Uche Macauley: A loaded comeback for the timeless actress
Talk of a timeless, restless and quintessential thespian that has loads and loads of industry award in her kitty, and who is loved to the point of adoration for her undeniable charm and geniality, and fingers will point to the versatile and adorable character, actress Uchechukwu Nwaneamaka Mac-Auley.
The Delta State-born stage and screen actress, writer and producer needs no introduction, especially to those who followed the journey to Nollywood from television.
Uche it was who earned the admiration of her fans and shot herself into reckoning for her unerring interpretation of the role of Nkemji, that village beauty in the rested television soap by Amaka Igwe, Checkmate.
With Checkmate, and later with so many critically acclaimed movies, like Opa William’s emotive movie, Onome, To Live Again and Tunde Kelani’s Thunder Bolt, the English graduate of the Delta State University (DELSU) confirmed her top rating on the moviescape, and she has ever remained relevant to moviedom, as butter is to bread.
But she admitted that the content development aspect of motion picture practice has occupied her more now than her first love. She spoke about her career and life and other issues.
Some fans have declared you absent without leave. So, where have you been?
I have been around; I just have not done any movies in a long time. I have been doing a lot of writing, children’s stories, television and movie scripts, and productions for corporate bodies.
I run two companies with my husband- a publishing company and a content development and production company. I am the company’s Head of Content. I create most of the contents that go out to corporate entities, educational dramas, contents for product activation and documentaries.
When I am not the one creating, I oversee the other writers and the productions, from idea to the finished product for quality control.
So, I have been right here.
You and your hubby ventured into home movie production at some point. How would you describe the experience?
Well, I will just say the experience was a priceless lesson-in-time. We came out with a long list of things we would never ever do again as a production company.
But we are still working. I am a support-cast on Hush, the new African Magic drama series that is fast becoming a must-watch. I play the role of Ntse, a very embittered, contentious, vindictive and rude character. It is unlike any character I have ever played, which is a really good thing. One can rightly say that I returned in that.
My husband is currently one of the directors of Mnet’s Tinsel and he also directed over 200 episodes of The Johnsons, not to mention his numerous stage production credits.
Together, we are in the business of content development and production. Avizariah, our company, was specifically set up for that.
What is your current take on Nollywood?
The industry is vibrant. Things are so different now. For instance, in the old days, all you had to go on from being an unknown to that star status was your raw talent and the little publicity producers could muster for their productions.
Nowadays, there are endless promotional possibilities for anyone who wants to blow his or her own trumpet, countless ways you can be seen and heard, thanks to social media.
There are wonderful endorsement opportunities dropping on the laps of celebrities from corporate organisations.
There are red carpet appearances on almost every event. We didn’t even have a colourless carpet or a thin strip of it.
The industry was exciting in its own way then. We didn’t miss these things then; we didn’t even know they existed.
So, it is certainly a more vibrant industry now in many ways.
You have written and published some books for children and a few plays. Is writing a pastime thing for you or it is your other passion?
Writing is one of the very few things I would continue doing, even if I don’t get paid for it. Fortunately, I am rewarded for my works.
It is a major part of my everyday life and when I say everyday, I mean it is a vocation I practise daily.
So, it is more than a passion; it is business. And beyond having written and published a few children’s books and a stage play, a couple of my movie scripts- Broken Chord, Sisters on the Run, Mummy Dearest, Footprints, Sinners and so on have been produced.
I wrote all the episodes of Man and Woman Unusual, a business magazine programme that ran on some terrestrial stations and Africa Magic.
I have even written for radio. Right now, I am part of the writing team for a television series that is in development and I was head writer for another.
My books are also in schools’ curriculums, while a number of them are in various stages of development and production.
I write across various categories, for children, television, film, radio, film and stage. So, writing is not a pastime for me in any sense of the word.
Will your roles as Nkemji in Checkmate or Thunderbolt count as your most memorable screen roles?
Yes, they will count, but I have played some other memorable roles, like the title role Onome in the movie Onome, which got me the award for Upcoming Actress.
There is the widowed character I played in Tade Ogidan and Francis Onwochei’s Saving Alero, which gave me a best actress award. Then my role in Footprints, Broken Chord, Kingsley Ogoro’s The Return and my role as Bio in Amaka Igwe’s To Live Again.
You are married to a filmmaker, Solomon Mac-Auley, and most people believe that artistes don’t make good couples. What have you done extra that has kept your marriage stronger?
I wonder why people always say that. It is not the profession that makes good or bad husbands and wives, or awful marriages for that matter.
What one does has absolutely nothing to do with a marriage being successful or not. And there is absolutely nothing special or extra that I am doing.
But I must say though that I am married to a man who loves and fears God and I have to add this, my marriage is totally a product of grace.
What do you do specially to keep the same looks and frame year in, year out?
I get asked that a lot, but frankly, I don’t think I have kept this same frame and looks.
Funny enough, I had this same argument with my husband recently. He also thinks I haven’t changed one bit. But I know I have, a lot. I can’t even get into the same clothes I wore just a year ago.
And for the first time in my life, I am watching what I eat and desperately trying to get my unwilling body to exercise. It has been such a battle.So, please look again, you will see the changes. They are subtle, but they are definitely there.
It was Children Day yesterday, what word for young people coming into the industry?
Talent isn’t enough. Yes, it is great to be talented; I mean you can’t even legally gain entrance into the industry without it.
But it has to be mixed with hardwork and a one-track mind to keep working against all odds. You must keep working. And, I must say this is an industry where one must be very close to God and make praying a number one priority.
What are you working on now and what is your career ambition?
I am still on my books for kids, several of them actually. They are in various stages of development and production, while I am working on brand new ones.
Without counting my chicks before they are hatched, I would simply add that no aspect of my areas of interest- writing, movie producing and acting- would be neglected.
As for my career ambition, it is simply to birth all that God has graciously bestowed on me. I am happy and content with the career choice God carved out for me and the talents He has bestowed on me.
No regrets whatsoever.
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