Stephanie Okereke is a Nigerian born superstar with an infectious personality. Spend five minutes with Stephanie and she will have you laughing and feeling like you are talking to a friend you have known forever. As the sixth child in a family of eight Stephanie has been entertaining her family from birth Now she is entertaining the world.
Ms Okereke sprung onto the Nollywood scene in 1997 with Compromise II” and then featured in “
Stephanie has big dreams and she let the world in on her modeling talent with her second place finish in the 2002 The Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria” beauty pageant Despite her hectic schedule, Stephanie graduated with her degree from Calabar and started to stake her claim in the movie world. Emotional Crack put Stephanie on the map and was nominated for eight awards. Stephanie was delighted to have her efforts blessed with two awards. (Best Actress — English and Reel Awards Best Actress of the Year 2003), Stephanie has also stared in quite a few films including Private Sin, Final Solution, Pretender and Adora (Shot in South Africa).
In April of 2004, Emotional Crack was premiered at the African Film Festiva held in the
Next, Stephanie made her first foray into
INTERVIEW WITH STEPHANIE OKEREKE
Even if I don’t achieve anything this year, the fact that I am alive, that I can walk without any walking stick or crutches is enough reason for me to be happy. I am bubbling, and I have every right to bubble.
You traveled to the US. What did you go there for?
I traveled for medical care, did some studying at the New York Film Academy. I learnt a couple of things and did a film before coming back home.
What kind of film?
It is a mixture of Nigerian and American movie.
Who wrote the script?
I actually wrote, directed and produced the movie.
What is the title?
I called it Through the Glass. I think it is still a working title.
Is the movie based on personal experience?
No. I don’t think it has anything to do with my life. It is a romantic comedy. I was just having fun in school and I got the inspiration to write the story. I have a lot of talent in me. I am just exploring them.
Did you feature in it?
Yes, I did. I am first and foremost an actress.
Now that you are back home, what plans are you making to get back to work? Or are the scripts already pouring in?
I am just taking it easy, basically. The idea is for me to do quality work. I think it is high time we moved up from where we are now. Film-making, no matter how you look at it, is universal. We actually need to upgrade what we are doing.
What really happened between you and Chikelue, your footballer husband?
This is one subject that I really don’t want to talk about. I consider it dead right now. Maybe I should just clarify a few things I heard when I traveled. We are no longer together.
You are no longer together as husband and wife or as friends?
We hear you were married before…
I learnt that he said I was married before I met him. I am not here to say negative things about him, because he was someone I shared so many things with. I am not here to run him down. But it was malicious of him to say I is married before. It is totally outrageous.
So you were never married before you met him?
There is no way I would be married and nobody would know about it. Come to think of it, how old was I then? I think it was just a defense on his part, because he was the one who was married before. It was a form of defense so that when the story comes out, it would seem as if he had defended himself.
How did you make his club in China drop him?
I didn’t know I had such powers, to call his club and tell the coach not to take him. He went there for trials, so how would a single phone call stop him from getting what he wanted? He tried to make me look like a totally bad person. I had to say this (the marriage) wasn’t good for me any longer and I did not want to be in it.
Did you try to make up with him?
I really would not want to talk more on this. It is gone. There is no making up. We have filed for divorce.
But he stood by you when you had an accident.
I want to clarify that issue. Yes, he stood by me when I had an accident, but it was his responsibility to take care of somebody he claimed he loved and was his woman. It is not as if I don’t appreciate the fact that he stood by me, but he was supposed to be there. If he weren’t there, people would start talking.
But he was like a wolf in sheep’s clothing because he knew what he was getting by being at my side. It is not as if I don’t appreciate that he was there, but that does not justify any of the things that happened in our relationship.
We also learnt you were in a rehabilitation centre in Ogun State over drug.
That is ridiculous. I don’t know what journalism has turned into; that people could write something that is totally false. They wanted to paint me as a broken-hearted girl who couldn’t take it any longer; that her relationship broke up and she decided to get into drugs.
The story has no truth. What was the reason behind this? Were they trying to make me have a bad reputation? I don’t know what they wanted with the story; but I tell you, it is totally false. It is not true. I have been out of this country for about five months. I have never been to a psychiatric hospital. I am sure the writer knows what he did was ridiculous.
But have you ever, at least, played with drugs?
I have not even smoked a cigarette, except in movies. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink, so why would I do drugs? I don’t even know what cocaine looks like, except in films where it looks white.
But they say in every rumour, there is always a bit of truth.
No way. In this case, there is no figment of truth. I was in the (United) States. I was not in Ogun State. There is nothing like truth in that rumour.
Do you intend to do anything about the publication then?
What I intend doing is between me and the publishers of the story. I heard the writer is very remorseful. He has tried to apologise and he is willing to re-write the story.
Are you in a relationship now?
I am not. I am very, very single now. I am not in a hurry.
Back to your ex, how come you married a footballer? Was it because you were desperate to marry a star?
You don’t plan things like that. Things just happen the way they happen.
Could one then say it was your fault that you broke up with your ex-husband?
It was never my fault. It was just due to irreconcilable differences. I am not saying this because he is not here. It wasn’t my fault. It was just that we just couldn’t stay together.
How come you locked him up?
I didn’t lock him up. I don’t know where you got that gist from, but I tell you, I didn’t do that.
Did he use to beat you?
No. I don’t want to talk about what he used to do and what he didn’t use to do. It was just that we couldn’t stay together.
But we hear you were dating some other guys while you were still together.
I had an accident in 2005. I was recovering all this while. I wonder which leg I was using to go after other guys. I have never been a promiscuous person. All of a sudden, I turned into a promiscuous person when I was married?
Look, I was bedridden. I was recovering from an accident. I wasn’t even working at that time. I got fully recovered in 2007. I wonder when I had the time to do all of that.
Maybe the accident was what changed your attitude to life.
I believe it was God that saved me from the accident. I am a Christian and I am born again. I am still alive because of the grace of God and what He wants to do in my life.
I am closer to God. I should be closer to Him. He was the one that saved me. He gave me all the visions that I have now. For some people, just a little thing would happen to them and they die. But I am alive. I had a major accident. I had my face ripped off and I had a broken leg. But everything came back together. What am I supposed to do if not to give glory to Him?
Is it not sad that you have a lot of scandals following you?
It is because I never had any scandals following me before people dwelt on the so-called scandals that came up. There hadn’t really been anything to write about me. It is part of the business.
You seem to think that all these happened because somebody wanted to smear your reputation.
I think so. I am a very responsible person, and I hope to do a lot of positive and responsible things in the future. I don’t want my reputation to be messed up.
Did the scandals get to you?
They didn’t get to me. At first, I laughed them off. Later on, I felt it was not funny at all. I just feel this is malicious. What was he thinking? It was just the thoughts behind those write-ups that got me angry.
Do you have regrets?
In life, you meet different kinds of anguish; you go through a lot, but you should not allow them to get you down. Just keep moving and hold on to God. Don’t allow anybody to pull you down. If you have a vision, just work at it.
As young as you are, your marriage has already crashed after just a few years…
I am not sad. I am actually happy that as a young person, I could leave the union I was not happy in. A lot of people are into relationships they don’t even know how they would come out of. But I could actually stand and say this is not good for me, and I walked out of it. With that, I don’t have any regret.
So you believe that if a marriage is not working, a woman should just walk away from it?
No, I don’t believe in that. There is a whole lot of controversy in that. You need to do things the right way.
Don’t you think the fact that your marriage did not work out could affect you in the future?
I don’t think so. If you are having fears for me, please don’t bother. I am a wonderful person, and I think I deserve better things. I treat people nicely; I should expect nice things to come to me as well.