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Williams Uchemba: Nollywood creates jobs, helps fight crime, suicide

Multiple award winning entertainer, Williams Uchemba needs no further introduction; the child actor has carved a niche for his brand as serial entrepreneur, philanthropist among others. Cornered recently at an event, Uchemba who is currently championing the Enugu state PVC campaign tour, spoke with MUTIAT LAWORE about youth’s involvement in the coming 2023 election, fatherhood, coming projects among other issues.

You recently embarked on the Enugu state PVC campaign tour; any motive behind this?

Yes for two reasons. I feel it’s necessary and I believe that with the way Nigeria is going, if we have another wrong government there won’t be a Nigeria again. I love this country so much Secondly when I found out the new voting system released by INEC, I was fired up to let people know that their vote now actually counts. What I mean by that is that come 2023 when you vote, the number of votes will be uploaded for the public to see. There are no longer cases of ballot boxes being stolen and snatched like we used to experience in the past. What that means is that if we can have just one percent of the 1.2 billion BBNaija votes total to go and vote and have a consensus of who we want, we are going to have the Nigeria we desire. I want my daughter to come home to Nigeria and not be scared of insecurity and some of those troubles that we are going through. That is what I’m doing; I’m fighting for my kids.

You clinched your first nomination at the just concluded AMVCA Awards; even though you did not win the category; what does been nominated mean to you?

I always say that being nominated is as good as a win because for me it means you are being recognised for something and it’s a good recognition. For me it’s something I was excited about and the person that won deserves it. I know him, he works tirelessly and creates great content for us so there will be many more nominations and hopefully a win but before that we arexpectant and keep working hard.

Your movie ‘Mambas Diamond’ did quite well in cinema, what was the inspiration behind it and do you intend producing more movies?

I have two more productions but the reason I produced ‘ Mambas Diamond’ is to let people know that doing the right thing pays and I shot it with the purpose not just to entertain but to teach young people that anything that is not given to you by God might be taken and even your life might be taken. It was a movie I did to sensitise youths all over the world and it’s coming on streaming platforms very soon. It might be on Amazon.

What projects are you currently working on as a film maker?

I have not gone public yet with it but there’s another one coming out, Sugar Rush 2. That’s what is currently on my table but there are two bigger projects coming out from my production outfits. The aim is to further change the narrative of movie production using state of the art equipment.

Despite the various responsibilities you have; how do you juggle them?

At this point I would say the grace of God. We really don’t control anything. You wake up in the morning without knowing how. For me, I just prioritise and put God’s will before mine and allow that to play out.

You do a lot of work when it comes to reaching out to needy individuals; does your background have anything to do with you reaching out to people?

My background, I have been in a low place in my life. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon and I know what it feels like not to have, not to have food. As a young boy I went hungry because there was no food at home. I tell people that to find your purpose; first you must find what you are passionate about and what they are very angry about.

What has being a father taught you or taken away from you?

It has taught me everything. Nobody is prepared for fatherhood when the time comes. A different type of love that I never knew I had came alive and I can’t explain it. It is when you become selfless and think not of yourself but of that selfless need to be there for your child. It has been an amazing experience and it’s just truly God’s gift.

You have been in the creative industry for long, what is your assessment of the Nigerian creative industry?

I think they are doing extremely well, I think Nigeria is one of the most creative and one of the most respected industries in the world. Of course our contents trend on the global markets which mean that we are doing something right. We have created jobs for a lot of young people that could have been doing something illegal, having depression or suicidal thoughts. It has been an escape for some of them and I just pray they use it to promote our culture and to have a better nation in general.

As a filmmaker what would make you reject a script?

When I see a film that nobody will learn from. When the movie is promoting something that I don’t stand for no matter the amount you give me. The money will finish but the movie remains. I have certain standards and morals that I kept and if that is not in the movie, I don’t do it.

You started out as a child actor and grew before our very eyes. How has that journey been for you?

It has been amazing. I got into the industry at the age of 8. It’s my 22nd year in the industry. At a point, I took a break, travelled out of the country to focus on my academics. Yeah, it has been a great journey so far.

Were there older actors who took you under their wings?

I wouldn’t say I was personally mentored by anyone, but their various works inspired me to do more. I remember the first movie I did with Pete Edochie, who is a great, living legend of our time, I was overwhelmed with enthusiasm. He inspired me quite a lot along with others on that production set; Clems Ohameze, Hilda Dokubo and others.

How did you find your niche in the comedy industry?

It wasn’t planned, as a matter of fact; I have always been funny to the best of my knowledge. We are just a funny family. My dad, siblings, I never for once thought of taking it out of comfort zone outside. Because of my ‘status’, I thought when I go out there, I need to be cool as an actor. But when I realized the power of being yourself, it changed everything. I started comedy when I was in California. I just tried out a video and people loved it and kept reposting. It got a lot of views. One day, I received a message in my DM (Direct Message) from a woman who requested to speak with me. When she called, she was crying, saying ‘Thank you so much, you don’t know what you have done for us’. She said her dear mother has been sick with cancer for over six months and she has not seen any reason to smile not until she came across my comedy and she has been laughing all through. That it got everyone emotional and they thought they should call and thank me. That was when I realised that this is not just what I do for Art but a ministry, especially in Nigeria where you have a lot of people who are going through so much. The least I can do is to release stress by humour. They say laughter is a good medicine. People call me a comedian but I prefer to be called an actor, because an actor can make you cry, make you laugh, can play around and that is what I consider myself to be.

How do you relax?

I like to worship. I put on a worship song or piano instrumental that can play for 3 hours. I just sit there and take it all in. Also, I like to see movies, go on Netflix, look for the ones that are interesting, get a snack, sit in front of my TV and relax.

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