Exclusive: Uche's Career, Her Love For Shoes, & How She Met Her Husband
On May 16, 2012 Uche got married to her beau Kenney Rodriguez at a private beach wedding on the Island of Puerto Rico. Her wedding which took many by surprise has been the talk of the town for several weeks.
In this exclusive interview with Adeola Adeyemo, Uche speaks about having the wedding of her dreams, her husband, her career and more.
Uche is still basking in the euphoria of her wedding. She is happy as she speaks about it, laughs at the pictures, and has a special glow when speaking about her husband. But aside from the excitement of her wedding, chatting with her reveals a bubbly and intelligent personality; someone that has had an interesting career climb and has a lot to share with the world.
Hi Uche. It’s been a bit of a task getting you to sit down for this interview. You seem to have been very busy lately. What have you been up to?
We are trying to clear out. We have some productions from my production company, Uche Jombo Studios so I’m basically doing more of post-production work. My Life My Damage, we are looking at starting the tour in September. And i’m working on another comedy which I was the co-executive producer with Desmond Elliott. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I’m happy to say that the special effects are coming out as expected.
Tell me about some of the movies we should be expecting to see you featured in soon.
Mrs Somebody, a comic look at the pressure to get married in the everyday Nigerian society by Emem Isong. Holding Hopes, Broken Silence which has Uti Nwachukwu and Tonto Dikeh. Also Ikenna, an epic is coming out soon. I also just finished a film, Misplaced Affections.
I read somewhere that you’re affiliated with a Reality TV Show, Nollywood Search in the UK. What is your role in it?
It’s organized by Nollywood Uncut. I got interested in their script. It’s not my show per say but whoever wins will work with us.
Your movie, Damage has been out for over a year now. How has the reception been?
It’s been fantastic. We are also online where people can pay to watch it on www.damagemovie.com. We are also going to upload soon on DVD.
Damage is a trilogy. We are on the second one now which is My Life My Damage which is about drugs and HIV. It is more student friendly so we are thinking of doing a proper tour for Nigerian Universities outside the premiere because it is that kind of movie.
Now Uche, please take me back to the beginning of your acting career. How did you step into shoes of an actress?
I know it sounds like a cliché but it was just about being at the right place at the right time. It was almost like a challenge. I was asked “Can you act?” I was like “Yes I can” and I was given a script to read even though that was not what I went there for. That is how I got my first role from Fidelis Duker in 1999. Eventually, the movie, Visa To Hell came out in 2000.
How has the journey been so far? What encouragement would you give to people just starting out in their acting career?
I’d like to say it’s been rosy but that is not how it was. It’s been a struggle but by God’s grace, it’s been a successful story. I always tell people starting that it’s always about self belief because in this business you are going to get lots of no’s before you get the yes’. But don’t be discouraged. Work more on your craft and self confidence.
You started out acting mostly ‘Tom Boy’ roles but have now grown to the leading ‘Diva’ kind of roles. Tell me about your career growth.
I’m one of those people who would be right if I say I started from a very humble beginning in my career. I did lots of supporting roles and behind the scenes. I think to be consistent at what you do, at a point you should work on yourself more.
I’m in love with the art. It was never about money or fame with me. I can’t count how many movies I did without payment. So when you pursue whatever you do with a passion and the love you have for it, it might not be that lucrative at the beginning but at the end of the day, every other thing follows. That’s how it’s been for me.
Did your ‘Tom Boy’ status in movies then have anything to do with what you were like when growing up?
I was not an easy child. I did everything teenagers do but probably more. My mother was so scared that she had to enroll me in a church drama group and quarterly they give the best drama student scholarship so three years out of my secondary school was paid for by the church. She did that because I was always either trying to play ball with boys or climbing trees.
That is funny. What is your educational background like?
I read Mathematics and Statistics as my first degree at University of Calabar and Computer Programming as my Post Graduate Diploma at Federal University of Technology, Minna.
You have two degrees and decided to put it aside for acting? Why?
Acting is a way of life. For me, acting is something you are born with. It’s either you are born with it or you’re not. I have a friend who is a graduate of Theater Arts. She cannot act to save her life so it’s really not about what you have read. It’s looking at how you can be useful to yourself and the society.
I watched a show once where the camera had a peek into your wardrobe and showed that you have quite a large number of shoes…
Shoes was one of my guilty pleasures but now it’s equipment for my work.
Why do you have this love for shoes?
Because I am short. I am five feet four inches. And then, someone said to me once, “if you don’t have the height you can just buy it.” I do not own one pair of flats.
Growth & Controversies
A number of Nigerian actors are spreading their wings into the Hollywood scene. Do you have any plans to do something similar to that?
I’ve always said I won’t go to Hollywood, Hollywood will come to us. It’s not about up and going to Hollywood to look for roles. Do you know how many actors are jobless in Hollywood? Lots of them. You cannot be more American than the American, you can only be you. What makes us peculiar is that we are African people, telling African stories to Africans. It’s about Hollywood coming to us because there is a void which we are going to fill.
You are one of the few Nollywood actresses to clinch a Glo Ambassador deal. How did you get it?
I got it like every other person. They did profiles for some actors and they called. At first I thought it was a joke.
As a celebrity, you might have been sometimes misinterpreted or wrongly accused by the media. What is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever read or heard about yourself?
The abortion one, the one I am in court for. It was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard about myself. You don’t say someone lost weight because they aborted a six-month pregnancy. That is actually not intelligent because when people are pregnant, they actually add weight. I lost weight for a movie ‘Holding Hope’ and that’s what started the whole thing.
And also the one I heard now that I did a nose job. Of all the things I could do to my body, is it my nose I would want to fix? Sometimes, you pick up a paper and the only truth you read there about yourself is your name.
That was a long time ago. How long has the case been in court?
We’ve been in court for over two years but it’s OK, I have the time.
Is the publication still being circulated?
It’s still on but I intend to close it even if it’s the last thing I do.
On a lighter note now, if you were stuck on a lonely island, what three things would you love to have with you?
My Bible, my water and my husband.
What is your favourite colour?
It used to be black and then I didn’t know when it came to blue. I just go with the flow, I don’t really have a favourite colour now.
Do you cook often?
Yes but not as often as I want to.
What meal do you have the biggest challenge with when cooking?
If I have challenge about cooking a particular meal, I just won’t cook it. Cooking has to be fun for me. It has to be something I know I can make.
Tell me something most people don’t know about you?
I have Insomnia. I called my producer up one time and she was sounding very sleepy and then I checked the time and it was past two am. I had no idea. When people say they have time changes affecting them, not me. I just write or I am in the studio.
The news has been buzzing for a while that you got married in Puerto Rico last month, but you’ve been quiet about it. Why?
Because I have an exclusive publication already on that and eventually, BN would also have it. I also don’t want it to just be all over the place. The whole point was doing something that is totally unexpected. People were busy writing what they didn’t know. I have a right to say this is the information I want out and this is the information I don’t want out. Also because it has stopped being me and now us, we have to continuously agree to how we want stuff done. I am from a different background and my partner is from a different background. We just wanted to savour the moment.
I’m itching to hear more about your wedding. Was it a fairy tale kind of wedding?
It was exactly the kind of wedding I wanted. Every bride has a dream wedding. I had always wanted that kind of simple beach wedding. I went on vacation last year in Puerto Rico Island and I loved it and I said I would like to come back there for my wedding.
Tell me about your husband. Where is he from? How did you meet him?
Contrary to what i’ve been hearing in the media, he is American and not from Puerto Rico. He has been to Puerto Rico twice and those times were with me. Once on vacation and then we went back for our wedding. He is a New Yorker, he works and lives in New York.
Also, contrary to what I’ve been hearing that I met him online, no I did not. He came to talk to me about some business venture and that’s how we started talking. I met him through a mutual friend who is his business partner.
What attracted you to him?
His positive energy, it’s amazing.
How long did you date before getting married?
Not up to a year. I met him last year.
Was there any particular reason why Desmond Elliott was the only Nollywood star that attended your wedding?
He is one of my oldest friends in Nollywood. I don’t know anybody as long as I’ve known Desmond in Nollywood.
Were you able to have most of your family members in Puerto Rico to share your memorable day with you?
No, not everybody.
What is the most romantic thing your husband has ever said or done for you?
He is not like anybody I’ve met before. He is certainly the most romantic person I’ve ever met in my whole life, needless to say that is why I married him.
Wow, that’s really sweet. How did he propose to you?
He actually proposed twice! The first time, we just continued talking. The second time, we went jet skiing and I was so scared. The water was so deep, you had to swim like eight feet into the water to get to the bike. I consider myself a very good swimmer but that day, the tides kept pushing me back. By the time I got there, I was so mad, I said “I am so going to kill you” and he said “why don’t you just marry me and then you can kill me afterwards”. And I was like “very funny”, and he said “you haven’t given me an answer”. That was when I knew. Since I didn’t kill him there I said I was going to go back to that exact beach and have our wedding there.
You’re here in Nigeria and he is back in America. How are you coping with the long distance separating you both?
It’s not really long distance because I’m only here when I’m working. When I’m not working, I’m with him.
I know it’s been just over a month now but how has married life been for you so far?
Well, we just started so we are still at that point where everything is rosy.
Is there going to be any name change for you?
There was in the marriage license but because I’m a brand, in order not to confuse people, you can still call me Uche Jombo. Uche Jombo and Mrs. Rodriguez are two different people. One is the brand and one is the wife.