UTI Nwachukwu, the winner of $200,000 star prize in the 2010 edition of Big Brother Africa is still climbing the ladder of fame and fortune. This Computer Science and Education graduate talked about his personal life as well as those things that keep him busy on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, at Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos.
What is the latest on Uti Uwachukwu?
After the Big Brother competition, I got a job as a TV presenter on Jara, a new entertainment news and gossip TV show. My co-anchor is Helen Paul. It’s on African Magic at 6.30 p.m every Saturday. So, I am currently a TV presenter. I’ve got movies lined up and these have made me very busy and more companies are going to scoop me up immediately we finish negotiations.
What do you think are some of the challenges of stardom?
It is a regular one, wherever you go, you are recognised and some people would try to provoke you just to see how you are going to react. There are some things you can no longer do because you are going to be judged based on the fact that you are a celebrity. Sometimes you go to buy things and prices are hiked because they think you are now swimming in money. It’s just crazy. It becomes difficult for you to identify genuine friends. Even the girls that mill around you are not all sincere, so it’s difficult.
What has stardom done for you?
It has opened a lot of doors for me. It’s been great. It’s improved my life. I can now afford things single-handedly. I have a great job that I enjoy and I get paid for enjoying my job. It’s amazing. My life has improved significantly.
What has it not done for you?
Nothing. It’s all been good for me. I mean, very good.
What are those things that have changed about you?
I am still the same person. The only thing that has changed about me is probably my bank account. But apart from that, I’m still grounded, I’m still the same Uti. I still maintain my hobbies. I’m very humane. Money can’t change me. I’m still humble, I still remember where I come from. I’m still the same old me.
What is the experience like anchoring Jara with Helen Paul on African Magic?
It’s been great. Helen is an amazing personality, she makes me very comfortable doing my job. She makes me happy. Then, the job comes easy, really easy. She is a very smart and intelligent woman. So, I enjoy working with her. Very humorous. I have to keep it safe on set because she makes you laugh all the time. I enjoy working with her so much because it’s just like getting paid to have fun.
Were you really prepared for that?
I was not really prepared for it. Like I told you, I was in an audition like everybody else and apparently they saw it in me. I have a lot of natural talents. So, I was very, very lucky. I don’t have to prepare some of these things, they are inborn or acquired by watching movies. I’m also good at mimicking people. So, from mimicking people, you also develop talents and skills.
How was your first day as a TV presenter?
It was amazing. It came really easy and people got up to me asking, ‘Are you sure you’ve not done this kind of thing before?’ I have a lot to do after interviewing people on the streets. But it was so easy.
Do you wish to establish a pet project?
Yes of course, I have planned my pet project. But right now, nothing super big. It’s a personal passion, like I have stringent coming up. It’s an NGO. I’m going to partner with big celebrities in entertainment and non-entertainment sectors. We want to create opportunities for people that are not privileged. I’m also putting up a cancer awareness campaign.
What about your education, do you have any plan to study further?
Oh, I’m done for now. I mean, I have my Bachelors in Computer Science and Education, with Second Class Upper from Benson Idahosa University, Benin City. So, I don’t see myself going back to school unless it’s a course in entertainment or my Master’s. Of course, that would have to do with Hollywood. If I have to take a course to stabilise in Hollywood, fine.
You are no doubt a ladies man, how do you cope with your female admirers?
I have always had female fans right from day one, even before the competition. I was raised by my dad, mom, four sisters and one brother. I have always known I will be appealing to women. So, it comes easy to me. You just have to be disciplined and know what you are doing and don’t get carried away. You just have to know how to control yourself. I appreciate them, I love them, but I’m not going to sleep with every woman I see.
How did you spend the prize money you won at the last Big Brother Africa?
I don’t know, but I still have my money. I’m going to channel it to good use. I don’t have to tell you what I spent it on, but just know that it has grown to something good.
Give us an insight into your daily schedule.
It’s crazy. It’s very hectic because I have organised and unorganised schedules. When I wake up, my call time is 8 or 9 a.m. When I am done in the evening, I eat, sleep and other times, calls just come in. I have to be on a movie set or I have to be in another state. I have to go and give motivational speech somewhere, I have to go modelling for a designer or perform my tourism ambassadorial duties. As you know, I’m a tourism ambassador for Cross River State. So, it’s crazy, hectic, but I love it. I hate being bored, I love surprises, so it’s great.
Can you tell us some of the movies you have featured in?
I’m not at liberty to disclose the titles yet. Even if I disclose them, most times when they are released, the titles are changed. But I’ve worked with great directors and great producers as well. I won an award for Best Actor, West Africa Collaboration at the Ghana Movie Awards and I guess that means I’ve been doing some things right. I won that award for Bursting Out, a Nigerian production and God is really rewarding me this season.
How do you get the food you eat?
I go out to eat most times because I’m a bachelor right now and even if I don’t go out to eat, it’s not about women coming to cook for me. The only time I eat a different food is only when my sisters or my mother cooks for me. So, if you are not my sister or my mom, I’m out there in fast food joint. I love African and intercontinental food.
What do you normally do on weekends?
It depends, I’m really tired of the whole club thing. So, most of the time, I’m resting because I usually have busy week days and some weekends I work, because as an entertainer most of your work is at the weekend. So, when I’m not working, I’m resting, watching TV and improving my talents. Sunday, I have to go to church to worship God because He set me where I am today. My weekends are pretty very simple and if I’m not doing anything, I’m hanging out with my friends, probably at the bar watching a football match.
What is your best drink?
I’m not going to endorse any drink here. But I like cocktails when it comes to alcoholic. Non-alcoholic, I like juices and sodas.
What about your best food?
I love African food, I love Afang and vegetable soup. But my best has to be starch and Banga soup, with fresh fish and bush meat.
Who designs what you wear?
Different designers. My T-shirts are by Top Franchise and Jiro Couture. He is a UK-based designer, but a Nigerian boy. We grew up together. He designed all the shirts I wore in Big Brother house. When it comes to traditional attires, they are designed by Alvince Designs, Jay Vans, etc. James Johnson has done some for me too. And then for English wears, FAB was the first designer to do a style for me.
If we take a peep into your wardrobe, what are those things we are likely to see?
A lot of tunics, lots of T-shirts, loads of jeans, high top shoes, lots of accessories and caps.
What’s your most expensive belonging for now?
I’m not sure. I may have to go back and take a serious look at that. But I don’t really like to remember how much I bought things. I forget how much I bought it if I enjoy it.
Like how much can you spend on what you use?
It depends on the quality, strictly quality. If that thing costs me whatever amount, I would buy it, if it’s worth it.
Tell us about your plan for the Valentine’s Day.
Back in 2000, I was surprised by one of my love interests. She asked me to come over, that she was bored and she wanted to have fun since she had nothing to do. But I went there and she was prepared to give me a treat because I have never been very romantic and she was trying to win me over by showing me how romantic I could be. When I got there, she had like petals all around the table, champagne glasses, like what we see in the movies. She knew I liked sea foods, so she had crabs, fresh fish, prawns, lobsters, etc. I had every reason to believe the order was from a Chinese restaurant. For me, it was almost uncomfortable. She had the song, Have you ever loved someone who makes you cry, playing in the background and I said, okay, this is a little bit crazy.
She said, Uti, I love you, say it back and I said yes, I too. At the end, it was a very beautiful day. She won me over, but we broke up because she went back to Germany.
So, how do you intend to spend your this Valentine’s Day?
I don’t know. I’m just going to go with the flow. I will probably be working. It’s all about making all the money I can right now. Then, there would be hundreds of shows and I’ve gotten some of the nods to anchor them. So, I’m just going to chase the one that pays the best and has the quality.
Tell us about the woman in your life.
That’s private. I’m very busy. Some things should be kept private and some public. I’m already a very outgoing and down-to-earth person, I really hide nothing. So, it would be very silly for me to make public everything in my life.
How would you describe your ideal woman?
Someone who is God fearing, peaceful, because I have a lot of fire in me. So, I need a water personality to calm me down. Someone I can talk to, someone that would not argue frivolously with me because I hate argument. I hate quarrel because it’s difficult for me to live beyond things that are set in quarrel, that’s why I watch my words when I’m quarrelling. One thing that most people apply on others to keep them, is one thing that keeps me away,. Some girls think that by making you jealous, you would stay. But for me, it just pushes me away naturally. I need someone to be sure that she wants me, someone to be there for me, she should be able to calm me down.
What is your dress sense?
Generally casual, but if I’m going to any serious event, I like to dress up a bit with fitted Italian couture. Just look at the Italian fashion, that is who I am.
What are your plans for 2011?
I don’t have a plan because man proposes, God disposes. But I’ve told God to lead me and endorse everything I do.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 8, 2011