Chioma Toplis is a Nollywood screen diva who has been married to a white man for 18 years. She says her marriage cannot crash because she is the pillar of her home. This mother of three who has featured in several movies tells Adaeze Amos in this interview her lifestyle and how she handles negative stories about her.
What is the latest about you now?
I don’t have anything new. I’m still the same Chioma. It’s just that I have clocked 40 and I’m thrilled about it because they say life begins at 40. I’m trying to remain delectable and keep looking good.
What do you do to look good?
I don’t have anything special but I do the normal things a woman should do. I make sure I cleanse my face and wash off the make-up before going to bed. I also exfoliate my face and my body but I don’t normally go to spa regularly. It is honestly necessary to look good even at 40. I don’t regularly go to the gym. I just do it once in a while but I watch what I eat. This is necessary, especially when one is getting older. You need to watch what you eat because the body system keeps changing..
You have children. How do you combine motherhood with acting?
I’m a mother of three; my son will be 19 years old soon anyway. My youngest child will be 13 soon. I have been doing this (combing both) since 2004. This means I have been doing this for 10 years and I have been coping. My children and my hubby have come to understand that this is what I really want to do and they have been so supportive. My husband, in particular, has been so supportive although he has been here and there. He is no longer in London. He is now in Kuwait working. He has always been like that working here and there. But we talk all the time on the phone and.
It was written sometime ago that your marriage was in turbulence. What actually happened?
I won’t answer this question. I wouldn’t want to comment on this. I will allow people to continue to believe whatever they believe. I am tired of talking about this marriage issue all the time. The earlier people start believing that the marriage is broken, the better for us all. I would allow them believe that my marriage is broken, so they won’t come out with the same news all the time. My stand here is anyone who believes that my marriage is broken, so be it, and if they have it in mind that it is still intact, all well and good.
Many would want to know the truth from you because a lot of negative stories had been written about you. Also your entry into Nollywood raised a lot of dust, any regrets about being an actress?
I have made up my mind that I’m not going to say anything about this anymore. I have said a lot about my marriage being intact, yet the rumour still keeps coming. It hurts me that every time I come around t h e country, this issue would be brought up. Scandalous news hurts, especially when it is not true. What I usually do is to ignore such stories. Whatever anybody says about me does not bother me. It is painful that some people take delight in painting others black even when you are nice to them. It hurts that negative stories come from those I have helped, including those I call my friends. Well, such is life and it must move on. I have so many regrets in life, things that made me feel bad and low as a human being but then I still forge on.
Divorce is rampant in Nollywood. Are you afraid you would experience same someday?
Not for me, no matter how rampant it is, it would never come to me. I’m sure of the man I’m married to. That is why I’m not bothered when I read stories that my marriage has crashed. If you tell my hubby that I’m leaving him today, he will commit suicide because I’m the pillar of my home. I stand firm to say that I don’t see my marriage crashing. Let people say whatever they like, my hubby would not leave me. It is me that would decide whether to leave him or not. I will never leave him because he pampers me silly. Do you know my hubby cooks for me? Since 18 years we have been married, he is the one that cooks for me to eat.
Don’t you think people would think you used black magic power to hold him?
Yes, people have said so. They once said I used juju to hold him and I laughed and said yes, the juju is working. My hubby loves me a lot and some friends who know this even envy me. My cousins who visit me once in a while feel uncomfortable when they see my hubby in the kitchen cooking because it is not common with Africans. My hubby is a white man.
What I am doing right to have this kind of man glued to me is the grace of God anyway. it is not by my power. We have been married for close to two decades. The secret is in God’s hands. Then communication is also necessary. I’m always communicating with him. When relationships lack communication, problem may set in.
Could you tell us more about your husband?
My husband has not been able to manage with Nigerian food. You know I’m Igbo, from Umuahia, Abia State. I have tried making him eat our kind of food, but he couldn’t because he doesn’t like our food. Likewise, I don’t like their food. In this case, mutual understanding is the key. English people eat more of potatoes all the time. I don’t like potatoes and he doesn’t like my own type of food. But my kids like African foods.
When some Nigerians see ladies that marry whites, they wonder whether they are not man enough. Reach out to such men? Do you think white men are better lovers and husbands?
I have never sat down to weigh them but from my own point of view, I feel that everybody has got where God has destined them to be. If God has destined your marriage to be with a white man, you can’t change it. I think it has to do with destiny. Whether white men or black, we are all human beings and we are all equal. I don’t think anyone is better than the other because of colour. I have two of my sisters who are married to Nigerians and they are living well.
How did your parents feel when you brought home a Briton as your fiancé? And given their culture, are you comfortable with that?
They didn’t feel bad because I come from an educated family. They didn’t take that as anything. They accepted him as a human being. They believe that anywhere you find your love is where you go. The whites mind their business a lot. They are not nosy over people’s affairs. Meanwhile, they don’t have any culture, so you do anything you like as long as you don’t harm anybody. You are cool to go
If you should re-live your life, would you still marry a white?
Yes, I would marry a white man a hundred times. I have been with him for 18 years and I’m still enjoying my marriage.
Why do you wear cleavage-revealing tops a lot?
My husband approves them all. He likes such tops and he doesn’t see anything bad about such tops. That is why when people condemn my style, I don’t talk because he likes it and he wants me to wear such tops. Even up till now he loves to see me in cleavage-revealing tops or whatever you call it. My hubby calls me Funky Mama. I know I can’t go out naked but I only flaunt what can be exposable. I flaunt my legs, my cleavage. But I will start covering up a bit because I’m getting older now. I have stopped flaunting a little bit. My style has changed a bit because of my age. We have to dress our age, remember? Now that I’m getting older, I still have to dress funky but cover a little bit.
Is your hubby a funky man too?
No, he is not really funky. He is not the outgoing type, but I am.