#LLAInterview: “I wish someone had told me how important “No” was, I wouldn’t have taken a lot of rejections so personal.” Leading Ladies Africa Meets Lota Chukwu.

Widely known for her role as “Kiki” in the popular sitcom series “Jennifer’s Diary”, Nigerian Actor- Lota Chukwu shares with Leading Ladies Africa her other creative pursuits and professional recommendations for young women who want to make an impact in the Nigerian Media and Entertainment Industry.

Hi Lota, it’s great to have you on LLA. So tell us, who is Lota Chukwu? (We would like to hear the goofy stuffs too)

Thank you for having me, I am really honored. Lota Chukwu is a small city girl who is trying to make her way in this big city of Lagos amidst the flashing lights. I am an actor and a food show creator and host. I love cooking, reading books, watching Tv, writing and spending time in nature.

Great! So what was growing up like?

Growing up was fun. I grew up in Benin city which is a really small city compared to the hustle and bustle of Lagos. I wasn’t allowed to play outside a lot so I spent my time drawing, cooking, climbing trees and being very mischievous. I spent a lot of time outdoors doing geeky stuff and reading novels.

Still on childhood and upbringing, what core values formed in you would you say you are most grateful for and how has it shaped the woman you have become.

One of the values that were instilled in me at a young age was “a good name is the greatest form of wealth”. My parents always had hammered in us and it has stuck with me, I think it was very important to them that I understood that. I was raised to understand that money isn’t everything and even today, money is the last thing I consider before I make a decision.

How did you set out in the Nigerian film industry? Was acting something you knew you wanted to do from the get-go? Share with us your career journey

Acting was something I decided quite late I wanted to do. I always wanted to do it, but I was too afraid to chase it because I didn’t know if I had what it took to become an actress. I also knew I had to make a lot of sacrifices, most of which looked scary at the time. After I went for the MBGN pageant, I realized I could actually do anything I set my mind to and that was where the journey began. I attended an acting school in Lagos to hone my talent and after that, I decided to make the biggest sacrifice of all: relocating to Lagos. It was an extremely difficult decision but one that has paid off.

What would you consider a life defining lesson; something you wished you knew earlier before setting out in the Nigerian media and entertainment industry?

I wish someone had told me how important “No” was, I wouldn’t have taken a lot of rejections at auditions so personal. I wish anyone had told me how difficult it was and how different it was from what we see on tv. I had no mentor before coming down to Lagos and I basically had to learn on the job. I had to learn that no matter how good I was, sometimes I’m just not what a producer is looking for and that’s neither a bad thing, nor something to make you think you aren’t good enough.

Let’s talk about your other creative pursuits- “Lota Takes” and “Lota Chow files”. What inspired their creation?

I am very passionate about food, the process and the end result. Over time, a lot of people have asked me to cook for them after seeing pictures of food on my social media accounts. My team and I decided to make it into a show and Lota Takes was birthed. Chow Files came about because I love learning and I love food, what better way to merge both than have chefs come on my show to teach the audience and I their specialties. Apart from cooking, the shows also, allows me to meet new people and I also get to network with quite a number of them.

Lota Chow Files has garnered quite a bit of following on Social Media, what would you say is the cutting edge of the show?

I love to think it’s the fact that we (the audience and I) get to spend time in a kitchen with actual chefs and food enthusiasts, learning how to make exotic meals. We learn how to make restaurant quality meals for free and I think that’s pretty awesome. Let’s talk briefly about professionalism and work ethic.

Can you share some professional recommendations for young girls looking to make impact in the Nigerian Media and Entertainment Industry

A lot of times, we get blinded by the show so much that we forget it’s actually a job. I think one of the most important things every girl coming into the industry must remember is that, acting is a profession. You have to treat it as a profession, same goes for musicians and every form of art. You must be disciplined and punctual. You must read your script and understand your character, immerse yourself totally into her. The lights are bright and they are flashing, but you must not let that distract you. Be respectful to everyone on set, cast and crew alike.

What is your greatest pet-peeve?

That’d be people who constantly run late. I believe they have no respect for something as valuable as time.

What advice do you have for that woman who has dreams but is crippled by self-limiting beliefs?

Just do it! Do it scared, do it afraid, but do it anyway. I know you might be scared that you’ll fall, but remember you might fly. If you fail 10 times, that’s 10 ways to not do it again.

The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa; an initiative that seeks to effectively mentor and inspire women, with particular emphasis on the African continent.

Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to lead@leadingladiesafrica.org and we just might feature her.

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