The name Uche Jombo is synonymous to a Nigerian movie star that has had a rough time with the Nigerian media, especially on her romantic relationships. Shortly before her secret marriage, she reportedly blamed the media for her failed relationship with Super Eagles football player, Kalu Uche. The relationship was believed to have lasted 10 years before both parted ways. It was no surprise when the talented actress chose to pull off a secret wedding to her Puerto Rican lover, Kenny Rodriguez, in May in the United States of America. Even after the secret wedding, many controversies still trailed her over the late release of her wedding pictures. Some days ago, Jombo spoke with The Eagle Online. She talked about sundry issues but refused to delve into her marriage. Excerpts:
With what you have achieved, how have you been giving back to the society?
I employ and pay people’s school fees of those not related to me. How else do you want me to give back to the society? Oga, I like to know how you give back to the society.
I do by reporting what is right
Are you really doing that? Because the other time, you were asking about my private life.
But that is part of Uche Jombo
No, because Uche Jombo as a person is different from Uche Jombo as a brand.
What differentiates the two?
Uche Jombo the person is quiet about her privacy because that is the only thing that has made me to still remain where I am and still stand. Like I said, inasmuch as I will piss you off, we cannot do without each other. So, I would rather not give you reason to piss me off. I would rather speak about the work that speaks about how serious I am as a filmmaker or humanitarian projects I do.
Do you bring up future talents in acting?
Is that not what Royal Arts Academy is about? That is what we do every day. It is not actually building future stars alone, it is about getting people who are interested in this and passionate about this job because that is what keeps you here. If you are here for money or fame, it fizzles out. You have to make those who want to have a staying power in the industry realise that it is not about fame and money. Money should not be the reason why they want to act. But when the passion is put into it, money would come.
What has kept the likes of you and others to remain on top despite having other talented ones coming after you?
I can’t speak for anyone but like I said earlier on, it is the passion. Passion has also driven me to invest back into Nollywood. That is how much I believe in it. I am sure I am not the only one who is capable of doing that. Investing back into Nollywood wasn’t about making money. You can tell by the kind of films I do, which is advocacy based. It was really about the kind of story I write and want to bring out because I prefer to do human stories. If you get to a point, you define why you are here. But if you don’t, you will float. So, you ask why you are in the industry. It will either make or mar you.
Please talk about your foundation
My foundation is ‘Uche Jombo and You’. It empowers the youth through talents. My production company is mostly filled with young people. I am responsible for their training. They train and get paid when they work, even on my production. If someone comes to me and says he does not have money to pay his school fees, he can work for me and get paid. I am also always being careful because some people come with fake stories of being in one problem or the other. It is sometimes difficult but we are trying. I just feel for them because of where I was coming from. I crawled, ran and I got here (stardom). I have spent over 10 years here. I came from a very humble beginning and saw myself through school. I started as a script writer, an actress, producer, a studio owner and I have everything that I need to help anyone that is interested in production. I am interested in the next generation. That was how I came on board as a director for Royal Acts Academy. It is basically what I am about.
How have you been able to stay up with all the negative stories written about you?
I just have a feel of it. I have learnt how to separate my life from work. I have come to the realisation of the fact that I am in a love and hate relationship with the press. Having said that, I have had few people who have been supporting me over the years and have seen me grow. They have seen me from my teenage years to my maturity stage. They have been there for me from my waka pass era to my brand now as Uche Jombo. When such people write about me, it is a little different (from others). Those few people help me in balancing stories written by those who don’t know much about me.
What negative story has really hit you the most and won’t forget in a hurry?
I have been written about severally but none can come to mind now. I have had times I read through a story written about me in the papers and the only thing that is true is my name. Sometimes, they spell my name wrongly. They spell ‘Jumbo’ rather than ‘Jombo’. Like a colleague of mine told me that I should work hard to separate me as a person from me as a brand. That advice was given to me almost eight years ago and I have really tried to do that.
Which one in particular brought down tears in your eyes?
None can come to mind now.
Is it about the abortion story?
I have had worse. That one was just big because it was the one I took to court because I don’t understand why anybody would sit down and fabricate something that would hurt another human being without feeling anything. Even if you don’t have a sister, you might get married tomorrow and have a girl child. Anytime anybody writes, I always say drop your pen and just imagine you being that person. If what you’ve written is the truth, you are justified. If it is not the truth, the person need not to go to anywhere to swear for you, Karma would just take care of you.
Have you cursed for anyone before?
No, I am just saying I do not need to waste my breath to swear. Karma would take care of you. That is the way it works.
Which one has forced tears out of you?
Several. Are you looking for headline?
Not at all.
I said that none can come to mind. You have asked me one question five times. None can come to mind, capuche.
Among the young ones coming up in the industry, who do you think can take over from the likes of you?
What is her name?
Her name is Ruth Kadiri. She is a young actress and a script writer. When I started, I was a script writer and an actress. This separated me from the other actresses. It took me close to six years to find someone that could step into that.
What attributes did you see in her that made you believe in her this much?
Because I acted in a film she wrote, ‘Mad Sex’. She was just beginning that time. That was the first time I was seeing one of her scripts and I saw her potentials as a script writer. Then, I saw her act and I was convinced about her skills. What other thing do I need than to encourage her?
Where do you mostly stay now? Nigeria or the US?
Why are you interested in my personal life? The fact that I pulled off a traditional, court and white wedding and you did not know, that should tell you the way I value my privacy. How else can I explain this to you?