Genny Uzoma: I was paid N500 for my first movie role
Nollywood actress and producer, Genny Uzoma was born and raised in Enugu State but hails from Imo State. She runs Zinna Studios, a production outfit. Uzoma obtained a degree in Political Science from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). She has featured in a movie and series, including The Shopgirl, Birthday Bash, Husbands of Lagos, The Vendor, Our Society, Baby Shower, Best of the Game, Classical Fraud, Royal Doom, Eagles Bride, Reconciliation and The Gateman. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her passion for the arts and her feats in the industry.
Share with us your sojourn into the movie industry?
I started when I was young. I have always been fascinated with arts and literature. I used to do plays in secondary school; I did The Incorruptible Judge, it went so well and I knew I wanted to be an actor. I signed up with the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria as a teenager and did my first film, A waka pass role in 2004. It featured Patience Uzokwu, Ini Edo and Bob Manuel. I was paid N500. I was really excited that I got to share the screen with veterans. This happened while I was studying Political Science at the university. My parents never approved of it, they thought I would be promiscuous and out of control. I stood my grounds and today my mum is one of my biggest supporters.
How easy was it for you to build a career in the Nollywood industry?
After my service year, I started working in the corporate space as a call center operator and a customer care consultant but I wasn’t fulfilled there, though I was able to pay my rent, I had a small car, life was fairly good and I was already in talks to get married. I wanted something more out of life and I always knew I would come back to the industry. It was just a question of time. So, I managed to save a little and I resigned. I was really good at my telecoms job; I won best customer service official of the month for a couple of times. When I came back into the industry, it felt like it was my first time. I was finding it difficult to get jobs, at a point, my little savings was running out. Then I wrote Mr. Emeka Duru whom I had known vaguely in the industry and he secured an audition for me with Mary Njoku, the chief executive officer of ROK Studios and I got a role in Husbands of Lagos. It turned out to be a success and that made people to notice me again.
What influences the kind of movies you choose to feature in?
Right now, I have gotten to a stage where I don’t want to do all the scripts. I want to do scripts that will elevate me. There was a time I did literally everything, I just wanted to been seen. I am now hungry for big scripts that are challenging and will bring out the best in me. A script has to be relatable and make me want to be on set everyday. Also, I have bills to pay so it could be a reason I take up a script.
What are you currently working on and what should we be expecting from you before the end of the year?
I am currently on set, but not in my own production. As a producer myself, I have produced seven films of my own and look forward to more. I hope that before the end of the year, I will get on my own project.
How rewarding is the movie industry, coming from a telecoms background?
I am happier in the movie industry. I will say I was miserable in the telecoms industry. I felt like I was living in an alternate reality in the telecoms field. Although I gathered skills that are helping me in my day-to-day life, being in the entertainment industry gives me fulfillment despite the struggles too and I know that greater things will come. Thankfully we are noticed in the international scene, through Netflix and Amazon.
What drives you?
Growth, evolving, unlearning and relearning drive me. The way I would act today was not how I did a few years ago, so there have been changes. Also, I want to be successful.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion means accessible glam, because I am not one of those who choose to break the bank to look good.
What is your style?
My style is simplicity. I believe in looking good and smelling really nice. My style depends on how I feel like as long as I look good.
What is your favourite local dish?
My favourite is yam and oil or egg sauce. Because of the too much calories in oil, I have stopped and embraced egg or fish sauce. It just has to be yam.
What changes do you hope to see the industry imbibe?
A lot of changes are happening and have continued to happen. With the likes of Netflix, we have international collaborations and now submit films for the Oscars. Also, our films are in cinemas outside the country. I pray that whoever becomes the president next year will further grow the industry because funding is a huge challenge.
What is your life mantra?
Never give up