Uche Jombo’s Exclusive Interview as an Executive Producer, conducted during her trip to the United States:
Uche Jombo, Nollywood actress/screenwriter/producer, one of the most popular actress out there in the industry. She recently visited the United States to shoot some movies, and at the same time, enjoy a little bit of vacation as well. Learn more about her experience as an Executive Producer and more in the interview below.
G.I: Congratulations on your achievements thus far as an Actor, Screenwriter and also as an Executive Producer. Could you please share your experience as an Executive Producer of your most recent project “Holding Hope” with us?
Uche: Thank you very much Bode. I will like to first start with “Nollywood Hustlers”, which was my first effort as an Executive producer. It is also a movie that is very close to my heart, because it made me laugh; and also, one gets to a point in life, that you will need to ask yourself how did I get here, and if you take a walk down memory lane, one cannot but laugh at those things that were not funny at that point in the past.
The Nollywood Hustlers script was first shown to me four years ago by Emem Isong, though she was working on the movie with someone else at the time, I immediately fell in love with the story line of the script when she gave it to me. I believe something happened between Emem and the person that was meant to finance the movie at the time, but the movie never materialized at that time. Later on, when I wanted to invest in movies, this script kept on flashing through my mind. Despite the fact that I have read so many scripts in the past, this movie struck to me, because it had so many funny aspects. Really, sometimes in life, we embark on things that we don't really know anything about. Luckily for some of us, this is an industry that gives us the opportunity to learn everyday about things we really want to learn about, and if you decide to be ignorant, you probably will remain ignorant about things happening around you. All in all, there are just so many things about the industry that are comical.
I will not say the final script was exactly how it was 4 years ago, as a lot of things happened that were added later along the way. The movie is basically a comical look at the Nollywood Industry; the players, the wannabe players, money droppers, etc. I am not one of those people who are ashamed to laugh at themselves; I'll first make fun of myself, before allowing anyone else do the same.
Basically, I like to joke about myself, and not wait for people to initiate this. In the movie, you will find real people acting as themselves, Ramsey as Ramsey Noah, Mona Lisa as herself, movie celebrities, mainly Nollywood Actors, and those in the music industry, were basically acting as themselves without the glamour of public life.
G.I: When is this movie coming out? Could you also mention some of your colleagues that were featured in this movie?
Uche: The movie will be in theatres starting from end of May. I will also like to use this opportunity to say a big thank you to all the Stars that provided their support in one way or the other. The movie “Nollywood hustlers” featured Lisa, Ramsey, and Lancelot, acting in their natural state all through the movie. The movie also featured a celebrity green carpet, with the following guest appearances – Ini Edo, Ngozi Ezonu, Genevieve Nnaji, Kalu Ikeagwu,Sasha, Braket, Zaki, Ufuoma Ejenabor, Zik Zulu,Rukky Sanda, Uche Iwuji, Muma Gee, Vivan Ejike, Omoni Oboli, Francis Onwechie, Durele of Soundcity, Righteousman, Emem Isong, Blessing Ibiang. However, the main cast were myself (Uche Jombo), Charles Inojie, Bishop Eme, Ejike Asiegbu, and directed by Moses Inwang
For all those I could not mention their names, I really appreciate everyone of you that walked down that green carpet. It meant a lot to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
G.I: Your experience with regards to the making of “Nollywood Huzzler” was quite detailed, I guess you can now touch base on your other movie project “Holding Hope”.
Uche: Okay, now I can talk about Holding Hope. Holding hope is also a movie that I cherish very much. In as much as I love to laugh, I am also very much aware about the serious things in life, especially things that are the effects of forces of nature, which you also do not have control over; for example, forces like cancer, death, and so on. Though this might cause me to reflect on life's experience, but I can't change what is, or what will be. The script started as a true life story of 3 cancer survivors. However, the movie focused more on only one of the survivors, as I personally think she had the most dramatic experience out of the three of them. I had a cancer story similar to the one Emem Isong had, and we kind of combined our thoughts together. The movie was written by three script writers – myself, Emem Nsong, and Uduak Emem Oguwamalam. It was a project we all believed in, and as a result we came together to produce it together. Desmond Elliot, Emem Isong and I were the Executive Producers. For a project to have these many brains coming together, you can only imagine that it must be huge and very dear to our hearts. It's a movie that I intend and want people to see in the cinema, and be moved by it, cry about it, and at the same time, laugh. Really, life is too short, as there are things you can change in life, but there are also things you cannot change. However you can allow yourself to enjoy those things you can change, and be depressed about those you cannot.
Starring in the movie are myself, Desmond, Nadia, Ngozi Nwaosu, Rukky Sanda, Biola Williams and directed by Desmond Elliot. For the most part, the movie was shot in Lagos, and we also shot some scenes in America. Since the movie was cancer-related, the United States was the best option for executing a particular phase of the movie. Otherwise, people will say, if you have cancer and you are treating it in Nigeria, there is no hope for you. But I basically think we can all joke about cancer, but it should not be forgotten that it is a very serious issue. Just to let you know how serious it was, one of the characters that we were describing in the movie passed away before we even finished shooting the movie.
G.I: By the way, just looking at the pictures that were taken behind the scenes of this movie, I saw a picture of you, which showed that you were kind of 50 lbs lighter, how did you achieve that?
Uche: Oh my God! First of all, I had to play one of the cancer patients, so while preparing for this movie; the movie directors made me sleep for only about 2 hours a day, even though I usually sleep between 5-6 hours on a regular day. Also, they made me to do everything to ensure I look ill and pale, like someone that was not eating well (I was actually starving myself), and of course during the set, I did not wear make-up for the scenes, and I had to put white powder on my face to make me look like I had low blood counts. That was pretty tough, for real. This actually got so many people talking about the way I look, and so many stories were propagated from that. I really should be upset about it, but on the contrary, I'm happy because I was able to achieve the looks that fitted the role of the character. For me, acting has gotten to the point where I have to fit into the character for it to make sense to the people watching. In addition, I work out a lot, usually twice a week, but during this movie, I was working out about 5 times a week, which was extremely excessive for me.
G.I: You've shot a few movies here in the states, and you were so keen about the production outfit of the one that you shot in New York, what was different about it?
Uche:Yea, it was very much different because we were shooting on Red 2 and the camera guy's were very much professional and knowledgeable about lighting, to the point that when we played back the tapes, we were all like WOW!!! For example, while shooting one of the scenes, there were some movements outside, and everything just turned into slow-mo, and I did not even know the camera could do that. That was very nice and I enjoyed being part of that production. It was also a learning process for me too, as in this industry; one will continue to learn throughout the course of this profession. Generally, it was fun working with Desmond Elliot, Ramsey Nouah, and of course Chisom (Executive Producer). I have much respect for her, as she really went all out to make sure that this production was done very well.
G.I: So what's next in line for Uche Jombo
Uche: I have a couple of films that I'm going back to shoot, and of course, we're working on the premiere for Holding Hope, and that's basically it. In addition, this trip to the US was also more like a vacation as well, and I'm looking forward to going back home as I've been here for over a month now.
G.I: Do you get nervous whenever you are shooting/acting?
Uche: I believe when I first started, especially, in my first 2 movies, I was a bit nervous, but I have since gotten use to it. I think everyone gets that butterfly moment when they start, but later on, you become in-sync with the camera, when you realize that the camera and the crew behind the camera are your best friends.
G.I: That's interesting. How then do you feel when you are performing a role you are not comfortable with?
Uche: No, not at all, If I'm not comfortable with a role, I will basically not do it at all. I have actually been blessed with most of the roles I have had to play, as I find it very easy to synchronize with them, and this is something I am very happy about. It is also about being in love with the character, or better yet, believing that this character is larger than life. Basically when you're in love with a line, you can categorically make it yours, and I believe that acting is like a blessing, as you get to play so many roles, and you're still yourself.
G.I: Out of all the top Nollywood Stars, who would you like to be on set with again, and why?
Uche: Hmmm, I have some of them that are part of my company, a company that I started myself, however, they are trying very hard to take it from me (hahahah). Desmond Elliot, apart from being a friend of mine for over 11 years now, he is also a business partner and someone I understand very well. Ramsey Nouah is also someone I see as an actor's actor, in the sense that, he is one of those actors that goes out of his way to read a script, understand it, and still call you up to initiate a concern that might embrace a constructive deviation from the original script, and that is what I believe has kept him as top notch actor over the years. We actually have some colleagues that do not bother to read the script and they just play along. For that reason, I have so much respect for Ramsey. I have so many others that I have worked with over the years, Jim, Michael, Van and so many others, and if I forget your name, I'm sorry, as you know, you're also very dear to my heart. Acting is also much easier when those you are acting with are your friends, as this will help in discussing the character in depth with them, which makes life much easier.
In addition, it's okay to argue at the set about a constructive issue, but if the aim is to make yourself look better, and downplay others, then I tend to loose respect for that person, that's if I had one for whoever it is in the first place.
G.I: Where do you get your writing inspirations from?
Uche: I get writing ideas from anything; it could just be a line in my head. The movie “Celebrity” that I wrote started with a line in my head. “Games men play” that I co-wrote with Emem was derived from little bits of events of people around us. “Be my wife” is actually a true life story.
But usually, I like to write more about real life occurrences than anything else, which ultimately makes me narrow my stories down to someone I know personally, or a stranger that I've had to opportunity to hear their story, so that the movie will have some realistic and meaningful twist to it.
G.I: Ok, you've been here for over a month now, and you've been to a few states including Texas, New York, New Jersey and so on; which state have you found to be most interesting?
Uche: First of all, I have never stayed this long anywhere outside of Nigeria. If you are a Nigerian, and you want to live in the states, then I think Houston is the place to be. Especially, because of the weather and the fact that a lot of Nigerians live in Houston. There are also a lot of parties just like what we have in back in Nigeria. But other than that, if you love theatre, then New York will be a better choice. I went to see Fela on Broadway Musical Show the other day, and I felt very proud knowing the legend called Fela. Kevin Mambo(one of the actors playing Fela) told me he wished he had met Fela. I mean the show was a big one, to the point that the likes of Jay Z, Beyonce, Will and Jada Pinket are all Executive producers for this show. I am reiterating this again, if you love theatre, New York will be the place to be. If you want to be in the states, and you don't want people to know where you are, then I think New Jersey will be a good place to stay, as it is kind of laid back and very reserved.
G.I: Well, it is our pleasure having you here in the States, and I wish you all the best. Thank you for voicing your opinion on Golden ICONS.
Uche: Thank you very much, and I will be back in due time.