Covid-19 Lockdown Is A Blessing In Disguise – Uche Elendu
The Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the global ecosystem, has effect almost every sector of the economy in no small measure, Nollywood not left out, in this exclusive chat with sultry thespian, Uche Elendu, she divulged her staying power in face of challenging global economy and the devastating effect of the novel Covid-19 on the entertainment sector to Classic International Magazine’s CAROLINE CHARLES-BASSEY. Enjoy the excerpt and much more…
Who and what inspired you to go into acting?
I never wanted to take acting as a career even though I watched a lot of movies as a kid, and had fun admiration for lots of actors, I just stumbled into acting.
I am naturally an actor because while I was growing up I used to engage in both school and church dramas. Officially, I became a Nollywood actor through my friend’s father, Larry Koldsweat, a veteran actor. I was sent to deliver a letter from my friend to her father on a particular day I was traveling and I stumbled on Olu Jacobs and Larry Koldsweat conducting an audition with some people that apparently weren’t measuring up with the script demands. I was made to read the script after I had told them my reasons for being there. I read out the script and they liked it so they decided to add me to the movie but at some point I was scared if my parents would let me; my mum gave her consent and that was how it started, though after that particular movie it took years before I resumed acting as it was difficult securing my father’s node to become an actress but it was later resolved.
In what way has acting changed your lifestyle?
Acting hasn’t really changed my lifestyle. It has only made me go extra miles in proving myself to people. A number of times I see people attributing my natural emotions and reactions to certain things, as acting; especially my man, he would say I’m reflecting my acting skills when I try pleasing or proving a point to him. Apart from that, being an actor hasn’t added any negative change to my life.
In your own estimation, who is a good actor?
A good actor is someone that makes you believe that what you’re seeing is real. A good actor should be versatile, he should be very real. A good actor should be able to take risk, he should be able to portray himself in a character and fit in perfectly to the extent that his viewers can’t explain his true character in real life. A couple of times I’ve had issues in real life where people start fighting me for a particular character I played in a movie thinking it defines the real me. I find it hard to make people believe I’m nice especially after watching me display wickedness in movies; movie is make believe so the definition of a good character is making people believe you’re someone you aren’t.
Let’s compare Nollywood industry when you started acting and now, what has changed?
Between when I joined the industry and now, a lot has changed in Nollywood, actors, producers and directors are becoming more innovative and we’re expanding in different aspects of movie making. The industry has evolved and a lot of technological inputs have been embraced in the process, the quality of our scripting has improved tremendously too. Generally speaking, Nollywood has stepped up a notch.
How have you been able to joggle your marriage, career, and other activities?
Having to manage my acting career and my role as a mother at first wasn’t easy, I had to adjust to the transition of being a mother and being a star actress who has to always be on set for movie scenes and at the same time take care of myself and my kids. It was quite challenging initially but over time I had to set my priorities straight and learn to manage my schedules properly. My kids who are my priority, I make sure to keep them in safe hands when I’m not with them and try as much as possible to keep track of their activities at home when I’m not with them.
Once I’m off set I practically spend quality time with them, I try to care for them, be their friend and confidant. I am not a visiting type, and also not so much of an extrovert so I barely go out. If I’m not on set, business meeting is the only activity that takes me away from them. Managing my home front and career isn’t difficult for me because naturally I’m homely.
Attaining and maintaining stardom comes with a price, what are your secrets of managing scandals?
Managing scandals that accompanies being a star is no big deal for me because I have experienced stardom right from my early age. The simple ways I try to keep away from scandals is to always do things that please God and myself rather than the public and it has kept me going. Sometimes I go out forgetting I am a celebrity, I don’t let the celebrity mindset get the best of me, I try to naturally live the best version of myself.
What is your philosophy about life?
Things I’ve learnt from life is to make every time count, be ready to grab every opportunity I get, have patience and hope for my opportunities to come. I’ve also learnt not to have regrets rather learn from my mistakes and keep going.
Retrospectively, what prank(s) did you play as a child that landed you in trouble?
I wouldn’t call it a prank, but it made my father beat me up and locked me in a room for piercing an unusual part of my ear and wearing anklets to pick him from the airport. It was a terrible experience, my intention was to impress him but I ended up getting him furious in a way that I sustained injury from the beating he gave me.
How can you define your style?
My style is simple, classy and chicky. I don’t go with trends, I basically dress to my comfort because I understand my body type so I make sure to dress according to my body type as not to look shabby.
Let’s talk about your projects, aside acting what else do you engage in?
I am the CEO of Killer Curves Beauty Store, Lendy Hair and Zutynaturelle. I deal in beauty and fashion apparels. Killer Curves Beauty which is the rave of the moment has helped thousands of women both in Nigeria and outside Nigeria with postpartum, we also help people in losing weight and fight against loosed skin and firm it up. I also run a consultancy firm for exercise and dieting in Killer Curves Beauty, we sell products like waist trainer, body shaper and body enhancements. We deal on authentic products that you can’t find elsewhere, that is how we’ve been able to build our large customer base over the years.
Lendy Hairs makes 100% human hair both in wigs and extension while Zutynaturelle deals with natural skin toning and skin treatment. I also have a fashion line that deals with both male and female clothing, so you can see I’m jack of all trades.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown affected you as an entertainer?
It affected me negatively because I couldn’t go out to make movies, I couldn’t go out for shows, I couldn’t go out to engage in the businesses I do to earn a living. But on the other hand, I was able to stay home, spend time with my family and attend a lot of online courses to hone my skills. The lockdown really affected a lot of people and as a public figure that people around looks up to, I had to come up with palliatives in my own way to ease the effect of the lockdown on the society around me. Generally, I did a lot of reaching out to people within the period to help alleviate their sufferings. So I would say that the lockdown affected me both positively and negatively.
The lockdown still continues for me as we speak because I’m not yet sure of going out there to mix up with people from different places, even as the lockdown is being relaxed I still my apprehensions, until I’m very sure that the virus is more or less no longer in circulation. I’m not yet back to movie scenes where I have to interact and mix up with lots of people but I still do my private businesses to make ends meet.
What’s your take on the ravaging menace of rape cases in the country?
Sex without consent is rape and it’s very very heart-breaking. I was taken aback by the news of the young lady that was raped and killed inside a church in Benin City. There are lots of disturbing stories of people raping minors; it’s absurd, insanity of the highest order. Honestly I don’t understand why some men are being so loose, how they cannot have self-control over their libidos and become so callous and wicked to the extent of defiling minors all in the bid to satisfy their selfish sexual lust. I’m really in support of severe punishment for rape because the act is uncalled for. An act that takes two minutes, one minute or to some people fifty seconds for the man, but for the girl it’s a lifetime of emotional trauma, a lifetime of torture, a lifetime of destruction.
People never get healed from the psychological effects of rape. Even if your body is healed, your mind will not be healed; your mental health is at stake for a very long while. Rape is a very alarming menace in this country that really needs urgent attention and I think the only way to curb it is to place a very serious sentence for it.
I would advocate death sentence for rape because jail term is not enough, some people are of the mindset that if given jail sentence they might be released on parole in most cases. If this is done, men will learn to control their sexual urge and reason with their brains instead of the thing in-between their legs.
Any new project in the offing?
I have projects I’m currently working on, I’m working on a movie that portrays a natural occurrence in my place. It’ll involve a lot of funding and professionalism; it’s one of my major movie projects. My desire is to promulgate happenings in our today’s society through the movie, targeting audiences across the young and older generations
I’m also working towards opening a new branch of my business in Nigeria. I’m trying to put things in place hopefully the pandemic would end soon so I can kick start my projects. Work is already on the advance stage on a portal where I can easily distribute my goods to other countries and channels where I can discuss with women to proffer solutions to their problems.