The delectable fair complexioned graduate of English and Literary Studies from the University of Port Harcourt said although it wasnít easy at the beginning, now, there is no week that you would not see her on screen.
With three beautiful children, Okpoko who loves wearing low cut spoke about her fledgling career, how she nearly relocated to England after a heartbreak, an accident that threatened her career, and lots more.
I have always had the flair for acting but I never really got that push to move on. I did a couple of commercials in the late 90s. At a point, I got involved in some sort of getting together with a group, the lady in charge was supposed to shoot a soap. Clarion Chukwurah, Paul Obazele, Sola Sobowale and Liz Benson were al there. All of a sudden she said she was travelling to America to get sponsors. I canít remember her name now. I gave up on it but I had this friend of mine who was working with Media International, Collins Onomo who was trying to push me to doing one thing or the other like acting or modelling. I didnít take it seriously each time he came, it was either I had travelled out of Lagos or that I was not in. Even when I came back, I still really didnít bother.
All of a sudden, one day in 2000, I used to work with a bank, Premier Commercial bank after which I also worked with a telecommunication organisation in Ikoyi, Lagos. I disengaged from the job in 2004 and started buying and selling. I even had a canteen in a construction site. After sometime, I got tired. In 2007, there is this lady, Chinyere Uba who called for an audition in her place at Airforce Mess, Kofo Abayomi and I had a family I used to visit there, my friend Imaculata. She studied Mass Communication and is also interested in acting. We went for the auditioning in one of the apartments there. Leo Slabus was part of it too. Then they came to the National Theatre for another big audition. The audition was held and I left, but everything came to naught at the end of the day.
In 2008, I decided to go into it fully. I had an accident that actually made me draw back for a while. Later I decided to try my luck again. One day in a bus, I met a guy and we got talking. He told me he has a friend, Omoh Weeks and his girlfriend, Ijeoma Imo, that he would introduce me to them. We came to Winnis and he introduced them to me. We sat down and we got talking. Ijeoma was trying to be helpful but since she couldnít get me into the system within as I wanted, she told me to go to PEFTI at Oshodi but I didnít go. I left again, went back home in 2009. I travelled and came back. By November, I decided to go again.
Before then I had a girlfriend called Gabriella from Congo. She said she knows Chidi Nwokeabia, that she wanted to go to his office. We went to Chidiís office and met with Simeoni, Chidiís PM then. We got talking. He is a nice chap. My friend has a problem with accent, she is not fluent in English but good in French. We were invited to Yaba behind the National Library. At the end of the day, we did an executive waka pass in Champions Of Our Time which has won more than 10 awards. What really thrilled me was that there were big stars like Joke Silver, Charles Inojie, Segun Arinze, Ejike Asiegbu, Bimbo Akintola and Ngozi Ezeonu. That was what really tripped me. And I was meant to be Bimbo Akintolaís friend. I didnít say anything but you would only see reactions. It was really fantastic. I enjoyed myself. From there, I started coming out, I went for an audition at Osofiaís office in late 2009.
I was new in the industry. Then there was a vote, between myself and Liz Ibeh. She got a lot of votes but at the end of the day, I got the lead role as a landlady with two daughters. I was so shocked to get the role in the soap entitled, Neighbours. It wasnít easy coming from the Island everyday to Surulere for a couple of days but I enjoyed myself.
I have featured in about six like Hearts of Darkness, my very first movie, they put me on the jacket, they put me on pack. Then Princess Of The Night, Holy Fool, Mr. President, Breaking The Norms-soaps- Dear Mother, A Love Like Ours, Living In Lagos, Clinic Matters, Tegaís Place and Daughters of Eve.
There is no week that you wonít see me on television.
Between work and family
I have a househelp who take care of the kids. When I decided to go into film business, my husband blessed my first script.
Most challenging role
Hearts of Darkness was quite challenging. I wasnít meant to be the lead actress because I played alongside Patience Ozokwor. The script given to me was just a sheet and I kept on asking the PM what Iím going to do. To my amazement, I was given a few lines to say. Later, the producer called me, Bob Anosike, the Director, also called me to play the role of mistress. I said to them I would try. They gave me the script there and we did the first scene. It was one girl that said to me that was good that the director liked it. I was told to go on to the next scene. It was quite challenging.
I wouldnít want to be nude in a movie for anything.
The low cut style has been on me since 2004. I just wanted a new look. Nothing happened. I donít intend to change now.
Coping with men
I can be very diplomatic. I am not a harsh person. Even if a man walks up to me and say, oh, you are beautiful, I want to date you. I would say o, Iím so sorry my dear I am married, I have children. On an average in a week, I get two people come up to me to want to date me.
I am very close to guys. I donít keep female friends as such. The closest friend I have in the industry is Ijeoma Imo, though she gets me pretty upset most times. I can tolerate a guy more than I can tolerate a woman.
Our industry is growing. It is better than it used to be because of technology. So many things have really changed, even our picture quality. It has improved including the sound quality. Initially, it is just a camera, all these old fashion ones, but with evolution and new technology, some use about two or more cameras to shoot.
Advantage of plus size
Good things, maybe because of my size. I command a bit of respect. I get roles. People look at me first before they allocate roles to me.
I have heard but I have not come across anyone of them yet. They wonít approach me. They know who they are looking for, not somebody like me.
It was quite good. We are four in the family; three boys and a girl. I am the only female and I am the last. I grew up in my mumís place. She is a West Indian from Jamaica. We grew up there and here. I travel abroad a lot.
My mum stays in England. My dad is here in Nigeria but spends half the year in England. My dad is a retired judge. I have two brothers in England. I love my parents a lot. I canít exchange them for anything.
There was a time I wanted to leave Nigeria but I got married. I wanted to stay in England for good because I wanted to be close to my mum. I was heartbroken so I wanted to leave. The guy says I broke his heart but he actually broke my heart. Nigerian guys break your heart so badly. Sometimes, they rip you off especially if you are nice. We have the good guys though. Some of us who have tasted the western world tend to bend over for guys. We tend to sacrifice for guys, believe me, but the guys tend to take you for granted. They think you are a fool because you could earn N30,000 and you give him like N28,000 and he thinks this one doesnít know anything. But that is what love is all about. Most Nigerian men donít know anything about love.
We broke up. We were engaged but I felt he wasnít completely honest and he did what I didnít like, so I called in the police. I gave him some money to keep for me for my rent when I was staying in Aguda and he spent it. Then he was trying to find his feet. I felt really bad because I was doing a whole lot for him.
It was a horrible accident. It happened on May 15, 1994. It was a period when we had a long holiday. My colleague and I were working together. Then, I was staying alone in Aguda. We joined him, myself and the cleaner. When we got to Masha in Surulere, there was a dual carriage so, I took off my glasses to see with him. As we were descending, I now shouted his name and the next thing I saw was a blackout. The vehicle somersaulted five times, so the onlookers said. By the time I opened my eyes, I was upside down and I crawled out and realised that my hands were dangling. I actually had a broken wrist and damaged tendons. It was a good Samaritan that helped me, if not, I would have been dead because I lost a lot of blood. Nobody died.