By TONY OGAGA ERHARIEFE & EMUEKPERE CHRISTOPHER
THE last couple of years have been eventful for actress turned moviemaker, Uche Nnanna. Within a period of two years she married her dream man, Spain-based Nigeria, Richard Maduka, had her son and recently unveiled her debut movie, Bond of Bondage, to wide acclaim and reviews. In this chat with Entertainer, the light skinned actress and indigene of Arohukwu, Abia State, and graduate of Theatre Arts opens up on the journey so far and how she splurged N10m on her debut production effort, Bond of Bondage among other issues.
You just had a baby and you look hot! How did you get back your figure so quickly?
Wow! Thanks. It wasn’t easy. I did six month exclusive breast feeding for my baby and after that I hit the gym and went through thorough exercise and dieting and here I am today..
Exclusive breast feeding for your baby, Why?
(smiles) Exclusive breast feeding helps your child’s brain to develop very well and boosts his immunity thereby helping the child to fight disease. Since I gave birth to my child, he has not fallen sick for one day and he is 15 months old now. My advice for women is that if you can, go for exclusive breast feeding. After that you can still get your banging bodies back by exercising and dieting just like I did. If you are a mother and you have a child, why don’t you give your baby the best.
So what project are you working on currently?
I am working on a movie, a Nelson Jombo production in which I play the role of a married nurse. The movie is about a couple who just got married and are trying to enjoy life but are having so many challenges. It is a very unique script, something very different.
What where the challenges?
You see, I have never done anything related to the medical profession so it was totally novel. I had to go through research to know how to comport myself as a nurse while attending to my patient including how to check for pulse and take blood pressure readings among others.
You recently moved into movie production with Bond of Bondage, what is that movie all about?
It is about a teenager whose mother wasn’t responsible. She ends up taking a blood oath with her insecure boyfriend who is looking at ways of blackmailing her into not dumping him as she heads for the university. She and her lover take the blood oath without knowing the implications thinking it would all end there but it did not. I played the young girl who took the oath. The movie stars Mike Ezuruonye, Eve Esin, Chineyere Wilfred, Enema Amakaeze, Steve Eboh and I; it is a star-studded project.
What where the challenges you faced while producing this movie?
It wasn’t easy at all because at that time I was a nursing mother but thank God, I have a very understanding husband who has been supporting me spiritually and financially. I spent close to N10m on the project.
How has marriage transformed you?
Marriage has really transformed me. Before now when I saw certain things I would not be moved but right now, after having my child, my views of the world have changed. I give it up to all the mothers out there especially my mother who had nine kids. I wonder how she pulled it-off; it is not easy.
What lessons did you learn from the experience?
What I learnt was that you do not have to do business with people because they are your friends or family. You only do business with people who are business minded. The movie is not out right now but very soon, in less than a month it would be out. It is not a cinema movie because we are going straight to DVD and so far so good, the response has been awesome.
Tell us about growing up?
Growing up wasn’t easy. I come from a comfortable home but growing up with the kind of mother I have was something else because my mother is a born again in the real sense of the word and she is a disciplinarian. It was so bad that whenever I had a mid-term break I found it hard to go home because at home every morning, you had to wake up very early for morning mass and you must pray at night. And couldn’t even lie because if you lied, she would find out because she could see through you. My dad is a very peaceful man.
At what point did you discover that you had talent for acting?
It was from a very tender age when I was in primary school. I was always picked to represent my school by my teachers even ahead of my seniors though I was very small. I later joined the acting club and we did a lot of stuff. That was where it all started.
So how did you get into Nollywood?
That was 2003 during the ASUU strike of that year which lasted for six long months. As theatre Arts students we were always busy and then I suddenly found myself at home idle. One thing led to another and I had this opportunity and I knew I had something to offer to Nollywood so I took it up and here we are today.
Could you describe your first time before the camera like?
As a Theatre Arts student I didn’t experience fright because I have all that down my alley. Sometimes in school we had as much as 3000 people watching us on stage so I wasn’t shy or afraid in front of camera the first time. And my foray into Nollywood began from the scratch; I started front the scratch. My first movie role was a waka pass role but when we were through, the producer and director called me aside and said they were not sure if it was really my first time because I did justice to the role I was given. I told them that I was a Theatre Arts student.
What was your break out movie?
It was Holy Love. It was produced around 2004 and 2005.
How do you interpret your scripts?
The first thing I do is to pray with the script. I get inspiration spiritually from
God. I ask Him to open my mind so that I can interpret the script successfully. After that I read the script. Again let me add that it depends on the role and character of the person I am portraying; that helps me interpret it successfully. For me, I am yet to encounter my most challenging role.
Have you ever felt like giving up acting?
There was a time I felt like that. I felt that I needed a big breakthrough but it wasn’t coming but God spoke to me and told me not to be worried. He said he would reach out to me and sooth my heart at the appointed time and that was what he did.
Have you ever experienced sexual harassment?
No. I have never and like the popular saying goes ‘dress the way you want to be addressed.’ All these things start from the way we present ourselves to people. There is a way you would carry yourself that will attract people to you negatively. The truth is, nobody would see you and just start harassing you like that.
What would you say has been the secret to your success after all these years?
It has been God. Another thing is giving. The Bible says ‘let your left hand not know what your right hand is doing.’ People do stuff and let everyone know the good they have done by posting pictures of it in different places but it should not be so. When you give to the poor and needy, nobody should know about it and I can assure you that God will open up the flood gates of heaven upon your life; you would hardly believe the way your blessing will come because you will be overwhelmed. This has been my secret all this years; giving to the poor and the needy without letting the second person know about it.
How did you meet your husband?
We met through a mutual friend who introduced me to my husband.
How long did you guys date before you knew he was the one?
(Laughter) It was for just six months. You don’t have to date someone for like two years before walking down the aisle. When you see someone that you feel you are compatible with, spend time with that person for one month you would know if he or she is the one or not. I knew my man was the right one for me just after three months.
What attracted you to him?
It was kind of love at first sight because when you see my husband going by his looks and his dressing, he would quickly draw your attention. I even thought he was a play boy but by the time we got intimate, I knew he was the one for me. There is something he loves so much that I equally love which is God.
Talking about the home front, how do you combine taking care of the family and acting?
It has not being easy; even my friends tell me that I am a strong woman because combining all of this with other projects is quite challenging. It has been by God’s grace and I thank God for giving me a supportive husband.
What is your advice for young girls who aspire to be like you?
My advice is that acting is a good profession provided you know what you want. Once you know what you want, you set your standard and go for it.