MY SADDEST DAY WAS 14TH OF JULY....UCHE ELENDU
Amongst the beautiful faces who adorn the length and breath of the movie industry called Nollywood in Nigeria is the drop-dead beautiful actress, Uche Elendu. The versatile actress whose maiden effort was in the movie produced by Larry Koldsweat, Fear of the Unknown, in 2001 is today a toast of every movie producer as her beautiful face has helped, in no small measure, jack up the sale of their movies. Little wonder, ever since her remarkable appearance in Amaco film's Nothing for Nothing directed by Mr. China, she has been recording unprecedented success. In this no-holds-barred interview with Alonge Dele Michael of WWW.NIGERIAFILMS.COM, the sultry actress talks on a wide range of issues…
How did you come into entertainment world?
I stumbled into the entertainment world in 2001 where I featured in a movie titled "Fear of the Unknown" which was produced by my friend's father, Mr. Larry Koldsweat, to whom I just went to deliver a message. He and Olu Jacobs were together that day and when I spoke, they saw the potentials in me and decided to make me do something with it. In actual fact, before that time, I was into modeling, did some jobs for Pz industries and some big government ushering jobs. I was happy and enjoyed the fact that I had some thing interesting to do during my holidays, but sincerely speaking, acting was never part of it, I've always known that I had singing as a talent. Little did I know I was going to make a wonderful actress as well, I discovered my talent.
After that movie and I enjoyed every part of it, especially the praises I received for interpreting my character so well and not being camera shy. That was the beginning of my journey in Nollywood. After that, I played my first major role in "Price of Destiny", directed by Ndubuisi Okoh. I decided then to concentrate fully on my studies. I came back fully in 2004 with "Nothing for Nothing", marketed by Amaco Investments, directed by Mr. China. That movie was my breakthrough to stardom.
Can we link the roles you play in the movie to your personality?
No, you cannot. The roles I play are quite different from my personality, and it is my ability to interpret characters that are not me that makes me a good actress.
If you were asked to choose between music and acting, which would it be?
First and foremost, music is my first love. I love music a whole lot but acting is my career. It is what I do for a living and I am good at it. You have to know that the two are related to each other. For you to be a good actor, you must know how to sing because some of the characters given might involve singing. But to answer your question, I'd choose acting because that is what I do for a living and I believe that I'm very good at it.
Ini Edo seems to be your best friend. What is the attraction? If it is acting, why not someone else?
Well, Ini is my friend and colleague no doubt. We really get along as colleagues because we understand ourselves a whole lot and I'll say that to a great extent, she gave me the encouragement I needed from a colleague when I was still trying to find my feet in the industry. Moreover, I'm one person that knows the real Ini, which is far from what most people think and that really makes me admire the way she handles scandals involving her. She simply calls it the cons of stardom. Ini is also good at what she does.My mum always says that if u want to be successful, identify with success. Ini's got her friends in the industry, but we seem to be an item because I don't really have much friends, and she's one of the very few colleagues I can call a friend outside this Industry.
Between a very rich man who loves you and an average man who is smitten by you, who would you choose?
A man who's smitten by you doesn't necessarily mean that he loves you or is in love with you. The 'smitten' feelings can be infatuation and can fade. But when a man loves you, he can go to any extent for you. He can even lay down his life for you, if the need arises. So, to answer your question, if I were to choose between a rich man who loves me and one who's smitten by me, I'd choose a man who loves me. Moreover he's rich right?!!! (Laughs)...added Bonus!!!
Who really is Uche Elendu and who is Uche Elendu on screen?
Uche Elendu is a God fearing, humble, private and hardworking lady. There is a big difference between the real Uche Elendu and Uche Elendu on screen. On screen I am interpreting a role and I always try to put my real self behind me and be the character I am supposed to play thereby being a different personality in the same body.
What inspires you and what do you dislike?
God is my overall inspiration and by reading the Bible, I get more inspired. I also get inspired by reading novels and watching movies.
If you have an opportunity, would you choose the same things you chose now again?
So far in my life I don't have any regrets. Nobody is perfect but I believe that whatever has happened and will happen in my life has been ordained by God and in everything, I give Him thanks since my past, present, and future are in his hands. So if I were to be given an opportunity over and over again, I would still be me and live a life that God has ordained for me to live.
Since your career started, which is your most challenging role, which do you wish to reverse and do better in?
All the roles I have played in all my movies have been very challenging, nevertheless, the character ''panther'' in Last Occult that was directed by Mac-Collins Chidebe was very challenging because it had a spiritual involvement. I had to be very prayerful to be able to interpret the character of panther as the greatest goddess in the spiritual realm. ''Consequences'' directed by Mr. Andy Chukwu was also very challenging and very interesting as I had to play the role of a typical naughty village girl with no educational background which is far from who I am. Another very tasking movie was ''Mountains of Evil'' which was an adventure where I had to play the role of a youth corper that got lost in a jungle. We did a lot of shooting in the middle of the night in a thick forest, encountering dangerous animals and birds. I could go on and on but I would just say that I have done a lot of challenging roles in many challenging movies.
Can we know your most memorable day and your saddest day?
My saddest day was on the 14th of July 2004, my birthday night, when I woke up to find out that I couldn't move my legs. It was a very painful experience that really made me very sad. Because of the fact that I couldn't walk and the doctors couldn't diagnosis the problem, I was flown home, back to my parents. I couldn't take some of my final year exams and it caused me so much problems.
Now, my most memorable day, I'd say was the day I collected my statement of result and I was awarded a second class upper. It was so memorable and I was so overjoyed that I wept. I would never ever forget that day.
What is your advice for those who want to be like you?
Well, the first advice I would give anyone who wants to be like me is to trust in God. Discover yourself, so that you don't end up doing what others are doing but doing what you were born to do. Be confident in yourself and work hard to realize your dreams. Be yourself, stay away from trouble, be happy, and keep smiling because you are not completely dressed without a smile. Last but not the least, keep away from pride. Always remain humble even when you finally make it, because as they say, pride goes before a fall.
You have just released an all Igbo-song album, how did you come about this?
Well, my dear that is a very long story. It took years and lots of planning to make it work. I had to wait for the right time and opportunity. P. Collins discovered me and produced the album and the album is making a very serious wave in the market and a great impact on our people.....The album is all Igbo because I am Igbo and proud to be one. The aim was to promote our cultural values.
What accrues to you from the proceeds of the sales of the album?
My album is doing very well in the market and I am making good dough out of it with one of the best producers and marketers in the entertainment Industry - P. Collins. I smile to the bank....Trust me!! (Laughs). Most importantly, my album titled "Ije Love", is making great impact on the lives of people as the message cuts across every sphere of life.
Do you have a musical band?
Of course, I do. I have a musical band that I used for my album.
How do you hope to combine the two talents?
Combining music and acting is really not much of a problem because apart from making a career out of it, they are my hobbies, and they make me happy. Moreover, acting and music are related and both make up the entertainment industry.
Who is/are your mentor(s)?
The almighty God is my mentor. My mum is my super role model as she guided and molded me into being who I am today. In the movie industry, I see Eucharia Anunobi as a model because I learn a whole lot from her acting prowess. I also admire Eze Prof. Laz Ekwueme.
How have you been coping with Pressure from Men?
Pressure from men is something every young beautiful girl must encounter. Although, being an actress increases the pressure but I try to be very polite and diplomatic when such events occur. Sometimes, male fans can be very pushy and frustrating; I try my best not to be rude. I drive home my point without hurting them.
People have spotted you quite a number of times with a Prince who resides abroad, you two seem to be smitten, are wedding bells ringing soon?
Well, marriage is a thing of joy and not something to hide or be ashamed of and as soon as the wedding bells are getting ready to toll, the whole world would be aware.
What is the situation of things between you and your contemporaries?
I have a very good working relationship with my colleagues and also with everybody else.
What would you like to change about yourself?
Wow!!!!....I love myself just the way God made me. God decided to make me the way I am, so who am I to decide to change it?
Can you give us your family and educational background?
I'm the first and only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elendu. I have three younger brothers. My father is a computer analyst and my mother is an educationist and a business woman based in Lagos. I hail from Isuikwuato L.G.A in Abia State. I was brought up in a Christian way and I had the best childhood anyone can ever have. My parents made sure I had the best of education. I attended Nigeria Ports Authority Staff School, after that I was enrolled in Federal Government Girls College Owerri. After my secondary school education, I got admission to read International Relations at Imo state University. I graduated in 2004 and did my youth service afterwards in Cross River State.
What message do you have for your fans?
Well, I thank my fans for being there and appreciating my efforts. There is no me without them and I urge them to keep the flag flying. One thing I promise them is that they have not seen the best of me. Not yet. Most importantly, I urge them to trust in God and keep smiling.