PEOPLE THAT MATTER: ACTING
UCHE MARIE ALOZIE…………………………………………..NEW YORK, NY, USA
Uche and her twin sister, Ebere were born in Nigeria and moved to the States with their family when both were just six years old. When Uche was a little girl, she dreamt about a career in modeling and acting.
"I would send my school pictures to modeling agencies advertised in the back of American fashion magazines hoping someone would call me and want me to move to a big city" she says.
"Well, that didn’t work out" she laughs over a grande frappacino at the Starbucks in Manhattan’s Union Square. Coming from a Nigerian family, she knew then that she had no choice but to stay in school and get a great education.
After high school, Uche received a soccer/football scholarship to play soccer / football for the University of Mississippi.
"While in college, I went to local auditions for modeling jobs and had successes. Unfortunately, I could not just leave school to pursue it because I would have to answer to my parents -Nigerian ones!"
After College, Uche’s dreams of pursuing her acting and modeling career cut short her stint at a law firm. She moved to New York City and found success.
"Since moving to New York, I have been blessed to host events like the Nigerian Entertainment Awards and MC a concert for Tuface.”
She’s also had roles in American television shows and movies such as: Gossip Girl, Law and Order: SVU, Law and Order, Ugly Betty, Damages, The Good Wife, American Gangster, I am Legend, Cadillac Records, 27 Dresses, Sex and the City, and Confessions of a Shopaholic.
In the Nigerian industry, she has appeared in Shattered Fate and an independent film Out of the Wood Works.
NL: Why do you like acting?
UA: “For me, acting is a way of escaping. It’s like playing dress up not just with clothes, but with your mind. You can play characters that are completely different from you. It’s also another form of expression. I’ve always been told I should be an actress and comedian because I was funny. It’s great to get that out.”
NL: What has been your most challenging and interesting role to play?
UA: “I would say playing a drug crazed runaway in Out of the Wood Works. I’ve never abused drugs in my life so I researched by interviewing drug addicts. It was intense and challenging to find out how people were affected by drug use.”
NL: How supportive are your Nigerian parents on your chosen career? Was it decided you would be a doctor, lawyer or engineer when you were young?
UA: “I’m sure that my parents would like me to get a big break with a role. Idealistically, they prefer education first. Yes, I have a sister that’s finishing up her MBA, a brother in Law School, one in Medical School, and another brother that’s in college but will go on to Med School. So it’s easy to put me into a category along Lawyer or Doctor. However, my parents remain supportive.”
NL: Have you noticed a change in the Nigerian community in terms of them now embracing the arts?
UA: “I think Nigerians in New York are becoming a more and more understanding of full-time careers in the arts with the increase of Nigerians pursuing modeling and acting full-time. The rise of Nollywood in the 21st Century is helping make artistic careers more acceptable. With that said, there are a majority of Nigerians I know who are still in a professional oriented field like Medicine, Law and Engineering. It’s always good to pursue your dreams while you’re young. If things don’t work out then you have a degree to fall back on. I have my Bachelors Degree in so I’m ok!”
NL: Who is your favourite designer, Nigerian and Non-Nigerian?
UA: “I am in love with Tiffany Amber’s designs. Her work is so colorful, full of vivid and innovative distinctive patterns and combinations of fabric. I’m also a David Tlale admirer. His style is trendy, chic, and fierce”. I also like Donna Karan.
NL: What are the similarities you see in fashion design and acting?
UA: “The similarities in fashion design and acting are the fact that both are performances. A model on a runway is performing -showing the design of the designer. Acting is about expressing emotion and to some extent fashion is also. They’re both visual and require an audience. A fashion show without an audience isn’t a fashion show. It’s just a show. A fashionista wants to be seen and an actress needs to be seen. At red carpet at Award shows, fashion and acting merge seamlessly. The best actors are essentially models for designers when they are out.”
NL: Do you have any weird rituals or things you do to prepare for a role before you go on stage or on camera?
UA: “I definitely pray to God and ask for his guidance and then take a deep breath. I also laugh out loud at myself to tell myself if people laugh at me, I’ve already laughed at myself! So I just laugh and laugh. Works every time!”
NL: Finish this of: Acting is to memorising lines as fashion design is to…..?
UA: “Creating and projecting a persona.”