By Tony Ogaga Erhariefe
Until Big Brother Africa reality television show in 2008, Uti Nwachukwu was little known in the entertainment world. In fact, it was the show that brought him into national consciousness after participating in that year’s edition. Though, he failed to win, in 2010 he had a second shot at the reality show and came out tops, carting home a whopping $200, 000. Today, Uti has gone beyond Big Brother as he is making impact in acting, modeling and music. In 2011, he won an award at the NMVA for the video of his rock song. He has also won a couple of other awards including Nigerian Entertainment Person of The Year 2011.
At almost 6 feet, Uti definitely has an imposing personality. This, coupled with his good looks and trim figure, make him stand out in the crowd. But ever since he embraced the limelight in 2008, it’s been a case of hopping from one controversy to the other. However, the Big Brother star has shrugged off all the distractions and marched on determined to take his career to the next level.
Single and dashing, Uti declares that he is not only a jealous lover; he also wouldn’t compromise certain standards when it comes to choosing a life partner. So, seeing himself as extremely jealous and possessive, Uti’s prayer to God is to give him the grace to be able to shun jealousy and possessiveness.
He says: “I am an extremely jealous guy but I am praying to God to make me less jealous and less possessive. I believe that if you find somebody that’s for you, that person should be for you only. I’m a bit extreme because my lover must focus on only me. Now that’s a bit difficult and that’s why I say I am a very difficult person to be with. Perhaps, I’m very demanding when it comes to relationships.
“Apart from being a jealous lover I also expect you to give back to me what I am giving you. I expect 100 per cent attention and care and nothing less. So, it’s going to be hard but I know God gave me this standard in order to connect me with the exact person he has created for me.”
Stardom and women
With success comes women and Uti is not an exception. How is he handling the attention from women? Uti confesses that he gets a lot of attention from women but because he had a good Christian upbringing, he is able to handle it.
“I grew up around many women so it’s nothing special,” he discloses. “I have been getting a lot of attention right from when I was a kid. Even in school, I was a very cute kid and I had women all around me so it’s nothing special. The attention doesn’t make me out of character; I am not lost in the whole thing.
“I guess like they say, ‘God knows why he did not give lions horns’ because there are some people who would have this level of fame and would be swamped by women, sleeping with everything that comes in skirts but I am not like that.”
But then, on a more serious note, Uti says: “I see the female attention I get as appreciation for what I do and what God has made me to become and so it never gets to my head. I attribute it to maturity because fame did not come when I was a teenager but at 27 when I had seen and done it all. By then I had already done all the ‘doables’. I used to be very adventurous; I have had all shapes, sizes and colours of women, so for me, the fame came at the right time with the right discipline. I am not carried away.”
Life in Ughelli
According to Uti, who describes himself as a ‘Deltan to the core’, his formative years were spent in Ughelli and Sapele in Delta State. Back in the day, his father who died of prostrate cancer in 2010 while he was still in the Big Brother House was a staff of Delta Glass. So, as a child, Uti had all he wanted.
“I grew up in Ughelli, Uloho Avenue to be precise,” Uti says going down memory lane, “growing up in Ughelli was really great. When I think of it now I get nostalgic. I had a very sweet childhood. My dad worked at Delta Glass and it was a quiet life. Most of the time, I was in-doors watching TV. It gives me this sense of humility because there was no big city life to make you live a fake life, so we were all real to each other.”
As a child, the dreadlock wearing Uti was a prankster who was never short of mischievous ideas. He played pranks on everybody including his uncles and aunties. Recounting those years, he says: “I was very mischievous and inquisitive. I was that kind of kid who could incite my peers. I could say ‘let’s dash across the road while a car is coming’ and I’ll convince my peers and they will join me. I liked breaking the rules at home and when my siblings said ‘mum and dad will not be happy’ I would retort ‘are they here right now?’ I was a renegade, very mischievous and I loved to prank people; I was a prankster. I played pranks on my aunties and uncles. There was a time I locked my aunty in the store and ran away with the key.”
Despite success and fame, Uti insists that he is still in touch with that little boy who grew up in Ughelli and Sapele and who dreamt to be a star. “I remember where I come from,” he says with emphasis, pointing a finger at his well groomed locks “and that’s why I have not let this fame get to my head. It’s all petty and vane. One minute you’re there and the next you’re out. And the reason why that happens is that many people forget who they are and where they are coming from so easily when they find success, and before you know it, they are blown away. So for me, I am still in touch with that boy. He makes me appreciate what I have and inspires me to work harder.”
Nollywood & music
Following his success in 2010, his career took a new turn as he started getting movie roles and doing music colabos. Big Brother had finally unlocked the doors of success for the Delta State indigene.
Though, he insists that his music is not commercial, it’s finally paying off. He won an award for Best Alternative Video at the NMVA in 2011. Says Uti: “My music is not commercial in Nigeria because I am a rock artiste. I won an award for my video at NMVA 2011. It was for Best Alternative Video. I had top contenders there but I won because everything I do I believe in doing right and besides, I have wonderful fans who made sure they voted and I won. I am still going to make a full rock album after my own fashion. We have a rock crowd in Nigeria, I am sure they will love it.”
Uti is full of gratitude to his mother who he describes as the woman who calmed him down and gave him a whole new perspective to life. He says his mum is the reason he has a kind heart. Hear him: “She is a sweet mum and a widow now. I grew up with this fierce attitude towards life but my mum gave me the reason to slow down. She was always the voice of reason. She made me have this kind heart that I have right now. Because of her I am kind towards people and animals. I don’t believe in revenge and vendettas. My mother is a very kind woman and the exact opposite of my dad who was a go-getter and very sanguine.
“She complemented my dad. She is such an amazing mother. I talk to her every time. We are on the phone always. When she is around I am always with her. I love my mum to death; she is the reason why there is a humane side of me.”
Beverley Naya & I
Is it really true that Uti and Beverley Naya are having an affair? What really is the situation? Uti regards me for a while as ‘I-was-expecting-this’ smile breaks across his face. “Beverley…Beverley is my friend. She has even told the world that we are not dating. If we were dating, we would tell you people. But the truth is that I am a very personal person so even if I am dating her I won’t tell you. But just the same we have come out to say that we are not dating. Do I like her? Of course, she is a beautiful woman. Which man with blood running in his veins will not love a Beverley Naya. Are we dating? No. Are we close? Yes. And if anything can come out of it, it will be beautiful but for now nothing is happening. I think she is a sweet girl. She reminds me of one of my sisters. She had a good up bringing. She is very ambitious and hard working; she is poised for the top.”
Uti is good looking, successful and upwardly mobile. When is he going to tie the knot? He responds thus: “I don’t know. I guess when ever God says I am going to get married I will get married. You will know when it is time but I haven’t met anyone that will make me say ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ I have met people that made me feel comfortable here and now but when you look at it from the long-term perspective I am not moved yet.”
Then he adds confidently: “When I meet my wife I will know. I am extremely selective and my standards are sometimes unrealistically high. With the kind of mother and sisters I have, I don’t have a choice but to set my standards high. My sisters have made wonderful wives so it’s only right that I don’t settle for less. Though, I am very free and grounded, my standards are still very high. And it’s often my fault because I am not the easiest person to be with. You have to have a lot of patience and tolerance. Like I said, she has to be very patient, she has to give me all the attention. If I care about you I need your 100 percent attention.”