Focused. Well-mannered. Humble. She’s a very hardworking lady and a supportive wife. That’s the simple definition of fast-rising Nollywood actress, Tochi Okolo. The Enugu State born graduate first joined Nollywood in 2003, did a couple of movies with Sam Loco, Aki and paw paw, and Lancelot Imasuen. She then left the industry to complete her education. In 2018, she came back as a scriptwriter, actor and a producer. Today, the talented beauty sat down with ONITSHAGRA.COM for a comprehensive interview.
Kindly introduce yourself to Nigerians.
I am Tochi Okolo (Mrs), from Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. I’m an actor, producer and a fashion designer, sleek concept. I’m a graduate of theatre and communication art from the University of Jos/Esut. I first joined Nollywood in 2003, did two movies and stopped to complete my higher education. I came back in 2018 and have featured in some movies. I am very passionate about acting. I am very adventurous and my family comes first to me.
Are you going to take up your husband’s name or remain with the maiden?
Yes of course, but I am well known with this one. It’s easier to be identified on screen. But of course, I answer my husband’s name.
My dad is a movie lover, so while growing up, I watched a lot of movies and I just loved it. I loved the fact that I could be anyone, a Dr, a lawyer, etc., without having to study it in school. I always admired actors and love their charisma. Movie has always been my dream. I love the makeup, the dress up, I just love everything about it. Let me add here that I’m a scriptwriter too. Stories can’t stop coming to me.
How’s the experience so far?
It has not been easy! when I was in secondary school, I would sneak out of home to go for auditions, only for me to return home and get grounded, so when I got into the university, I went for an audition and got the opportunity to play alongside Sam Loco, Aki and paw paw (pipiro). I also worked with Lancelot Imasuen (Rag day). The industry was really not easy. I realised it was affecting my academic, so I stopped and continued with my education. I did my service and other stuffs before I decided to return as a producer and an actor. The competition is so much as everyone wants to be on the screen. As a producer, it wasn’t easy, but I thank God I am always lucky with the best crews. Sometimes, it’s challenging too, but in all I thank God. He doesn’t give us what we can’t handle. Though I am still rising, and hopefully, sooner than expected I will be there.
What’s your opinion on the reported prevalent use of diabolical means in the industry?
I believe that everyone is entitled to their own way of worship. I have heard about such, but I haven’t seen any. And as long as I don’t practice such, I wouldn’t say exactly…but, Nollywood is like every other organisation where a lot happens. It’s Nigeria and we will always be Nigerians. We pray, we do incantations, just know it’s just the regular Nigerian way, not because it’s Nollywood.
While growing up, it was Tapo, but now it’s Sleek.
As a beautiful, married actress, how do you manage male fans?
Hmmm…I simply make you know I am married and it’s a no-go area. It has not been easy, but my hubby being in the industry also makes it easier for me too.
How do you handle intrusions from his female fans?
Honestly, it’s not easy to be a wife to a filmmaker. The women are too much, but one thing it tells me or reminds me is that, I should always keep in shape and look good at all times. But most importantly, I just commit him into God’s hand for protection. At the end, I can only try, but God does the rest, and he is also very mindful about his family too.
It’s now common for actresses to share nude photos on social media. What do you think of this new trend?
I believe that beauty is not in being nude. I do not support or admire such either. The world has become and global village and everyone seems to be okay with dressing in the western way, forgetting that we have our culture. All I have to say is this, nudity isn’t our stye. Let’s promote our culture and remember that our body is our pride.
What’s your opinion on the sex-for-role scandal ravaging Nollywood?
Like I said, Nollywood is like any other organisation. Everyone is entitled to how they go about getting roles, but I wouldn’t do that. I have always rebuked it. It’s unprofessional!
Who do you owe gratitude for the success of your career so far?
I thank God, then my husband for allowing me to follow my dream and supporting me all the way. I also will like to thank a very special friend I will hold back the name. A big thanks goes to mummy Ebere Okaro, my family and friends for their support.
Which is your biggest movie so far?
Dangerous Metal, a Wizkabalin production, an action movie I played a bad babe (smiles) with guns. It was fun. I loved the whole running and feeling very bad. Then our own production coming out very soon, Sacred Cleansing, that is huge and almost out. It’ll be hitting the screens very soon.
What makes Sacred Cleansing huge?
It’s huge because of the clash of cultures, the transformation involved in the movie and also the storyline and uniqueness of the play…with a lot of effects.
Tell us of the cast.
Rita Arum, Obi Dike, Ms Jane obi, Don Cardinal, my humble self, and many other great actors.
My biggest challenge is limited funds. If I have access to funds or a sponsor, I would have produced more. I just love filmmaking
You mentioned Ebere Okaro earlier. How has she contributed to the growth of your career?
She inspires and encourages me each time I watch her works. I was opportune to work alongside her and other great actors and she introduced me to producers who gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent. I can say it opened the doors for me.
At what point did you decide to become an actress?
I have always wanted to be an actress. Back when I was younger, I organised dramas each time we went home for Christmas. I was in the drama club when I was in primary school. I have always wanted to be an actress.
Were your family members supportive at the initial stage?
Not really! My dad wanted me to be a Doctor, a lawyer or a nurse. He wasn’t in support. I remember going for auditions and my father would get so mad. My mum didn’t buy the idea either, but when she saw I was bent on pursuing my dreams, she had no choice but to give her blessings. Sorry that my father didn’t get to see me become the actress I am today. May his soul rest in peace. My siblings though had no issue with me being an actress, but they felt I should have been in another profession other than acting.
Do you play romantic roles in movies?
Yes, I do, but with a little bit of restriction. No kissing! My job is to bring life to a story, be it romance otherwise.
What is your take on married people who kiss in movies?
I don’t see anything wrong with that. I just want them to realize that it’s acting, make believe. Before venturing into this profession, you and your spouse must come to an agreement and then realise that everything ends once the cameras are off. I believe in whatever you do, do it well, be the best but know where to draw the line. kissing or not, we are just performers bringing life to a story.
How do you relax?
I create my own time. I know the essence of rest. Sundays are usually that day for me, if I am not on set. Then in a month, I give myself four days holiday. I try not to work. I stay off internet. I just rest and eat right.
What would you see as a big achievement?
Hmmm! I have big dreams and plans I wish to achieve. A big achievement would be owning a production house, a film academy, which by his grace will be accredited. I also wish that Obago films/Sleek Concept will be the home that produces top actors in time to come.
What should your fans expect in the nearest future?
A better and more improved Tochi. And yes, movies like never before.
If you had not become an actress, what would you have become?
Other than acting, I may have been a reporter too. But it has always been acting for me. That has been my lifelong dream, and by his grace, I am gradually becoming everything I envisioned for myself.
Do you enjoy music?
I am a music lover. Music helps me escape the troubles of the world. I drown myself in music. It revives dead cells in me, music gives me inspiration.
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
Soft rock and a bit of hip hop.
Who is your favourite musician?
For now, it’s SIA. I am so in love with her songs.
What advice do you have for upcoming actors?
Stay focused! It’s never too late to achieve your dreams. They should also learn that the manner in which they carry themselves will decide the manner in which they are treated. Pray for favour, it’s not an easy journey, but with steadfastness and perseverance they will scale through.
I purposely left this question for the last. Why do your friends call you Sleek?
(Laughs) Honestly, I can’t even say how my nickname changed from Tapo to Sleek. But I remember going for a function and a friend of mine saw me from afar and shouted, hey babe this look is so sleek! My cousin was like what’s that? She said you look so Sleek! And that’s it. My cousin kept on calling me Sleek. To her, she was mimicking my friend, but at the end of the day, I did like the name and I accepted it.
Thanks for your time with onitshagra.com
Thanks so much for having me.