In the Nigeria movie industry today, only a few actors can hold a candle close to the irrepressible and iconic Clarion Chukwurah. Starting with that big movie, ‘Money Power’ which she stared in at the young age of seventeen alongside Sir Shina Peters in the 90s, the young Clarion Chukwurah never looked back ever since. She has gone on to become one of the biggest and most celebrated actresses to come out from this part of the continent. Clarion Chukwurah, who happens to be the mother of popular and talented Music Video Director, Clarence Peters, has featured in over five hundred movies and still counting. Some of the biggest blockbuster movies that rocked the industry years back had Clarion’s face gracing their movie jackets. The elegant and award-winning actress was at the 2019 City People Movie Awards where she and several of her colleagues were honoured. She had a brief chat with City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) and opened up on her reservations about the younger actors and their conduct and delivery as professional actors.
How do you feel, madam, to have you and your contemporaries gathered under one roof and celebrated like we have done here tonight?
For me, I want to talk about Seye Kehinde. This is a gentleman who happens to have come from the same alma mater with me, that’s the University of Ife. He’s been able to do this because, integrally, he’s a creative person who came from the cradle of true, deep creativity in the academics in Nigeria, the University of Ife. So, that explains his commitment and his resilience. You know, he’s not the only one who started this. We had the Thema Awards and a few others but he’s been the only one standing who’s been consistent and that speaks volumes about the man behind the vision. It speaks volumes about the man behind the dream. So, what I want to say is that, for me, today is a celebration of the man that Seye Kehinde is. My story, like I said earlier on stage, will not be complete without mentioning City People. So many people have been harassing me about my biography, asking me I will put one together, and I tell them that when I finally allow my story to be told, City People will definitely be given a special mention. City People was there for me fifteen years ago when they gave me the Best Actress of the Year Award, they were there ten years ago celebrating my 30 years on stage on my 45th birthday, four years ago, they gave me a Lifetime Achievement Award and today, this month makes it exactly 40 years when I was in the company of the likes of Akin Lewis featuring in ‘Why Worry,’ in NTV Ibadan. I was before the first camerawoman in Nigeria, Tolu Gaye, and Jumoke Payne was the producer. That was exactly forty years ago this month of October. So, I see City People as part and parcel of the growth of Nollywood and the entertainment industry in Nigeria and coming up with City People TV is indeed a milestone. And my expectations are clear – I am walking away with great expectations of collaborations between the industry that he has invested so much of vision, energy, resources, manpower with City People to give Nigeria a wholesome entertainment television station. That’s my dream right now.
I must say that you and a few other actresses like Eucharia Anunobi, Joke Silva are a delight not just as actors but you are all incredibly articulate and deep intellectually. As a veteran, what sort of concern does it give you that we don’t see much of that these days?
Yes, this is so because the crop of actors that we have today do not go through training. And if they go through some form of training, who are those training them? You have such ridicule as three weeks training done by some people, I mean it’s crazy. You hear me sounding like this because I studied speech. Professor Wole Soyinka was my speech teacher at the University of Ife. By 1997, I went for speech upgrade in England and why did I have to do that? It’s because speech is part of your power. It’s an integral part of the actor. It’s the power of the actor because the dialogue is speech. You’ve got to know how to speak. Again, I also think this is so because I come from a school that was all about creativity, about talent and about the fire in you for the projection of what is inside. But today, it’s all about fame. It’s about wanting to sell their bodies. It’s about commerce, not craft. When it’s about commerce and not craft, you can’t get craft when it’s about commerce. So, it is necessary for this generation of actors to be overhauled. For those of them who want to be here in forty years time, I am forty years in the business this month, they need to go back to the drawing board and work with people like me so that they can be well trained. So that they can benefit from the skill I have garnered from experience and proper training. They also need to humble themselves and desire knowledge. There’s no hunger for knowledge, no curiosity. They resent you actually. They resent people like me, why because people like me remind them that they’re charlatans. That they’re lazy and unserious. And I am not worried because the charlatans don’t last.
But what are people like you, Madam Joke Silva, Eucharia Anunobi doing in terms of reaching out to those of them who are willing to learn and draw from your wealth of experience? There must be some synergy, don’t you think?
First and foremost, they have to make the move. They have to show first that they want to learn. Taiwo Ajai – Lycett didn’t come to me, I went to her. Golda John didn’t come to me, I went to her, you understand? So, that’s not how it works.
The first time I knew you was when you starred in that big movie with Sir Shina Peters way back, can’t remember the name now…
Yes, Money Power…
I was seventeen old at the time.
Share with us your staying power, how have you remained relevant all these years?
My staying power is Jesus Christ. My staying power is the power of prayer, of faith. In the entertainment industry, there’s evil. There is the evil of jealousy, the evil of envy, the evil of people wanting to go to any length just to pull you down because they want to be you. And if you don’t have God in you, you will fall and you will not be able to get up again. So, you must possess the strength, the desire to fight back and hold on to something that is greater than you.
Before I let you go, I must ask you this question, how have you maintained your absolutely gorgeous look all these years?
First and foremost it’s my diet and discipline. You have to be disciplined with your diet and your exercise. Those two, diet and exercise.
Just that, ma?
Yeah, because people get fat and out of shape because they have no discipline over what they eat. You have to know what to eat, you have to research. You also have to relate with people who are well-travelled who can guide you because exposure is important. Mental exposure and physical are both very important.
You are also very stylish, very fashionable, how did you pick this up?
It’s always been there. It’s always been a part of me right from when I was young. I have always been a stylish young lady, right from my teens. I loved to look good. I loved to look different and stand out from my peers. And of course, again, being an actress also demands that I also stay stylish and get even more creative with what I wear and how I look.