that marriage or be maimed or butchered. They are also happy that my whole body is still intact and there is no deformity, because I saw hell. Sincerely, I regret dragging my family into this mess because I was hell bent on getting married.
Me and Titilayo’s murder
I have been following the ugly story of Titilayo’s murder ever since it happened. My point is: Why send him (Akolade Arowolo), for trial when we all know where that will lead? Of course, life imprisonment and once the noise is over and the world is not looking, he will probably be given a lighter sentence via appeal. And do not forget, his family is also watching. The bottom line is that the law should be allowed to deal with this ugly crime against humanity. At least, we have laws in this country and they work. Titilayo’s murder has awakened a still aching nerve in me. Please, let’s leave it that way for now because the case has gone to court. The pitiable and helpless sight of his wife didn’t change him, until she gave up the ghost. Is that a human being? With my experience, my advice is that those who are still lucky to be alive like me should immediately go and get counsel, or some kind of retreat. Domestic violence cannot continue. Why do you want to remain in a relationship that is devoid of love and happiness, but with abundance of everything that is negative? There are other civil ways to deal with your spouse without physically abusing, debasing or killing her. Parties involved should seek counselling now.
Life as a single mum
Returning to life as a single mum is no fun. If I tell you it’s all rosy, then I’m lying. There are physical and emotional dimensions to being a single mum, but thank God we are coping very well. I have always wanted to have a child and a good career too. I am being celebrated, so is my daughter too. She is the greatest thing in my life today. In fact, she’s my life and everything. My entire world revolves around
Tamarlilly, my angel and princess. My daughter is not missing anybody except me. I do not think she knows who her father is right now. She’s also not bothered that her dad has not called her since we separated and later divorced.
Men, men, men
Whether you are single or married, men are always a factor in every woman’s life. It is more so when you are single and everyone thinks you are available for the taking.
I will be lying if I tell you I don’t get advances, from the opposite sex. I just tell them what it is. I politely and frankly tell them that I am not ready; I am not ready to give them what they want. Most times, I don’t know what they want from me. I tell them I am not ready to offer or give to them what they want. As a lady, men want you; men want to explore your body. So I am not ready for that. Otherwise, I still cope very well with men.
But the truth is that I’m not available for all those men looking for whom to play or toy with. I don’t want to be any man’s toy or play thing. All I want now is peace of mind whether inside marriage or out of it. For marriage, if it comes, I am a mature woman and would know when a man is serious. I’ve been deceived before, so for me not to fall victim again, I’m more careful now. So, when a man is trying to fake love and make it look like it’s serious I would easily know. I’ve been there before, so I’ve got experience on my side.
Honestly speaking, some times, I don’t really know if I’m psychologically ready for marriage again now. I keep having cold feet because of my first experience. I don’t know, but psychologically, I feel that I am not prepared.
I cannot take away the fact that I will get married someday, but definitely not now. Besides, what is there to miss about marriage? I have been there before, so there is really nothing to miss. All I ask for now is to make it right. If I have to be in another marriage institution, if I have to give it another trial, I just want it to be perfect.
Sincerely, I do not want to talk about my ex because he’s remarried now. On my own part, even if there is a man in my life, I won’t say or make it a public topic.
I was happy for my ex when I heard the news of his re-marriage. I was also relieved. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and said a loud, thank God! I heaved because to me his remarriage means that officially, spiritually, mentally, physically and otherwise, I am free. Totally free indeed! That’s it. My only advice to him is to make it right this time.
Right now, my mind is not focused on any prince charming, but if a prince charming is coming fine, if he’s not coming, better. Either way, I am just okay with my life currently.
Honestly speaking, even if the prince charming comes, I am not going to make all the rules and look for the qualities he must possess. Basically, let him just have the fear of God. That’s number one factor. Everyone should have that fear of God in them. I have seen what marriage could be like where your partner didn’t fear God, but pretended to have it. Now, I want more maturity, I want the man to be in tune with himself, I want the man to also know that truth is constant, so he has to believe in the truth not in lies and deceit; people believe in lies a lot. I want to state this categorically clear: don’t lie to yourself. I want a man that would know that lying to himself is a sin before God. Don’t lie to yourself; be yourself at all times, and be truthful. You don’t need to have all the money, or all the fame, or everything. Just be truthful to yourself and be who you are.
My family wants me to be happy. My mum especially doesn’t even want to hear anything about someone that wants to manipulate her daughter again. She just wants me to be happy. My family just wants me to be happy. Happiness and joy, is all they pray for me and by the grace of God I am going to get there.
As a single mother I’m very happy, relaxed and most comfortable now. I am so fulfilled with abundant joy, it’s indescribable.
I am more relaxed and more in tune with myself. At some point I lost my self-esteem but now I got it back. You can say that Monalisa got her groove back. I am more pragmatic. I planned more basically because of the fact that I have responsibility to my child, which makes me more responsible and more focused; nobody is putting any pressure on me. From any angle, I am in control of myself. And I do not have any regrets for quitting my marriage, besides; I enjoy immensely, my single status.
How I got my groove back
I rediscovered myself and realized that I was probably not in the right place at the right time, but now I am in the right place and at the appropriate time and God is really moving with me and I also move with God. Whether you like it or not, there is something that is happening to me now, it’s more in the spiritual realm, the feeling is different. What is happening to me now is the fact that I have rediscovered myself. I am in tune with my femininity, I am in tune with the fact that I’m growing older and appreciating myself and all. All I’m thirsting for now is to give back to the society unlike before when I didn’t even know where I was headed. I was confused, I was anxious I didn’t even know where I was going; I was completely oblivious of my environment. But now I am so in tune with what I want and I hear more from the Man above, the author and finisher of my faith.
Despite all that happened to me, I still believe in love. Yes I do so strongly, even though I’m still searching for true and real love. I’m optimistic that true love will come my way soon.
Port Harcourt Girl
Because of my beauty and rare complexion at birth, my loving parents christened me Monalisa Chinyere Chinda. I am from the Niger-Delta, Rivers State to be precise; I am an Ikwerre woman by tribe and a proud princess for that matter. I am from a family of six and the first child,
my father is late, he used to be the traditional ruler of our community and my mother is a woman of faith.
So, you can see that I’m a proper Ada and Ikwerre princess. In my family, we have two boys and four girls.
I grew up in Port Harcourt, which was very fun. I was also born in Port Harcourt. I grew up in a healthy environment. We are very close in my family. We had great family values. My father and mother instilled that discipline, which is still in me. Each time I look back I thank God that my mother instilled that discipline in me and the rest of my siblings. Her name is Queen Franca Comfort Chinda.
As a human being, I am not perfect, I have made my mistakes, I am correcting them and that helps me to move forward as well, so growing up for me was fun and memorable , it was a healthy environment where everything was balanced.
For my primary school, I went to Army Children School in GRA Port Harcourt and later to Archdeacon Crowther Memorial Girls School in Elelewon, Port Harcourt for my secondary education, I was a boarder and afterwards, a day student. I went to the University of Port Harcourt where I read theatre arts. It will also interest you to know that my first movie in Nollywood was Pregnant Virgin, in 1996. Stars like: Ejike Asiegbu, Francis Duru and several others were in it. Both of them were my mentors in school, at the University of Port Harcourt. They were my seniors. And that includes Lancelot Imaseun. We were all popular faces on campus and were also acting as undergraduates.
I was honoured at home
Charity they say begins at home. It was a privilege and big honour to realize that my people appreciate my works greatly. The fact that I am making a difference in my hometown where I come from, the tribe of Ikwerre and beyond, is a great honour. It also means that I’m making great impact too. I’ve received several awards, but the most recent one from Ikwerre Mothers brought tears to my eyes because it is something very dear to me. It is a revered association, women’s association, my mother is in this association, and I grew up knowing this group of people. They found it worthy to honour me. What else can I ask for? I really appreciate it, I love my tribe, I love my clan, I love Ikwerre people with all my heart.
Away from the award, I have a big series coming. It’s called Catwalk. Catwalk is a series that I produced alongside Emem Isong, I did it last year November, for TV. We are going to do the première very soon, maybe, in the month of September or October. It’s a big project and I see it being another stepping stone in my career, we don’t have enough content on our local television and I believe this is going to be a good platform to entertain people who sit at home—wives and children. It’s an exotic, glamorous and fantastic storyline. Catwalk is a series that people would want to always be in tune with wherever they are. It’s a fantastic storyline and I pray it will make the difference among all other soaps and series.
God ordained my Glo Ambassador deal
I still cry and thank God profusely each time I remember how I got my Glo Ambassador deal. In fact, it still marvels me till date. The job was divinely ordained for me, I make bold to say this, based on the circumstances that brought the deal my way. I was outside Nigeria shooting in one of the African countries when the call came in. Initially, I thought it was some fraudsters trying to dupe me. I cut the calls thrice before finally accepting to speak with the person in charge. I immediately flew down to Nigeria when I was finally convinced that it was a real Globacom deal. With that I’ve come to understand that God works in mysterious ways. God bless Glo, because they gave us this ambassadorial appointment at the time when Nollywood was almost crashing. We are still trying to build Nollywood, we are still trying to have a structure, while Nollywood is trying to get its balance, and we have to do our works as ambassadors. And there is no way that my job as an actress will clash with my ambassadorial appointment with Glo, they both complement each other. I signed for the job and I’m so glad executing it. In fact, I’m much fulfilled working for Glo. Let me also confess again that it’s been awesome working for Glo. It has created a platform for me to shine. Whether you like it or not, Glo has made it possible for some of us to shine more, apart from being actresses. Glo has made it possible for us to shine better than how we used to shine before. I thank God for them.
My humanitarian projects
If God Almighty permits, which I know He will surely do, I want to actually have my own charity home. That is one of those things I know by the grace of God I am going to achieve because that is my calling. Again, I want to start my talk show, The Monalisa Talk show. It’s going to be basically talking about the family, domestic issues, things people do not really want to talk about, challenges they are facing domestically, violence, drug abuse, teenagers going astray, youths not being focused, because this is the end time, these are the issues we need to address. I don’t like shying away from the pending problems youths in Nigeria are facing.
We are starting very soon. I intend to start the talk show before the end of the year, by the grace of God. I have been saying this for more than a year now, I am still trying to tidy it up, I want it to be perfect, I don’t want to do the regular stuffs, and I don’t want to do anything wishy-washy.
A lot of people have been asking me if the story of my debut effort as a producer, Kiss and Tell, is actually a true story of what transpired in my real life, especially my failed marriage. I always tell them no, with a capital N. Again, I also make them realize that as entertainers and actors, our main job is to mirror the society, especially the bad sides of the society so that it can get better. So, in Kiss and Tell, you will see all these, a combination of facts and fiction. Talking about the movie, which is a romantic comedy and my first feature work, it was shot in April last year and premièred on June 19, at the Silverbird Cinemas amid glitz and glamour. For me, it was one of the most glamourous events ever in the history of Nollywood premieres. The story is fantastic. It’s witty, it’s intriguing, it’s fun and I know that movie buffs are already having fun watching it in all the Silverbird Cinemas nationwide, where it is currently showing to the public. Aside from being the executive producer, I also featured alongside Uche Jombo, Nse Ikpe-Etim, Omoni Oboli, Joseph Benjamin and others. Desmond Elliot directed it while Emem Isong and I co-produced.
Back to the question of whether it is an autobiographical drama, I will say that 30 percent of the story is fiction and 70 percent is real life issues, but not directly connected to me. Kiss and Tell is basically the fact that people are in relationships and are not supposed to give out details of how they run the relationships. We want to send out a message that it’s immature to say what you have going with a lady, you don’t have to go about town announcing it; you don’t need a third party to come into your relationship. We are not completely confronting the guys even though it’s a gender thing. We are just telling them that it’s really not necessary to be in a relationship or in marriage and bring a third party in.
Please, don’t go thinking it’s my story; it’s not my story per se; well, part of it. And I got one of the most prolific scriptwriters who also gave it a lot of flesh. I am talking of Emem Isong and her team of writers.
As a first-timer, I was very scared and thought it would be tough and very challenging, but to my shock, it was so sweet and fun on set. I did not have much challenges, I just knew that I was working with friends and colleagues and of course I had experienced hands. I think they were the ones that were handling major parts of the issues. I was in the background; they didn’t want me to do a lot of things. It was fun for me, I am happy I had people who were shouldering the whole problems. And I really want to appreciate them, to say thank you in a very big way.
Apart from the recent première in Lagos, I also want to premiere it in my hometown, which is Port Harcourt, and I really want to do it there, which was where I grew up.
That is the place that made me, I really want to show my work there for them to appreciate me and also bring in my people in the government to also see what their first daughter is doing. I just want to say thank you to all those that made this dream a reality.