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Chinenye Uyanna: Acting is financially rewarding, but it takes time

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
08 October 2022   |   4:15 am
Chinenye Uyanna is an actress and producer. The graduate of Economics and Political Science from the University of Nsukka (UNN) is living her childhood dream despite her educational background. Uyanna is an indigene of Anambra State bred in Lagos. She produced her first Igbo indigenous movie titled, Akwa Ndu. She has since featured in several…

Chinenye Uyanna

Chinenye Uyanna is an actress and producer. The graduate of Economics and Political Science from the University of Nsukka (UNN) is living her childhood dream despite her educational background. Uyanna is an indigene of Anambra State bred in Lagos. She produced her first Igbo indigenous movie titled, Akwa Ndu. She has since featured in several movies, including Celebrity Marriage, Gamble of Love, College girls and Asunder. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her sojourn into Nollywood.

Tell us a bit about your journey into the industry?
I started acting in 2012, during my National Youth Service. My first movie was Shakara Babe. However, growing up, we would always travel to the village, and when we are seated together, we ask ourselves what we wanted to be in the future. While others would say they want to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer, I would say I want to be an actor, and I get a stare.

How did your parents react to this?
Then, I really wanted a career in acting, but I was scared to tell my father I wanted to study theatre arts. I should have told him, but I didn’t have the courage. I remember telling my mum when I got admission into the university and she said I should go and talk to my dad, but I knew I won’t make a headway. Today, I am living my dream.

I remember meeting Uche Ike, who was instrumental to my journey in Nollywood.
It was in 2004/2005. When I told him I wanted to act, he said: ‘No, go to school, when you are done, call me. Movie will wait for you.” So, when I finished my last paper, the first person I called was Uche Ike and he said ‘welcome to Nollywood.’ It was through him I got my first movie role and I kept getting referrals from then.

How have you evolved since you started out?
Of course, there is growth. When you look at my pictures when I started out and my pictures now, there is a clear difference. It is the same thing with my acting. I am getting better by the day. I have also moved on to producing my own movies.

What are some the movies you have produced?
I started producing my films last year, with Mended Hearts, then Five, Jackie’s baby bump and the most recent, To have and to hold, that is very dear to my heart.

What interests you in a script that you produce?
The story. Every story must have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes, I give to other people to hear their thoughts. It helps me to decide which I should go for.

Overtime, what kind of movie do you think people like to watch?
Right now, you can’t predict what people would like, but then comedy has to be it. So, whatever the storyline is, there should be a bit of comedy. People are more drawn to comic work.

What challenges do you face as an actor?
Most times, we shoot in the villages and my skin gets bitten by sun flies and gathers dust. Shooting late too is a challenge, but then, it comes with the job.

How financially rewarding is acting?
Acting is financially rewarding but it takes time. What I am being paid when I started is not the same today, so you have to grow. Even as a banker or any other professional, at some level, you get a promotion if you are good at what you do. So, you should know your craft. As a producer, I know that money comes from there too.

Would you say having the right connection is an advantage in the industry?
Not connection, some people come to you as a blessing. I have met a lot of people through Uche Ike, and Paul Igwe another director and producer who has added value to him. I know he will not put you in his movie based on recommendations, you must prove yourself at audition. It wasn’t easy when I met him, but today, we are growing.

How are you able to hone your craft?
From the age of 16, I started out in my youth group in St. Bridget’s Catholic Church here in Lagos. We have a drama unit, so I started to act and perform on stage. I am really grateful for that opportunity which has added immensely to my craft today.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion means statement. There should be a picture of what you want to look like at every time, and then you live out the statement.

What is your favourite local dish?
Afang soup
Describe yourself in three words
Pretty, goal-oriented and playful

What is your advice to young people who look up to you?
Do not believe whatever you see on social media. Forget what you see there, you have to start somewhere; there has to be a growth process. Know your craft and know your God. It is by His grace I am where I am today. Acting is about mimicking, it is not about you, so don’t bring your character or your personality into it. Understand where you are coming from, and one step at a time, you will get there. It takes nothing but hard work. Continue to work hard, pay attention to people around you and grow.

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