Uzor Arukwe: Acting is my means of Livelihood
Uzor Arukwe is a Nollywood actor and model from Abia State. He became popular for his role as Inspector Sam in a 2017 movie titled Sergeant Tutu. Arukwe is a graduate of Economics from Abia State University. He also holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Calabar. He has so far featured in over 200 Nollywood movies. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, the budding actor shares his passion for acting.
What is your attraction to film?
This is my life; it’s not an attraction. More like passion. I worked in a corporate organisation for 10 years and resigned in 2018 to do this as full time. This is just what I’ve always wanted from secondary school. This is my means of livelihood; if I’m not working, I’m not eating. I try to make good movies, I try to be out there, I try to step out into the market because a lot of people still don’t believe in me, they don’t know my range, my depth. So I’m just trying to get out there. Show people I’m not just a guy. I actually sing and dance. This is my life, this is what God has given to me and I want to use it.
You spent all these money on degrees only for you to drop them for acting?
I did it for my parents. My father is an engineer and my mum is a teacher. When I came out with my first degree, my result wasn’t very pleasant so my mum said ‘you can’t show your father that result, go back and make it right.’ So I had to do the same course but unfortunately this time, I couldn’t get BSc, I got a B.Ed in Economics in the Education faculty. I forwarded everything to my father and then worked for 10 years. And for me, I was done with the job, because everybody knows that this is what Uzor does – like music, dance, and drama. That’s me.
While you were working, were you also doing acting?
I was. I almost never stopped. I sang, acted and danced in the church for the most part of my life. I started going for auditions too and I thought I was going to pick up like that real quick but then whatever you do on the side will keep you on the side. So I was acting on the side and my 9-5 was my full time job. I had to cut away from that and then got focused. They say ‘you’ll be amazed what six months of focus can do’. I just poured myself into this, I’ve been fortunate and God has been faithful. I cannot say it is all by my work because a lot of people who had been there before me haven’t made the kind of advances I have made. I’m still here, I just want to do better.
How well would you say you have evolved?
I resigned in 2018, and I got nominated in 2020 and then this year. That means I got two nominations. I thank God I’m doing great. Some big names are beginning to look my way, and I feel that’s advancement. I’m trying my best.
Describe yourself in three words
I’m ambitious, focused and very passionate.
There must be some challenges you have faced in this industry in the last few years
It’s been crazy; there are too many challenges, like from the pay to the conditions in which we shoot, to the times that we finish work. I didn’t have a car for a long time, and then I have to finish work, which sometimes would end around 3am, 4am. I can’t get an Uber, so I have to wait at the location because of the curfew at the time. Luckily by the grace of God I bought a car last year. The challenges are too many. I don’t want to start calling out, but producers, directors, all of us face challenges, actors, everybody. It is also a very collaborative spot where you have to know people whether you like it or not. People have to believe in you. People have to see your talents.
What has kept you going in this craft?
There’s nothing else, it’s a labour of love. There’s nothing else that’ll keep you. If you don’t like it, then you can’t be there. You have to be crazy passionate about it because sometimes the money no dey reach and then we just manage. But you always find yourself missing the stage and missing film or missing camera and you just want to go back because this is all God has called you to do.
Having done both stage and film, which would you say is your comfort zone?
They are two different techniques and so stage is harder. This is because the lines, monologues have to be done in one take, but for film, you have missed a line you can do a retake. Also, if you are not used to being in the crowd and they react to your stage play, you could get off balance.
What is your style, what does fashion mean to you?
I am a simple person and I like comfort. I’ll never be into tight things. I wore it at first when it came out because that was what was in vogue, but now, that baggy things are coming back. I’m very happy because I like comfortable clothing.
What’s your favourite food?
I like swallows with any type of good soup.
What advice do you have for others looking up to you?
Just be focused. Be good. It’s not enough to just want to act; you have to know how to act and get training. Even if it’s not direct training, get training of some sort. Have a mentor who has been in the game and let him pour his skills into you. Train because you will get that opportunity and when you get there, if you miss it, you’ve missed it. Also believe in God and believe in yourself.