Sunday, April 26, 2020 7:05 am
By Nehru Odeh
Adaora Ukoh’s story reads like a thriller. And her acting career has been a roller coaster. Though trained as a lawyer, a profession for which she put acting on hold to achieve, she has made more social and economic capital from being on set than from wearing the wig and gown. The actress who turns a year older on 27 April, is known variously as Nollywood’s Big, Bold and Beautiful, ,and BBB Diva by her teeming fans.
Still, the more remarkable thing about Ukoh’s meteoric rise and switch is that she is plus-size, a shape that stands little or no chance both on stage and on set because it is not highly priced by producers and directors globally.
Intrguing? Wait for this. But she has been able to make it in Nollywood in spite of the hurdles she had to scale through as a plus size actress. Ukoh, in a telephone interview with presenters of WakeUp Nigeria, a breakfast show on TVC on Friday, 24 April 2020, hinged her success on focus and the fact that she embraced her body shape; even though it wasn’t easy.
“As a plus size you need to understand that this is your market, this is where you pay in. And you do the best you can with it. Because the truth is, you have to always keep your weight in check and the same time, just know the market.
“So when it comes to entertainment generally, it is not an easy ground. But I have always tried to fit into what I look like. Yes sometimes it comes with stereotyping – the roles. Yes, I had to deal with that a lot. And so I had to also deal with trying to fit the exact way I want to look.
“These things are things not easy to find. But you need to understand your market, know exactly what you want out of it and keep still on it. You have to keep focused, that’s the thing. You will grow with the industry, you will grow with the growth and at the same time you will know what you want. Because this is me, I cannot hype. I as a person can’t fight it. I tried to fight it. But I also always had to juggle in and out of size and all that. So I love to embrace who I am.”
Ukoh, who has been an inspiration to young girls, was once quoted to have said: “It is not easy to get roles that suit you, but I have tried to brand myself as a plus-size actress.”
Then what has been her inspiration? “I have always been a naturally big person. But there has been a consistency about it. I just found myself not leaving this figure. I never left being a size 16, not even after marriage and having my kids. I could add some but I would come back to myself. I just stuck to this figure. That is why I said my figure has been like a brand to me. Put all that together, and consider the fact that I have been in the industry for a while.
“It’s not that the roles come in every time, but once I grab that role, I deliver it. I am very selective with roles. I was a teenager when I started and selecting scripts has been my forte. I don’t know when I do it because I hate to read a script and I am not thrilled at holding it. I will just say ‘okay’; that is what the viewers will feel as well and I will drop it. But when I see a good script, I don’t drop it until I finish. I think passion makes you want to have only the best,“ She said.
The Anambra State-born actress, who started acting at 16 in the movie, Evil Genius, alongside major acts like Pete Edochie, Zack Orji and Regina Askia, has featured in other block-buster moves like Karishika, Cursed From Beyond, Bora, Last Party Bottleneck, Blood Money, Rituals and Evil Men and made successes of them . But she is well known for Lekki Wives, a movie in which she plays, with dexterity, the role of Miranda, an impossible woman crazy about being like other women. She launched a plus size clothing outfit called adorecoulture in May 2012. Her production outfit, The BigSistz Productions, produced the award-winning documentary drama, Epitaph.