Says: ‘We are still best of friends
‘Possibility of reconciling with him in future is not ruled out
*Why society should stop linking women’s successes to men
By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Nollywood actress cum businesswoman, Uche Elendu has two peculiar attributes that will endear her to anyone. And that’s her boldness and expressing her feelings.
These attributes played out recently when she featured as a guest on the weekly Vanguard live chat with celebrities on Instagram.
The mother of two beautiful daughters shared her sadness and joy as an actress, a mother and a businesswoman with us. She also cleared the air in respect of the circumstances surrounding her crashed marriage to her United Arab Emirates-based ex-husband, Prince Walter Igweayinba a.k.a. Nku 1, explaining that it was a personal decision and an agreement between her and her ex-husband to part ways amicably contrary to insinuations that the latter dumped her for another woman. She also shared her thoughts on why society should stop linking women’s successes to their men counterparts among other issues.
Does it seem that business is taking the shine off your acting career?
I don’t agree with you. Compared to the previous years, this alone I have done a lot of movies ‘ I sacrificed a greater part of my time in making movies this year because my fans have been complaining that they are missing me on the screens. So, I dedicated my time to making movies this year. I am also working on producing my movies. A lot of me is going to be seen on the screen this year. Some of my recent movies include, “Will you forgive”, “My father’s Love”, “Patrimony”, and the one that played the role of a ghost. I have shot not less than ten movies this year and it’s still counting.
I have a very selfish job because when you are doing movies, you don’t have time for any other thing, especially business. And you know the online business you have to be 100% dedicated to. This is because you have to keep engaging your clients, creating content and responding to your clients as well. it’s not been easy though.
In 2010, you took a break from acting when you relocated to Owerri. How were you able to survive those years off the screen?
Yes, I took a break but it wasn’t like a break I took on purpose. Naturally, as a woman who just got married and started having children, you cannot just be everywhere. You have to dedicate time to building your home, you have to dedicate time to taking care of your new family, taking care of your child. It was a compulsory break I must say. This is because I am not the type of person that can multi-task on a very large scale. I just had a baby and then I carry my baby and jump on a movie set. I don’t think it’s something I can handle. So, I had to dedicate time to taking care of my family, and being there for my husband and my newborn baby then. You know, getting used to married life. It wasn’t easy.
What was the experience of life dumping your career to build your young home?
The experience was something I wasn’t particularly very happy about because I was away from making movies. I was just at home nursing my child and I was also involved in a long-distance marriage. My husband was not present, so it wasn’t as if he was the one that stopped from acting. I needed to concentrate on taking care of my child and adapt to the new marriage life. It was not particularly exciting for me because I was missing out on the movie scenes. As soon as my baby was one year old, I went back to acting. but then, it was not the same again. I just found out that I had a different status, I was also a different person. I just couldn’t be 100% on the movie sets. I had different responsibilities which, of course, are more important to me. o, I couldn’t take all the scripts that were coming my way then.
Would you say the decision to dump your flourishing career to build your home is worth it?
I would say yes it’s worth it because my family comes first before my career. I went off the screen for some time but I am still there. The truth is that I cannot be replaced. There’s only Uche Elendu. I am still there. Anything I want to offer myself, I am still very welcome. In life, there are stages and you have to be able to realize that there are some things you cannot do without. As a woman, you should have children and you should take care of them. You must dedicate time to take care of them and bring them up properly. It was a good decision that was made then and it’s never too late to jump back at the movie set.
Does the film ‘Ada Mbano’ remind you of anything?
I would say it reminds me of a lost opportunity. That movie was written specifically for me. I was supposed to play the role of Ada Mbano in that movie. But unfortunately, I couldn’t speak the language because I grew up in Lagos. And my parents didn’t interact with us in our local language. I couldn’t do as much as that character was expected to flow in the local language. Acting-wise, I did the English version of Ada Mbano, but Igbo version I couldn’t flow with the language. So, I had to bring in my friend to take up the role and she killed it.
But is it the movie that relaunched your acting career?
Yes, it was. I did that movie in 2012, four years after I had my daughter. I have already shot some movies before then. But ‘Ada Mbano’ was like a major comeback movie for me.
How were you able to combine your duties as a mother, actress and businesswoman?
By the grace of God, I have been able to do things the way they are supposed to be done. Of course, I have a scale of preference. And I also have my routine mapped out. I try as much as possible to meet up to every responsibility that I owe to my children and my chain of businesses. I have about three businesses. I operate actively in both online and offline spaces. I have a team, so I dedicate duties to my staff.
I also have a family that is managing the businesses for me. I dedicate duties to different people and I still do what I am supposed to do as the owner of the business. As I said earlier on when I am filming it’s almost impossible to do any other thing. When you are on a movie set, your whole concentration is there and you shoot from morning till night. It’s just not possible for you to do much of any other thing. I just try to divide myself into three. When I am on a movie set, I make sure I reach out to my children, always making video calls with them, while my mother comes around to take care of them. In my business, my brother is the one managing it, while I have my eyes on the website, Instagram page and Facebook portal. I have a physical store but my business runs mostly online.
No wonder you frowned at a situation where society links the successes of some women to their men counterparts?
It doesn’t make any sense even in this generation where women are working hard and recording more successes than their men counterparts. A lot of women work very hard to be independent. They don’t want to depend on any man, and when they do, most times it comes with certain sacrifices. Women that don’t want to be caught in that corner. Most times, when you depend on somebody, you don’t have freedom, you cannot afford to buy things that you want because you have to secure the approval of somebody. It’s overwhelming the kind of things women do today to achieve financial freedom. Women are hardworking and they are doing better than men. It is sick when people say for a woman to buy a house, it has to be a man that bought it for her. It’s not possible when a woman runs her business and in a month she’s recording sales in millions and in six months a woman saves a lot of money to buy herself a property and the society attributes her success to a man. In the case of some actresses, I know how much they earn starring in movies. Some earn as much as N1 million, some earn as much as N2 million and you see them on set back to back. Some are shooting more than ten movies in a month. Calculate how much she will make in a year and of course, she will be able to buy herself a property and if the actress works so hard she will be able to enjoy her money. Apparently. it will be difficult to find a man who will want to buy property for a woman if they are not in a relationship. It’s always traded by barter kind of thing. And some women that cannot compromise, those that would not want their successes to be linked to a man will not take it.
But while some actresses owe their successes to hard work, you cannot say the same of many other actresses who exchange their bodies for material gains?
In my opinion, 90% of actresses that are successful today are successful because they have worked hard for it. If a man decides to support an actress because he likes her, that’s allowed. And the woman works for it, she doesn’t have to sleep with the man. There are a lot of women that sleep with men and at the end of the day, they don’t get anything. So, if a woman is in a relationship with a man and she’s appreciated for it, good for her. I’m not saying that some men don’t do it. It’s very easy for a man to do it, but the man has to appreciate the woman to do so. And for a man to appreciate you buying you a property, maybe, the woman must have worked hard and attached value to herself. This is because if you are not valuable, nobody will give you a valuable gift. Sex is a cheat. Sex is the last thing that will make a man bring out his hard-earned money to do something for a woman. Sex is so cheated that they can get it from anywhere. And I think there isn’t any different. Some women littered all over the place. To say that she slept with a man for him to buy her a property is belittling. I don’t believe in that.
How did you delve into the business world?
My business came to me like a divine revelation. God told me that I need to do something apart from acting in movies. I need to own a brand, I need to create value and give value to people. I need to be in demand and have something that people will demand. I don’t deal only with waist trainers, I also deal with beauty products. I just like to make women beautiful, and help them to enhance their beauty. And just what I am about. It’s something I love to do. My business is my life, like something I love doing. I have received so much love from Nigerians at home and in the diaspora since I ventured into business.
During the END SARS protests in 2020, your shop was vandalized, how were you able to survive the shock and still standing?
My business has experienced a lot of setbacks from its inception. It’s been a business that has been under attack, physically and otherwise. So, during the ENDSARS protests, I went through a lot of things. For instance, I had my business page taken down on Instagram, and I had to start from scratch to build the business again. I have already gone through a whole lot of traumatic experiences. When the shop was vandalized, I was shattered, wondering where I would start from. And the only person I could run to, at that time was God. It was heart-rendering, but I couldn’t continue to cry. I had to make a move, and I had my family and some of my friends like Destiny Etiko, and Eucharia Anunobi among others who stood by me. And soon, I bounced back, rebuilding and restocking my shop again. Recently, after having about 87.7k followers and clients on Instagram, the page was taken down. Someone trademarked the name, Killer Curve, I don’t own that name anymore. Now, I am in the process of re-branding with a different name as well as a different page. And this happened barely one year after my shop was vandalized. I don’t know how God did it for me. I just came out stronger. I don’t look like what I have gone through.
You built a community health centre for your people last year. What is it like giving back to the society that made you what you are today?
That was my most treasured achievement. I could feel the love and appreciation from my people. And the fact that I started it from my home town gave me so much fulfilment. Like they say, ‘Charity begins at home.’ I saw the need to make my people comfortable and have access to good medicare. I thought of giving them water and medical services. These were the two projects that came to my mind.
Many people have this perception that celebrity marriages don’t last. In your case, was it a result of irreconcilable differences, cheating or domestic violence?
Marriage is a very beautiful institution, it’s something that God wants every woman and man to experience. Marriage is a union between two different adults from two different backgrounds and two different orientations of life. So, when two people meet and things are not working out as expected, there is disagreement here and there. And you found out that the very essence of marriage is not there. I don’t think it is worth anyone killing him or herself. If you can’t make it work and it doesn’t work, it’s better to be alive and happy than to be in a union because of what people will say and be sad and die in silence. In my case, nothing went wrong between us. It’s a decision between two adults to be on their own for a while just to work out things. My ex-husband is a very wonderful person. And I’m sure, he will also say that Uche is a wonderful woman. He’s still my paddy.
Meaning that there’s the hope of your coming together again in future?
If we agree to do so, while not! If God wants us to be together again and if we decide to reunite. While we’re married, I see my ex-husband once a year during the Christmas period. He comes back from abroad between November and December and by January/February, he’s out of the country. It’s not as if I didn’t want to join him over there, but you know that I have my life and career here. It’s just a decision of two adults and that’s why I don’t talk about my marital issues on social media. We did not have any issues, we are two perfect people that understood the assignment. That’s it. If I find somebody that I’m in love with and I can bond with, and get married to. He will gladly support me and even spray me money on my wedding day. He’s not remarried yet. But like I said earlier, it’s a personal decision.