When in 1998 Obey Etok-Chima came with her coursemates to Lagos for an excursion from the Department of Theatre Arts, Imo State University (IMSU) and landed a role in the blockbuster movie; ‘Camouflage’ little did she know that she is going to be a hit in tinsel town. After the event, Obey, a name she later became popular with, stayed back a while for more jobs before she went back, graduated and became a household name in Nollywood.
Her role as Sandra in one of the Wale Adenuga television series, No Pain, No Gain of the Super Story fame shot her to limelight and some of her works include Aristos, From A Distance, Edima, Disguised, Power of Love, Two in Love, My Promised Land, Nsuto-Anwan among others. With contemporaries like Rita Dominic, Jennifer Eliogu, Genevieve Nnaji among others, Obey who hails from Ikot-Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State and happily married took a long break to attend to family matters, now she is fully back and ready to blast as she told SAM ANOKAM in this chat.
What actually happened; did you totally leave acting?
For the records I did not totally leave acting. Family set in and I had to raise my kids as I didn’t have any house help. The country is bad. It is not as it used to be before that you can leave your children with your neighbours. News abound of house helps with evil intentions. And I don’t want to be a victim. I am scared about things like that. I have heard about a lot of negative things about how it happened to my friend. Even my colleague in the industry was a victim. A house help poisoned one of the children who died. I had to take care of them.
Even in the midst of all taking care of my home, I was still doing some jobs.
When you are married to a typical Igboman, it is not everybody that understands what you do. Most Igbomen want their wives to do business. But they don’t understand that that is not your calling. My husband was like he was going to support my passion at first. You know when a man is looking for something he will tell you whatever, when you now enter, what you think would happen may not begin to happen. Igbomen usually want a hundred per cent attention on their children. They do not joke with them at all.
Then, I had a boutique but it didn’t progress as I expected. Then I began to sell things. My husband is based abroad and he usually ships things. Whenever he does, I distribute to supermarkets, still, I wasn’t happy.
Are you now fully back to the industry?
Yes. My husband has seen that all the things he set up for me, I wasn’t exceling in them. There is nothing like having passion for what you love doing with happiness even when the money is not there. You find out that being in the midst of your colleagues, you are just happy. He has seen that that particular thing that I have been talking about is what gives me joy, even if there is nothing coming in from it. So, he has no choice than to allow me do my thing and especially now that my kids are a bit grown up. I actually started in December with a movie. The next one is supposed to have been with Ernest Asuzu. Unfortunately, he is dead. That one is gone. However, I have been having offers, I am waiting for time to begin shoot.
When did you partially left acting?
I would say it was when the former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio invited us to Uyo. That was when Samuel Peters won his boxing bout. On my return from Uyo, I realized that there were not much job in the industry, I went back to Uyo and started work in an oil firm. In 2008, I, Emen Isong, Ini Edo, Darling Benson went to the United States to represent Akwa Ibom actors for an event.
When I returned this time, I got married and started having my children.
When are you producing your movie?
I did a soap opera in 2014. We are still waiting for it to sell. You know how these things are. We need sponsors and with that we could do more. However, there is plan underway for movie production soon.
Are you happy with the way the film industry has progressed or retrogressed from when you were very active and now?
Formerly, government pretended that it had no business with the industry and everyone was doing their thing on their own. It is not that government has fully done much but during the time of President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Akpabio, they really supported the industry. And the industry boomed. Even other governors became interested, after seeing the potential which the industry is capable of. We were everywhere. Well, it could be better.
How was growing up like?
My growing up was interesting. I grew up in a disciplined and hardworking home. My father was a disciplinarian and I thank God that my parents impacted that culture of discipline in me, even then when I used to behave like a tomboy. I would say I had a solid foundation.
Who really influenced your going into acting?
Liz Benson did it for me. I always wanted to be like her. I admired the way she acts and I get delighted watching her on screen. She greatly inspired my going into the Nollywood business.
What movie were you popular with?
It was the Wale Adenuga Super Story drama when I played the part of ‘Sandra’ in No Pain, No Gain. It was an emotional and challenging drama. I played the part of a rich man’s daughter that fell in love with Richard who unknown to her used her to become wealthy. It was quite emotional for me.
What are your hobbies?
I love football. My Club is Barcelona. I used to play football as a kid. I also enjoy watching movies, house chores and cooking.