Her father’s decision to enroll her in the movie industry is uncommon among most Nigerian parents whose perceptions about the entertainment industry are inimical to the talents of their children.
But star actress, Uche Ogbodo’s father is one man who has not failed in his duty to foresee the future of her daughter as a star. Born in the ghetto and growing up there had prepared the beautiful but charming actress for the vicissitudes of life. In an interview with The Entertainer, Ogbodo recounts her experiences in Nollywood. Excerpts:
How did you venture into acting?
It was something that came by accident. My father brought me into Nollywood. I never knew anything about the industry until my father encouraged me to go into acting. I have been doing drama since I was a kid. At the time, I had just finished my secondary school. He came home one day and told me he had something I might be interested in. He told me he had a link to Nollywood. He told me he met someone who could introduce me into the industry. That was it. The next day, my father got me registered with Actors Guild of Nigeria. My father believes in me, and also in my talent. He wanted everything about me to be expanded, he knows me too well and he knows also that nothing can influence me. So, I appreciate my father for the role he played in my life.
How has the journey been?
Ok, well, back then, going down memory lane. It has not been easy for me, I am strong as I normally say because as I sit down, I thought deep and I saw my future, that is where I was going or where I was heading to or my exact destination, really, it has not been easy. I left secondary school and I got into the university then I got into Nollywood at the same time. Through my father who registered me in the Actors Guild in Enugu back then. It has not been so easy for me; it has been tough because I had to juggle between school and job. When I got into Nollywood, it was not a bed of roses, there were a lot of females and a lot of competition, but I had faith in myself and capability that I would do whatever anybody would do. I was talented, but a bit intimidated. Intimidated in the sense that I knew that it will take me a lot of time to get to the level of the girls ahead of me, but I knew that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. I was ready to take those steps and I knew that with hard work, my tomorrow was bright. Thus building on my career and getting to the level of my mentors and ahead of them if possible.
Can you tell us about your years of growing up?
When I was growing up, I was afraid of becoming a failure. I was also afraid of getting married and being controlled by a man. I grew up thinking I would not get married due to some things that happened in my life when I was younger. I came to the conclusion that men were wicked and that they were terrible people. I would not like to talk about that. As I was growing, I started knowing people, meeting men, my father taught me so many things and advised me to stop thinking about men in a bad image, and to stop having fears about men, and he also told me that I would meet a better man tomorrow. I was like I can take care of myself, I was highly independent and also outspoken, I can take care of my people, I thought I was a man and I should be the one controlling men not verse versa. I started changing my initial opinion about men as I grew up and as I met with men and as I started working in this industry. I think men are great people with good hearts too.
Tell us more about what brought you into the limelight?
When I was growing up, I used to rent films, I did it because we weren’t so rich and I lived the same way a normal child should. I came from the ghetto. I had a good family; I had good parents who were moralists and all that helped me while growing up, stopping me from going into anything that would have ruined my life. Coming to my talent, I used to rent a lot of films that I would watch but I never believed that I would be an actress later in life because I wanted to be a lawyer. Although as a kid, I used to act with other children in the neighborhood. I really enjoyed acting and it influenced my life greatly.
In a movie you did with ‘Mama ‘G’, you acted like a real ghetto lady, are you fierce in real life?
In any role given to me to act, I cue myself into it, bringing the person into life. I do not smoke in real life. My real life person is so different from the character I act as my fans would term me ‘a worldly person’. The real me is calm, calculative and collective. The ghetto is a place where you have different people and their ways of life. I grew up in the ghetto but I did not get carried away with life in the ghetto. I am a very rational person, which is quite different from my acting as a worldly person in television. My real life is very different. I am a calm and collected person. I grew up in the ghetto and I know every good and bad thing that every kid that grew up in the ghetto knows. I do not smoke cigarette, I was a virgin till I was 20 years old. Before I had my first boyfriend, I was already in Nollywood.
How did you lose your virginity?
As I said earlier, I met my first boyfriend at 20. I came from a Christian home and was trained by Christian parents. My father made sure we imbibed the Christian values and this helped me very much in my career as an actress. I actually thought that as a Nollywood actress I was ripe enough to have a boyfriend and this will make me feel more sophisticated. I did not lose my virginity to an actor, you know.
How did you lose it?
I did not stumble on losing my virginity, I was ready for it and I knew what I was getting into.
How did you feel as a woman after losing your virginity?
I was ready, I felt like I was ready to bring the world down. I felt like whatever it is, bring it on.
Most people assume that personalities like you are not down-to-earth, can you cook?
Oh my God, I can cook very well. In fact, that is my hobby. I love cooking and I love it so much. I love to explore, I love to learn new methods. I can cook both continental and intercontinental foods. In fact, I did a course in cooking some time ago. I know so many things about cooking. I love beans and bread; I can’t do without it.
What accessories you cannot let go of?
I love to wear my make-ups when I am going out but in my day-to-day life, I do not wear makeup. For instance, I am not making up right now. I am not wearing makeup but I can go out. I am not so crazy about make-up. From January to December, I may not make up still I will look beautiful. I do not really care about what people say about me. I also like wearing high heels. When I am going on any occasion, if I do not wear heels, then I am not ready to go.
What is your favourite colour and why?
I love bright colours because I am a happy person. I am a bright person, full of life and I think that colour depicts my mood. Today, I am wearing orange and brown maybe I am having mixed emotions, you know (laugh).
What are the challenges you face in the movie industry?
There are many challenges in the field, but generally, we face intimidation and harassments. Sometimes ago, I arrested a person that beat me up. This is something that I face every day in my life, but I just know that I can overcome it, so I do not let them worry or wear me down. To me, they are not challenges anymore because I can conquer them.
Why would someone slap you?
Such things happened because of indiscipline; however I went to court with the person. Anyway, don’t let us go into that.
Were you slapped because you refused to summit to their sexual harassment?
No man can ever do that because I am not one of those actresses that sell their bodies for roles. I am not and I have passed that level. I am a Christian and I think my body belongs to my God, and God gave me this talent so I can explore it and even if I want to have anything to do with any man, I will do it on the basis of likeness. I would not do it on the basis of my job.
Do you still go church?
Yes, I go to church. I am a Christian.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has done to you?
A fan was stalking me and got me scared. He was calling me on the phone and making short calls always. He was calling me in the midnight and when I picked the phone, the person will say rubbish, he will be blowing me kisses like for 20 minutes. Imagine 20 minutes and my phone will be on and he won’t say anything. Before you know it, he will call me over 100 times a day and blow me kisses. He was a ghost caller. I just knew he was a fan, who only blows kisses at me, but does not say anything. At a point, I became scared. At another point, I started receiving another caller who will call by 11:30pm and tell me he wanted to f—k me, funny enough, I have never met these people.
What pranks did you play in the ghetto?
In the ghetto, the funny thing is that I was a tomboy. In the ghetto, I was not a girl; I was a boy. I used to climb all the trees and I used to beat up all the boys in a street fight. However, people in the street were afraid of me. I played football with the boys. I did with the boys anything they did. As I grew older, my father started teaching me how to be a lady. This made me a stron lady. Already, I was a star in the ghetto. I was really beautiful as a young lady growing up, but I was more interested in becoming a tomboy than a girl.
Which of your movies made you popular?
Well, I really cannot tell the movie that made me popular because I put all my efforts in every movie that I do. You know, I just knew I was a star, so I won’t just say this particular movie brought me into the limelight. I showed my first salary to my father because it was the first salary that I earned in my life. I felt glad and I was happy.
Tell us the happiest moment in your life?
I do not have the happiest moment in my life. I have happy moments every day of my life. Everything that happens in my life is beautiful and special so I think I have special moments every time. But I can say this is the happiest day in my life because I am always happy.
Have you been heartbroken?
Yes, I have been heartbroken once. Well, it happened in Lagos. It happened that the relationship did not work out. Yea, I was also surprised to hear that I have settled down with a man. I heard the rumour at the time. I want to state that I am not yet married. I am single and still searching. If there is anything to qualify single and over searching, I am. (laughs) “make dey no spoil my market”. I also heard that I had a child, which is not true. I hear a lot of gist about me, which are not true (laughs). Yes, I am not getting younger but I have to wait for God to give me a husband. Yes, a good husband (laughs). I am not in a hurry to get married but I know any time soon I am going to invite you to my wedding.
What is your ideal man?
I like honest and good-looking men with an enviable dress sense. He must have good sense of style and the fear of God.