She is one precious and dazzling acting talent that any good producer who want an actress who acts with boundless enthusiasm would want to have in his show.
The first of six children born to an Ikwere father and an Igbo mum, Monalisa Chinda is one naturally endowed actress, who also studied and learnt the ropes and shot up to grade one status on the job.
She acts the rebellious female in her movies, clutching a smoldering cigarette, provocatively dressed and plotting the downfall of her next male victim. However, TV bad girl, Mona Lisa, has asked Nigerians not to judge her by the bitchy roles she acts on television.
“I smoke and flirt in movies… but that’s not real me,” she says.
“What people see on TV is the personae I have created. Up close I am a very private and quiet person. In my movies, I interpret roles that are true to life; I am a professional. These are characters we encounter everyday of our lives. There is the private me and a public me. The real me is this, I am well relaxed and at home and just lazing around,” Mona Lisa said.
“I am a very full Nigerian. I am not an half cast at all. My mum is Ibo and my dad is Rivers. I am a full blown daughter of the soil. My growing up was beautiful. I had everything money could possibly buy. My parents were fantastic. I am the eldest and first of six children.”
Born the first child in a family of six kids, Mona Lisa had what she described as a strict up-bringing. Her parents struck a balance between spoiling her and disciplining her. “They did not spoil me. I had a fantastic up bringing. I was the first child of six. I was handled with a lot of firmness though. My siblings did not have the kind of training and firmness I got. It has impacted on me today because I am morally sound. I thank God for that. It has helped my career a great deal.
“I started acting in 1992 when I was in school. I began at NTA, Aba, on the set of a soap opera. My first home video was in 1996. I did Pregnant Virgin alongside Ejike Asiegbu. Then we were at the University of Port Harcourt.
“After I graduated from school where I studied Theatre Arts, I did not know what to do for a while. I had my fingers in other pies. I shot a couple of movies but nothing really serious. It was my ex-husband that made me come back fully to acting in 2004. My parents were against my acting in the early days. Their mentality was that I should get a proper job in a bank or an oil company. My dad was particularly disappointed but I stuck to my guns. I was not a stubborn kid but I was determined. They are very happy today. Later they made a u-turn. Today, they are proud of me.”
Meanwhile, the actress who was married for five years revealed that her marriage ended because of incessant domestic violence.
“I didn’t walk out of my marriage, I practically ran out of it. The truth is that I really and truly respect my ex-husband, reason being that he is the father of my child. Because of posterity, I want to be very careful about the words I use in this interview. My marriage was far from normal. There were several cases of domestic violence on my person. Every other day, in fact, there was violence up and down. Screams, shouts and all these were driving me crazy because it was not normal. At a point, I started acting as if I was crazy. Sincerely speaking, at a point I started acting very abnormal.
“I wasn’t able to reconcile the fact that every time we have to sit and have a normal couple’s argument it escalates into violence. I didn’t see all these as a normal marriage; because I know what a normal marriage is all about.
“The violence was there even while we were courting, there were signs of it and we courted for four months.”
Asked why after seeing the signs she went ahead with the marriage, Mona Lisa said: “I went ahead because love covers all multitudes of sin. I thought that with maturity and age all that would stop, but it never did. Unfortunately, the more I thought of it, the more it dawned on me that my thoughts were mere wild imaginations. In fact, at some point, I started thinking that may be, it was me that was causing the violence. You know when you’ve been constantly subdued you then begin to ask yourself silly questions always. I kept asking and looking for what it was that I was not doing right.
“When it was beginning to look like I was going to die. I left finally, on July 10, 2009.
“I’m a child of God and I’m hugely blessed and have since moved on with my new lease of life.”
Mona Lisa’s divorce was finalized in December 2009.