Chico Ejiro is one of the pioneer filmmakers in Nigeria. With a family background which boasts television production moguls, it’s no surprise that the Ejiros are still a formidable part of Nollywood. Chico and Joy got married in 1998 but not much is known about their marriage. What has kept it going in an industry, where divorce rate rises daily? The couple speaks…
When did you get married?
Joy: We got married on May 16, 1998.
Were there obstacles?
Being a renowned producer/director with many actresses to make a choice from as a bachelor, how come you ended up marrying one who is not an actress?
Chico: Life is about choices. I met someone I love, someone who understands me and someone who pushes me always to work hard. She is so domesticated, hard-working and takes good care of me.
What was the attraction to Joy? Are both of you from the same state?
Chico: Apart from her height, her figure and good looks, she has a good character, she is so organised, most especially, her managerial skill. Fortunately, we are from the same state— Delta.
Joy, what attracted you to a film guru? Were you not afraid of other actresses snatching him?
Joy: When I met Chico in June 1994, I knew he was a film-maker, he told me he was working as a director in the T.V soap Mega Fortunes. Well, it was very popular, so were the Ejiro brothers. When I agreed to date him, I wasn’t bothered about anybody snatching him. I believed he had made up his mind to be with me. Truly, I don’t believe any woman can snatch a man from a woman without his consent. He chose to be with me and that settled it.
Well, it’s generally rumoured that Joy is referred to as Thatcher. She is said to be tough on actresses where her husband is concerned. How true is this? Were you afraid and resorted to being tough?
Joy: Chico is a very quiet man. In his kind of profession, alot of people would want to capitalise on his nature. As his wife, this makes me angry. People definitely read another meaning to my actions. Fear? Never! Not with Chico! I’ve never thought of anybody snatching him because we are like very close siblings—we have a strong bond. I believe nobody can come between us. Our relationship was and still is very ‘tight’. He’s my confidant, we talk alot, there’s nothing happening around me that he doesn’t know. In fact, if you don’t want Chico to know anything, don’t bother telling me because I’d tell him. He’s the first person I call when I need to get anything done or when I have issues with anybody. People who see me as Thatcher are getting it wrong. When they see you trying so hard to build a home, career or business with strict measures, they tag you as wicked, bad and use all sorts of negative adjectives to describe your person. They have forgotten the fact that it’s your life and future you are trying so hard to put together. I’m very happy now, looking back I have no regrets.
Both of you must have had some nasty experiences in your over 14 years of being together. Can you recall any?
Chico: I remember vividly an incident when we were shooting a film in Festac in 2001. Then, armed robbers came and took the camera we hired to shoot and we had to pay for it! The camera was worth over N1m then. Luckily, we were able to pay and bought our own.
Joy: Then, I was working with him on set. I still do now, despite the fact that I run my fashion outfit. I still read the script and help in corrections. I’m Chico’s biggest critic and we always discuss, plan or even draw up cast together before any production. There was a time I was providing costumes on location. That day in Festac, Lagos, it was a terrible experience for us but God stepped in.
Joy, how do you combine your clothing and accessory store with the home front?
Joy: God has been my help and I have a husband who is like a buddy to me. For any woman to succeed in whatever she does, she must be on that level with her husband. He must be your best friend. There must be an understanding, perseverance and tolerance. Whenever I travel to stock my shop, he stays behind and vice versa. I am so finicky about a home looking neat and organised, so I get as many domestic help as I can afford. Moreover, I have either my mother or mother-in-law staying with my kids whenever we travel together
Do you quarrel?
Joy: (laughing) we quarrel and argue regularly, but the fact that we are best friends settles the quarrel fast! It doesn’t last because we always have something to talk about. If we have a quarrel this minute, you see us chatting the next minute as if nothing happened.
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