You may be wondering who Chinenye Okwudili Balogun is because she may not be the regular name or face you come accross everyday. But alas, with what she is working on, her name will soon become a recurring decimal in the country’s movie business. Obviously her accomplishments speak volume as a lady with the Midas touch and an individual blessed to make a difference in her world. Imagine at a tender age in 2005, she emerged as the Teenager of the Year with her novel titled, LONELY HEART. While in the High School she was adjudged the best actress in all drama competitions and at that time she had established a drama club, the STARS. Not too long after her secondary education, she began to feature in big television dramas and soap operas.
Even as a married woman, Neye, as she is fondly called has continued to do what she knows how to do best. She sits atop a production company called TFC Productions based in Orlando, Florida, USA. The company is now set to storm the Nollywood with a world class movie, ‘All the Right Reasons’ in April.
According to the budding actress cum producer, ‘My journey into the creative industry started from my early years in life when I was seven years old. Then, I would gather my siblings and tell them folklores, most of which I created. Soon, it grew to including other children in the neighbourhood to hear my stories. As I got into the high school, from my JSS 1, I began to write and compile my stories and distribute them to classmates and friends who cared to read.
‘When I moved to Dansol High School in Lagos, I soon became very popular for my love for the Arts. I was also very committed to my church drama unit at the Redeemed Christian Church of God where I opened my own Drama club ’STARS.’ I wrote numerous poems while in school and won several awards. I was a very active member in the drama department and ultimately represented the school in various competitions. I graduated from the high school winning awards as the best actress. While in SSS2, I wrote a novel titled ‘Lonely Hearts,’ the novel got me the ’Teenager of The Year 2005’ award, organized by the Teens Resource Centre in Lagos state. I can recall that was published in major Nigerian newspapers. Later, I moved from school and club dramas to my first TV soap, ‘Arrested Intelligence.’”
Chinenye, who hails from of Ideato North local Government in Imo state was born in Jos but spent the better part of her childhood in Lagos with her parent said while in the University of Jos studying Law, she featured in her first big screen film, SITANDA sponsored by Amstel Box Office.
“While at the LeadCity University in Ibadan where I studied Law and also had a Bsc in International Relations, things began to go sour for my family because I can say I was born with a silver spoon but the travails of life took away that spoon from my family and we soon began swimming in the ugly riverside of life. Being the first of my siblings I have learnt to be independent and definitely didn’t want to burden my parents with the responsibility of taking care of me. I took to working with my hands; I would knit mufflers and jackets for people, make hair for other students; sell clothes, shoes and accessories to colleagues. Best of all was my knitting, God I remember nights I would stay and burn candles knitting into the wee hours of 3a.m – 5a.m and maybe catch a few hours’ sleep before going for lectures around 8am. Business was growing and I soon had my own label which I made and attached to any product I knitted. Alongside all these, I joined a dance group ‘Class de l’dance,’ where I did both ballet and contemporary dances. I performed in campus departmental events, weddings, churches, mothers’ day functions and the likes. So I can say that the biggest part of my life was circled around the film industry.
She said further: ‘My journey into the movie industry was both smooth and rough at the sametime, it was smooth because after my first appearance in Sitanda, a director ‘Emeka Hill Umeasor’ took interest in my talent. He was about to shoot a movie at the time ’Sins of Rachael,’ and I was a perfect match for the character. From there on he became like my guardian in the industry, he would feature me in his films, and even starred in ‘Bloody Gold.’ I began meeting more people who recognized my talent and also featured me in their movies and soaps like Mental Case, Blood Money, Ghost in Love, Victims of the Society, Secrets and Scandals, Happy Family, Ghost Lovers among others.
’‘On the other hand, it wasn’t so easy going for auditions where you had to stand in the sun, spend a whole day competing with thousands of other talented people. Sometimes you would get a role but if you can’t do the bidding of the director you would lose the part. Yes, the industry is filled with both good directors and opportunists who took advantage of young ladies and sometimes men trying to take advantage. But I would say I was blessed to get all the roles I got solely for my talent. My love for acting and prayers took me through many risks but honestly when you love something, you are almost blind to the risk. I even remember doing jobs where I didn’t get paid; I would play a major role, negotiate a fee and won’t get paid, but that didn’t deter me as I was in love with what I do.’
‘’ Combining all I was doing with my academics wasn’t easy, I remember shooting the Soap Opera Tinsel while I was writing my 400 Level Law exams. I would write a paper in the morning, catch the next bus to Lagos in the afternoon, do my scenes for the day, get on the next bus back to Ibadan while reading for my examinations. I was fulfilling my dreams, making a living for myself and ultimately keeping up a high GPA’ she enthused.
“While in school I met my husband when he came to visit one of the students he assisted, he tried to give me a ride with his flashy Mercedes Benz G55 AMG, but I refused his allures, he parked his jeep and started walking with me from the school gate all the way to my department which is quite a long distance. Little did I know he was soon to become the father of my beautiful princess. After my tertiary education, I relocated to join my husband in the US, where I decided to further my studies in Keiser University Florida and then went ahead to open a film production company, TFC PRODUCTIONS LIMITED, which was incorporated in July 2015 in Orlando, Florida, and recently completed the production of my first film “All the Right Reasons,” which would be hitting the cinemas soon.
“Lastly, God has been faithful! There is nothing as fulfilling as having your biggest fan, supporter, promoter, and friend as your spouse… it makes it easier to fulfill your dreams and conquer the world. I give God all the glory, it’s only being by His Grace.