A pip for beloved Nollywood actress, Ebele Okaro-Onyiuke
Notable actress and one of the very few consistent actresses of the ‘old Nollywood bloc,’ Ebele Okaro-Onyiuke, fought very hard to hold back tears when she made it to the stage to receive her award for Best Supporting Actress in a drama at the just held African Magic Viewers Choice Award (AMVCA).
The Theatre Arts graduate and actress in the professional class, who was nominated for her role in 4-1 Love, was visibly surprised when she was named winner in that category.
“I didn’t know that we ‘old cargos’ will be remembered,” she said backstage at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, where the award ceremony held. “But I give God the glory for the award and I thank my fans for standing by me all this years,” she said tearfully.
Although it is natural for every nominee to feel same way, as the award could go to anyone in nomination, the ovation that greeted her declaration as winner in the category is a pointer to the fact that she does not only deserve the award, but even as an ‘old wine’ that her acting has been categorised as, Okaro-Onyiuke acting still tastes good.
A critic described her performance in 4-1-Love, directed by Ikechukwu Onyeka, as “outstanding and classy.” The romantic comedy features Kenneth Okonkwo, comedian Bovi Ugboma, Alexx Ekubo, Lilian Esoro, Deyemi Okanlawon and Anthony Monjaro in lead and supporting roles.
An acting diva in a class of her own, Okaro-Onyiuke versatility and ability to interpret roles delightfully and believably, with some attention to details, is the reason why she has continued to stand out.
A compelling, imaginative and highly regarded showbiz personality, who most movie goers agree has through hardwork, perseverance and dogged determination excelled as an actress, the unpretentiously friendly second child of a family of six and old girl of Santa Maria Primary School, Enugu and Queen of the Holy Rosary in Nsukka has unarguably emerged one of the industry’s reliable character actresses, leaving a memorable impression on the movie crowd, most of whom have alluded that they are sure to spend quality time each time she features in a movie.
Indeed, the cheerful Okaro-Onyiuke is reputed to be listed among the very few actresses in the Nigerian movie renaissance who posses the deft ability to spin screen roles into satisfying spheres.
Described by close friends and colleagues as focused, likeable and caring, Okaro-Onyiuke is also reputed to be an acting auntie to a number of young actresses and rightly respected by her fans and colleagues for her consistency and for tenaciously holding on, especially in the face of daunting industry challenges.
Married into the popular Onyiuke family, acting for this Nollywood beloved actress has been a matter of childhood past time that has now and effortlessly too resulted into stardom.
Okaro-Onyiuke cut her acting teeth in primary school, did some more acting in secondary school before she gained admission to the University of Calabar to study Education.
But her passion for make believe resisted all attempt to make her not to train as a theatre artiste. To prove that her ‘passion was thicker than a mere wish,’ Okaro-Onyiuke, whom a critic once said possesses a textbook and clinical acting finishing, eventually pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts.
Star of a number of television programmes and home movies, including Moving Fingers, Hostages, Third Eye, Eziza, Evil Thing and 30 Days, Okaro-Onyiuke, a crusader for professionalism, served out her National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Lagos.
That provided the platform for Okaro-Onyiuke, who was born in London, but brought up in Enugu, to do some more acting. But during the period of drought in the acting land, the star of Days of Rage, Shallow Waters and Red Light tried her hands on other things. She worked at an embassy in Lagos and then a bank, which later went under.
She returned to acting again, this time on full time basis and since then, she has not looked elsewhere. Today, not only is she popular, Okaro-Onyiuke has also warmed herself into the hearts of most movie goers and her rating card indicates that she is one of the most featured actresses on the home video scene.
Asked to state her career ambition, Okaro-Onyiuke, who likes being happy and who is a fan of the Hollywood actress, Whopi Goldberg, said her ambition is to continue to be involved in productions and also to mentor young people, particularly young ladies who want to venture into the profession.
“I will like to be involved in productions. But I will act in my productions. I don’t want to stop acting; I want to be able to combine it with producing and mentoring young people,” she said.