Tosin Ajirire and Lucy Nnaji
After a rigorous competition that saw many contestants fell by the way side, 29-year-old Ebuka Eze finally emerged the winner of the maiden edition of People’s Hero reality TV show.
Sponsored by Hero lager beer, a premium brand of International Breweries and produced by MTV Base, the show aimed at celebrating the beauty and richness of Igbo culture, through singing, dancing, spoken word and acting.
Eze, the only actor among the eight finalists smiled to the bank with N7 million and the bragging right to the title of ‘The People’s Hero’.
In this interview, the ‘hero’ traces his trajectory to the top. Enjoy it.
How do you feel being the winner of the maiden edition of People’s Hero reality show?
I feel so happy, I feel excited. I am a son of grace; it has kept me this far.
What did it take to get to this point?
It took me prayers, hard work, determination and also the prayers of my mom, because from the audition stage, she has been fasting till this very moment and I think her prayers have kept me this far.
You won N7 million, what’s next?
I am an actor, so I just need to cool off this money in the bank; then sit, relax and think of where to invest it.
How did you know about the People’s Hero reality show?
It was on Instagram. I am a follower of Tunde Ednut, so I saw the information he posted on his wall about the show. Since then I had been busy getting the information across to others, because I have friends who are talented. We were actually eleven that came for the audition, but at the end of the day, I ended up being the only one that made it through. And here I am today.
So, you’ve been acting before?
Yes, I have been acting in movies for the past four years. I have done quite a number of movies including Ghetto President, Ojukwu, In The Name Of The Son etc.
Going by your physique, many would think you are a body builder…
I am not. I have never been to the gym before. I was born this way. I am only 29-years-old.
When you scaled through the audition and was chosen among the contestants, did you think you would go this far?
I saw so many talents. I didn’t dispute the fact that there were good dancers, singers, actors and spoken word artists in the competition, they were amazing but I think determination, hard work, prayers, fasting and the grace of my mother kept me this far.
How exactly did you come into acting?
I grew up in Taraba State in the northern part of Nigeria. I have been doing stage dramas in the church. Along the line, I met someone who came to direct a play. After the play, I went with him to Enugu State because the platform for talented actors in Taraba was not strong enough to give me that pace I wanted. Since then, God has been elevating me.
As an actor, who are those you look up to?
I have so many actors I look up to. I like Kenneth Okonkwo, Ayo Makun (AY), and Falz. But one person I look up to the most is Kas Chidiebere. He is an actor with strong character. I love him so much. He was always calling me throughout the competition. He has been the one always giving me advice and encouragement whenever I got stuck.
Are you more comfortable acting on stage or in movies?
I must say I have never acted (professionally) on stage before. So, I am more comfortable acting in movies.
What do you do to calm down the nerves before going on set?
I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. The only thing I do before going on set is pray, and that’s it.
What has been your greatest moment?
As an actor, this is one of my greatest moments. I have been acting but winning this competition is one of the greatest moments in my life. You know how funny the movie industry has been, as an up and coming actor you take so many sh*ts. But I want to say that this is my biggest moment so far.
What of your lowest moment?
It got to a point in my career that I gave acting my all and friends and family members were asking ‘you have been acting for awhile, now where are your movies?’ You know, they were throwing all those mockery words at me. One day, I went into my room and cried. I asked myself ‘is this how I’ll continue struggling without nothing to show for it?’ But I gave myself the courage. I said to myself, ‘if thousands of actors I know can make it, I will also make it’.
What was your turning point?
The turning point came two years ago. I remember coming back for Christmas and meeting one of my family members that I was looking up to. He said ‘you have been acting but we have not seen any of your movies. Stop wasting your time. Go and do something else’. Again, I went inside my room and cried. Then I said, ‘God if this is what you have called me to do, please show yourself’. Today, they will be surprised that I won the People’s Hero competition. I have not told anybody about it, the only person that knows about this is my mom, and of course, my siblings. Even my girlfriend didn’t know about it. Others who saw my posts on social media are afraid to call me.
Can you describe your ideal woman?
As you can see, I am a dark man, so I want light in my family. I want a lady that is tall and fair-complexioned.
Any plan to settle down soon?
(Laughter) Let me build my career first. Then we can talk about marriage later.
You just won N7m, how are you going to spend the money?
I am sure my pastor will call me because I have been calling him for prayers. So, the first thing I am going to do is to pay my tithe. I know my pastor and my mom will remind me of this. So, of course, paying my tithe is the first thing I will do. I attend Living Faith Church in Taraba State.
Tell us about your growing up?
I grew up in a family where things were actually going well until I lost my dad. I am the first child of my family; we are five children, two boys and three beautiful girls. Things were going well until sickness took away my dad, and it cost us a lot of money. His sickness took so many things away. We had to sell a lot of things in the house to survive. At the end of the day, I gained admission the same year my younger brother also gained admission. So, I had to step down and allow him go to school. Before I knew what was happening, my younger sister also got admission. I decided to step down my own admission for them because they saw me as the hope of the family. Today, they are very proud of me for the decision I made.
What else do you do aside acting?
My dad used to run a business; he sold clothes. So, once in a while I assisted him in running the business. Now, I am going to expand the business and also my career as an actor.
What would you say to the sponsors of People’s Hero?
I want to say a very big thank you to the organisers and sponsors of the show, most especially, International Breweries and MTV Base. I also say a big thank you to my director, Mr. Segun Adefila. He’s the reason why I am standing here so strong. I equally thank Rachel Okonkwo, Nkem Owoh (Osuofia), Nkoli and Ilbliss, they all motivated and encouraged me, and their words of advice kept me this far.