interviewBy Banjamin Njoku
Actress Mary Uranta is worried. This is not because the roles are not forthcoming, rather it is because the producers have failed to look beyond her calm and definable outlook to cast her in such roles that will eventually bring out the other side of her hidden talent. She expresses her worries to BENIAMIN NJOKU in this engaging interview.
In London School of Arts
I haven't really done many jobs this year. This is because I was away for a very long time. I actually travelled out of the country to update my knowledge. I went for a six months' programme at the London School of Arts. I felt there was need for me to add something to my Curriculum Vitae(CV), while I was less busy. So, when the opportunity called, I quickly grabbed it. Nonetheless, I have done about eight jobs this year.
What changed about me
A lot has changed about me in terms of my way of reasoning and communication skill. Anybody who knows when I started will wonder whether this is the same Mary he or she used to know. The industry has helped in grooming me to become what I am today.
My role helped to shape my career
Naturally, I'm a quiet person. Most Nollywood producers believe that because Mary is quiet, she deserves roles that portray her true nature. So, all the roles I have been playing overtimes in movies are roles that have really interpreted my real person. For sometimes now, I have broken that jinx because I don't want to be stereotyped.
Each time, there is any good- girl-role to play in a movie, I would be the person to be invited to pick up such role. At a point, I said to myself , in case there is no such roles to give to me some day, it means that there wouldn't be any job for me again.
Recently, I broke away from that chain, when I acted the role of a school girl as well as a prostitute in a Ghanaian movie titled "Cold Passion and Real Passion." People who have seen that movie commended me for a job well done. Some people said they never believed I could interprete the role very so well.
I think it was because of how I interpreted my role in that movie that got me the job I'm doing presently with Stanley Ebonine. It's not like the usual role I used to play in the past, where producers would cast me as a Church girl, a lawyer and all that. Today, I have been able to break away from that chain. It does not mean that I still wouldn't play those kind of roles anymore. But I don't want to be stereotype .
My innocent look betrays my ability to play a bad girl role
Everybody is saying that I have an innocent look. Do I really have an innocent look? I guess this is my person and nothing more. For me, to be a good actress I need to be original.
My real life in movies
I can be diversified. I can be any kind of person in as much as I like to be calm. There is this movie one of the female producers is planning to to do that involveds a lot of dances. She's doubting my ability to dance. But I have made her understand that I'm a good dancer.
I passed out of secondary school with a scholarship in dance and drama. She has promised me that the script would soon be out, and I'm waiting patiently for the script, so that she will be convinced I'm a professional dancer.
So, you dance too?
Yes, I do .
Need to explore that aspect of my talent
That's exactly what I'm actually waiting to do. I'm waiting for that script that will unravel the other side of me. I'm always judged by my look and not what I possess. But I know I can do more things than what I'm being given in this industry. I'm actually waiting, and hoping to play better roles in movies that will help to change people's perception of me .
The industry limits you?
Yes, I have been limited in the industry because they always look at me and give me roles they think match my look. It has been affecting me in the industry . That I can change my look does not mean that I cannot do what I have to do as a professional.
What my former HOD said to me
Recently, I ran into my former Head of Department at the airport. Upon sighting me, she screamed loudly, saying "Mary, you have really changed." I said to her, "Mummy, you didn't know me well. I have always been Mary, I never changed. But you failed to understand me. People who never liked me were coming to tell you all sorts of nasty stories about me which were untrue then."
It wasn't much of a quarrel because while I was in the university, I used to like entertainment a lot. Oftentimes, I participated in beauty contests on campus. I won the Finest Girl award on campus and also, Miss Niger Delta beauty pageant. Because of my involvement in all these social activities on campus, my HOD termed me as a bad girl. That was a problem for me.
When I did my first, second, third , and fourth movies, I was still an undergraduate. I did "Girls Hostel", "Paul and Silas", "War of Roses"and "Church Committee", while I was still a student. But due to the problems I was having with my HOD, I decided to take a break from acting to enable me to face my studies, after which I returned to the screen.
I wouldn't say somebody introduced me into the industry. It was a passion I had for acting that created the space for me. Right from my childhood, I had always wanted to go into acting. While I was in secondary school, in Port-Harcourt, I was the president of Atilogwu cultural group. Few of my friends who knew me well then like Marlyn Calipo, Ebere Oki , Pricillia Egbuziem , Florence and many others , used to tell me, 'Mary this is not you. We haven't seen the real you in this industry.'
Everybody is expecting so much from me because of how I came up and how they all knew me back then in school.
Getting roles in Nollywood
I didn't find it difficult getting roles in movies because right from time, I have always loved acting. While in school, I did a lot of stage performances. I have done a stage show with a lecturer in UNIPORT, Mr Columbus Uresunga. I also did stage shows with Michael Ogolo, an artiste based in Port-Harcourt. I have always done things that were related to the arts. Those days when I joined the industry, it was easy to get roles provided you were good.
Then, artistes, irrespective of who brought you, would attend auditions and were consequently given roles based on merit, unlike what obtains today where producers already know the artistes they want to cast in their productions.
Why I studied Secretarial Administration
When I got admission to study Secretarial Administration, at University of Science and Technology, Port-Harcourt, my friends were surprised that I was going to study the course.
To them, studying Secretarial Administration would take me away from actualising my dream of going into the acting profession.
They advised that I should apply for courses like Theatre Arts and Mass Communication. But since Secretarial Administration I was offered to study at the university, I had no choice than to accept the offer. Again, I didn't want to continue to wait until I'm lucky to secure admission to study the right course. After all, it is not everybody that is in the industry today read Theatre Arts. Yet they are all doing very well in their respective areas of specialisation.
When I'm not on set, I do other things such as buying and selling. I deal on ladies' shoes, bags and accessories. Each time, I travel out of the country, I usually ensure that I buy one or two things that I would sell, just to make ends meet.
Who am I
I'm a natural person, cool and focused. I live a quiet life and I don't like problems. I do my thing in my own way.
Why I'm scandal free
It has not hit me because I live a quiet life. Even if scandal hit me today, I will know that somebody is after me. I have got parents who are watching my back and also, brothers out there who are giving me their supports. I cannot afford to disappoint them. That's why I always do my things peacefully.
If eventually I'm hit by scandal tomorrow, I will feel bad because of my Dad who is a man of God and my mum who's actually behind me and gives me advice from time to time.
Actually, my parents know the kind of daughter they have. They wouldn't be moved if they hear any negative story about me. I grew up in the church, and my father is one of the leaders of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Port-Harcourt.
It actually helped in shaping my future. Judging from your comments that I look calm and reserved, these attributes emanated from my upbringing. I grew up moderately.
Returning to the screen
Truly, if you ask me , I will tell you that I never knew I would end up as an actress. I have been in the industry for several years now. But I have not been consistent. For about two years, I would stay off the screen, and the next year, I would find myself returning to the screen again. At a point, I made up my mind never to go away again, believing that one day, I will make it to the top.
Preparing for the screen
I never had such experience in my life.
Break somebody's heart!
Everybody's heart has been broken once in a lifetime. I can't really pick on anything that really broke my heart. But in as much as I have this innocent outlook, I am a very strong woman. Things don't get at me the way people may think of me.
My love life
Please, don't go there. I don't want to talk about my relationship. When it is time for me to get married, everybody will know about it. It is not going to be a hidden thing. I'm going to make it open for everyone to know that Mary is getting married or engaged. So, I don't want to talk about it now.
Actually, acting is taking me away from modelling. But I still want to return to modelling. Recently, I have been working so hard to lose weight to the size of going into adverts, TV modelling and branding.
My leadership award
The award, African Youth Ambassador Leadership award was given to me late last month by the Abuja based African Youth Society. The award was given to me in recognition of my contribution towards the growth of the industry as role model and ambassador to the youths.
The award came with a plague and gold plated medals as well as a certificate. I'm happy about the gesture because this is not like the usual awards that every other person gets. It means a lot to me and I appreciate it wholeheartedly. I dedicated the award to God Almighty. This is the third time, I'm getting this kind of award.
Yes, I just finished shooting my latest movie titled "Mistresses". It is produced by Stanley Ebonine and actress Halima Abubakar and starring Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson and many others. In the movie, I'm playing the role of a heartbroken lady. That's what I'm working at the moment.