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The Movie Industry Isn 

Interviewed by Walter Wilson Nana

CameroonPostline.com — This Nigerian-born Performer, scriptwriter and enthusiast of advocacy movies is in the heart of the Nollywood industry and holding her own. Miss Jombo has to her credit more than 70 movies and there is no stopping for her soon.

While on a set in Buea recently, being directed by Lawrence Neba, she granted this exclusive interview in which she invites Cameroonians interested in the silver screen to be patient, passionate and not to be money-minded at a go. Read on:

Why are you in Cameroon?

I am to make a movie called Blood or Wine. It has a background in Cameroon, of a young couple who are tired of their marriage. Just when you think everything is over, one of them makes attempts to save the marriage – one is trying to pick up the pieces and the other does all to break it, while getting advice from one source.

The adviser does not know she is counselling the same people. She felt that she had two brides, with one wanting her out and the other wanting things to work out. The contradiction of following rules is the whole drama that plays out in the film.

What’s the take home message?

Patience! When you’ve something, you’ve to take good care of it. You’ve to appreciate what you’ve. The minute you do not know how blessed you are, in being in that position, then you will lose it before realising how important it was. You might try to save it and may not, but the most important is that you must appreciate it while you had it.

Let’s know Uche Jombo off the silver screen…
I am the girl next door. I always say that. I am as natural as I can be. I am also glamorous as my job allows me to be. I spend my working hours being someone else, and doing a lot of makeup when I am not working. I also spend time with the real people of my life.

How did you get to be a performer?
Acting is something you must have in you. It is also good to study it but I also know someone who majored in Drama but cannot act to save a life. But he is brilliant script writer. It is about knowing which talent you were born with – innate. I started acting by accident. I was at the right place at the right time. I guess the rest is history. I took up the talent that day and here we are.

Which are some of the movies you’ve taken part in?
Games Men Play, Holding Hope, Damage, Girls Scout, Boys Scout, Keep My Will, Total War, Jealous Husband, Kiss And Tell, Nollywood Hustlers and more. I have done over 70 films.

What’s the explanation for the growth of Nollywood?
Nollywood is a child of circumstance. People just started, which is why the basic structures were not laid down and planned as a business venture. Suddenly, the industry became larger than all of us. It is something to be happy and sad about same time.

The Bible says to whom much is given, much is expected. We are not where we are supposed to be but we are also not where we used to be. There is a process of growth. It is going and Nigerians are now getting used to the cinema culture, especially with the local industry. Nigerian films are being screened in cinema halls across the country.

You can also find them in the US and the UK. It is something to be happy about. However, it is still an individual business or industry, meaning, it is still me doing this or that and getting the money to support the passion in me. Or it is the next person trying to get money to finance a project here and there.

The private sector is yet to be part of the industry. The big sponsors are still to come in. There are very few people who believe in the Nollywood dream. My friends are getting to understand that this is something we can all be proud of. In Nollywood, the talents are aplenty but we need to beef up the artistic and technical departments.
 

What should be done for the growth of the Cameroon movie industry?

The Nollywood did it for Ghana and now, Ghana has an industry of its own. There are lots of potentials in Cameroon, people who are willing to learn and those who are yet to understand what this industry is all about. The thing is passion! That’s what carries the day. It is a very absorbing industry, with challenges here and there, especially while in the heart of the business.

It is never about the money. If you want to act because of the money, then you’ve lost it totally. If you set out to work for money, you will never get it. The job is not only psychological, it is spiritual. It’s the passion and passion for what you do. If you ask the A-list actors of Nigeria, they will tell you the number of films they did at the beginning that they were not paid to do.

You must make those sacrifices. Cameroonians must understand the film culture – the set, the way it is built and supposed to be run. There is a way in which the structure is; the Director has the final say, people must know what their responsibilities are and learn to stay there.

Cameroonian actors must understand the hierarchy that goes with productions. Besides, I have seen people I am proud of in Cameroon – the mastery of their lines, how articulate they are. There is room for growth and the ability to broaden your vision. The goodness in Nigeria is that we have the straight-to-video-production in Africa. We have not gone the wrong way. We only have to make it bigger.

Your advice to young ladies who want to be Uche Jombo?
It starts with belief. When you start this journey, you are going to get more Nos than you will get Yes. What goes with this job is believing in yourself and then you can sell it to the next person. If you do not believe in yourself then you will not be able to play the role you want the viewers to belief you are playing.

To get a No today, does not mean you will not get a Yes tomorrow. For every No you get, let it be a motivating factor for you to work harder. Make sure that it is what you want to do, no matter the many Nos and disappointments you get along the way as you move on.

Are you married? Got Children?

No! But I’m in a relationship and no child yet.

How do you find Cameroon?

I like the people. They are very receptive people. I am yet to go to any set that we were not well received. It is nice to be here.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01334

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