Screen icon Monalisa Chinda is one of the A list actresses in Nollywood with a great depth and acting prowess that spans over 2 decades . Asides acting, she is a producer with few blockbusters in her kitty, a UN Ambassador, runs ARISE foundation and the brain behind the popular TV talk Show You & I With Monalisa .The ageless beauty is now Mrs. Coker! Last week, she tied the knot traditionally with her husband Victor Tonye Coker in a grand ceremony that shook the entire city of Port Harcourt and preparations are also in top gear for her white wedding ceremony which is scheduled to hold in Greece, in two months. In an exclusive interview with City People Head of Movie VIVIAN ONUORAH , the light skinned beauty shares her love story with her prince charming, among other interesting topics.
How do you feel being married to your husband Victor?
It’s not just about how I feel but the fact that God has given me another chance to be happy again .I am excited on this new chapter in my life. Being single is really not the best especially when you have reached a certain stage in life. You want love, companionship, someone you can call a real friend, a partner that will share the lows and highs with you, and create new experiences with. For me, marriage has always been the option.
How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband a long time ago though then he was like an uncle, that was in the 80s when I was 14yrs old. He was a family friend who used to visit us a lot and I also used to go to his house to see his dad and his kid sister who was my best friend then. I used to say to him “ hello uncle what did you buy for me today” and all that. I grew up and also kept in contact with the family until after a while naturally we all lost contact. My best friend then, his sister , went to the University of Lagos and I went to University of Port Harcourt.
When you were 14 then, how old was he?
He was in his early 20s, either 21 or so.
So how did you get back in touch?
After so many years, he resurfaced again last year .
How actually did you feel when you saw him again, how did you two get to this level suddenly?
I think he has always known what he wanted, that’s his secret. He had always told his father and siblings that this is the kind of woman I want to share my life with but you know how life is. Some dreams can take years to come through. I think God kept him focused on me in his own way. I guess he used to watch me on television when he was abroad because he would always say “Oh that’s my little baby o” And he came back and he went straight to the business of marriage. And that was it.
How did he then propose to you?
He didn’t propose, he just called me and said “Lisa I have come for you,you are my wife”. I said Uncle Ola how? And he said “don’t call me uncle, I am not your uncle, I am now your husband.” I got angry and didn’t talk to him again for a while because I didn’t understand what he meant by calling me his wife, as I wasn’t thinking about settling down as at then. Marriage was the last thing on my mind, so I was thrown aback and wondered what the heck was going on. Then I was summoned to come to Port Harcourt to see his dad and coincidentally, I found out that he had never brought any woman to introduce to his dad before.
That means he was single?
Yes he was single. I am the first person (and the last) he is getting married to. He has never been married. He took me to his dad and when I came to visit, and it was obvious they had discussed it already. That was just how it started. Before I knew what was happening, introduction was done and the rest is history.
When was that?
December 28th 2015 precisely. I knew I didn’t want to make a mistake again ever, I fasted and prayed, he did same too and everybody joined in this prayer even my reverend. I kept asking God if He was sure this is the right time and at the end of the day, here we are today.
What do you love most about him?
I love his confidence; it surpasses everything, then his love for God is amazing. He is not just somebody that just wants to pray just because he wants to marry, he truly loves God. He is a man that will wake me up in the middle of the night no matter where he is and say lets pray together, a man that loves me for who I am not for what I have become, a man that wants to support my work. A lot of men may love their wives but may not be in support of their profession, but he loves what I do. I told him that I wasn’t going to give up my profession but it turned out this is what he has always wanted.
What about his physical looks?
He is very cute and dark (laughs) you know I love dark skin. Then I love his smiles, he laughs a lot. He is also a very simple guy and still looks at me like a child he knew back then. He is my best friend and that’s what I have always been looking out for. I respect him a lot.
What about your daughter, how does she feel about him?
They are practically in love with each other, in fact that was one of my motivating factors to accept him because he loves my daughter and treats her as his own.
Your white wedding comes up in Greece in two months time, why did you choose Greece?
I have always been a lover of Victorian age and Greece has a lot of theatrical setting and theme around it, and I am a theatre person. Greece is what I have always wanted though I don’t know why am so connected to it. I love the Greek ambience .My husband wanted Brazil but I feel Brazil is a place for vacation.
How many kids do you wish to have?
As much as God blesses me with, I want to have more children for my husband, he deserves it.
Asides your marriage let’s talk about your TV show, You & I with Monalisa, how has it been going?
You & I is still on, and we are about to launch the second season in a big way. We took a break because of the wedding preparations but we are back.
What were the challenges you had at inception?
Sponsorship was and is still a challenge although we have corporate organizations that have bought in. Also, people were not quick to accept that I could be a talk show presenter. They want me only in the actress box, but “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. It took a lot of convincing but gradually people are connecting with the show and that makes me happy.
What does it require for people to be part of your audience?
Nothing, just look good and be able to interact. Also it’s a platform for networking, helping people especially the youth achieve their dreams and connecting them with mentors.
What about movies, what’s happening on that front for you?
I am still an actress, I can’t throw away my passion because of the show. and It’s a recorded show not a live one, so I am still able to do other things.
Can you talk about the Arise Monalisa Foundation you started few years back, what happening to it?
It’s still connected to the You & I. The Foundation has always been part of me. In fact I grew up catering for people. My dad died while catering for people, and my mum has taken over. She is 72 years old now and all she does is charity work. She does so through her ministry, evangelism, and counseling.
Arise foundation started specifically for autistic children but I realised that there are other people and children who need special attention. So I used this platform as my own way of catering for them with the little money I have. There is no funding from anyone, it’s my own money and I try as much not to relent. One of our activities for this year is supplying drugs and medical aid to orphanages. We try as much as possible to provide these things and work with other charitable organizations.
What’s the secret of your good looks?
I don’t know, I think I am like fine wine, the older I get, the better I look.
Did you get your complexion from your mum or dad?
My grand dad was as light skinned as I am till he passed on. I really don’t know but maybe it’s what I eat, or the fact that I no longer go under the sun. I drive from my house to office and back and all that.
Do you exercise?
Yea I do that a lot but I prefer dancing and stretching. I have a personal trainer who comes to the house to take me on that. I dance for 2 hrs regularly.
Photo credit: Daniel Sync