Nollywood: I’m dumping acting for sowing seed – Clarion Chukwurah

The story about her separation from her husband and the rumour making the rounds about the re-union did not bother her. In fact, what is apparently troubling the popular actress, producer, philanthropist and mother, Clarion Chukwurah who came to limelight in the defunct soap, “Mirror in the Sun’ is her pet project, the Clarion Chukwurah Initiative, which is taking a lot of her time and taking her away from the screen even when big money is dangled at her.

For her, it is perhaps, a way of giving back to society and she has made it her priority in order to leave her footprints on the sand of time. She speaks with Saturday Vanguard on her 32 years of acting and why she wants to leave acting temporarily to give life to her pet project. Enjoy it.

What have you been doing in the last few months?

I have been working on my pet project which is Clarion Chukwurah Initiative. I found out that we needed to embark on leadership development training for the younger ones in secondary schools.

The impression and idea the youths have about government and leadership is pitiable. My initiative is aimed at re-orientating Nigerian youths with the view of making them see that leadership positions is not about going into government to make money but service to the people.

We intend to change their mentality so that they will be able to see hard work, service to the people and patriotism as what should define them. We are involving international agencies like the USAID, the British Council and the UN Information Centre.

We are also getting resource persons from these international agencies to teach the youths the beauty of democracy and let them know the challenges of democracy and accountability in government with good example from United States of America and other parts of the world. We are also getting resource persons from Canada and France. It is a four-week leadership training workshop.

In meeting our program targets from Nigeria, to Cameroon, we partner with State Governments, Corporate Bodies and Conscientious individuals

How do you intend to get your targets?

The programme will run from one local government to the other in all states but we are currently focussing on three states.

In the public schools in the local governments, we are going to conduct examinations and from there, 100 students will emerge from each state that will now undergo four-week training. Because of the complexities, our target is to begin with three states which will take off fully next year.

Could you name the states?

We are talking with Ogun state and Lagos state where we have established relationship with the Ministry of Education before now and other states which I don’t want to reveal yet because we are not advanced in our discussion with them.

Now, after a month of rigorous leadership training, , what follows?

Our objective is to impact on these students, leadership development with a brief to go back to their schools and impact on others including their peers. It takes just one person to make a change.

You also went into a fashion label, why are you diversifying?

Clarion Chukwurah Initiative did not just start today. It started in 1999 and we are known in countries like Cameroon, UK, Canada and other parts of the world. The project held symposiums, on education, parenting, vocational training and career choice selections.

The project equally produced documentaries on youth prostitution, HIV/AIDS and youth involvement in Agriculture/Food Production in Lagos State. So far, we have successfully carried out Child Support Programs in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, and Ondo States.

We sensitize annually, Nigerians living abroad in foreign programs of our work. We have successfully carried out family and community support programs in Lagos and Ondo States. Since 2009, we organize annually, a less privileged Children/Youth Schools’ Teachers Summer Upgrade Training Program in collaboration with Fast Training Services, Wembley, and London. With support from the Lagos State Ministry of Education, in 2009, eleven states owned and private schools participated.

Besides, we also have a company that deals with wears for the younger ones. Wurah Clothing consists of T-shirts, Dress-Tops, Jeans, etc. The clothing line was launched in July 2010 with the Jubilee Collection designed specifically to celebrate our Nation’s 50th independence anniversary.

What was your husband’s involvement in all this?

My private life should not be part of this interview. I don’t want to talk about that.

But is better you clear the air that because some people said you are divorced but some said you’ve settled with him?

I say my private life is out of this interview. Whatever anybody likes, let him say.

Okay, but do you now stay with him?

I will not discuss my private life.

What painful experience of yours would you recollect while acting or on location?

I don’t really have a particular one, but I had great experiences working on Iye-Moja, Things Fall Apart in England which was a stage play, “Money Power” Owolagba, Oduduwa which was a great challenge. It was a great historical mother of the Yoruba race and there are some nasty ones.

How nasty are they?

When you are bullied on set, it is a nasty experience but then, it is all part of the work There was a time I had to go to the theatre in a flood because I had play on in the art theatre in Ibadan and there was a great flood and by training, whatever the circumstances are, the show must go on. So, I found my way through the flood

What is your take on the quality of movies being churned out in Nigeria?

We have those who are bent on churning out sub-standard works in order to get more money just as we have those who will not compromise quality for anything.

My take is that it is up to Nigerians to choose what they want. As long as Nigerians continue to buy substandard work, the problem will persist but if the cease to, they will have no body to buy their substandard work.

Are you thinking about premiering a movie soon?

Yes! I have made some in the past. I still intend to do that. I am one person who is cold in time management. From time to time in my career, I focus on a particular thing and right now, my focus is on social development.

I have partners who can invest enough of their time in it for me to take off and when it comes to movies, I will do that. What I am doing now on my Initiative is a lot of work that requires a lot of time. As an actress who is aware of the socio-political problem of this country, I have decided to leave a legacy by impacting on the lives of the younger ones.

It doesn’t matter to me what people say. What is important to me is what is important to me is what I am doing because I am affecting people’s lives in different ways now.

For over thirty years, I have affected people’s lives as an actor, using my spare time to work on the initiative, but right now, I want to focus on it for a couple of years so that I will achieve the purpose for which the initiative was established. It was established mainly for youth development and leadership training of the young ones.

How do you compare earnings here with what your counterparts earn in other countries?

There is no basis for comparison. What you earn as an artiste is a mirror of the society you are operating from. In United States of America, a movie budget of about $100million is certainly a low movie budget while in Nigeria, a movie budget of N5million is a big budget.

Are you also thinking about picking a role in Hollywood or outside the chores of this country?

I am not. I am not thinking about that. Each person has his own focus. After thirty-three years in the industry, my focus is about sowing seed, and doing something that will leave my feet on the sand of time and helping to move this country forward; to develop a new generation of Nigerians who will respect African values and take pride in the Nigerian nation.That is my priority.

What is the greatest challenge facing your profession?

The unworkability of Nigeria’s present statehood structure based on ethnic sentiments and the politics of diversion. Then, the fact that Nigeria manufactures nothing including the film maker’s tools nor provide opportunities for a merit- based stable progressive society that will throw up various industrial giants who can afford to fund their passion as patrons of the arts like theatre companies and Music Concert Halls.

How do you relax?

I see movies, I read and sometimes I travel. I go on vacation to relax.

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.

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