By LAJU ARENYEKA
When actress Uru Eke met with Showtime Celebrity in Lagos recently, she wore a maxi dress and no make-up. Apart from designer glasses and a British accent, she seemed like your regular girl next door. The catch is, not many girls next door have been featured on CNN or nominated for the Best of Nollywood awards. Phase 1: Playful, childish and silly romantic, Phase 2: Talented actress who left a successful career in IT to follow her dream. Welcome to Uru Eke’s world of make-believe!
We learnt that you earned about ten times more in Information Technology than you do as an actress. Why did you leave your IT job for acting ?
It is all about passion. My job as an IT personnel was good. But if you’re doing something that you don’t find fulfillment in, then it’s not worth it. It would only be a matter of time before you’d try and find something that gives you joy. That is how it was for me.
I could always go back to IT if I wanted to because I was really good at my job. But I don’t think that I will, because I absolutely love acting. I enjoy it. It gives me a sense accomplishment to be doing something that I have always wanted to do. If I was still at my former job, I’d be wishing that I was in front of a camera.
How do you manage to avoid scandals?
It’s just the kind of person I am, that’s how I was raised. I am not controversial at all. I’m not dramatic and I’m not an attention seeker. You will not catch me in situations of strife. I’m human, and there are times when people get on my nerves, but I hardly ever blow things out of proportion. I’m not going to let the way people behave change me.
Your character in the movie the ‘Dark Side,’ is she like you in real life?
In some ways, that character and I share similarities. I was the protagonist in that movie. I felt that my friend was not treating her man right; she was sleeping around with his friend and trying to get him killed, and I came around and felt it was my responsibility to expose her deception. In real life, that’s what I would do, I would expose deception. I’m not the kind of person that would stand by and let somebody get taken advantage.
What other characters do you think are similar to you?
Well, I can say that I have played many characters that are not like me at all. I’ve played a bitch, and I’m not like that, I’ve played a princess, and I’m definitely not a princess. I acted as a money grabbing super model in ‘Forgive me Father’ but I am not like that. In Catwalq, I was a bit of an antagonist because my boss wanted my man and I wasn’t having any of it, so I did everything in my power to make sure that did not happen.
Can you fight over a man in real life?
I don’t think I can do that. I can’t fight over a man. If I’m in a relationship, and the guy wants to quit, he can. If there’s a fight, then it should be between me and him, and not myself and the other chick.
Have you ever been in a situation where you boyfriend left you for someone else?
No I haven’t. I’m a lover. When I love someone, I am very sincere. I love with all my heart, so that endears the other person to me; so most of my relationships have ended because we both grew tired of each other, or there was an issue with distance and not because there was a third party.
What kind of guy would you never get tired of?
I’m a day dreamer. The kind of guy I would never get tired of is someone who is very romantic. Not excessively so, but someone who really cares, someone who is goofy like me, because I’m a kid at heart, I’m overly goofy. Sometimes, I’m way too playful for my own good. So I’d like someone who has a playful personality. My dream guy is also someone who is faithful, who sees only me in the room, no matter how many other beautiful ladies are around. I think that’s every girl’s dream.
It’s been adventurous working on different projects and I am learning a lot. I’m relatively new here; even though I did my first Nollywood film here in 2007, I was not 100 percent in the industry until 2011 when I moved back to Nigeria.
Who are you friends in the industry?
I don’t really have many friends in the industry, I’ve made friends in a lot of other sectors though: in music, in fashion, etc. I don’t really have close friends in Nollywood per say, Beverly and I are quite close, especially because we have similar backgrounds. We both came back home to Nollywood from the U.K. most of my close friends are outside the industry; people that have known me from way back. Those are my true friends.
With very few friends in the industry, it doesn’t seem like you’re likely to date someone in Nollywood?
I’d rather not. I just think that it is better to date someone who is not in the business because of all the pressures and the complications that could arise.
What if you meet someone who does not understand your love for acting and wants you to stop?
I’m sure I’ll meet someone who understands, whether the devil likes it or not. Anyone who really claims to love me should understand.
What languages do you speak?
I speak igbo, but it is really rusty. My mum sometimes speaks to me in Igbo, but I usually reply in English, because trying to have a conversation in Igbo is like torture for me. My pidgin is also very good, but I try not to speak it except I have to. One of those times is when I’m bargaining in the market. I say things like ‘Madam, I no go gree o, this thing na 5 naira.’ But apart from that, English is all I speak.
Why Nollywood, why didn’t you pursue acting in the UK?
Why not Nollywood? Like they say, charity begins at home. It would have been much harder to pursue for me to pursue an acting career in the UK. Nollywood provided a softer landing for me because I had already made some contacts here. It was a case of going to those contacts and letting them know that I was ready to come to Nollywood fully. You know how it works here, it’s who you know that determines the opportunities that come your way.
You’ve been away from the country for a long time, how are you adjusting to things here?
Nigeria is a tough country, but by the grace of God we survive here. It is not for the faint hearted, you really have to be dogged in Nigeria. I spent most of my life in the UK, so some things take getting used to. Like the power situation here. I’m not used to power outage at all. But I got an inverter and a generator set, so I can cope.
What are you future career goals?
Everyone loves progress, and I’m looking forward to the next stage; to star in a blockbuster movie, produce my own film. Right now, I’m weighing my options and observing the goings on. I’m keeping it real simple, but I can promise you that I won’t be on one spot for too long.
There’s a script I’m working on, I’m working with a renowned script writer in the industry. Even though we’ve just finished the first draft, I’m keeping it under wraps for now. When we’re ready to begin production, we’ll do publicity about the film.
If you were to create a dream role for yourself, what would it be?
It would have to something emotional, along the lines of romance, because I’m an absolutely stupid romantic. Something like the Hollywood film The Notebook; I’m open to action thrillers and other genres but romance is my most preferred.
If you were to choose someone to star as your romantic interest in that film, who would it be?
Ramsey Noah. He can burst my bubble any day. I used to have a slight crush on him, but when I met him I got over him. Also, he’s married so that’s a no go area for me. But on screen, I’d love to have him as a romantic interest.
Tell us about your family?
I have a twin sister, but she and I are not alike in any way. We don’t look alike, and she has nothing to do with entertainment at all. She’s the introvert, I’m the extrovert, and she’s got a family of her own. But she’s very supportive of my career.
I also have a younger sister who is very supportive. My mum however, was a bit skeptical when I told her I wanted to leave my job for acting. She couldn’t understand it. But she’s coming around now. She’s even become like my publicist, always telling her friends about my latest film.
What about your relationship with your dad?
We don’t really have a relationship. I haven’t seen him in ages. There’s no love lost though, we’ve both moved on. My parents were never married; I just grew up knowing that my mum was a single parent. And she did a great job of raising all three of us.
She was like a mother and a father to us and I don’t feel like we missed out on anything because my father was not around. I am already the best person I can be, and I don’t think things would have been any different if he was in my life. I, on the other hand, want to be married with kids, I don’t want to be a single parent. I want my children to have the joy of being raised by both parents.
What inspires you?
I’m driven by my goals, and I am very passionate. I don’t see any reason why I should be mediocre or ordinary when I can excel. I am the kind of person who wants something and goes all the way to get it. I always get what I want. I believe that you should live life to the fullest, and take every opportunity that life presents you with.
Apart from acting, what other aspects of entertainment interest you?
I love dancing. I danced azonto during a television interview and people have refused to forget it. My cousin called me yesterday and was talking about it. The presenter asked me a random question, and I just said I can dance azonto. Ironically, there was a time I did not know how to dance azonto.
I was at camp somewhere, and two of the people I was at camp with were dancing azonto. I kept on asking: “how do you do that?” and they were teasing me. That’s when I made up my mind to learn it, and I did, painstakingly so. But I really love dancing, I would love to star in a dance film. I also work as an ambassador to a fashion label, but I have no intention of being a designer. I sometimes work as an MC.
Two things people don’t know about you?
People don’t know that I can stand on my hands. My sister and I took ballet classes when we were younger, so I’m quite flexible. I can also play the recorder.