She reminds me of Hedy Lamarr, an actress who is more than just the face on the screen. Someone that inspires others to be more than just a celebrity. Clara Nneka Oluwatoyin Folashade Chukwurah, popularly known as Clarion Chukwura, is not your regular celebrity actress. She is also a humanitarian, model, television personality, philanthropist, United Nations Peace Ambassador, Scriptwriter and Businesswoman.
Clarion Chukwura is a significant contributor to the Nigerian movie industry known as Nollywood. Today, Nollywood is a leading Movie Industry not just in Africa but also in the world as it has produced most of the finest African actors and actresses.
She is the first Nigerian to win the Best Actress award at FESPACO film festival in 1982. She has also won other awards such as the Afro-Hollywood Best Actress Award for Glamour Girls, the Lebatino Film Festival, the Mexico award for best actress, the Reel award for Best Actress and many more.
Born on 24 July 1964, she graduated with a degree in acting and speech from the Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria. She asserts herself as a clear example of the saying, “You can be all that you aspire to be as a woman”. Growing up in Nigeria, you would have come across her face many times, as she has been in the Nollywood industry for about 35 years and can be considered a veteran of the industry.
Her Life Twists
“People thought that once you’re pregnant, your life has ended. But there was this fighting spirit inside of me. And when I had my son, I said, ‘eh, we’ve started a journey.”
She lost her dad at 11 and this brought about a lot of change in her life. She once stated in an interview that after his death, “Everything fell apart”. Her mom did not entirely approve of her acting career while she was still a teenager, but her University journey helped her gain ground with her mom. Growing up and moving up in her career, she would have hoped to have a happy marriage and settle down just as any woman would hope for. Still, she experienced many failed marriages and became a popular gossip topic.
When she got pregnant with her son Clarence outside wedlock, many people turned against her and labelled her a slut. It forced her to see the true nature of many whom she thought was dear to her, and her mother threw her out. However, this never brought her down, and she kept waxing stronger in her career path, polishing herself along the way and asserting herself both in the Movie Industry and the Business world. She used all these experiences to mature, and today, her son is a renowned Nigerian Music Video Director.
“Another thing is my never-say-die spirit. I am not a quitter because the alternative is not for me. I cannot live a life of nobody”… Clarion Chukwura.
Despite many controversies against her, she never ceases to challenge any wrong that she sees in her industry. She has been known to firmly stand against how the award organizers often take advantage of entertainers. In a write-up about her by Vanguard, she stated, “The time has come for the Professional Guilds of Nollywood to take a unified and decisive action to stop the proliferation of award events that exploit the industry and do not add value to the practitioners/recipients”. She never backs down, and she keeps moving.
Her Humanitarian Work
Clarion Chukwura is a humanitarian and philanthropist. She was inspired to start Initiative International in 1999 because of her experience after her father’s death and during the beginning of her career. She felt what it meant to go down from being up, and she thought it necessary to reach out to people who were down. Her humanitarian work includes hosting seminars for youths, and later she engaged in orphanage support with the Arrows of God Orphanage and, to date, she still supports orphanage homes.
The Last Line
Going through her story, you see the storyline of an African girl who grew up with lots of difficulties. However, things never got easy, and she still receives lots of criticisms and slander from people about her lacking morals because of specific inadequacies in her life. She believes in God and says He is her driving force. Even though she is a widespread gossip discussion, she still stands strong and thinks she can attain greater heights.
She withstood the storm while looking forward to what awaited her at the shore…
Written By: Joyce C. Nwezeh Obi-Akejelu (Writer, Social media manager and graphic designer with Africa4AfricaWomen/Assert/PAWES).