Gorgeous and fair skinned actress, Nkiru Umeh is one of the actresses that any director would love to have on his set, thanks to her beauty and brains.
The Anambra State born star joined the motion picture industry in 2011 and has acted in more than 20 movies, despite taking a break to raise her children. The mother of four, who is part of ‘Lagos Men’ drama series,
Watch Nkiru Umeh In THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER (Nigerian Nollywood)
Nollywood actress, Nkiru Umeh spoke to SAMUEL ABULUDE on her passion and how early marriage redefined her career, among other issues.
How long have you been acting?
Professionally, three years and some months. I started off in 2011, but I had to give it a break to take care of my family. I returned three years ago and since then I have been acting.
How would you describe the level of impact you have made in the industry?
Unike Genevieve and Omotola who have been in the industry over twenty years and have done so much, I have not been acting for long. But within this short time of three years, I have been able to carve my own niche with outstanding craft. At least, I have close to twenty movies to my credit.
Beauty or talent, what do you attribute the successes of your movie appearances?
Beauty is a plus when it comes to acting because it gives you that camera friendly outlook, but what gets you going is your craft, the talent. And I think both have kept me going.
You studied Public Administration in the university, why did acting appeal to you as a career path?
Acting has been there since I was little. From primary school I was involved in school drama. In secondary school I was leading the drama group in my school. It has been there for a very long time. I think I was born with it, but I didn’t start when I planned to because I got married early. And I felt it was important to take care of that part of my life before venturing into acting.
At what age did you get married?
I got married at seventeen and I had my first child at eighteen.
Did you decide to get married that early?
Yes. I started having suitors very early in life. I think I had my first suitor when I was thirteen. Then I looked sixteen. I knew I was going to get married early. So, I started programming my mind for it. I love early marriage. And I have always wanted to have kids early and for people to mistaken them as my siblings. I wanted that picture for myself. And having suitors early, I got married early. I have no regrets.
What endeared your hubby to you in spite of other suitors?
You mean what made my husband marry me? Connection. Chemistry. I felt it. It was natural. It was strong then I knew he was the man for me. Secondly, I had my dreams. I knew I wanted to be an actress. I didn’t want someone that would stop me from doing that. From the beginning he was comfortable with my aspirations. He only wanted me to have kids first. I am done with kids. Now, it is my career.
With the way you look, no one would believe you have four kids. Is it one of the advantages of early marriage?
I don’t think early marriage has anything to do with the way I look. It’s decision. I look this way because I wanted to. I put in a lot of efforts and hard work to take care of myself. In fact, I have the tendency to gain weight so easily. So, I am always watching myself and what I eat.
Would you be kind enough to share your routine for those what to learn from you?
It is nothing extraordinary. But I think the number one philosophy is that you are what you eat. I just don’t eat anything because I can afford it. I try to exercise once a week. I used to do that three times a week, but I hardly have time for it because of my job. It is more of watching what you eat.
Aside acting what else do you do?
I work at my husband’s company. I am a co-director in his company. I also have a newly registered company of my own. We are trying to build it into something big.
How was growing up like?
I grew up in a very lovely family. My dad was there, though late now. Anyone that grew up in Anambra State would know Hossana Bread. That was my dad. I grew up from the Ezeyilimba family in Aguata, before I got married to my husband. I think I had everything a girl my time would have. We were comfortable until he died. Things became a bit difficult. But we were already grown up to handle life and then I got married.
Was your husband your first relationship?
Yes. Beside secondary school love stories. Yes, he is. I got married too early. What am I supposed to do at seventeen? I think getting married was the best decision I made for myself.
What kind of business does your husband do?
He runs a company, Divine Gate Ltd. We import steel pipes and industrial fittings.
So far so good. We can’t complain even with the economic situation.
Do you have anything to say about the state of things in the country?
Sometimes I weep for my country. I don’t know where we are headed exactly. Every day we wake up we hope for the best. As a concerned citizen, I think they (government) should pay more attention to the masses. Something is obviously wrong. I don’t know what that is. Things are getting worst every day. We now live one day at a time. The one thing that saddens me most is power failure. I don’t know why we are still struggling with electricity at this age. We are fifity-five, going to fifty-six, and we are still struggling with that. Most African countries have long moved on to real problems. It gives me great concern. But if they can get that right, I think every other thing will fall in place because if you run a company where you pay electricity bills without having to run a generator your cost of product will be low as well as the cost of finished goods. I think electricity is the next major project this administration should concern itself with.
This opinion is also reflected in your role in Mama Africa?
Yes. Mama Africa is one of my best movies. It is so because of the message. The movies details what we are facing as a country. I connected to that movie because of that and I gave it my best. Mama Africa was my first big screen. Before then I had done like ten movies. It was the first cinematic movie I did and I was expected to give it my best and I did.
We heard something happened to you during the shooting?
Yes. I fainted on set. It was stress, nothing more. I was shooting Mama Africa and the Royal Maid at the same time. The two productions kind of clashed. And it happened that the same day I got back from a trip to China, after a seventeen hour flight, which I moved into the set of Mama Africa and shortly after another project, The Royal Maid, which had been delayed for a while, was ready. I would today be on set for Mama Africa and two days later on the set of The Royal Maid. And moving out and into character was not as easy. I was so stressed that I passed out. As a human being, I broke down and was rushed to the hospital for two days. They waited for me to recover before continuing.
In Mama Africa, you worked with Jack Orji. How was the experience of working with him?
Yes. Zack Orji played my husband. It was my first job with him. It was an awesome experience. I enjoyed working with him. When you work with people that understand the job and interpret well, it makes your own interpretation easy. You discover that you don’t struggle much. They help you do your job better. I was honoured working with him. He was very friendly and accommodating.
In another movie, A Certain Night, you played blind Ella. How were you able to make that role believable?
I actually had to research everything about being blind: how they move around, how hold their eyes and feel things around. I had to read everything about them. That’s was how I was able to pull it off. I actually became blind for real on that set even though folks like Juliet Ibrahim, Frederick made funny of me throughout the shooting. But it was challenging being Ella the Blind. The role was very emotional. I cried throughout the movie. I had to take pain killers every day because I had to start the shooting with crying and end it with crying. Certain Night is still my best. I love that movie.