As a child growing up, talented and busty actress, Adaora Ukoh, dreamt of being a banker, because she had a banker aunt, who was always chauffeur driven to their house in a glittering car most weekends. And this really got her thrilled. However, a chance encounter with then rising actress, Jennifer Olisa, whom they both reside on same street in ’97, changed her much-fantasized plan of eking out a living from the financial sector.
And while basking in the euphoria of her new found love-acting, sultry Ukoh, who has tantalized and titillated movie-buffs in hit movies like “Black bra, Hot Money, Standing Alone” and many others, met a stiff opposition in her late disciplinarian dad, who wanted his first daughter to read Law and nothing else. But “stubborn” Ukoh, who had already fallen head over heels in love with the thespian profession completely, disagreed with her dad and went on to debut in her first movie titled “Evil Genius”. And ever since, she has continued to soar very high like an eagle in the make- believe world.
Single and seriously searching Ukoh who abandoned Nollywood for five years to pursue a Law degree in memory of her late dad, is now fully back and serenading Nollywood with her sexy looks and immense talent.
With over 30 movies to her credit, the dazzling actress from Anambra state boastfully told AZUH AMATUS that her dream is to conquer Nollywood: “And I’m already doing that with my movies”.
In a nutshell, who is Adaora Ukoh?
Adaora Ukoh, is an easygoing person, likes to catch fun when time permits. I love hardworking and honest people, a Law student who fell in love with acting and have refused to let go. I went to University of Lagos and also grew up here in Lagos, but was born in Awka, Anambra State. I was already into acting before quitting temporarily to go read law, but I’m now fully back. I joined Nollywood over seven years ago immediately after my secondary school, around ’97. I actually left to read law because of my late father; he had always wanted me to be a lawyer. Then, he had his reservations about acting but I stuck my ground. I was very young then. In school, I tried combining my studies with acting, but it didn’t augur well for me, that was why I left acting and gave my studies 100% attention. But while in school, I kept abreast with the industry. So, I’m now fully back.
So, how does it feel to be back after many years of absence from Nollywood?
You can imagine. Well, it is nice to be back after over five years of absence in my dear Nollywood. I’m reintegrating myself back into Nollywood, it really feels good to be back among my colleagues. I came back fully towards the end of last year. I came back in a movie entitled “Standing Alone”, directed by T-Chidi Chikere, and ever since, the roles have not stopped pouring in.
Which was your first movie in Nollywood and how was it like for you then as a rising actress?
My first movie was Evil Genius, Jennifer Olisa, who used to live on my street then brought me in. I walked up to her because she was already a star and told her I would love to be like her; and she took me to my first audition.
And your parents, didn’t they kick against you going into acting at such an early age?
Sincerely speaking, my late dad didn’t really like it but my mum was just indifferent, she had no reservations about it. Dad wanted me out, but then I just had to keep keeping on, especially on what you want and not what people want for you. But I’m happy that before his demise he actually allowed me to be.
Are you going to abandon the Law profession for acting after graduating from Law school?
No! I can’t abandon Law for acting. I will practice both. Unknown to many people, Law helped in boosting my morale about acting. I see Law, as the knowledge I got from school, while acting as a talent; adding both together is a wonderful experience.
When you first started and currently, have movie producers and directors ever harass you sexually?
Sincerely speaking, I’ve never been harassed sexually in the industry. For me, the harassment thing has to do with your person and how you present yourself. Those who give room for sexual harassments, get it because they refuse to comport and respect themselves. Any moviemaker doesn’t harass actresses who know what they want sexually. But the truth is that getting down with the opposite sex should be a mutual thing and not one party forcing the other person. I don’t pray for it to come my way, but if it does, I will handle it maturely. Anybody that tries it with me will regret ever asking me for sex in exchange for roles. I will bring the person down.
What is your love life like, are you single, searching or engaged?
I am single, very much single and also searching for Mr. Right. Mind you every girl who is of age would search for an ideal man. I’m single but not absolutely single, I’m only single because the ring is not there yet (shows us her finger). But I’ve been with somebody for some time now, in fact, for over three years.
I thought you admitted being single and searching seriously?
Get me right, I’m single because there is no ring yet on my finger, but that does not mean there is nobody… I don’t want to talk about the affair in public. I don’t think he would like me going public with our romance on the pages of newspapers.
Like what and what qualities got you attracted to him?
(Chuckles) His gentility first got me attracted to him. He is very gentle, caring and can attract any young girl with these attributes.
Is he down with you as an actress, especially with the many negative stories about Nollywood actresses?
Of course yes! If someone likes you, he would want you for you. So, being an actress or not, has not changed anything about our affair.
As a busty, pretty and popular actress, how do you cope with Nigerian men, especially the ones that want to date you?
As a lady, I must learn or devise means of coping with them. No doubt about the fact that they disturb me a lot, but every man has the right to woo a girl. Another factor is your attitude towards men. Men woo me every now and then, for me, it is no longer a new thing, and I’m used to it. Some of them are real while some are spurious.
Talking about genuine and fake men, like how many of them have broken your heart in your quest for love?
Sincerely speaking, none, one thing about relationships is that if it works fine and if it doesn’t just carry you cross alone. If I’m into a relationship and at the end of the day it doesn’t work, that should not make us enemies, life goes on.
So, like how many of your affairs have wrecked since you started dating?
Truth is that I have not gone into many affairs, but you don’t expect me to start counting the failed ones. The most important thing is how do you nurture the affair and what you are trying to make out of the affair.
Okay, but do you still feel bad about some of your affairs that did not work in the past?
No! I’ve never felt bad and won’t feel bad. I’m not the first; neither will I be the last to fall out of a relationship. But please, you are getting too personal. Again over the years, I now have inner eyes to identify and differentiate real people from the fake ones. For me, no hard feelings for my broken affairs, I’ve always advised my pals to let go any relationship that do not favour them. Sisters should always move on with their lives, no matter what happens.
Can you marry an actor?
Well, if I find the man in him irresistible and man enough for me, why not. For me, I don’t really care what he does; I look beyond the outside and would want to see him from the inside.
So, how soon are you planning to settle down?
I am an adult, yet to be in my mid 20’s, for me I will settle down as soon as marriage through the right guy comes my way. I’m not in haste but if it comes, I will go. Marriage for me is a companion of two people, especially when you two can agree and move on together.
Do you believe in love?
Yes, I do believe in love so much and very romantic. When I see a romantic man it makes me very romantic. Like I always tell my pals, a real man will bring out the real you. And the relationship will only flow when the two of you tango very well. Every relationship needs commitment and communication.
Back to Nollywood, like how many movies have you featured in since your arrival?
From inception till date, I’ve done over thirty movies. It was not that easy when I newly came in, the industry then was not as viable as it is today. I went through a lot of challenges, especially from my late dad and as a rising and struggling actress. But deep down, I told myself I was not going to let go. Remember, no gain without pain, I kept on consoling myself with this line. Nothing good comes easy, for me, it started like a journey of a thousand steps, which began with just one step. The attitude to life that makes one a winner, is when you expect challenges and know that you have chosen to overcome these challenges. It makes you a better person. For me, a challenge makes one a better person for the future, how do you strive hard when you don’t go through them?
What other things are you into aside acting and reading Law?
Aside acting, nothing much I just finished my Law degree and waiting to go to the Law school. Right now, acting is the only job I’m into fully; I also do make-ups for my pals occasionally.
With the right money, can you bare-it-all in a movie?
No! I will not bare-it-all. I’m an African and Nigeria has not got to that point. I can do one or two crazy things like deep kisses and stuffs like that but not to bare-it-all.
As a fledging actress, what are your future goals?
I’ve always prayed to God to make me the best in my chosen careers. I see myself getting to the top of my career in the nearest future and not coming down from that top position till I leave the stage. I want to be seen as a focused actress who has done so well for herself and Nollywood. I want to be celebrated as an artiste and a Lawyer.
Who are your role models in life today?
On the foreign scene, I’m down with Whoopi Goldberg and Queen Latifat, I see a bit of me in her. I also love Monique; they are there and representing even with their weights. Coming home, I love Joke Silva and Onyeka Onwenu, I look up to them a lot as role models and source of inspirations.
We would like to know more about your family background?
Okay! I’m Adaora Chinyere Ukoh, the first in a family of four. From a very disciplined family, an indigene of Njikoka LGA in Anambra State, we are two at par. My growing up was good but as a child, I was a little bit stubborn. And my dad in return was so good with his canes as a strict disciplinarian. But this did not deter me from being stubborn.
Looking back now, do you have some regrets to share with us?
Not really! I’ve learnt to love and accept myself the way I am. And what I choose to do, I did because I wanted to do it. So, in essence, I’m always ready, to face the consequences resulting from my actions.
If given the chance, what one major thing would you love to do for humanity?
Aah! I would love to change the face of Nigeria, especially corruption and the suffering masses whose faces I see around me every day. I also want to help the destitute, we should heal this country and empower the youths, we are the future whether the leaders like it or not.
How would you rate Nollywood?
Hmmh! Nollywood is growing and has done well for itself and the practitioners. It is a fast growing industry that is making Nigeria proud globally.
If given the chance also, what one bad habit of yours would you love to do away with?
Na wah for you o! How do you expect me to answer that question publicly? It is a very personal question and not for public consumption.
You must have taken a lot of bold steps in your youthful life, which among them would you say is the boldest?
(Thinks) For me, the boldest step was standing firm and going back to the university to fulfill my dad’s wish to read Law. He was already dead when I got an admission to read Law. My ambition as a kid was to read banking and Finance, but my dad wanted Law. So, I’m happy reading his dream course for me, but very sad that he was not around to see me graduate. I’m glad he made me read Law despite my stubbornness. I know that he would be happy and fulfilled with me wherever he is now.
Which is your most current movie in the market now?
Yeah! It is titled Hot Money; from the stable of O.J Productions. It was a very challenging movie with lots of super stars. I’ve not stopped receiving calls since the movie was released. O.J boss really spoilt us silly on set. Some of my recent works include, Standing Alone, Expensive Game, The Preacher, Windfall, Black bra, Backdrop and many others.
What drives you on and constantly keeps you going?
First, God, He is also my biggest source of inspiration. I also read lots of inspirational books about those who started from nothing to something in life.
As a sexy actress, which part of your body do you consider the sexiest?
I love myself a lot, from my head to my toes. I love everything about myself. I also know Nigerian men love busty ladies a lot, I’m proud being busty, and mine is natural…
Are you speaking from experience?
Answer that yourself, are you not among the Nigerian men.
First published, November 2005.